The Imnaha Subbasin has diverse populations of fish and wildlife and unique areas of habitat that are of economic and ecological significance to the people of the State of Oregon and the Northwest, and of special cultural significance to members of the Nez Perce Tribes. The overall goal for the Imnaha subbasin is to restore and/or maintain the health and function of the ecosystem to ensure continued viability of these important populations.
Numerous federal, state, and local entities are charged with maintenance and protection of the natural resources of the Imnaha Subbasin.
National Marine Fisheries Service and Federal Caucus
The goal of the NMFS with respect to the Imnaha Subbasin is to achieve the recovery of the salmon resource. This requires the development of watershed-wide properly functioning habitat conditions and a population level that is viable according to standards and criteria identified by NMFS in two key documents [Matrix of Pathways and Indicators (1996); Viable Salmonid Populations (2000)]. Actions which contribute to these objectives include moisture retention on crop lands, development of riparian vegetation, restoration of streamflow and appropriate hydrologic peak flow conditions, passage improvements and screening, and many other activities. By virtue of Section 7 responsibilities, any federal action requires consultation with NMFS. The recovery planning framework and effort will build upon existing conservation measures and develop additional critical information useful to fish and wildlife managers.
The federal Basinwide Strategy for salmon recovery developed by the federal caucus identifies immediate and long-term actions in the hydropower, hatchery, harvest, and habitat arenas. Importantly for this summary, it commits federal assistance to local efforts in these areas and is quite specific to the Imnaha watershed. These goals are outlined below.
The habitat goals of the Basinwide Salmon Recovery Strategy are: the existence of high quality habitats that are protected, degraded habitats that are restored and connected to other functioning habitats, and a system where further degradation of tributary and estuary habitat and water quality is prevented. Near-term (5- 10 year) objectives for tributary habitat within the Imnaha subbasin include:
Objective 1. Restore and increase tributary flows to improve fish spawning, rearing, and migration.
Objective 2. Screen diversions, combine diversions, and rescreen existing diversions to comply with NMFS criteria to reduce overall mortality.
Objective 3. Reduce passage obstructions to provide immediate benefit to migration, spawning, and rearing.
Strategy 1. Federal agencies, state, and other to address all flow, passage, and screening problems over the next 10 years in the Imnaha Subbasin.
Action 1.1. USBR to implement actions in the Upper Imnaha Subbasin in 2001
Action 1.2. BPA to expand on measures under the NWPPC program to complement USBR’s actions.
Action 1.3. NMFS to provide USBR with passage and screening criteria and methodologies for determining instream flows that satisfy ESA requirements.
Strategy 2. BPA funds protection of currently productive non-federal habitat, especially if at risk of being degraded.
Action 2.1. BPA and NMFS will develop criteria and priorities by June 2001.
Action 2.3. BPA works with non-profit land conservation organizations and others to achieve habitat protection objectives.
Strategy 3. Increase tributary flows through innovation actions.
Action 3.1. Establish a water brokerage as a transactional strategy for securing flows.
Action 3.2. Develop a methodology acceptable to NMFS for ascertaining instream flows that meet ESA requirements.
Strategy 4. Action Agencies to coordinate efforts and support off-site habitat enhancement measures undertaken by others
Action 4.1. Support development of state/tribal 303(d) lists and TMDLs by sharing water quality and biological monitoring information.
Action 4.2. Participate in TMDL coordination or consultation meetings
Action 4.3. Build on and use existing data management structures to improve data sharing.
Action 4.4. Share technical expertise and training with federal, state, tribal, regional, and local entities.
Action 4.5. Leverage funding resources through cooperative projects, agreements, and policy development
The program for tributary habitat is premised on the idea that securing the health of these habitats will boost productivity of listed stocks.
The overarching goal for hatchery reform is reduced genetic, ecological, and management effects of artificial production that are adverse on the natural population. Objectives that are relevant to the Imnaha Subbasin include:
Objective 1. Manage the number of hatchery-produced fish that escape to spawn naturally.
