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
Evaluate Rebuilding Snake River Sturgeon (HCD-LGD)

BPA project number   8605001

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
Nez Perce Tribe

Sponsor type   ID-Tribe

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameRandall S. Osborne
 Mailing addressDepartment of Fisheries Resources Management
P.O. Box 365
Lapwai, ID 83540
 Phone

BPA technical contact   Rick Westerhof, EWI 503/230-5061

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   10.4A.2

Short description
Conduct an evaluation, including a RASP based biological risk assessment, of potential means of rebuilding sturgeon populations in the Snake River between Lower Granite and Hells Canyon Dams.

Project start year   1995    End year   

Start of operation and/or maintenance   2001

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
Project 8605000 - For FY95 and FY96, implementation of Measure 10.4A.4 was incorporated into Project 8605000 (Measure 10.4A.2), with ODFW as lead coordinator. This arrangement was for administrative purposes only. The Nez Perce Tribe study is specifically designed to implement Measure 10.4A.4, which addresses white sturgeon population, habitat and fishery conditions unique to the project area. It is appropriate to evaluate and priortize this Nez Perce Tribe sponsored project on its individual merits.

Project 9990080 - Consumptive Sturgeon Fishery-Hells Canyon/Oxbow R (Document 95-18) Measure 10.4A.5, adopted September 13, 1995, calls for investigation of put-and-take sturgeon fisheries in Hells Canyon and Oxbow Reservoirs, immediately upstream from the project area. This project was evaluated and ranked, but unfunded, for FY1996.

Project history
The Nez Perce white sturgeon study under Measure 10.4A.4 was initiated in FY1995, whereas the broader 8605000 project under Measure 10.4A.2 began in FY 1987. The Nez Perce Tribe study is specifically directed towards implementation of Measure 10.4A.4, addressing white sturgeon population, habitat and fishery conditions unique to the project area. It is appropriate to evaluate and priortize this Nez Perce Tribe sponsored project on its individual merits.

Biological results achieved
A RASP based biological risk assessment (Measure 7.3B.1) is scheduled for completion during FY1996. Management and research strategies for white sturgeon within the project area will follow this assessment.

Annual reports and technical papers
Quarterly reports since project start-up April 1995 (3rd quarter FY1995).

Management implications
The initial biological risk assessment will identify where data is sufficient or lacking to make scientifically based management decisions regarding potential means of rebuilding sturgeon populations in the Snake River between Lower Granite and Hells Canyon Dams. The assessment will identify critical uncertainties that may jeopardize the potential of success for management actions. The assessment will also determine where research and/or monitoring is needed to address critical uncertainties.

Specific measureable objectives
The near-term objective is to complete a RASP based biological risk assessment for evaluating potential means of rebuilding white sturgeonpopulations in the Snake River between Lower Granite and Hells Canyon Dams.

A preliminary objective of 25-100 3-6 ft sturgeon harvested annually is identified for assessing progress towards rebuilding.

Testable hypothesis
All size groups of sturgeon within the project area have increased since 1970, when Idaho initiated a catch-and-release regulation.

Current populations of white sturgeon within the free-flowing segment of the project area can support an annual harvest of 25 (50, 75, 100) 3-6 foot fish and maintain the current number of mature spawning sturgeon.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
Flow conditions as called for in the NMFS 1995 BIOP (short-term) and Recovery Plan (long-term ) for Snake River Salmon are assumed.

Estimates of downstream loss of sturgeon through Lower Granite Dam is known or will be determined.

Methods
1) RASP based biological risk assessment per Measure 7.3B.1 of the NPPC Fish and Wildlife Program to evaluate management and research strategies for white sturgeon within the project area. Application of relevant standardized research techniques and materials from "Status and Habitat Requirements of White Sturgeon Populations in the Columbia River Downstream from McNary Dam," DOE/BP-63584-6 and DOE/BP-63584-7, 1993.

2) Application of relevant statistical techniques from "Status and Habitat Requirements of White Sturgeon Populations in the Columbia River Downstream from McNary Dam," DOE/BP-63584-6 and DOE/BP-63584-7, 1993.

3) An as yet undetermined number of white sturgeon will be available for harvest within the project area as a result of this project.

Brief schedule of activities
1997 - Conduct research on reproduction, early through adult life history, population dynamics, and habitat needs to address critical uncertainties identified in the 1996 RASP based biological risk assessment.
1998 - Continuation of 1997 activities.
1999 - Continuation of 1998 activities.
2000 - Continuation of 1999 activities.
2001 - Final report of findings, including management recommendations and monitoring program.

Biological need
Fishing for white sturgeon in the Idaho portion of the project area has been limited to catch and release since 1970. Catch and release fishing does not serve the subsistence and cultural needs of the Nez Perce Tribe. Resident fish harvest opportunities are becoming more important for the Nez Perce Tribe due to the endangered status of native salmon. If sturgeon populations are not adequate to support Tribal harvest, strategies to increase populations to harvestable levels need to be explored. Consumptive and nonconsumptive use of white sturgeon within the project area must be biologically based to avoid critical stock reductions.

Critical uncertainties
Downstream movement of white sturgeon through Lower Granite Dam does/does not control the population structure within the project area. Illegal and/or unreported harvest and/or catch-and-release mortality of white sturgeon within the project area does/does not have a significant impact on the numbers of adult and subadult sturgeon. Recruitment from the Salmon and Clearwater Rivers is/is not a stabilizing factor that may ameliorate hourly, daily, monthly and annual controlled flows from Hells Canyon Complex.

Summary of expected outcome
Critical uncertainties for rebuilding sturgeon populations to harvestable levels will be identified. Research and/or monitoring will be conducted to address critical uncertainties. A biologically based plan, including monitoring, for rebuilding sturgeon in the project area to harvestable levels will be identified. Annual harvest of 25-100 3-6 foot sturgeon will be biologically feasible and implemented. Monitoring will assure continued viability of the fishery within the project area.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
Affected agencies will have full participation in the biological risk assessment process.

The Nez Perce Tribe currently has a long-term lease of a sturgeon rearing facility at Clarkston, WA, in cooperation with the Asotin County PUD. This sturgeon production capability may be available as a tool towards rebuilding sturgeon populations in the project area.

Risks
To be identified and address via the biological risk assessment process.

Monitoring activity
Monitoring needs associated with critical uncertainties will be identified via the biological risk assessment process.

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: 270,000
1998: 200,000
1999: 200,000
2000: 200,000
2001: 175,000

* 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   Resident Fish

Recommendation    No recommendation