Draft Imnaha Subbasin Summary November 30, 2001 Prepared for the Northwest Power Planning Council Subbasin Team Leader



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Imnaha Subbasin Recommendations

Projects and Budgets

Project: 27017 – Bull trout population assessment and life history characteristics in association with habitat quality and land use: template for recovery planning


Sponsor: Utah Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, USGS

Short Description


Assess bull trout population density, abundance and life history characteristics for core areas of the Imnaha Subbasin and evaluate relationships to habitat quality and land use based on field evaluations and mark/recapture techniques.

Abbreviated Abstract

The goal of this project is to understand and document population abundance and rates of population change for threatened bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in the Imnaha River Subbasin, and to relate population and life history characteristics to habitat quality and land use. The data and conservation assessment tools provided by this project will be used in bull trout recovery planning and will provide a template for research, monitoring, and evaluation programs for bull trout populations throughout this as well as other provinces. We propose to do a comprehensive population assessment for all life stages of bull trout in combination with detailed habitat assessments for the streams identified. This assessment will provide information on densities, population abundance and structure, movement, and habitat quality. Basic population abundance and density information is crucial for determining population status, for monitoring population size and trends, and to evaluate opportunities for, and the effectiveness of, management activities aimed at bull trout recovery. Based on established and cost effective mark and recapture techniques, the Pradel-type mark/recapture analysis we have proposed provides a simple response variable, lambda, which can be used to evaluate how each sub-population is responding to current habitat conditions or would likely respond to future habitat improvements. We will develop a simple population life-cycle model based on bull trout abundance data and life history characteristics combined with information on habitat quality and land use patterns. Within each of the proposed watersheds, we have identified core areas (streams), which demonstrate a range of habitat quality as well as different management types (e.g., private vs. USFS). Further, the USFS Effectiveness Monitoring program annually provides detailed stream habitat assessments for different land use management types for watersheds throughout the Columbia Basin, which may ultimately be used for evaluating the effect of habitat quality on bull trout survival in additional areas.


Relationship to Other Projects





Project ID

Title

Nature of Relationship

199405400

Characterize the Migratory Patterns, Structure, Abundance, and Status of Bull Trout Populations from Subbasins in the Columbia Plateau

complementary




IDFG General Parr Monitoring

provides information for




NWPPC Ecosystem Diagnostics and Treatment (EDT)

project data can be use to validate EDT model



Relationship to Existing Goals, Objectives and Strategies

The goals of this project will help managers evaluate threats to listed salmon and trout from potential habitat degradation as identified in the Imnaha River Subbasin Plan (Plan). These goals should also provide a benefit to listed salmon and steelhead populations in this basin. In this summary, the Imnaha subbasin in general is described as being in relatively good condition with sedimentation as potentially the most serious problem. Land uses that have historically affected bull trout include timber harvest, road building, mining, grazing, irrigation development, and recreation. Most of these land uses continue to take place although in some cases not to the extent or in the same manner as in the past. Logging, road construction, and farming all have the potential of being sediment producers and thereby adversely affecting fish production. Roads along the mainstem Imnaha River and Big Sheep Creek remain in use today, although they have been improved. Sinuosity of streams in the Imnaha River is low because of geology, and in localized areas because of riprap and bank stabilization associated with road building. Much of the riparian vegetation has been modified over time. The mainstem Imnaha River is lacking in large woody debris.

The potential for increasing fish survival from habitat changes needs to be identified, core areas need to be protected, and evaluation needs to occur when habitat changes are implemented, in order to evaluate the effectiveness of management actions and aide in future bull trout planning for other areas. Portions of Big Sheep Creek and the Imnaha River mainstem may benefit from fencing to protect from the detrimental effects of cattle grazing. Riparian reserves or no-activity buffers designated under consultation with NMFS for ESA listed spring chinook salmon should help protect bull trout habitat from logging, although there is very limited overlap between chinook salmon and bull trout in Sheep Creek (Dambacher and Jones 1997). Regarding the potential impact of habitat, the Plan suggests that monitoring for the purpose of collecting baseline fisheries production information should commence in areas proposed for U.S. Forest Service logging activities (87% of mainstem habitat is USFS). This information is essential to evaluating future fisheries impacts of proposed timber sales. The Plan further states that the only area that remains relatively static in management goals and strategies is the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. In addition, the need for bull trout population assessment information has been identified by the NWPPC Fish and Wildlife Program and Subbasin Summaries, USFWS, and the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds, in order to aide in recovery planning and adaptive management in the region.

