Hey LOSTU members, now is the time to apply to work on projects with the Fishery folks in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. An outline from the Fishery Group Leader of the three projects we plan to support is listed below. This is an activity where we need committed people to volunteer as we have to ‘nominate’ our folks for this effort and there are limits on how many folks will be selected. Other area TU chapters are also eligible to apply as well.

Projects include:

1. Large stream IBI sample – Big Creek – July 12

2. Large stream IBI sample – Cataloochee Creek – July 16

Large stream IBI (Index of Biotic Integrity) sampling involves some similar fish collection techniques as three-pass depletion work, however the goal isn’t to enumerate all fish in the site (no measuring/weighing). What this sampling technique involves is the surveying of different types of habitat, e.g., shoreline, riffle, run, and pool, to determine what type of species are present and using those types of habitat. Crews will be broken up into different groups to survey the above-listed habitat. One crew will shock along the shoreline, while another may be shocking into a large seine located at the bottom of a riffle. A separate group will also seine a pool for fish collections. The idea is to see what specific species of fish are occupying the different habitat (darters, shiners, bass, trout, etc.).

The IBIs typically take place in lower elevation streams where the species diversity is greater. In the case of Cataloochee, our IBI site is located near the USGS gauging station at the Asbury Trail Crossing bridge, approximately 2-miles downstream of the group campground on Cataloochee Creek.

The IBI at Big Creek is a little less stellar; less fish diversity and more strenuous to navigate the streambed than Cataloochee Creek.

3. Population Sampling – Little Cataloochee Creek – July 23 – 26 (with overnight camping and meals in Park with Fishery folks)

The 3-pass depletion work we will perform in Cataloochee will be on Rough Fork, Pretty Hollow Creek, and Onion Bed Branch. Rough Fork is on the southwest portion of Cataloochee Valley near the Caldwell House. The site is easy to access; we just park our trucks and walk less than 30-meters to the site. Pretty Hollow Creek requires roughly a 5-mile round trip hike to access from the Pretty Hollow Horse Camp. Onion Bed Creek is also accessed via the Pretty Hollow Trail and requires a 7.26-mile round trip to reach. The Pretty Hollow Trail has a continuous grade from the horse camp all the way to the Mount Sterling Ridge Trail.

Pretty Hollow requires two shockers and a minimum of 6 crew, while Onion Bed is a one shocker site that requires a minimum of 3 crew to survey. Depending on available staff/volunteers, we can divide and conquer our efforts.

Note from the group leader: Of the three projects, the IBIs are far less strenuous. The hike into Onion Bed and Pretty Hollow are steady and steep. The good thing is that there likely won’t be any brush that needs clearing, although in the case of Pretty Hollow, there will be a steep hike down from the trail to the stream. (The TU-supplied outline describes project #3 as “strenuous all day sampling efforts with long hikes possible”.)

If you have any questions or want to apply, please connect with Jay Hawthorne at johnjhawthorne@gmail.com.

There is an urgency to let me (Jay) know as we need to propose our volunteers to the project manager for selection no later than April 26.