What is the Middle Methow (M2) River Habitat Project?
The M2 Project represents an effort to improve degraded habitat for threatened and endangered fish species in the Methow River and its tributaries.
The Bureau of Reclamation completed the Middle Methow Reach Assessment in August 2010. The assessment provided scientific information used to help identify, prioritize, implement, and monitor sustainable fish habitat projects. The M2 Habitat Project is the next step in the process, where project sponsors like the Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation and the Yakama Nation implement the actions recommended in the reach assessment.
What is the Bureau of Reclamation’s role in the project?
The Bureau of Reclamation provides technical assistance to Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation to work on habitat projects that benefit threatened and endangered steelhead and spring Chinook salmon. For the M2 project, this assistance includes survey, modeling, engineering and design, and administrative support. MSRF, as project sponsor for Reclamation, will be responsible for permitting, securing grants for construction funding, construction management, and related activities.
Click here for more information.
Where is the M2?
The M2 is the area or “reach” of the Methow River the area just south of Winthrop to Twisp. To improve organization and coordination of restoration activities, the M2 is divided into two sub-reaches, Reach 1 and Reach 2:
M2 Reach 1 is the area from south of Winthrop near the Barkley irrigation diversion to Lewisia Rd, just below the MVID East irrigation diversion (east side of the river) and near Signal Hill Rd (west side of the river).
M2 Reach 2 is the area between Lewisia Rd (east side of the river) and Twisp.The Reach 2 project area is known as “Lewisia Road to Twisp,” or LRT.
MSRF and the Bureau of Reclamation are taking the lead in Reach 1, and the Yakama Nation is taking the lead in Reach 2.
Who is leading the M2 Habitat project?
Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Yakama Nation are leading the effort to restore fish habitat in the Middle Methow Reach. MSRF and Reclamation are taking the lead in Reach 1, and the Yakama Nation is taking the lead in Reach 2.
The USGS, with support from Reclamation and Idaho State University,, is leading a long-term monitoring effort in the entire M2 reach.
Why is the M2 important?
The Methow Subbasin Geomorphic Assessment, completed by Reclamation in 2008, identified the Middle Methow as the section of the Methow River with the highest habitat improvement potential to benefit listed fish species.
When will the M2 Project begin?
Planning and design for the M2 project began in the spring of 2010. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2012.
What do we hope to accomplish?
The goal of the project is to improve the numbers (abundance and productivity) of Endangered Species Act listed fish species in the Methow watershed. For this project, we are specifically targeting habitat improvements that benefit juvenile fish. The hope is that our actions create better conditions for fish over the long-term that leads to the recovery of threatened and endangered species.
What is the consequence of not completing the M2 Project?
The M2 reach does not currently support healthy wild populations of spring Chinook, steelhead, and bull trout. Within the reach, instream habitat is limited and lacks complexity to support juvenile salmon and steelhead. Without efforts to restore and protect habitat for these threatened and endangered species, population numbers in the Middle Methow River will not improve.
Active restoration efforts like the M2 Habitat Project are important to the recovery of these species. Habitat protection alone will not improve conditions in the reach for many years. Even if all negative impacts to the river stopped today, conditions would not improve noticeably for several decades. Streamside vegetation would begin to improve, but would not influence river conditions for at least 50 years. In the meantime, threatened and endangered wild fish populations would continue to decline.
Is participation in the M2 Habitat Project mandatory?
Participation in the project is voluntary. The M2 team will not work on anyone’s property without signed access agreements in place. These access agreements will be developed with landowners to reflect their needs for controlling access on their property. We will ask for permission to access the projects to check on stability and performance. Participating in this process will not require landowners to provide public access. We do not enter private property without permission.