Stream habitat surveys are currently being used by state and federal conservation agencies (Bain et al. 1999) to address legal mandates. Consultation protocols for aquatic species protected under the Endangered Species Act include documentation of the stream habitat characteristics (NMFS 1996). There are also attempts to utilize aquatic habitat metrics as thresholds in meeting the mandates of the Clean Water Act and physical attributes of stream are being used as management standards in federal land management plans. These habitat data need to be explicitly related back to fish survival and recovery.


Review Comments


This USFWS suggests that this proposal was designed to develop techniques to assess recovery planning and provide information for implementing the biological opinion. The proposed work would assess bull trout population density, abundance, and life history characteristics for core areas of the Imnaha Subbasin and evaluate relationships to habitat quality and land use based on field evaluations and mark/recapture techniques. The USFWS suggests the proposed work would “also provide the technical information to develop a template for bull trout recovery planning.” The USFWS indicated that the proposed work is “needed to evaluate population response to recovery measures within and outside of the tributaries.” According to the USFWS, the proposed work would help implement reasonable and prudent measure 10.A.3.1 and terms and conditions 11.1, 11.2. and 11.A.2.2.b in the FCRPS biological opinion..

The USFWS views the proposed work “as an extremely important project for assisting in determining bull trout population status and habitat conditions” and believes there is a “need to systematically collect critical tributary information on bull trout to help in assessing the effects of FCRPS operation.” The USFWS supports the funding of this proposal.


Budget


FY02

FY03

FY04

$469,792

Category: High Priority

Comments:

$269,888

Category: High Priority


$269,888

Category: High Priority





Actions by Others


The USFS Effectiveness Monitoring program has sampled several sites within this basin and will continue to sample selected sites in the future as part of their program (Kershner, in review). Selected stream reaches are monitored for ~ 40 different biotic and abiotic stream and riparian features meant to describe the effects of land management (see Table 2 in proposal). The USFS has contributed >1 million dollars towards that program across the Columbia Basin, and we have proposed collaborating with them for bull trout habitat assessment (Jeff Kershner, USFS, is a PI on this proposed project).

ODFW and USFS sample for a variety of bull trout populations measures intermittently in this subbasin.

Project: 27021 – Adult Steelhead Escapement Monitoring – Imnaha River Subbasin

Sponsor: Nez Perce Tribe

Short Description


Quantify adult steelhead abundance, population growth rate, spatial distribution, and genetic stock structure in all tributaries of the Imnaha River subbasin through the operation of adult spawner escapement monitoring facilities

Abbreviated Abstract

Snake River steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act exhibiting significantly declining numbers and low level of abundance of adults counted at Lower Granite Dam (Busby et al. 1996; CRI 2000). Tributary specific quantitative information of steelhead status and population structure upstream of Lower Granite Dam is limited for B-run aggregates and virtually non-existent for A-run aggregates, making development of fisheries conservation or management actions problematic. Independent populations within the Snake River steelhead ESU have not been defined according to criteria in NMFS’ Viable Salmonid Population document (VSP; McElhany et al. 2000). However, based on the limited available data, the NMFS assumes that there are at least five populations of A-run and five populations of B-run steelhead in the Snake River Steelhead ESU. The component populations are an indicator of the status of the entire ESU (McElhany et al 2000), and as such the NMFS Biological Opinion (2000) calls for defining populations based on biological criteria and evaluating population viability in accordance with NMFS’ VSP approach. The VSP defines population performance measures in terms of four key parameters: abundance, population growth rate, spatial structure, and diversity then relates performance and risks at the population scale to risks affecting the persistence of the entire ESU.

