Arcata FAC Stories

Join us on an exhilarating season of data collection on the Klamath River for management of the culturally and economically valuable Chinook Salmon. 

This story map is meant to educate others about carcass surveys performed by Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program and Yurok Tribe Fisheries Program on the mainstem Klamath River. Crews climb aboard rafts just below Iron Gate Dam to begin the survey and end at the Shasta river confluence (a total of 21.2 km). The data collected from the field is used to estimate annual escapement and characterize age and sex composition and spawning success of adult fall-run Chinook Salmon on the mainstem Klamath River. These estimations guide decisions for water management as well as fishing regulations. 

Continue on to the story map for interactive maps, more details on the project, and a virtual tour.

a landscape of a river with tree covered hills in the background
Fish Health Monitoring, Trap Catch Summaries (Klamath River), and Salmon Spawning Survey Data (Klamath and Trinity Rivers)
Ice on a rotary screw trap.

What We Do

In collaboration with States, Tribes, other Federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other Service Programs, our focus is to develop conservation strategies for aquatic resources, and design and conduct investigations that guide and evaluate the success of aquatic habitat restoration efforts that will lead to the recovery and conservation of fish populations and fisheries in northern California.


To conserve, enhance, and protect aquatic ecosystems in northern California in partnership with States, Tribes, other Federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and concerned citizens.


The goals of the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office in support of this mission:

1.  Partnerships and Accountability:

•    Partnership: Collaborate with tribes other agencies, organizations and individuals to conserve, protect, and enhance aquatic ecosystems.

•    Outreach: Communicate to inform and educate people about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, fish and wildlife resources, and ecosystems in the northern California region.

2.  Aquatic Species Conservation and Management:

•    Aquatic Nuisance Species: Promote cooperative efforts to prevent, control, and manage the spread of nonindigenous aquatic nuisance species.

•    Threatened and Endangered Species: Restore threatened and endangered fish species (and their habitats) to healthy, self-sustaining populations.

•    Interjurisdictional Fisheries: Provide Service perspective and assistance in the conservation, restoration, and management of northern California fish and their habitats.

3.  Aquatic Habitat Restoration and Conservation:

•    Restore wetlands, watersheds and streams, and other aquatic habitats in the northern California region.

4.  Leadership in Science and Technology:

•    Develop and manage large scale fisheries databases.

5.  Workforce Management:

•    Train, equip and support staff to effectively and safely meet our aquatic resource conservation goals.

6.  Public Use:

•    Assist Federal resource managers and regulators in fisheries management and stewardship.

Fisheries Program Guidance

1. The Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office Fisheries Program Mission is aligned with the California and Nevada Operations Strategic Plan, July 28, 2006

California Nevada Operations Vision

•    Acknowledged excellence in enhancing the environmental quality of California's, Nevada's, and Klamath's diverse ecological resources.

California Nevada Operations Mission Statement

•    California and Nevada Operations (CNO) is dedicated to providing biological expertise and leadership to the conservation and restoration of the Services' trust resources through the application of creditable science, sound managerial techniques, and community-based partnerships.


2. Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office Fisheries Program activities are aligned with the National Fisheries Program Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2004 – 2008, January 20, 2006

National Vision

The vision of the Service and its Fisheries Program is working with partners to restore and maintain fish and other aquatic resources at self-sustaining levels and to support Federal mitigation programs for the benefit of the American public.

Implementing this vision will help the Fisheries Program do more for aquatic resources and the people who value and depend on them through enhanced partnerships, scientific integrity, and a balanced approach to conservation.

National Commitment

To achieve the Fisheries Program vision, we are committed to working with our partners to:

  • Protect the health of aquatic habitats;
  • Restore fish and other aquatic resources; and
  • Provide opportunities to enjoy the many benefits of healthy aquatic resources.

National Criteria for Making Decisions and Setting Priorities

The Fisheries Program will use five criteria in deciding what fishery activities, opportunities, and issues to address for each of the seven priority areas, and partners will be consulted as key decisions are made that affect the direction of the Fisheries Program. The criteria are based on the identification of a Federal role and a determination of whether or not the Service is the most appropriate Federal agency. The Service will weigh proposed and potential activities by:

  • The strength of Federal authority and responsibility;
  • The extent to which our efforts will complement others in the fisheries and aquatic resources conservation community;
  • The likelihood that our efforts will produce measurable resource results;
  • The likelihood that our efforts will produce significant economic or social benefits; and
  • The extent of partner support.


