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
Spring Chinook Salmon Early Life History

BPA project number   9202604

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
ODFW

Sponsor type   OR-State/Local Agency

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameRichard W. Carmichael
 Mailing addressOregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
211 Inlow Hall - EOSC
LaGrande, OR 97850
 Phone541/962-3777

BPA technical contact   Mark Shaw, EWP 503/230-5239

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   3.1D.1, 6.5B

Short description
Recovery efforts for endangered stocks of Snake River salmon require life history and critical habitat information. This project investigates the abundance, migration patterns, survival, and habitat use of spring chinook salmon juveniles in the Grande Ronde River basin.

Project start year   1994    End year   2002

Start of operation and/or maintenance   0

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
1. Spring Chinook Salmon Smolt Migrations Study (funded under the Fish Passage Center's Smolt Monitoring Program): The project goal is to provide population specific information on migration patterns and survival trends for naturally-produced spring chinook salmon from the Grande Ronde and Imnaha River basins.

2. Smolt Monitoring of Spring Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Trout on the Lower Grande Ronde River (funded under the Fish Passage Center's Smolt Monitoring Program): The project goal is to monitor and assess smolt travel time from the Grande Ronde basin to Lower Granite Dam for spring chinook salmon and steelhead trout.

3. Spring Chinook Salmon Spawning Ground Surveys (funded by Lower Snake River Compensation Plan of USFWS): The project goal is to monitor the escapement of salmon to the Grande Ronde and Imnaha river basins.

4. Northeast Oregon Hatcheries Master Plan (880053): Development of hatchery supplementation strategies to enhance spring chinook natural production in the Grande Ronde and Imnaha basins.

5. Grande Ronde Model Watershed Program (9202601): Established in 1992 to facilitate and coordinate public and private actions designed to improve habitat conditions within the Grande Ronde basin.

6. Grande Ronde Model Watershed Ecosystem Diagnosis and Treatment (9403007): Development of a science based approach for prioritization of habitat protection and restoration in the Grande Ronde basin.

7. Spring Chinook Thermal Refugia (9307000): Determine the distribution, habitat utilization, movement patterns, and the use of thermal refugia by spring chinook in the Grande Ronde, Imnaha, and John day basins.

Project history
The spring chinook early life history study was initiated in 1993 with NMFS, ESA funds. BPA funding for the project commenced in September of 1994. To date, we have collected data from two migration years on the upper Grande Ronde River and one migration year on Catherine Creek. We will continue trapping in The upper Grande Ronde and Catherine Creek through June 1996 and have support to complete data analysis and report writing through January 1997. This project will continue with trapping in the upper Grande Ronde and Catherine Creek as well as initiate trapping in the Wallowa River basin. We plan on starting the study of Wallowa basin populations in the fall of 1996.

Biological results achieved
Preliminary analysis of the data indicates differences in migration patterns and survival both between populations and between groups exhibiting different life history strategies within a population. Two years of data have demonstrated that both the upper Grande Ronde and Catherine Creek populations exhibit a fall migration out of summer rearing areas in addition to the typical spring smolt migration. In Catherine Creek it appears that approximately 50% of juvenile population leave summer rearing areas in the fall, where as only approximately 10% leave the upper Grande Ronde. In addition, we found that the fish migrating out of the upper Grande Ronde in the fall are larger than fish that remain in the rearing areas.

We also have collected one year of habitat utilization data for the Catherine Creek population which indicates that juvenile chinook are most abundant in pool habitats. In the upper Grade Ronde River, the low number of spring chinook juveniles made it very difficult to locate salmon in the habitat and we think our habitat data from 1995 is equivocal. However, we have substantial data that indicates that the Grande Ronde River valley habitat is utilized by a substantial number of overwintering spring chinook salmon from both the Catherine Creek and upper Grande Ronde population. These salmon leave upper rearing areas in the fall, overwinter in the Grande Ronde valley and leave the valley as smolts in the spring.