This study will provide Tier 2 level baseline tributary-specific status information through monitoring of adult steelhead escapement in tributaries of the Imnaha River subbasin. Annual non-biased and precise quantification of adult abundance and monitoring of spatial distribution will provide population growth rate and genetic stock structure information. Primary data and derived values will support: 1) evaluation of recovery efforts and NMFS BiOp RPAs, 2) implementation and evaluation of management actions and harvest opportunities, and 3) evaluation of the hatchery steelhead contribution/impacts to natural reproduction within the subbasin in relation to the overall subbasin stock status.


Relationship to Other Projects





Project ID

Title

Nature of Relationship

0

Lower Snake River Compensation Plan Hatchery Evaluations.

Conducts escapement monitoring in Lightning and Cow Creeks. Assist with juvenile survival trapping and survival estimation from the lower Imnaha River.




Lower Snake River Compensation Plan O&M and Evaluations - ODFW

Provides adult escapement monitoring in Little Sheep Creek. Evaluation of hatchery production and natural production returns.

199701501

Imnaha River Smolt Monitoring

Provides juvenile emigration characteristics and survival data, will provide SAR information for steelhead in future years.

198805301

Northeast Oregon Hatchery

Will provide new weir at Gumboot that can operate in high flow conditions and will be utilized by this proposal.

Relationship to Existing Goals, Objectives and Strategies:

This project has a clear relationship to specific objectives in the Imnaha River Subbasin Summary. The research, monitoring and evaluation goal of the federal government is to identify trends in abundance and productivity in populations of listed anadromous salmonids. Accurate long-term abundance data sets will provide the most reliable means of determining population status (i.e. abundance, trend, distribution, and variation). This project is relevant to the following objectives and strategies:



  • 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 of aquatic systems, and the response of salmonid populations to these actions.

  • Objective 5

    • Strategy 2. Conduct Tier 2 monitoring to obtain detailed population assessment and assessments of relationships between environmental characteristics and salmonid population trends.

Monitoring of steelhead abundance would aid the Nez Perce Tribe in determining the success of their goals to “restore anadromous fish in rivers and streams at levels to support the historical, cultural, and economic practices of the tribes,” and “reclaim anadromous and resident fish resource and the environment on which the resource depends for future generations.” The project would also allow the Tribe to determine the status and success of management objectives 1, 3 and 6 were successful (“Restore and recover historically present fish species,” “Manage salmon and steelhead for long-term population persistence,” and “Implement effective monitoring and evaluation of supplementation and habitat enhancement programs of project-specific and reference stream [control] locations.”). This project would specifically fulfill the requirements of Nez Perce Tribe research monitoring and evaluation objectives.



  • Objective 1. Conduct Lower Snake River Compensation Plan (LSRCP) hatchery evaluations.


    • Strategy 7. Determine adult steelhead abundance, spatial structure, and genetic diversity.

  • Objective 4. Develop a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation plan including a summary of existing information on chinook and steelhead population status, including base line genetic stock structure.

    • Strategy 4. Summarize spawning distribution and timing, juvenile emigration and survival, juvenile (hatchery) releases, life history, ecological interactions, genetics, and fish health.

    • Strategy 5. Identify critical uncertainties regarding the condition of stocks in the Snake River Basin and associated with supplementation of those stocks.

Monitoring of steelhead population status is a stated objective for the Oregon Department of fish and Wildlife.





  • Objective 8: Determine relative reproductive success of naturally-spawning hatchery and wild steelhead and chinook salmon in the Imnaha River Basin.

    • Strategy 2. Implement monitoring and evaluation to assess health, status and productivity of natural populations.

      • Action 2.1. Determine genetic diversity, using DNA analysis, of natural steelhead stocks in the Imnaha River basin by sampling 5 representative tributary basins for four consecutive years.

      • Action 2.2. Monitor natural escapement and characterize spawning populations.

      • Action 2.3. Evaluate ability to estimate escapement and straying and ability to characterize spawning populations.
      • Action 2.4. Capture and enumerate returning adult fish at weirs on the Imnaha River and tributaries.

