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
Methow Basin Side Channel Habitat Construction

BPA project number   5509900

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
Yakama Indian Nation

Sponsor type   WA-Tribe

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameLynn Hatcher
 Mailing addressP.O. Box 151
Toppenish, WA 98948
 Phone509/865-6262

BPA technical contact   , EWN

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   3.1D.1

Short description
Create side channel habitats for spring chinook salmon in the Methow Basin by excavating new channels and re-connecting existing channels to the mainstem Methow River and its larger tributaries.

Project start year   1997    End year   1999

Start of operation and/or maintenance   

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects

Project history

Biological results achieved

Annual reports and technical papers

Management implications

Specific measureable objectives
Create or provide access to up to 100,000 square meters of off-channel rearing and overwintering habitat for spring chinook salmon.

Testable hypothesis
Off-channel habitats should be more productive and safer rearing environments than the mainstem Methow or its larger tributaries. Irrigation withdrawals have significantly and profoundly affected habitat quality and quantity in the Methow Basin. If these off-channel habitats are more productive than mainstem habitats then we should detect increases in smolt production and size at age.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
The major assumption is that these off-channel habitats will indeed be more productive than mainstem environments.

Methods
Construction techniques will follow those developed and refined by experts at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and by the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment. Some projects will entail excavating down to one meter below the ground water surface elevation (approximately 2.5 meters at most sites), armoring the upstream end of the channel to prevent river capture, the placement of woody debris as cover, and revegetation of disturbed areas.

Brief schedule of activities
Most of the candidate sites have been identified. Phase one will entail consultation will an engineer experienced with fluvial systems to determine which of the sites are viable (1-2 weeks). Phase two will entail contracting for archaeological surveys (3-4 weeks) (in that the projects will be located in floodplains it is likely that some sites will contain archaeological resources). Phase three will consist of final design work (6-8 weeks). Phase four will include environmental permitting and contracting for work (8-10 weeks). Construction would likely begin in the summer of 1997 and continue through the fall of 1999.

Biological need
The Methow River and its larger tributaries have been artificially straightened for highway construction and flood control projects. This activity significantly reduced the amount of productive off-channel rearing and overwintering area. Today fish are limited largely to mainstem environments that are additionally impacted by low summer and fall flows. This project will provide habitats that are structurally and functionally analogous to those destroyed by earlier actions and that are unaffected by irrigation withdrawals.

Critical uncertainties
It is not known if spring chinook will volitionally use these habitats, and if they do whether or not they will survive and grow better than fish using mainstem habitats. It is believed, however, that they will based on similar efforts elsewhere, and based on observations of spring chinook habitat preferences in other Columbia Basin subbasins.

Summary of expected outcome
It is anticipated that this project will significantly increase spring chinook smolt production in the Methow Basin, and that this increase will help the troubled stock cope with the mortality associated with passing nine mainstem Columbia River dams. Juvenile densities of 0.5 fish per square meter are commonly observed in off-channel habitats. In the Fraser River densities as high as six fish per square meter have been reported in this type of habitat. If spring chinook do respond to these habitats as anticipated, this project could increase spring chinook production by at least 50,000 smolts.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
Most of the projects would be implemented on state and federal land, and, in that state and federal fish biologist agree that projects of this type are needed to help recover Methow spring chinook, there should be little difficulty in securing land owner agreements or easements. County approval of the projects should be easily attained as this sort of project will be benign to local private landowners.

Risks
The most significant risk is the potential for flood waters to fill the features in with sediments. The projects will be engineered to avoid this risk. The second most significant risk is that many or all of the sites will contain unavoidable archaeological resources. This risk is believed to be very low.

Monitoring activity
The existing and on-going Methow hatchery evaluation will serve as the primary means to evaluate project efficacy.

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: 527,850
1998: 434,700
1999: 434,700

* 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   Priest Rapids Dam - Chief Joseph Dam

Recommendation    Tier 1 - fund

Recommended funding level   $527,850