Objective 2. Employ hatchery practices that reduce unwanted straying of hatchery fish into the Imnaha Subbasin (i.e. appropriate acclimation in target streams). For naturally spawning populations in critical ESU habitats, non-ESU hatchery-origin fish do not exceed 5%; ESU hatchery fish do not exceed 5%-30%.
Objective 3. Mark hatchery-produced fish to distinguish natural from hatchery fish on spawning grounds and in fisheries.
Objective 4. Design and conduct fishery programs so fish can be harvested without undue impacts on weaker stocks.
Research Monitoring and Evaluation Goal
Identified trends in abundance and productivity in populations of listed anadromous salmonids.
Objective 1. Conduct population status monitoring to determine juvenile and adult distribution, population status, and trends.
Objective 2. Monitor the status of environmental attributes potentially affecting salmonid populations, their trends, and associations with salmonid population status.
Objective 3. Monitor the effectiveness of intended management actions on aquatic systems, and the response of salmonid populations to those actions.
Objective 4. Assess quality of available regional databases, in terms of accuracy and completeness, which represent habitat quality throughout the basin.
Objective 5. Monitor compliance of management actions toward proper implementation and maintenance.
Strategy 1. Conduct Tier 1 sampling to monitor broad-scale population status and habitat conditions.
Strategy 2. Conduct Tier 2 monitoring to obtain detailed population assessments and assessments of relationships between environmental characteristics and salmonid population trends.
Strategy 3. Conduct Tier 3 monitoring to establish mechanistic links between management actions and fish population response.
US Bureau of Reclamation
Reclamation plans to work with willing private landowners through the existing local infrastructure to improve conditions related to instream flow, barriers, and habitat for anadromous fish. Reclamation plans to continue to work to meet these objectives in the subbasin as long as necessary.
Objective 1. Restore and increase main stem and tributary flows to improve fish spawning, rearing, and migration.
Strategy 1. Plan and design pipelines, canal lining, diversion automation, and other water conservation measures to provide water to meet irrigation demands and retain residual flow in the stream.
Strategy 2. Plan and design stream restoration modifications to enhance natural stream function.
Strategy 3. Continue participation in water exchange proposals associated with Wallowa Dam rehabilitation project.
Objective 2. Eliminate barriers to fish passage.
Strategy 1. Provide planning and engineering design assistance to replace barriers with permanent structures that will freely pass fish.
Objective 3. Improve habitat for migrating, spawning, and rearing anadromous fish
Strategy 1. Plan and design structures and other features to improve habitat.
US Fish and Wildlife Service
The Fish and Wildlife Service, LSRCP Office administers and funds the operation, maintenance, and evaluation of all LSRCP facilities in the Imnaha River Basin through cooperative agreements with the agencies and tribes. As the agency that markets Columbia River generated power, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) reimburses the FWS for all power-related LSRCP costs. The basis for the development of the LSRCP was derived from the Special Report, Lower Snake River Fish and Wildlife Compensation Plan, Lower Snake River, Washington and Idaho, June 1975 . (USACE 1975) and further described in “A Review of the Lower Snake River Compensation Plan Hatchery Program” (Herrig 1990). The USFWS is also required to comply with the Endangered Species Act, to meet tribal trust responsibilities, to adhere to various federal laws, agreements, and court orders, and to pursue the USFWS Mission and Vision (USFWS 1998).
The LSRCP spring/summer chinook program in the Imnaha River Basin consists of one hatchery and associated satellite facility (Lookingglass FH and Imnaha SF). The LSRCP goal is to return 3,210 spring/summer chinook adults to the Snake River basin above Lower Granite Dam (USFWS 2001). The hatchery and associated satellite facility are operated by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The LSRCP steelhead program in the Imnaha River consists of two hatcheries and associated satellite facilities that rear and acclimate steelhead (Irrigon FH, Wallowa FH, Big Canyon SF, and Little Sheep SF). The LSRCP goal is to return 2,000 steelhead adults to the Snake River Basin above Lower Granite Dam. Irrigon FH, Wallowa FH, Big Canyon SF, and Little Sheep SF are operated by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
As LSRCP cooperators, the Nez Perce Tribe also participates in operation and management decisions in all LSRCP spring/summer chinook and summer steelhead programs in the Imnaha River Basin. All cooperators are funded to conduct monitoring and evaluation studies and fish health.
