Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey installed water temperature sensors last week in the Big Wood River and its tributaries.
According to a news release from the USGS, data from the sensors will be analyzed as part of an ecological health assessment of the watershed to be completed next year. USGS scientists are conducting the assessment in cooperation with the Idaho Council of Trout Unlimited, Wood River Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and Blaine County.
The temperature sensors were installed at seven USGS stream gauges on the Big Wood, its north and east forks, and on Trail and Warm Springs creeks. The sensors will continuously log temperature readings that will be downloaded and entered into the USGS National Water Information System database for public access. The sensors will remain in place through September.
“We are excited about being part of this collaborative effort.”
The Nature Conservancy
Later this summer, USGS scientists will visit the same seven stream gauge sites to collect water-quality and biological samples, including fish and insects. The scientists also will collect data about habitat at each location. Scientists will analyze all of the temperature, water-quality, biological and ecological data, along with streamflow data from the stream gauges. Study findings will be published in fall 2015.
“Long-term ecological data will play a large role in our efforts to understand what needs and deficiencies exist in the Big Wood River system,” said Keri York, director of conservation with the Wood River Land Trust. “Local conservation organizations will be able to use these data to guide and prioritize future protection, restoration and reconnection efforts within the Big Wood River watershed.”
Continuous data from the real-time temperature gauge at Silver Creek will also be incorporated into the study, and USGS scientists will collect water-quality samples at Silver Creek. No additional biological or ecological samples will be collected there because the USGS and The Nature Conservancy regularly conduct ecological monitoring at the Silver Creek Preserve.
“We are excited about being part of this collaborative effort to establish long-term monitoring on the Big Wood,” said preserve Manager Dayna Gross. “We look forward to working with the community to ensure that the monitoring continues and is relevant long into the future.”
Information about the Wood River study will be available online at the USGS Idaho Water Science Center website.