Annual reports and technical papers
Monthly, quarterly, and annual progress reports.
Presentations of results to Model Watershed Board, Technical Committee, and other Grande Ronde organizations, Oregon Chapter American Fisheries Society

Management implications
Results of this study have been used to make recommendations for protection and enhancement of Grande Ronde basin spring chinook populations and their critical rearing habitats. Data from the first two years of this study demonstrated reduced survival among spring chinook salmon that overwinter in the upper Grande Ronde River as compared with those salmon that migrate out of the upper Grande Ronde in the fall. Thus, we recommended to local managers that the upper Grande Ronde habitat be considered critical for overwintering salmon and that immediate habitat restoration efforts should be directed there. Grande Ronde valley habitat also has been shown to be important to overwintering salmon and we have recommended it as a high priority for protection and restoration.

Specific measureable objectives
Objective 1. Document the annual in basin migration patterns for spring chinook salmon juveniles in the upper Grande Ronde River and Catherine Creek, including the abundance of migrants, migration timing, and duration.

Objective 2. Estimate and compare smolt detection rates at mainstem Columbia and Snake River dams for fall and spring migrating spring chinook salmon from the upper Grande Ronde River and Catherine Creek.

Objective 3. Determine the winter distribution of spring chinook salmon that leave the upper Grande Ronde River in the fall.

Objective 4. Determine seasonal habitat utilization and preference of spring chinook salmon in the upper Grande Ronde River and Catherine Creek.

Objective 5. Determine the importance of cold-water refugia to the life history strategies of juvenile salmonids in the Grande Ronde basin.

Obj. 5a. Map and characterize potential thermal refugia in critical rearing habitats for juvenile salmonids.

Obj. 5b. Characterize associations between thermal refuge characteristics and channel, riparian and watershed conditions.

Obj. 5c. Determine timing and duration of thermal refuge use by juvenile salmonids and relate to life history strategies.

Objective 5. Document the annual in basin migration patterns for spring chinook salmon juveniles in the Wallowa River basin, including the abundance of migrants, migration timing, and duration.

Objective 6. Estimate and compare smolt detection rates at mainstem Columbia and Snake River dams for fall and spring migrating spring chinook salmon from the Wallowa River basin.

Objective 7. Determine the winter distribution of spring chinook salmon in the Wallowa River basin.

Objective 8. Determine seasonal habitat utilization and preference of spring chinook salmon in the Wallowa River basin.

Testable hypothesis
Much of the information obtained in this study is descriptive (outmigration patterns, habitat utilization) and does not conform to hypothesis testing. However, there are specific testable hypothesis that pertain to Objectives 1 and 2.

Ho1: Migration timing to Lower Granite dam is similar among spring chinook salmon tag groups that exhibit different life history strategies.

Ha1: Migration timing to Lower Granite dam is different among spring chinook salmon tag groups that exhibit different life history strategies.

Ho2: Dam detection rates for tag groups that exhibit different life history strategies are similar.

Ha2: Dam detection rates for tag groups that exhibit different life history strategies are different.

Ho2a: Dam detection rates of fall-tagged salmon are similar to dam detection rates of spring-tagged salmon.

Ha2a: Dam detection rates of fall-tagged salmon are different from dam detection rates of spring-tagged salmon.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
1. To collect sufficient numbers of outmigrating spring chinook salmon juveniles for tagging and trap efficiencies, a minimum number of successful redds is needed. Although this number is uncertain, we have shown that sufficient data can be obtained from as few as 11 total redds in Catherine Creek.

2. Requires authorization by NMFS via Section 10 permit.

3. When comparing dam detection rates among tag groups we assume dam collection efficiencies are similar among groups and over time.

Methods
1. Experimental design
Rotary screw traps will be used to collect juvenile spring chinook salmon as they migrate from rearing areas. Five hundred juveniles each will be PIT tagged during the spring and fall migrations. In addition, after the fall migration is complete we will sample the rearing areas to collect (by seine) and PIT tag an additional 500 overwintering juveniles. Trap efficiencies will be determined for each trap by releasing known numbers of paint marked juveniles above the traps and determining the number of recaptures within a defined period of time. Numbers of fish captured in the screw traps will be expanded for trap efficiencies. These expanded values will be summed separately for the spring and fall migrations for an estimate of abundance of migrants. In addition, the daily expanded catch will be plotted over time for a graphical representation of in basin migration patterns and duration.