The first goal of Oregon’s Steelhead Plan is to sustain healthy and abundant wild populations of steelhead. The following objectives will be used to achieve this goal:



  • Objective 5. Monitor the status of wild steelhead populations so that long-term trends in populations can be determined.

The proposed steelhead project fulfills existing goals, objectives, strategies, and needs identified in the Imnaha River Subbasin Summary (Rabe et al. 2001). Fish hatchery and fisheries research needs outlined in the Imnaha Subbasin Summary that relate specifically to activities proposed by this project are summarized in Table 1.

Initiation of this project would allow movement toward developing the escapement abundance data sets that provide a scientific basis for management, conservation, and allow evaluation of recovery thresholds (NMFS Biological Opinion 2000). This proposed project is a critical aspect of a viable population management strategy in that it provides quantitative adult escapement abundance information that is recognized within the scientific community (Foose et al. 1995, Botkin et al. 2000) and in recovery planning efforts (NMFS Biological Opinion 2000). Quantifying adult salmon spawner abundance will provide a direct measurement of benefits of the Northwest Power Planning Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program projects (funded by BPA) and effects of recovery alternatives. In addition, the goals and objectives of this proposal are consistent with and recommended by action plans identified in the Biological Opinion, Fish and Wildlife Program, Salmon River Subbasin Summary, and Wy-Kan-Ush-Me-Wa-Kush-Wit (Spirit of the Salmon; CRITFC 1995).

Action 179 in the NMFS Biological Opinion (2001) call for defining populations based on biological criteria and evaluating population viability in accordance with NMFS’ VSP approach. This proposed project would focus on assessing steelhead population abundance and data necessary to estimate the population growth rate.

Action 180 in the NMFS Biological Opinion (2001) calls for Population Status Monitoring. This proposed project was developed to provide Tier 2 level population monitoring which will define population growth rates, detect changes in those growth rates or relative abundance in reasonable time.

Action 174 in the NMFS Biological Opinion (2001) directs funding contributions as appropriate for additional sampling efforts and specific experiments to determine relative distribution and timing of hatchery and natural spawners in relation to the reform of existing hatcheries and artificial production programs. This proposal will quantify and determine the spatial distribution of hatchery origin adults from the LSRCP Little Sheep Creek hatchery program into natural production areas with in the Imnaha River subbasin.

Action 193 in the NMFS Biological Opinion (2001) states that the action agencies shall investigate state-of-the-art, novel fish detection and tagging techniques for use, if warranted, in long-term research, monitoring, and evaluation efforts. This project looks to develop and validate the use of remote monitoring passive fish detection methods (resistivity counters). If successful resistivity counters would become the primary adult steelhead abundance monitoring method with random validation occurring with temporary weirs.

Hierarchical Tier 1 monitoring will be provided by data from this project in the form of status of spawners, juveniles, and hatchery-origin spawners. Some habitat monitoring will be provided by this project with stream temperature data, and in-stream flow data. The goals of Tier 2 monitoring will be provided by this project measuring spawner and redd counts at specific sites, juvenile density and emigration estimates, counts of hatchery fish on spawning sites, counts at weirs, and age structure of spawners on sites (NMFS BIOP 2000 9.6.5.2)

This proposal supports the NWPPC Fish and Wildlife Plan (NPPC 2000) under an adaptive management process using an experimental approach (III.B.2) to achieve abundant and productive fisheries that are able to support Tribal and non-tribal harvest (III.C.1), implement no-net decline management actions that support the recovery of ESA listed stocks (III.C.1 and 2.a), and evaluate effectiveness of NMFS BiOp RPA’s and other management actions (III.D.9). Specifically, providing empirical data necessary to adequately describe the biological performance in terms of abundance and diversity (III.C.2) of steelhead in key individual tributaries to address critical uncertainties and data gaps (III.D.9) described in the Imnaha River subbasin summary under needs and goals sections (see below). This proposal implements actions required under the Artificial Production Review addressing the risks, benefits, and critical uncertainties associated with application of artificial propagation (III.D.4) and evaluates those factors in-relationship to natural/reference stocks throughout the entire Imnaha River subbasin.

