The Smith River, recognized for its exceptional water quality year-round, was incorporated into the Coastal Monitoring Program in 2011. Already, a variety of surveys have been conducted and the results are available.
Monitoring includes salmon and steelhead spawner surveys to estimate annual abundance over time in this watershed. Survey data from the first two years indicate coho salmon currently have a very restricted spawning distribution relative to Chinook salmon or steelhead. A juvenile out-migrant trap will be installed near the mouth of Mill Creek, a major tributary to the Smith River, to estimate the number of salmon and steelhead smolts leaving Mill Creek sub-basin. Abundance estimates from this trap will be used to track productivity and survival. The Department recently deployed a sonar camera in the lower basin to determine effectiveness of this new technology in obtaining basin-wide adult salmon and steelhead population estimates for large rivers. Using this technology, over 60,000 adult salmon and steelhead counted over two seasons from the fall of 2010 and the spring of 2012, providing a baseline estimate of returning adult salmon and steelhead to the Smith River. Current monitoring partnerships with the Department include National Parks Service, California State Parks, and the Smith River Alliance.