Bull trout picture, credit: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Designating Waters for Native Char Protection

Protection of Spawning and Early Tributary Rearing of Char

 

The old water quality standards did not have temperature criteria that fully protected char. This section describes the method used to designate certain waters as char habitat for the purpose of applying a fully protective temperature criterion.

The goal is to fully protect the spawning and early juvenile rearing of char. Ecology investigated three methods of identifying waters used by char:

  1. Known spawning and early juvenile rearing streams. Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive survey of known spawning and early juvenile rearing areas and finding spawning and rearing areas used by these reclusive fish has proved to be very difficult. There are entire populations of char where the spawning areas are completely unknown. Even in areas of extensive study, not all the spawning and early juvenile rearing areas have been identified. Using this method to identify streams for protecting spawning and early juvenile rearing of char would likely result in many streams with char populations not being protected in the water quality standards until they were identified.
  2. Entire watersheds where char are present. Every water body in the entire watershed that is accessible to char could have been protected, regardless of its likelihood of being a spawning or early tributary rearing water body. Even lower main stem rivers with their very warm temperatures and low likelihood of providing suitable habitat would have to meet very stringent temperature requirements.
  3. All stream segments in watersheds used by char that have the basic physical characteristics of known char spawning and early tributary rearing streams. This option avoids applying the temperature criteria to streams that are not likely to be used by char, but also does not depend on actually proving in advance that char are using each of the qualifying streams. The physical characteristics that were found to best define char spawning and early tributary rearing waters are addressed below.

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Last updated July 2003