Wy-Kan-Ush-Me-Wa-Kush-Wit (Spirit of the salmon) provides guidance to “Establish and monitor escapement checkpoints at mainstem dams and in index subbasins. Methods to be used include video counting at hydropower dams and at key locations in tributaries…. The least intrusive method should be used to collect the necessary information…. Establish additional monitoring programs for each of the subbasin tributary systems to monitor adult escapement and resulting smolt production, and to evaluate (by measuring the number of adults returning) the ability of managers to meet goals set by the Columbia River Fish Management Plan (CRFMP).”


Review Comments


This project addresses RPA 179 and 180. This proposal addresses a need for improved adult escapement; however, the reviewers suggest the level of detail that is provided may exceed what is necessary for making critical management decisions and deterring population/recovery status. The reviewers suggest the work could be "scaled back" yet still provide adequate population data. Although the sponsors suggested the work will provide information where data gaps (especially as related to 174 and 184) exist, the reviewers suggested an urgent issue wold not be addressed. The proposed work would provide more accuracy to the current approach and provide information for recovery efforts.

Budget


FY02

FY03

FY04

$1,055,449

Category: High Priority

Comments:


$767,298

Category: High Priority



$741,804

Category: High Priority





Actions by Others

This project would be a cooperative effort among Tribal, state and federal agencies and independent scientists that would complement ongoing research and management activities. Project activities would actively seek collaboration and coordination with other agencies to establish standardized monitoring efforts that are comparable between streams and that provide regional information application. Adult steelhead abundance monitoring would be closely coordinated with the National Marine Fisheries Service for ESA recovery metrics.

The Nez Perce Tribe’s LSRCP Evaluations project monitors adult steelhead escapement in Lightning Creek and Cow Creek. Stock status of wild steelhead in the Imnaha River subbasin was initiated in 2000 with operation of an adult escapement weir in Lightning Creek. This effort has been expanded to Cow Creek in 2001. The current proposal relies on the continuation of this monitoring and identifies Cow or Lightning creek as a test site for a resistivity counter due ability to link tests to direct counts. The LSRCP Program cooperators in Oregon are assessing steelhead population structure through genetic information from juvenile O. mykiss. A sample collection strategy was developed and initiated in 1999 to allow DNA genetic analysis of stock structure for steelhead in Imnaha and Grande Ronde subbasins. Twenty areas were targeted for sample collections. These sample collections are scheduled to continue for at least four years (through 2002). A long-term genetics monitoring (perhaps with reduced effort) is expected to occur as long as supplementation of steelhead populations in the system occurs.

The LSRCP program through ODFW operates the Little Sheep Creek adult collection and acclimation facility. Evaluation of hatchery returns and wild returns to the Little Sheep Creek weir is conducted annually. Creel surveys are conducted. ODFW is conducting is study addressing the contribution of resident O. mykiss in the Grande Ronde subbasin through otolith analysis. This information will provide inference to the Imnaha River subbasin and address aspects that this proposal is not addressing.

Project: 199701501 – Imnaha River Smolt Survival and Smolt to Adult Return Rate Quantification

Sponsor: Nez Perce Tribe Department of Fisheries Resource Management

Short Description

Quantify juvenile emigrant abundance, determine smolt survival from the Imnaha River to Lower Granite and McNary dams, quantify smolt-to-adult return rate (SAR) of wild/natural chinook salmon at Lower Granite Dam and back to the Imnaha River

Abbreviated Abstract


The goal of this project is to monitor smolt-to-adult return rates (SAR’s) of an index subpopulation of wild/natural chinook salmon in the Imnaha River. It will also continue collection of a time series of chinook salmon and steelhead smolt survival information to mainstem dams. Both types of information would provide accurate performance measures. The performance measures may be used to monitor changes that occur in natal streams, in migration routes, and survival of Imnaha River adult chinook salmon. The project will also quantify juvenile emigrant abundance in the Imnaha River to relate to natural production, in-river survival and determination of salmon life history traits. This information may also be utilized to examine effects of the Lower Snake River Compensation Plan supplementation program.

