BPA Fish and Wildlife FY 1997 Proposal

Section 1. Administrative
Section 2. Narrative
Section 3. Budget

see CBFWA and BPA funding recommendations

Section 1. Administrative

Title of project
1996 Pittsburg Landing O&M and M&E Funding

BPA project number   5504200

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
USFWS

Sponsor type   ID-Federal Agency

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameEdouard J. Crateau
 Mailing addressU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
LSRCP Office
4696 Overland Road, Room 560
Boise, Idaho 83705
 Phone208/334-1963

BPA technical contact   , EWN

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   7.3B

Short description
Yearling fall chinook salmon from Lyons Ferry Hatchery will be reared at the Pittsburg Landing acclimation facility. The fish will be acclimated in the temporary facility for four to six weeks before release into the Snake River in late April, 1996. Similar operation with up to 150,000 fish is also scheduled for 1997 and 1998. The Pittsburg Landing site was selected because of the proximity of spawning habitat for returning adults and because of good road access. Fall chinook salmon are known to successfully spawn and rear in the free-flowing Hells Canyon portion of the Snake River (Garcia et al. 1994).

Project start year   1996    End year   1998

Start of operation and/or maintenance   0

Project development phase   Maintenance

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
Two other fall chinook acclimation facilities will be built and in operation by 1997. One located on the Snake River above the Grande Ronde and the other on the Clearwater River.

Project history
Planning, engineering, construction and some operation and maintenance (O&M) costs were funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) through a $5.0 million Senator Hatfield add on to the Corps Lower Snake River Compensation Plan Program for 1996. All O&M and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) funds for 1996 and beyond are expected to come from Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) as part of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) identified Draft Recovery Plan actions.

Biological results achieved
Acclimation and release of yearling smolts from other LSRCP projects for past 10 years has yielded higher adult return rates than direct stream unacclimated or subyearling releases. Natural production of fall chinook salmon has been severely limited throughout the Snake River basin and this action is designed to increase natural spawning.

Annual reports and technical papers
See B.A. on Pittsburg Landing.

Management implications
This project is designed to test success of acclimation facilities and their contribution to increased adult returns and increased natural spawning. Through this and similar projects we expect to demonstrate the need for additional acclimation facilities and their contribution to increased natural spawning success.

Specific measureable objectives
Increased smolt survival during outmigration, increased adult returns back to the release site measured through redd counts and increased natural spawning measures through carcass counts and surveys.

Testable hypothesis
Acclimation facilities located near optimal spawning habitat will increase smolt outmigrant survival, increase adult returns rates and lead to increased natural spawning.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
It is assumed that the portable acclimation facility constructed by the COE at Pittsburg Landing below Hells Canyon complex will allow presmolts trucked from Lyons Ferry FH to recover from transportation stress, acclimate to the specific water chemistry at the release site, outmigrate at a higher rate than transported direct released fish, and return to the release site at a higher rate, due to increased homing instinct, and to spawn and distribute at a higher rate than actions taken to date. One constraint is the temperature of water released from Hells Canyon Dam may be cold and cause limited growth of presmolts at release site. Some water release agreements may be negotiated with Idaho Power Company.

Methods
Approximately 116,000 Snake River fall chinook salmon (brood year 1994) will be reared at Lyons Ferry FH to approximately 12/lb. And transported to Pittsburg Landing for final rearing and acclimation between March 1 to April 15, 1996. The fish will be held at the river bank in sixteen 20' x 4' circular tanks at a density of 11 lbs./cubic foot and released at approximately 10/lb into the Snake River from the tanks. The release should coincide with an ascending hydro graph to assists in smolt outmigration.

The monitoring and evaluation of Lyons Ferry Hatchery fall chinook salmon yearlings acclimated and released at Pittsburg Landing in April 1996 will be a cooperative effort between the Nez Perce Tribe (NPT), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Post release dispersal, migration timing, and release group survival between Pittsburg releases and Lyons Ferry releases will be evaluated through the use of PIT tags and assessing physiology at release and during migration. We will estimate and compare smolt-to-adult survival between Pittsburg releases and yearling on-station releases at Lyons Ferry Hatchery. The foremost monitoring and evaluation goal will be to assess adult escapement from the Pittsburg Landing releases back to the spawning grounds and the contribution to natural production. This will require a longer monitoring time of adult returns to the spawning grounds and determining the spawning population contribution by identifying marked yearlings released at Pittsburg Landing.

Brief schedule of activities
Description of activities beyond 1996 will be described by the Nez Perce Tribe in their application for funding the Pittsburg Landing facility for 1997 and outyears.

Biological need
This project is part of a funding package provided by the Corps of Engineers headquarters to the Walla Walla District to comply with the language in a Senate conference report (Senate Report, 103-672, P7) describing desired work to be accomplished under the Lower Snake River Fish and Wildlife Compensation Plan. The conference report specified that “only projects which will protect, maintain or enhance biological diversity of existing wild salmon stocks should be pursued.” A portion of the conference report language provides for final rearing and/or acclimation facilities for fall chinook salmon on the Snake River. Snake River fall chinook have been listed as an endangered species by the NMFS under an emergency interim rule. The number of returning adults for the last 10 years has been near record low levels, although the population appears to be relatively stable. The goal of the project is to get more adult fall chinook to return to the Snake River upstream of Lower Granite reservoir for natural spawning rather than returning to Lyons Ferry Hatchery. The purpose of the project is to test the use of temporary acclimation facilities as a way to achieve this goal. The conference report language directs the COE to work with the FWS, the NMFS, and the affected state and tribal hatchery managers to develop this project.

