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The Pacific Northwest Survey Photograph Collection illustrates a series of stream habitat surveys conducted by the United States Department of Commerce Bureau of Fisheries from Fall 1934 to 1945 for the entire Columbia River Basin. The complete study covered over 6200 kilometers and detailed conditions in the more than 390 streams that served as spawning and rearing habitat for spring Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus ssp). Researchers now note that the data from this survey offers us the earliest and most complete quantitative documentation of anadromous fish habitat in the Pacific Northwest.

Between 1948 and 1951, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published seven short reports that summarized this data (Special Scientific Reports Nos. 36–40, 57, 62). For the next 40 years, these summaries served as the only available record of this important undertaking. The original documents were located in 1987 by Dr. James R. Sedell and other researchers in the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station. Since then, they have made the original data available in digital form and used this data in conjunction with their own surveys to study historical changes in pool habitats in the Columbia River Basin over the past 60 years.

The Pacific Northwest Streams Survey Photo Collection offers the researcher and non-researcher alike a glimpse of this significant body of work by a largely unrecognized group of researchers. Please take this opportunity to investigate the work of these individuals who “toiled many long hours under difficult circumstances, only to have their data sit in boxes for 50 years, virtually unknown to the rest of the world” [1]. In doing so, you will help ensure that this work is valued for years to come.

[1] McIntosh, Bruce, Sedell, James R, Thurow, Russell F. Clarke, Sharon E. and Chandler, Gwynn L. (2000) “Historical changes in pool habitats in the Columbia River Basin,” Ecological Applications 10(5): 1478–1496.

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