This project seeks to continue to provide the Fish Passage Center’s Smolt Monitoring Program with emigration data. The Smolt Monitoring Program is identified in Appendix G of the 2000 FCRPS Biological Opinion (action 1193). Retrieval of PIT tag interrogation information from mainstem dams provides observations and estimates of arrival timing, travel time, and survival. This information is used to shape in-season water budget and spill requests for emigrating anadromous salmonid smolts through the mainstem river hydroelectric corridor. The expected results are a continuation of a series of arrival timing, travel time, and survival data.



Relationship to Other Projects



Project ID


Title

Nature of Relationship

199102800

Monitoring Smolt Migrations of wild Snake River spring/summer chinook salmon

Provide release-recapture data for evaluating spring/summer chinook salmon

199202604

Investigate Early Life History of Spring Chinook Salmon and Summer Steelhead in the Grande Ronde River Basin

Provide release-recapture data for evaluating spring/summer Chinook salmon




Adult Steelhead Status Monitoring – Imnaha Sub Basin

New project – Sharing of adult escapement data, logistical support for field activities in the Imnaha Canyon.




South Fork Salmon River SAR

New project – Sharing of technologies for interrogating and enumerating returning adult salmonids

2484

Johnson Creek Artificial Propagation Enhancement Monitoring and Evaluation

New project – Sharing of technologies for interrogating and enumerating returning adult salmonids

2654

Salmonid Gamete Preservation

Sharing of adult escapement data, logistical support for field activities in the Imnaha Canyon.


2644

Lower Snake River Adult Escapement Monitoring

Sharing of adult escapement data, logistical support for field activities in the Imnaha Canyon




Nez Perce Tribe Lower Snake River Compensation Plan Hatchery Evaluations

(Formerly funded by the USFWS) Cost-shared operation of trapping and tagging operations, technical and administrative support

20552

Smolt Monitoring Program Umbrella

Daily collection of smolt data for use in the Smolt Monitoring Program

198712700

Smolt Monitoring by Non-Federal Entities

Sharing of emigration data from the Grande Ronde, Salmon, and Snake Rivers, and mainstem dams through the Fish Passage Center.

198909800

Idaho Salmon Supplementation Studies

Sharing and comparing emigration data (arrival time, travel time, survival)

198909801

Evaluate Salmon Supplementation in Idaho Rivers

Sharing and comparing emigration data (arrival time, travel time, survival)

198909803

Idaho Salmon Supplementation Studies

Sharing and comparing emigration data (arrival time, travel time, survival)


8712702

Comparative Survival Rate Study

Assist the program by providing PIT tagged natural Chinook salmon for the study

19833500

Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery Program

Sharing and comparing emigration data from tributaries of the Clearwater and Imnaha Rivers (arrival time, travel time, survival) through technical work groups

1774

Northeast Oregon Hatchery Program

Functions as a component of the monitoring and evaluation program



Relationship to Existing Goals, Objectives and Strategies

The 2000 FCRPS Biological Opinion’s Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation Plan (NMFS 2000) stated in section 9.5.6 calls for population status monitoring. It recommends monitoring the population growth rate. However, the authors acknowledge that it will be difficult to detect population responses “due to the normal salmon return times and naturally high variability in salmonid populations.” The recommended high priority monitoring and evaluation measures called for are the development of short-term measures of stock performance, such as recruits per spawner, and measures, such as survival, that focus on life history stages. NMFS (2000) estimates in Table 9.2-4 that the egg to adult, or any constituent life stage, survival rate for the Imnaha River chinook salmon population must increase by 126% to 166% before recovery is achieved. The Imnaha River Smolt Survival and Smolt to Adult Return Rate Quantification Project will provide short term measures of stock performance by producing a SAR for natural chinook salmon at Lower Granite Dam and the mouth of the Imnaha River and juvenile survival estimates from the mouth of the Imnaha River to Lower Granite Dam and Lower Monumental Dam for natural and hatchery chinook salmon and steelhead. We consider achieving short-term measures of survival as taking the necessary logical steps towards monitoring the population growth rate and population responses due to environmental changes. The emphasis on providing short term measures of stock performance and life history stages does not change the primary purpose of the original Imnaha River Smolt Monitoring Project and it will continue to supply the Fish Passage Center with in-season migration data as called for in Appendix H, actions 1193 and 1240.