Mainstem Columbia and Snake River dam recoveries of PIT tagged fish will be expanded based on collection efficiencies and used to compare smolt detection rates among tag groups. Comparison of survival estimates of fall migrant fish with winter tagged fish will allow us to estimate the relative success of fall versus spring migration as alternate life history strategies. In addition, a comparison of survival estimates for fish tagged as spring migrants versus winter tagged fish allows us to estimate overwintering mortality.

Three fyke net traps will be placed midstream of two rotary screw traps. By leap-frogging these traps downstream as the fish pass we will be able to follow the movement of fall migrants between our screw traps, thereby obtaining a gross estimate of winter distribution. Once the movement past the fyke traps has stopped, we will conduct nighttime snorkeling surveys to refine our assessment of chinook salmon winter distribution and to determine their abundance. We will conduct habitat surveys, measuring such parameters as temperature, flow, maximum river depth, width at three different points, length, substrate composition, instream habitat, cover, and shade for each unit.

We will conduct detailed investigations into the summer habitat utilization of juvenile spring chinook salmon residing in the Wallowa basin. We will select sampling sites based on previous physical habitat surveys (ODFW Aquatic Inventories Project data) and accessibility. Sites will be sampled by snorkel observation with two to four persons making two passes following transect lines. We will record fish species presence and abundance and will measure the same habitat variables as indicated for winter surveys. The surface are of each sampling site will be used to calculate the density of juvenile salmon per unit area of habitat. Given the habitat available to the fish, we will then determine juvenile salmon habitat preference using preference/selectivity indices

Thermal refugia locations will be mapped on 7.5 minute USGS topographic maps. Individual thermal refugia and within-channel settings will also be mapped using measuring tapes, rod and compass in relation to established reference points. This will allow the construction of map overlays of fish locations within the stream channel in relation to thermal and other habitat characteristics, and will provide a baseline map of thermal refuge morphology for monitoring seasonal or annual changes. For each thermal refuge, the following variables will be measured: mean and maximum depth, surface area, substrate composition, available cover, and temperature.

Sampling for thermal refuge occurrence will be conducted across a stratified sample of channel, riparian, and watershed condition categories. Sampling strata will be delineated by classifying study watersheds and stream reaches according to valley geomorphology, geology, land uses, channel form, and existing vegetation. Thermal refuge characteristics (type, size, temperature) will be compared among different geomorphic and land-use settings. Channel and riparian conditions will be described for each site by taking transect measurements of channel, bank, and floodplain form and dimensions, riparian canopy density, channel substrate composition, and occurrence of woody debris. This information will allow for tests of association between channel and riparian characteristics and thermal refuge occurrence.

Utilization of thermal refugia will be assessed by snorkel surveys and seining. Marking of juveniles in conjunction with the habitat mapping described above will allow quantification of fish densities, distances moved, and fish behavior. This data will be analyzed for changes over time and across different locations in the basin.

2. Statistical Analysis.
-Bootstrap estimation will be used with trap efficiency data and the number of migrants collected to determine the abundance of chinook salmon juveniles leaving each system.
-Parametric T-tests and ANOVA tests will be used to compare dam detection rates among groups. Appropriate nonparametric will be substituted if the data are found not to conform to parametric assumptions.
-Comparisons among and between thermal refuge types will be made using summary statistics and ANOVA or nonparametric test as appropriate.
-Multiple regression or similar correlational analyses will be used to test for associations between channel and riparian characteristics and thermal refuge occurrence.
-ANOVA or similar nonparametric analyses will be used to compare juvenile salmonid densities across different habitats.
-All analyses are subject to review by an ODFW statistician.

3. Type and number of fish to be used.
As this project involves trapping, seining and snorkeling in natural systems, the type and number of fish observed and collected is variable depending on abundances of natural populations. In 1995, we collected approximately 6,500 and PIT tagged approximately 1,400 spring chinook salmon. This study is subject to a limit of 25,000 spring chinook salmon that can be captured and handled and approximately 3,000 spring chinook salmon that can be captured, handled, and PIT tagged. Other common species collected include: summer steelhead, red side shiner, chiselmouth, squawfish, yellow perch, whitefish, largescale suckers, bridgelip suckers, brown bullhead, carp, bulltrout, crappie, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass.

