Identification of Native Fish Conservation Areas in the Upper Snake River Basin

Monday, September 9, 2013
Governor's Hall I (trade show) (Statehouse Convention Center)
Richard N. Williams , Federation of Fly Fishers, Eagle, ID
Daniel C. Dauwalter , Trout Unlimited, Boise, ID
Native Fish Conservation Areas (NFCAs) are watersheds where management emphasizes proactive conservation and restoration for long-term persistence of native fish assemblages while allowing for compatible uses.  NFCAs are intended to complement traditional fisheries management that can be reactive to existing stressors and focused on single fish species rather than entire communities.  We identified potential NFCAs in the Upper Snake River basin above Hells Canyon Dam using an process that ranked all subwatersheds (Hydrologic Unit Code 12) using data on native trout distributions, abundance, and genetics (bull trout Salvelinus confluentus; redband trout Oncorhynchus mykiss; and Yellowstone cutthroat trout O. clarkii, including fine-spotted form); known occurrences and modeled potential distributions of native non-game fishes; differential species weights; drainage network connectivity; and land protection status.  Clusters of high-ranking subwatersheds were identified as potential NFCAs that were then classified according to the presence of non-game fishes listed as Species of Greatest Conservation Need in state wildlife action plans.  Last, we compare and contrast some of the potential NFCAs identified, discuss the practical implementation of an NFCA in the Upper Snake River basin and how the concept relates to existing conservation partnerships.