This program has been providing emigration data to the Fish Passage Center since 1994 when it began participating as part of the Smolt Monitoring by Non-Federal Entities (Project No. 8712700) and began operating as a cost-shared project to the Nez Perce Tribe’s Lower Snake River Compensation Plan hatchery evaluation studies. The Nez Perce Tribe’s Lower Snake River Compensation Plan hatchery evaluation studies has been collecting emigration data from Imnaha River since 1992 as part of a long term monitoring effort funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Imnaha River Smolt Survival and Smolt to Adult Return Rate Quantification program will continue to assist this program in maintaining a time series of data that represent a variety of environmental conditions and hydro-operations. The rationale behind monitoring smolts is to provide managers with in-season information on chinook salmon and steelhead smolt emigration relative to water budget and spill planning in the mainstem Snake and Columbia River hydroelectric corridor. In-season shaping of the water budget, dam operations and spill requests are crucial to maximize smolt survival past the eight hydroelectric projects. The Imnaha River provides a tributary specific in-season view of the magnitude of the run from the Imnaha for natural and hatchery chinook salmon and steelhead. Survival can be improved with specific emigration information. For example, when this study was initiated in 1994, 90% of the natural Imnaha River chinook salmon smolts migrated past Lower Granite Dam (LGR) before spill was initiated in an attempt to improve survival. Imnaha Smolt Monitoring Program identified the emigration timing and the ranges in timing from the Imnaha River, and the median and 90% arrival timing dates at LGR. This demonstrates how the water budget can be shaped to provide improved survival conditions for Imnaha River chinook salmon smolts.

The proposed monitoring and evaluation activities are designed to provide information at a Tier 2 level, as defined in Appendix G of the FCRPS Biological Opinion (NMFS 2000). The smolt monitoring research is also designed to address the Tribal Recovery Plan (Wy-Kan-Ush-Mi Wa-Kish-Wit 1995), which states "to develop experimental and monitoring programs in association with these projects to study the relationships between natural and supplemented components of the populations". It suggests that smolt abundance be estimated at tributary mouths to estimate egg to smolt survival production parameter. The Tribal Recovery Plan also suggests a suite of juvenile salmon passage alternatives which would require stream reach survival estimates to evaluate effectiveness of the preferred alternative through PIT tagging of smolts. The Tribal Recovery Plan recommends that additional monitoring programs be established “for each of the subbasin tributary systems to monitor adult escapement and resulting smolt production, and to evaluate (by measuring the number of adults returning) the ability of managers to meet goals set by the Columbia River Fish Management Plan.”

Estimation of SAR’s for the Imnaha River are necessary for implementing a monitoring and evaluation component of the Nez Perce Tribe’s Spring Chinook Master plan for the Northeast Oregon Hatchery Program (Ashe et al. 2000). The policy process component of the masterplan refers to technical outlines provied by the document entitled “Review of Artificial Production of Anadromous and Resident Fish in the Columbia Basin” (Brannon et al. 1999, cited in Ashe et al. 2000). Guieline 17 recommends that a hatchery fish monitoring program needs to be developed on performance from release to return, including information on survival success…(Brannon et al. 1999, cited in Ashe et al. 2000). The rationale is to compare performance parameters with native (natural) fish.