Brief schedule of activities
-Continue monitoring rotary screw traps in the upper Grande Ronde river and Catherine Creek.
-Survey potential trap sites in the Wallowa River basin.
-Select three trap sites and install rotary screw traps.
-Operate three rotary screw traps, sampling fish from traps on a daily basis.
-Conduct trap efficiency tests daily, or at a minimum of three times per week.
-PIT tag 500 fall migrants from each population.
-Operate fyke net traps during the fall outmigration.
-PIT tag 500 juveniles overwintering above traps.
-Conduct winter distribution surveys.
-Determine winter habitat use and abundance of juvenile spring chinook salmon.
-PIT tag 500 spring migrants from each population.
-Obtain dam detection data from PSMFC.
-Analyze data collected.
-Determine summer habitat use and abundance of juvenile spring chinook salmon.
-Write and submit annual progress report.

Biological need
Proposed recovery efforts for the endangered stocks of Snake River spring chinook salmon require knowledge of stock specific life history strategies and critical habitats for spawning, rearing, and downstream migration. In the past, such information has not been available for spring chinook salmon in the Grande Ronde River basin. It has been uncertain what alternate life history strategies existed in these local populations, how the strategies exhibited might differ between populations, and how these strategies might impact survival of spring chinook salmon in the Grande Ronde basin. Recent calls for information include: a description of the spatial differences in spawning and rearing habitat, development of a profile on genetic, life history, and morphometric characteristics of wild and naturally spawning populations, evaluation of critical habitat needs and factors limiting production in the Grande Ronde Basin.

This study will provide such information as directed under three separate measures of the Columbia River Fish and Wildlife Program. Measure 6.5B directs funding for Model Watershed projects in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Support for this early life history study and the expansion was recommended by the Grande Ronde Model Watershed technical committee and Board of Directors, as well as by local biologists. This study also falls under program measure 6.2A (4) to collect pertinent information, including life history and population status data, on sustainability of wild and naturally spawning populations. Furthermore, program measure 703 (f) (5) (A) (vii) funded the establishment of Northeast Oregon Hatcheries project (NEOH). Task 3.3.4, identified in the Northeast Oregon Hatchery Grand Ronde River Final Report is the completion of early life history studies in the upper Grande Ronde system.

Critical uncertainties

Summary of expected outcome
Results of this study will be used to make recommendations for protection and enhancement of Grande Ronde basin spring chinook populations and their critical rearing habitats. Our information will allow the Model Watershed Program to prioritize restoration efforts on sound scientific information. Information form this study will be useful in establishing and monitoring salmon recovery efforts in this basin.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
Spring Chinook salmon in the Grande Ronde basin are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Therefore, these research activities are regulated by NMFS and are subject to NMFS permitting for scientific take.

Risks
This project involves the handling of large numbers of naturally-produced spring Chinook salmon. Consequently, there is some risk of mortality associated with our field activities. Over the past three years juvenile Chinook salmon mortality has been low, although it has varied some year to year mortality has remained near or below 1% of all fish captured. We have and continue to take several precautions to reduce or eliminate mortality when collecting salmon. We have replaced fin clipping with a benign paint mark for trap efficiencies, we have installed debris racks in front of our fyke traps to help prevent clogging, and when we anticipate high debris loads at our traps we implement 24 hour trap checking to reduce debris accumulation and minimize the time fish are held in the trap.

Monitoring activity
Monthly, quarterly, and annual progress reports will be completed as scheduled in the contract.

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
1994: 445,309
1995: 108,630
New project - no FY96 data available 1997: 526,000
1998: 267,000
1999: 283,000
2000: 300,000
2001: 318,000

* 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   Snake River

Recommendation    Tier 1 - fund

Recommended funding level   $526,000

BPA 1997 authorized budget (approved start-of-year budget)   $494,000