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Restoration of Soldier Spring: an isolated habitat for native Apache trout

Long, Jonathan W.; Burnette, B. Mae; Medina, Alvin L.; Parker, Joshua L. 2004. Restoration of Soldier Spring: an isolated habitat for native Apache trout. In: Seaton, Robert; Anderson, Fran, eds. Proceedings of the 16th annual conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration : August 24-26, 2004, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Madison, WI: Society for Ecological Restoration. 5 p.

Degradation of streams is a threat to the recovery of the Apache trout, an endemic fish of the White Mountains of Arizona. Historic efforts to improve trout habitat in the Southwest relied heavily on placement of in-stream log structures. However, the effects of structural interventions on trout habitat and populations have not been adequately evaluated. We treated an actively degrading stream on the White Mountain Apache Reservation that harbored a unique population of Apache trout, using a combination of fencing to abate ungulate grazing, sedge transplants to speed recovery of degraded streambanks, and placement of rock riffle formations to stabilize the channel and restore aquatic habitat along 450 m of degraded stream. Following treatment, the bed refilled, water depth and width increased, and fine gravels (5-32 mm) became more abundant. Trout abundance in the stream declined as the degradation worsened, but it rebounded following the restoration treatments. While other factors, such as flooding and sampling methods may have influenced the fish populations, the results suggest that the treatment did not negatively impact the trout while preventing further deterioration of the habitat. The riffle formations were not observed to induce channel instability, cause excessive retention of fines, or raise barriers to fish passage, which are common hazards of conventional in-stream structures. This case study demonstrates that in specific ecological contexts, structural interventions may be appropriate for conserving native trout habitat.

Keywords: Apache trout, Oncorhynchus apache, threatened species, habitats, streams, restoration, Arizona

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Restoration of Soldier Spring: an isolated habitat for native Apache trout
Electronic Publish Date: March 30, 2007
Last Update:
March 30, 2007

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