It sounds like it might be worth making a concentrated effort to gather as much environmental data, including human activity, as possible in the productive area(s) during the spawning and nursery periods which will hopefully be usable to create a workable habitat model. Being that the river environment is constantly changing and fluctuating to a certain extent every year, that may be a difficult task. Maybe it is something that AI would be useful for.
Maybe even some of the restoration that was done upstream made a difference.
What kind of improvement(s) did you have in mind?
I talked to Tim D once because DU wanted the waterway opened up to allow for flow, which (of course) would be good to get more ducks in there. Tim told me that it was specifically designed NOT to do that.
Chris Driscoll & Erin Redding know enough about Spicer Creek to know why it works. Same "type" of shoreline protection will be used by BNW on the West River to slow down erosion.
What theses projects now consist of is building segmented walls to break up flow but still maintain some flow. There was also a lot of complexity added (root balls, logs, stumps, etc) to diversify the habitat.
Have you contacted Erin Redding (DEC)? She took over Tim D's position & is now the habitat improveent specialist in the Niagara. We worked with her when we were putting in the FAS's & she is as good as they come