Adult Salmonid Monitoring

Arcata Fish and Wildlife Fisheries Program has conducted adult salmonid population surveys on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers since 1993. Our work is in cooperation and coordination with the California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Hoopa Valley, Yurok and Karuk Tribes. Information collected will help managers with the Klamath basin fall Chinook salmon run size estimates and predictions for out year run size projections. This information is critical for future Tribal subsistence and commercial and recreational fisheries allocations. Surveys consist of conducting adult carcass mark-recapture estimations and redd counts. Typically, surveys begin in late September and continue through the end of November or mid December.

  • Klamath Redd Survey:

The Klamath River fall Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) redd survey is conducted by the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Service and the Karuk Tribal Fisheries Department. The survey covers a distance of 135.9 river kilometers from Iron Gate Dam to the confluence of Indian Creek in Happy Camp.

  • Klamath Carcass Survey:

In cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Yurok Tribal Fisheries Program, Chinook salmon carcass surveys have been conducted on the mainstem Klamath River from Iron Gate Dam to the Shasta River confluence since 2001. The purpose of these surveys is to estimate escapement of fall-run Chinook salmon using carcass mark-recapture methods and to characterize the run, in terms of age and sex composition and spawning success.

  • Trinity River Redd and Carcass Surveys:

The Trinity River carcass and redd survey is a collaborative effort to monitor Chinook salmon reproduction and includes participants from California Department of Fish and Game, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Yurok Tribal Fisheries Program, Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, and many volunteers. Surveys are conducted every fall, covering over 103 rkms downstream of Lewiston Dam to monitor adult Chinook salmon escapement. The surveys are designed to collect information on the temporal and spatial distribution of spawning activity. This information will be used to evaluate changes in spawning distribution due to Trinity River Restoration Program actions. Surveys typically begin in mid-September and extend through mid-December.

Juvenile Salmonid Monitoring

Juvenile salmonid investigations have been conducted by the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office since 1988. The monitoring efforts utilize frame nets, rotary screw traps, seine nets, electrofishing, and telemetry equipment. The purpose of these projects is to monitor the health, survival, abundance, timing, hatchery contribution, and biological parameters of emigrating anadromous salmonids in the mainstem Klamath and Trinity Rivers. It is intended that this information will provide basic biological information that can be used by freshwater habitat managers and potentially fishery harvest managers. The monitoring of emigrating juvenile salmonid populations in conjunction with habitat availability data and suitability studies may permit for the evaluation of restoration efforts because these studies focus on the juvenile phase of life which is most affected by instream conditions.

Special Studies

The Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office often undertakes special studies that enhance the knowledge base for management of aquatic species. These studies often don't fall neatly into any prescribed category, and often employ cutting edge technology. These special studies often are pilot studies, studies to test a concept, or are short term studies that answer a specific management question. Special studies usually involve other federal, state, local, and tribal agencies and are developed cooperatively with these agencies. The AFWO often conducts the field work as an independent third-party providing data and results to the cooperators.

  • Investigation of Green Sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) Migration and Habitat Use in the Klamath and Trinity Rivers

In 2002 and 2003, the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Fisheries Program, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Karuk Tribe of California, and Yurok Tribal Fisheries Program conducted a study to monitor the migration and habitats utilized by green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) in the Klamath and Trinity Rivers. Sturgeon were tagged using Advanced Telemetry Systems radio transmitters, Vemco ultrasonic transmitters and Floy disc tags. Each agency manually tracked and retrieved data from fixed stations on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers (radio and sonic).    

  • Fish communities in Eelgrass, Oyster Culture, and Mudflat Habitats of North Humboldt Bay, California

The Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office has conducted fish community studies on Humboldt Bay since July of 2003. This project addresses Fish community use of Eel grass versus non-eel grass habitats, as well as mariculture sites versus non-mariculture sites.

Water Quality Monitoring Program

The Water Quality Monitoring Program is one of many efforts of the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office to provide scientific information about area river ecosystems. The need for water quality data stems from a variety of goals that improve our understanding of the connectivity of water quality to the aquatic habitat, fish health and flow management of river systems. Water quality monitoring provides empirical data to support modeling efforts, regulatory needs and natural resource decisions.

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Project Updates, Data Series & Technical Reports, Journal Articles, and Factsheets.
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Staff Directory for the FAC Program at the Arcata FWO.
Juvenile Northern Pike in aquarium at Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery, South Dakota
The Fish and Aquatic Conservation program leads aquatic conservation efforts for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We are committed to tackling the nation’s highest priority aquatic conservation and recreational challenges to conserve, restore, and enhance fisheries for future generations.