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Harlequin Duck Surveys on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River (WA)

Posted: 03/06/2024
By: Evan Stafford

American Whitewater is partnering with Conservation Northwest and the Forest Service on a community-science project to monitor Harlequin ducks on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. The Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers were designated Wild and Scenic in 2014 and the Forest Service subsequently developed a Comprehensive River Management Plan that recognizes the outstandingly remarkable values for recreation, fisheries, and wildlife. If you are interested in joining this effort we ask you to Sign Up here.

In the development of the management plan, the Forest Service determined that the river corridor includes quality habitat for Harlequin ducks, a riparian-dependent species of concern that is found along the river. The habitat for Harlequin ducks was found to be unique and notable within the region.

Despite this finding, relatively little is known about the spatial extent and distribution of nesting habitat and its utilization by Harlequin ducks along the river corridor. Whitewater boaters have a unique ability to travel through the river corridor and effectively survey the habitat. American Whitewater is partnering in this effort to gain a greater understanding of how Harlequin ducks utilize the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River.

American Whitewater is partnering with Conservation Northwest on a community science project to survey Harlequin ducks along the river through two efforts:

– We are asking those who regularly boat the Middle Fork Snoqualmie to record their observations of Harlequin ducks any time they are out on the river this spring. This will provide us with information on the timing of when ducks arrive as well as information on their general distribution within the river corridor. We anticipate breeding pairs will start to appear around the beginning of April. Anyone can participate in this effort by reporting observations through the WDFW wildlife reporting tool. To use this form you will need to select Birds -> Waterfowl -> Harlequin duck.

– We are seeking a small group of volunteers to participate in a series of four comprehensive boat-based surveys (two in April/May and two in July) that include the upper reaches of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River (as far as we can safely boat upstream of the Tanner River confluence) and extend down to Tanner (the standard take-out for the Middle-Middle).

To learn more about this opportunity and ways you can contribute, we will be offering a webinar overview for whitewater boaters on Thursday March 14 at 5:30pm. This session will include a general overview of goals and objectives and a walk through of the WDFW wildlife reporting form. This session will focus on how to report observations of Harlequin ducks on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. 

To sign up for the webinar, use this link to indicate your interest in volunteering and we will send you the registration link for the webinar.

We will have a more in-depth training session on Thursday April 11 at 5:30pm. This session will provide a more comprehensive overview of the project, cover research protocols, and review data submission. This session will be designed for those interested in participating in the surveys.

The first survey will take place on Saturday April 27. The second survey will occur in early May. The third and fourth surveys will occur in early July.

Thomas O'Keefe

3537 NE 87th St.

Seattle, WA 98115

Phone: 425-417-9012
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