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
Kootenai River Ecosystem Improvements Study

BPA project number   9404900

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
Kootenai Tribe

Sponsor type   ID-Tribe

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameDiane Richards
 Mailing addressKootenai Tribe of Idaho
P.O. Box 1269
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
 Phone208/267-3620

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

Biological opinion ID   USFWS

NWPPC Program number   10.8B.16

Short description
Assess resident fish populations in the Idaho portion of the Kootenai River and identify fisheries enhancement opportunites.

Project start year   1995    End year   2000

Start of operation and/or maintenance   

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
Project 83467, 88064, 88065, and 94012. All work is being done in the Kootenai River system. These projects are coordinated through the Kootenai River Basin Steering Committee.

Project history
The Kootenai River is an aquatic ecosystem in the state of collapse. One possible reason for this collapse is the alteration of the natural hydrograph of the Kootenai River. Since Libby Dam began operating in the early 1970's, the Kootenai River hydrograph has been very unstable, unnatural and virtually reversed from pre-impoundment conditions. Impoundment water has been retained during historical periods of high discharge and released from Lake Koocanusa during historcally low flow periods (Partridge, 1983). Consequently, the last substantial naturally produced year class of white sturgeon to recruit to the Kootenai River population was produced in 1974. This white sturgeon population, endemic to the Kootenai River system was listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act on October 6, 1994, because of the lack of recruitment.

Fish populations of other species in the Kootenai River system have also declined since 1974. Kokanee salmon runs (South Arm Kootenay Lake stock) numbering thousands of fish as recent as the early 1980's (Partridge, 1983), have declined to less than 85 fish in eight historic spawning streams combined (Anders, 1994; Anders 1993). Catch rates of rainbow trout, and standing stock estimates and growth rates of mountain whitefish in the Kootenai River have decreased since the early 1980's (Paragamian, 1994). The burbot population has also declined during recent decades, as indicated by an ongoing burbot population study in the which eight burbot were captured during 887 sampling hours (Paragamian, 1994). Total zooplankton densities (mean < 0.1/L) are lower than other rivers in the northwestern United States ( Williams, 1961; Paragamian , 1994).

Another potential reason for the decline in population densities of aquatic biota appears to be nutrient retention in Lake Koocanusa. Woods (1982) reported that 63% of total phosphorus and 25% of nitrogen in the Kootenai River system never passes Libby Dam to provide biological benefit downstream. Lake Koocanusa (impounded by Libby Dam) is acting as a nutrient sink, trapping sediment with efficiencies exceeding 95% and storing nutrients in the bottom substrates (Synder and Minshall, 1994: Woods, 1982).

In the past, biological data have been collected, often intermittently from the Kootenai River system to address the status of specific species in certain trophic levels. However, no study to date has simultaneously and comprehensively collected or complied data necessary to complete a suitable status review for aquatic organisms in all trophic levels. Completion of such a comprehensive inventory is essential, prior to recommending and implementing ecosystem and fishery improvement measures for the Kootenai River system.

Biological results achieved
None yet, new project.

Annual reports and technical papers
None yet, new project.

Management implications

Specific measureable objectives
Identify, evaluate and test nutrification and hydrograph alteration to provide future harvest opportunities of white sturgeon, kokanee salmon and burbot in the Kootenai River system, historically fished by the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho.

Testable hypothesis
The alteration of the natural hydrograph due to the construction and operation of Libby Dam and the lack of nutrient downstream from the dam has caused the aquatic ecosystem to collapse.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
-A natural hydrograph is necessary for the natural spawning of sturgeon.
-A sufficient amount of nutrients is necessary to produce and sustain a healthy aquatic ecosystem.

Methods
No implementation measures have been decided on at this time. Multiagency scoping and the federal recovery planning process will contribute to future sampling designs and statistical testing.

Brief schedule of activities
1) Complete a comprehensive baseline biological status report of aquatic biota, including past and present nutrient budgets in the Kootenai River.
2) Evaluate the feasibility of artificial nutrification
3) Identify the effects of power peaking and magnitude, timing and duration of discharge on fish, other aquatic biota and water quality.
4) Develop, evaluate and experimentally test nutrification and hydrograph alteration for the Kootenai River based on information generated by compilation of the first activities.
5) Provide annual, interim research reports and project completion reports

Future products and milestones include:
1) Monthly and annual progress reports
2) Interim reports:
“Baseline Biological Status Report of Kootenai River Biota”-1996
“Biological Feasibility of Artificial Nutrification of the Kootenai River, Idaho”-1997
“Effects of Power Peaking and other River Discharge Characteristics on Fish, other Aquatic Biota and
Water Quality”-1997

“An Evaluation of Ecosystem and Fishery Improvement Measures for the Kootenai River”-1997

Biological need
Enhancement of the Kootenai River aquatic ecosystem to improve the sturgeon, burbot and kokanee
fisheries.

Critical uncertainties
Unfavorable biologic conditions may result due to proposed ecosystem enhancement.

Summary of expected outcome
An enhanced aquatic ecosystem that supports a healthy fishery of sturgeon, burbot and kokanee.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
Coordination of a workshop to develop a feasibility model for Kootenai River ecosystem enhancements. Coordination with the Kootenai River Basin Steering Committee will assist in assuring timely completion of required actions.

Risks
Implementation measures used to enhance the aquatic ecosystem may create a favorable environment for
undesirable species.

Monitoring activity
Biological responses to the tested measures will be monitored to determine if desired results are achieved. Kootenai River biota will be monitored following experimental implementation of ecosystem and fishery improvement measures. All work is coordinated with IDFG, MDFWP and BC at the Kootenai River Basin Steering Committee meetings convened by BPA. This reduces the cost to BPA by each agency assisting the other sometime during the year and eliminating duplication of effort. COTR monitors the project by reviewing monthly progress reports and finanicial reports and at the Steering Committee meetings.

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
1995: 175,000
Obligation: 0
Authorized: 175,000
Planned: 175,000
1997: 226,572
1998: 200,000
1999: 204,000
2000: 109,000

* 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    Tier 1 - fund

Recommended funding level   $226,572

BPA 1997 authorized budget (approved start-of-year budget)   $226,600