Funding of the Imnaha Smolt Monitoring Program Imnaha River Smolt Survival and Smolt to Adult Return Rate Quantification program will allow for the continued collection and marking of chinook salmon and steelhead with Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags at a level that will result in juvenile survival estimates to the Columbia and Snake River dams and allows for the analysis of returns of PIT tagged adult chinook salmon as recommended in the FCRPS Biological Opinion (NMFS 2000) in Action 185. This program will develop a novel fish detection technique as specified in Action 193 by implementing technology developed for detecting adults in the ladders of mainstem dams (Downing 2000). The development of a passive weir or interrogation facility capable of detecting PIT tagged adult fish would allow for a SAR calculation at the mouth of the Imnaha River and would be another logical step toward monitoring the population growth rate and population response to environmental change. Although our objectives do not intend to compare the performance of Imnaha River fish with downstream stocks as called for in Action 188, the submission of Imnaha PIT tagging files to PTAGIS will allow for a basin-wide research and analysis to occur in the future. Action 189 can only occur if enough fish are tagged to determine a SAR. An example of the use of returning Imnaha River PIT tagged fish used for basin-wide research and analysis is the adult radio telemetry studies conducted by the University of Idaho and the National Marine Fisheries Service. A total of 30 of the 85 adult natural chinook salmon reported as adult PIT tag recaptures have been radio tagged at Bonneville Dam from 1998 to 2001 (PTAGIS June 21, 2001). The research is conducted independently from the Nez Perce Tribe.

Past research for this program was justified under sections 5.1B and 5.1B.1 of the 1987 Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. Under the new 2000 Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program the primary strategies are as follows: 1) Identify and resolve key uncertainties for the program, 2) monitor, evaluate, and apply results, and 3) make information from this program readily available. At a basin-wide and subbasin level, SAR’s of natural chinook salmon is a key uncertainty and needs to be quantified if population status monitoring is to be achieved as called for in section 9.5.6 of the 2000 FCRPS Biological Opinion.

At the subbasin level, the Imnaha River Subbasin Summary states “anadromous fish production in the Imnaha River subbasin is currently being limited by out-of-subbasin factors.” Management objectives 10 and 13 of the Nez Perce Tribe listed in the Imnaha Subbasin summary identify the desire to “maintain a natural smolt-to-adult survival rate of 2 to 6% for salmon and steelhead” and to “address key limiting survival factors at mainstem hydroelectric facilities.” More specifically, the Statement of Fish and Wildlife Needs in the summary identify the following monitoring and evaluation needs for chinook salmon: 1) “Continue and expand efforts to monitor the effectiveness of the chinook captive broodstock and LSRCP and NEOH artificial production programs”, 2) “determine smolt-to-adult survival, survival factors, spawning escapement and life history characteristics of natural and hatchery origin spawning populations”, and 3) “monitor smolt and adult survival and migration characteristics and calculate number of returns per spawner to determine if productivity of natural and hatchery populations is affected by modifications of dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.” The statement for the monitoring and evaluation needs for steelhead state, “Continue and expand efforts to quantify juvenile abundance and smolt-to-adult return rates (SAR) of wild/natural and hatchery reared steelhead, continue and expand monitoring of hatchery supplementation and interactions with natural fish” (Bryson 2001).


Review Comments


This project addresses RPA 184, 185 and 189.

Budget


FY02

FY03

FY04

$466,802

Category: High Priority

Comments:


$1,308,590

Category: High Priority



$558,866

Category: High Priority





Actions by Others

This project would be a cooperative effort among Tribal, state and federal agencies and independent scientists that would complement ongoing research and management activities. Project activities will actively seek collaboration and coordination with other agencies to establish standardized monitoring efforts that are comparable between streams and that provide regional information application. Adult salmon abundance monitoring will be closely coordinated with the National Marine Fisheries Service for ESA recovery metrics. Prior to the implementation of the Imnaha Smolt Monitoring Program the Nez Perce Tribe’s Lower Snake River Compensation Plan hatchery evaluation studies was collecting emigration data from Imnaha River since 1992 as part of a long term monitoring effort funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The 2000 FCRPS Biological Opinion places great emphasis on biological requirements primarily in terms of abundance and productivity for the viable salmonid population (VSP) concept to determine whether the species-level requirements of ESUs are being met (NMFS 2000). This information is critical to develop the individual species recovery plan separate from the basin-wide recovery strategy (NMFS 2000). Until the VSP standards are formally applied for recovery goals for all ESUs, NMFS relies on the abundance goals of the 1995 recovery plan for spring/summer chinook salmon. At the current time, there is no method to accurately determine the abundance level. This project will develop indexes that can be used to more accurately reflect that abundance of the designated Imnaha River “ESU” population stock. The PATH project and CRI project can use data generated from this project for better input to their respective models.






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