“Trap and Trucking” salmon – restoring a historic native fish

Bill and Nick are fisheries biologists working to restore Atlantic salmon to their native habitats in the Lake Champlain Basin. Photo credit: USFWS

Bill and Nick are fisheries biologists working to restore Atlantic salmon to their native habitats in the Lake Champlain Basin. Photo credit: USFWS

 

Today we hear from Bill Ardren and Nick Staats, fisheries biologists who work out of our Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office in Vermont. This past year marked a milestone in their efforts to restore landlocked Atlantic salmon to parts of their historic range in the Lake Champlain and its tributaries, as they saw strong spawning runs of fish returning to the Winooski River.

 

A juvenile "pre-smolt" Atlantic salmon.  Populations of landlocked Atlantic salmon are making a comeback in their native Lake Champlain. Photo credit: E. Peter Steenstra/USFWS

A juvenile “pre-smolt” Atlantic salmon.
Populations of landlocked Atlantic salmon are making a comeback in their native Lake Champlain. Photo credit: E. Peter Steenstra/USFWS

Vermont anglers have been waiting nearly 100 years for a chance to catch “the big one” – salmon that is! And it’s all thanks to the coordinated efforts of state, federal and non -government agencies working to restore landlocked Atlantic salmon to its historical habitat in the Winooski River and beyond.

Natural populations of landlocked Atlantic salmon disappeared from Lake Champlain nearly 100 years ago. The combination of dams blocking access to habitat, over-fishing and pollution was too great for this native species of fish to survive.

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These Atlantic salmon are getting the lift they need to become re-established in their native waters of the Lake Champlain basin.

But now, efforts to restore river-run populations of landlocked Atlantic salmon in Lake Champlain have seen a “lift” with the resumption of the trap and truck program at the first dam in the Winooski River.

This successful fish passage program, done in cooperation with Burlington Electric and Green Mountain Power, provides landlocked salmon with access to more than 20 miles of spawning and nursery habitat in the upper river and its tributaries. This past fall we trapped 158 salmon, the second highest return to the dam since we began monitoring them in 1993.

Adopt-a-Salmon Stocking 002

The “Adopt-a-Salmon” program helps restore fish populations to their native habitats. In this photo, students involved in the program release salmon fry that they hatched in their classroom from eggs.

These restoration efforts also provide new opportunities for recreational salmon fishing in an accessible setting near one of Vermont’s most populated areas.  In addition, the fish lift at the Winooski One Hydropower Plant is open to the public for viewing and provides information on the restoration program happening in their community.

Landlocked salmon photo for blog

Winooski One station operator Jon Clark holds a 32 inch, 14 pound male landlocked Atlantic salmon lifted during the 2014 fall salmon run. The current Vermont state record for an angled caught landlocked salmon is 12 pounds, 10 ounces. Photo credit: Nicholas Staats, USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife and New York Department of Environmental Conservation, has been working to restore Atlantic salmon to Lake Champlain since 1972.  This is another successful step in the ongoing salmon restoration program that involves our national fish hatchery program, sea lamprey control, fish passage, habitat restoration, and science based monitoring and evaluation.

Learn about efforts to restore landlocked Atlantic salmon in the Lake Champlain basin of Vermont and New York:

3 Comments on ““Trap and Trucking” salmon – restoring a historic native fish

  1. Pingback: Salmon Trucking - Cars-Electric.com

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