A major limiting factor affecting the healthy function of the watershed/habitat is the presence of an unscreened surface water diversion located on South Fork Simcoe Creek. There has been a continuous effort since 2009 to identify three unscreened surface diversions that need to be screened. The Smartlowit diversion was screened in 2010. The feeder ditch on South Fork Simcoe Creek is the second to be screened of the three identified diversions. Installing a fish screen on the feeder ditch will prevent steelhead from using the ditch and becoming stranded during periods of high agricultural use or at low flows.
Washington State law (RCW 77.57.070 and RCW 77.57.010) requires that all surface water diversions be screened to prevent fish from being drawn into the diversions where they are at risk for injury or mortality. This project addresses a cumulative problem that is associated with the Yakima River Subbasin Plan stating “Passage barriers and unscreened diversions and pumps have significant negative effects on salmon productivity.” The Columbia River Anadromous Fish Restoration Plan created by the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission also states that agricultural practices are a habitat problem and the need to screen many of the tributary diversions remains. The Yakima Basin Steelhead Recovery Plan also acknowledges the need to screen unscreened and inadequately screened diversions.
Spawning surveys conducted on South Fork Simcoe Creek during 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2010 document the presence of Mid-Columbia River steelhead. The surrounding riparian area is intact providing many functions necessary in maintaining habitat for fish. In order to provide protection from mortality, injury, and migratory delay, surface water diversions should be screened to exclude all freshwater life stages of salmonids.
Safely and efficiently exclude fish from an anthropogenically constructed waterway.
Install a fish screen on the Feeder Ditch on South Fork Simcoe Creek.
Prevent steelhead access to .2 miles of unscreened diverted surface water.
Acquire assistance from WDFW’s Technical Applications Division in providing fish protection screening of the feeder ditch.