Return 3,210 spring/summer chinook and 2,000-summer steelhead to the Snake River Basin above Lower Granite Dam.
Objective 1. Provide harvest for sport anglers and tribes.
Objective 2. Provide brood stock for hatchery programs.
Objective 3. Provide some natural spawning escapement where appropriate.
Objective 4. Comply with the Endangered Species Act.
Objective 5. Meet tribal trust responsibilities.
Objective 6. Adhere to federal laws, agreements, and court orders.
Objective 7. Pursue the USFWS Mission and Vision.
USFS and BLM (PACFISH)
Fish and Fish Habitat Goals
Restored water quality that provides for stable and productive riparian and aquatic ecosystems.
Restored stream channel integrity, channel processes, and sediment regimes under which riparian and aquatic ecosystems developed.
Restored instream flows supporting healthy riparian and aquatic habitats, stable and effectively functioning stream channels, and rerouted flood discharges.
Restored natural timing and variability of the water table elevation in meadows and wetlands.
Restored diversity and productivity of native and desired non-native plant communities in riparian zones.
Restored riparian vegetation a) providing large woody debris characteristic of natural aquatic and riparian ecosystems, b) providing adequate summer and winter thermal regulation within the riparian and aquatic zones, c) achieving rates of surface erosion, bank erosion, and channel migration characteristic of those under which the communities developed.
Restored riparian and aquatic habitats necessary to foster the unique genetic fish stocks that evolved within the specific geo-climatic region.
Restored habitat to support populations of well-distributed native and desire non-native plant, vertebrate, and invertebrate populations that contribute to the viability of riparian-dependent communities.
Fish and Fish Habitat Objectives (Riparian Management Objectives - RMO)
Objective 1. Establish Pool Frequencies (#pools/mi) dependent on width of wetted stream
Objective 2. Comply with state water quality standards in all systems (max < 68°F)
Objective 3. Establish large woody debris in all forested systems (> 20 pieces/mi, > 12 in diameter, > 35 ft length).
Objective 4. Ensure > 80% bank stability in non-forested systems
Objective 5. Reduce bank angles (undercuts) in non-forested systems (> 75% of banks with < 90% angle).
Objective 6. Establish appropriate width/depth ratios in all systems (< 10, mean wetted width divided by mean depth).
Objective 1. Identify and cooperate with federal, Tribal, and state and local governments to secure instream flows needed to maintain riparian resources, channel conditions, and aquatic habitat
Objective 2. Fell trees in Riparian Habitat Conservation Areas when they pose a safety risk. Keep felled trees on site when needed to meet woody debris objectives.
Objective 3. Apply herbicides, pesticides, and other toxicants/chemicals in a manner to avoid impacts that are inconsistent with attainment of RMOs.
Objective 4. Locate water-drafting sites to minimize adverse effects on stream channel stability, sedimentation, and in-stream flows.
Watershed and Habitat Restoration
Objective 1. Design and implement watershed restoration projects in a manner that promotes the long-term ecological integrity of ecosystems, conserve the genetic integrity of native species, and contributes to attainment of RMOs.
Objective 2. Cooperate with federal, state, and tribal agencies, and private landowners to develop watershed-based CRMPs or other cooperative agreements to meet RMOs.
Fisheries and Wildlife Restoration
Objective 1. Design and implement fish and wildlife habitat restoration and enhancement activities in a manner that contributes to attainment of the RMOs.
Objective 2. Design, construct, and operate fish and wildlife interpretive and other use-enhancement facilities in a manner that is consistent with attainment of RMOs.
Objective 3. Cooperate with federal, state, and tribal wildlife management agencies to identify and eliminate wild ungulate impacts that are inconsistent with attainment of RMOs.
Objective 4. Cooperate with federal, state, and tribal fish management agencies to identify and eliminate impacts associated with habitat manipulation, fish stocking, fish harvest, and poaching that threaten the continued existence and distribution of native fish stocks inhabiting federal lands.