Critical uncertainties
Portable acclimation facilities of this type have never been used stream side and the success of an operation of this type has never been measured. Testing of facility before fish arrive will be done for approximately two weeks but mechanical glitches could occur. The worse scenario is if system fails the fish would be released earlier than planned.

Summary of expected outcome
Presmolts will be reared from 12/lb to 10/lb streamside and upon smoltification and increasing hydro graph will be released. Expect increased outmigrant survival due to reduced pre-release stress, increased adult survival and return and increase in natural spawning at return location.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
All actions relating to this project have been taken by the COE, FWS, WDFW and NPT; O&M funds for 1996 have been furnished by FWS with the expectation and understanding that BPA would reimburse the FWS. No obstacles except the monitoring and evaluation funding for 1996 and O&M and M&E for out years remains to be resolved.

Risks
It is hoped that by acclimating the yearling fall chinook salmon in the proposed facilities, more adult fall chinook will return to this part of the Snake River to spawn. This would contribute to recovery of the run and possible delisting of the species. The Proposed Recovery Plan for Snake River salmon (NMFS 1995a) identifies supplementation as one of the tools to be used in restoring fall chinook. A letter from William Stelle, Regional Director of NMFS to Ted Strong of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission dated September 22, 1994 states the NMFS feels acclimation will improve survival.

However, Miller et al. (1990) reviewed 316 similar salmon and steelhead supplementation projects and found that only 25 were successful at increasing existing natural runs. They also concluded that successes were primarily for returning adult fish for harvest, supplementation adversely impacts wild stocks, chinook are one of the most difficult species to supplement, supplementation works better for fish stocks having a shorter run to the ocean (Snake River fall chinook have one of the longest runs), fish that are genetically closer to the natural stock have a higher chance of success, overstocking of hatchery fish may be a significant problem, and wild/natural fish show a higher smolt-to-adult survival than hatchery fish.

The NMFS, in its Biological Opinion for the 1995 to 1998 Hatchery Operations in the Columbia River Basin, stated that “hatchery operations... are likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed ...Snake River fall chinook salmon” (NMFS 1995b). Several adverse effects were identified. Hatchery fish are considered to be a source of disease pathogens and hatchery fish may pass these pathogens to listed fish in spawning/rearing areas and the entire migration corridor. At the time the Biological Opinion was prepared, this was not a concern for the spawning areas of the Snake River fall chinook as the hatchery fish were released downstream of the natural spawning area. However, releasing hatchery fish at Pittsburg Landing could change this, although FWS expects the released fish will quickly emigrate and not affect the wild fish (Dan Herrig, FWS, personnel communication, August 16, 1995). Another adverse effect is competition between hatchery fish and wild fish for food and space, especially in spawning and nursery areas. This may not be as much of a concern for fall chinook if spawning areas are indeed being underutilized. Another concern is the use of yearling fish. There is concern that using yearling fish alters the life history of fall chinook as the natural populations out migrate as subyearlings (NMFS 1995a). Yearling releases at other hatcheries have resulted in adult fish returning at a younger age, which equates to a smaller adult size and reduced reproductive potential (Hankin et al. 1993). The Hatchery Operation Biological Opinion recommends that Lyons Ferry Hatchery phase out yearling releases and phase in sub-yearling releases.


Because there are conflicting assessments of the impacts of the project to the wild fall chinook, a monitoring and evaluation plan is needed. The need for monitoring and evaluation is also mentioned in the Biological Opinion for Hatchery Operations (NMFS 1995b) and the Proposed Recovery Plan (NMFS 1995a). The evaluation should ensure that the concept of supplementation is sound and that wild stocks are not adversely affected. The FWS, WDFW, and the NPT have prepared a monitoring and evaluation plan to be conducted over an 8-year period (1996-2004), but currently there is only partial funding available. This plan would evaluate the contribution of fish acclimated at Pittsburg Landing to the number of adults returning above Lower Granite Dam, but would not evaluate the impacts of the released hatchery fish on the wild fall chinook stocks.

Monitoring activity
See attached Statement of Work, Attachment B.

Section 3. Budget

Data shown are the total of expense and capital obligations by fiscal year. Obligations for any given year may not equal actual expenditures or accruals within the year, due to carryover, pre-funding, capitalization and difference between operating year and BPA fiscal year.

Historic costsFY 1996 budget data*Current and future funding needs
(none) New project - no FY96 data available 1997: 0

* For most projects, Authorized is the amount recommended by CBFWA and the Council. Planned is amount currently allocated. Contracted is the amount obligated to date of printout.

Funding recommendations

CBFWA funding review group   Snake River

Recommendation    Tier 1 - fund

Recommended funding level   $0