Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Oregon
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Oregon Project

Native fish species distribution and population status in Goose Lake Valley, Oregon and California

September 2021 - December 2025


Participating Agencies

  • USFWS Western Region
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • US Geological Survey
A redband trout caught in the Warner Mountains

The Goose Lake Valley is an endorheic desert valley that runs north-to-south on the border of Oregon and California. The Valley’s watersheds drain into Goose Lake — a slightly alkaline system that has historically dried up during severe drought years (e.g., 2015), and drains into the Pit River to the south during very high-flow years. There are several endemic fish species that occupy Goose Lake and its adjacent rivers, marshes, and riparian areas: the Goose Lake redband trout, Goose Lake lamprey, Goose Lake tui chub, and Goose Lake sucker. These endemic species coexist with a variety of native and non-native species. Because Goose Lake and its surrounding watershed are highly sensitive to drought conditions, an increased frequency of drought events in the region may limit the accessibility, quantity, and quality of available habitat for native fishes, thereby putting undue stress on vulnerable species. The goal of this project is to aid agency partners in conducting a population assessment for at-risk native species in Oregon’s closed lakes basin ecosystem and to determine which systems are most at risk of declining populations due to disturbances such as drought and invasive species. This research is timely because consistent surveys have not been conducted in many of Oregon’s high desert basins for more than a decade. Updated abundance and distribution estimates will inform state and federal managers as to the population status of at-risk native species, while the population risk assessment will support actionable management outcomes.