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Technical Assistance and Data Processing for the VAMP (Vernalis Adaptive Management Program) During 2011

Proposed deployment of two 4-port acoustic telemetry systems and a one single hydrophone system in the Sacramento River at Chipps Island.

Proposed deployment of two 4-port acoustic telemetry systems and a one single hydrophone system in the Sacramento River at Chipps Island.

Populations of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) have declined dramatically in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) over the past one hundred years. Although there are numerous stressors to different stages of the Chinook salmon life cycle (e.g., limited suitable habitat, impaired water quality, harvest), the decline of salmon populations in the San Joaquin River is widely thought to be caused by barriers to historical runs as well as effects of the Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP) operations. The CVP and SWP (water projects) are critical to California as they provide water to support a multi-billion dollar agricultural industry and provide drinking water to more than 23 million residents.

Efforts to restore salmon populations in the San Joaquin River are underway. However, additional information is needed to be able to understand the impacts on survival associated with water projects and proposed restoration actions. The Vernalis Adaptive Management Plan (VAMP) is a large-scale, long-term (12-year, starting in 2000) management program designed to protect juvenile Chinook salmon migrating from the San Joaquin River through the Delta. Scientific monitoring under VAMP was designed to determine how salmon survival rates change in response to alterations in San Joaquin River flows and water project operations (i.e., different combinations of flow and export rates). VAMP employs an adaptive management strategy to use current knowledge of hydrology and environmental conditions to protect juvenile Chinook salmon, while gathering information to allow more efficient protection of salmon in the future.

USGS proposes to continue its participation in the ongoing monitoring program for VAMP by tracking migration of acoustically-tagged Chinook salmon. In spring 2011, USGS will use acoustic telemetry to track the movements of juvenile San Joaquin River Chinook salmon during migration through the Delta. This monitoring seeks to quantify relationships among salmon survival, San Joaquin River flows and water project exports. This year the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) will also use acoustic telemetry to track the movements of juvenile Central Valley steelhead during migration through the Delta as part of a new study to address the NOAA-National Marine Fisheries (NMFS) Operational Criteria and Plan (OCAP) Biological Opinion. Both the USGS Columbia River Research Lab (CRRL) and the California Water Science Center (CAWSC) will participate in this effort.

Project Chief: Jon Burau.
Phone: 916-371-2582
Email: jrburau@usgs.gov

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