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
Upper Clackamas River Side Channel Project

BPA project number   5520400

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding

Sponsor type   OR-Federal Agency

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameRobert H. Deibel
 Mailing addressMt. Hood National Forest
2955 NW Division Sreet.
Gresham, OR 97030

BPA technical contact   ,

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   

Short description
The proposed project would reconnect side channels to the mainstem Clackamas River. Forest Service Road 46 cut off many areas from the mainstem in the 1950's. If reconnected, these areas could serve as important rearing and refugia areas for native Lower Columbia River late-run coho salmon. This stock could be the last endemic run of Lower Columbia River coho salmon remaining. The project would also benefit naturally reproducing early run coho, and winter and summer steelhead.

Project start year   1997    End year   1998

Start of operation and/or maintenance   1997

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects

Project history
Several sidechannels have been reconnected with the floodplain in the past seven years within the upper Clackamas River. The most recent was constructed in 1994 and accessed slightly greater than 1/4 mile of habitat that once was the main river, before the channel was straightened for Road 46 in the 1950s. Juvenile coho salmon immediately occupied that side channel and it provides excellent winter over-rearing habitat for both coho and steelhead trout. That project was partially funded by BPA and was part of an overall watershed restoration strategy for the Clackamas river. Side-channel and off-channel pond habitat restoration was determined by monitoring to be cost-effective for coho production in Fish Creek (also within the Clackamas River watershed), a historic BPA-funded project.

Biological results achieved

Annual reports and technical papers

Management implications
We have monitored projects of this nature in the past and determined that they are highly used for rearing by juvenile coho salmon. This is consistent with literature on habitat preferences for juvenile coho salmon. Cost-effectiveness for off-channel pond development for coho production in Fish Creek is documented in past BPA annual monitoring reports. The 1994 side channel, which is connected to the mainstem with culverts under Road 46, suffered no damage while other side channels in the flood plain in several locations aggraded with bedload. The two proposed new sidechannels would be similar to the 1994 project.

Specific measureable objectives
The proposed project would restore the amount of side channel rearing habitat in the Clackamas River between River Miles (RM) 57 to 65 (Measured Value = length in KM and area in square meters-m2) to near that occurring prior to the construction of Forest Service road 46. Monitoring of the use of the reconnected habitat would be fish numbers by species and fish density (fish/m2). Another measurement could be smolts produced per adult pair passing over North Fork dam (to be explored as an option).

Testable hypothesis
The number of smolts produced per spawning pair, productive capability of native late-run coho salmon, would increase following completion of the project.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
The amount of complex, off channel and side channel habitat has been reduced from historical levels and this is affecting the numbers of smolts produced from the upper Clackamas watershed. Emphasis would be on the native late run coho salmon.

Reconnecting the cut-off meanders to the Clackamas River requires installing culverts through Forest Service road 46. The culverts provide a closed system to quantify the numbers, species composition, and length and weights of individuals entering and exiting the created side channels. This information then can be analyzed in the context of the Upper Clackamas River watershed upstream of North Fork dam. The dam has allowed quantification of smolts exiting the system produced in the watershed upstream and the number of adults passing over the dam through the fish ladder since the late 1950's. The historical record along with information gained through monitoring fish use and production from these side channels would assist in determining the effect of freshwater rearing habitat on the recovery of the anadromous fish stocks, in particular the late run coho salmon. The late run coho salmon has declined to critically low levels as only 50 adults returned in 1993 and the resulting smolt output was the lowest on record.

Brief schedule of activities
Project tasks include developing project designs (particularly culverts through road 46), developing and issuing contracts, and constructing the two side channels. Monitoring tasks include plan and profile channel mapping, fish use monitoring (fish traps at each culvert), and photo-points. Planning, design, implementation and pre-project monitoring would occur in year 1. Years 2-4 would continue monitoring. There would be an annual report each year. Monitoring and maintenance beyond 1999 would be paid by the Mt. Hood National Forest.

Biological need
The native, late run coho salmon has declined to critically low levels as only 50 adults returned in 1993 and the resulting smolt output, measured at North Fork dam in 1995, was the lowest on record. The storm events of November, 1995 and February, 1996 could have affected the juvenile coho salmon and the eggs of the remaining two strong year classes of the late run coho salmon. Thus, it is imperative to provide high quality rearing conditions to improve smolt production in the upper Clackamas River.

Critical uncertainties
The critical uncertainty for the late run coho salmon deals with population dynamics and mortality factors. It is uncertain at this time the relative mortality factors of the freshwater and the saltwater phases of the coho salmon life history. Previous studies have shown that mortality is typically higher during the freshwater rearing phase. Reducing egg to smolt mortality would inherently increase production of smolts from the upper Clackamas River and thus, increase the number of returning adults.

Summary of expected outcome
There should be an increase in the number of smolts produced in the upper Clackamas River, at least smolts per spawning pair of adults. Waterfowl, amphibians, and predators on amphibians and fish would also benefit from this project.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
NEPA will be completed during FY 1996. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife supports creating additional side channels in the upper Clackamas River as part of the effort to recover the late run coho salmon. This project is consistent with the Mt. Hood Land and Resource Management Plan, the Northwest Forest Plan, the Clackamas River Wild and Scenic River plan and the Clackamas River Sub-basin plan. Signing will be developed at project sites to inform and educate the public. The 1994 side-channel site is a popular site for environmental education and children have assisted in planting vegetation along the banks. As part of the watershed restoration program developed through the Northwest Forest Plan, there is an opportunity for cost-sharing but this will be contingent upon annual appropriations.

There are no foreseeable risks associated with implementing the project at this time. The side channel constructed in 1994 survived with relatively minor modification from the 50 plus year storm event in February, 1996.

Monitoring activity
Monitoring would include measuring amount of created and reconnected habitat in the Clackamas River between River Miles (RM) 57 to 65 (Measured Value = length in KM and area in square meters-m2). Biological monitoring would measure numbers and species of fish using the reconnected habitat (fish/m2). Another measurement could be smolts produced per adult pair passing over North Fork dam (to be explored as an option). Methods used would include plan and profile channel mapping, fish traps at each culvert, and photo-points.

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: 15,000
1998: 5,000
1999: 5,000

* 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   Below Bonneville Dam

Recommendation    Tier 2 - fund when funds available

Recommended funding level   $15,000