BPA Fish and Wildlife FY 1998 Proposal

Section 1. Summary
Section 2. Goals
Section 3. Background
Section 4. Purpose and methods
Section 5. Planned activities
Section 6. Outcomes, monitoring and evaluation
Section 7. Relationships
Section 8. Costs and FTE

see CBFWA and BPA funding recommendations

Section 1. Summary

Title of project
Spring Chinook Salmon Early Life History

BPA project number   9202604

Short description
Investigate the abundance, migration patterns, survival, and habitat use of spring chinook salmon juveniles in the Grande Ronde River basin to provide information critical for restoration of these local populations while maintaining genetic diversity similar to natural populations.

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameRichard W. Carmichael, Program Leader
 Mailing address211 Inlow Hall - EOSC
La Grande, OR 97850

Oregon State University, Dr. Bill Liss

Section 2. Goals


Target stockLife stageMgmt code (see below)
Lostine River Spring ChinookJuvenile, smoltS, L, W
Upper Grande Ronde River Spring ChinookJuvenile, smoltS, L, W
Wallowa River Spring ChinookJuvenile, smoltS, L, W
Catherine Creek Spring ChinookJuvenile, smoltS, L, W
Bear Creek Spring ChinookJuvenile, smoltL, W

Affected stockBenefit or detriment
Summer steelheadBeneficial
Bull troutBeneficial

Section 3. Background

Stream area affected

Stream name   Catherine Creek, Upper Grande Ronde River, Wallowa River, Lostine River, Bear Creek
Project is an office site only   XAffects fish at multiple locations and ranges
Subbasin   Grande Ronde River Subbasin
Land ownership   Public and Private

Recovery efforts for endangered stocks of Snake River salmon require life history and critical habitat information. 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 three migration years on the upper Grande Ronde River and one migration year on Catherine Creek and six months in the Wallowa River basin.

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. Data demonstrated that both the upper Grande Ronde and Catherine Creek populations exhibit a fall movement out of summer rearing areas in addition to the typical spring smolt migration. In Catherine Creek it appears that 50% or more of the 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 and that fish continue to move out of rearing areas at extremely low water temperatures. Knowledge of such difference between local populations is essential to ensure protection and enhancement efforts are targeted to benefit all existing populations and preserve maximum genetic diversity. We also have collected habitat utilization data for the Catherine Creek population which indicates that juvenile chinook are most abundant in pool habitats. In the upper Grande 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. Grande Ronde Valley habitat has been heavily degraded due to agricultural and other anthropogenic impacts. These salmon leave upper rearing areas in the fall, overwinter in the Grande Ronde valley and leave the valley as smolts in the spring. This study has identified critical habitat areas for spring chinook salmon.

Project reports and papers
Monthly and quarterly progress reports.Annual Reports: 1994. Investigations into the life history of spring chinook salmon in the Grande Ronde River basin. 1995. Early life history study of Grande Ronde River basin chinook salmon.Presentations of results to Model Watershed Board, Technical Committee, and other Grande Ronde organizations, Oregon Chapter American Fisheries Society.

Adaptive 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. In addition, this Early Life History study provides population status information (Fish and Wildlife Program Measure 6.2.A) in the form of estimates of smolt production out of Grande Ronde River tributaries. Data collected as a part of this project can also be used by the Grade Ronde Model Watershed Program (Fish and Wildlife Program Measure 6.5B) and local managers to monitor changes in juvenile production as restoration and monitoring activities are implemented.

Section 4. Purpose and methods

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 aand 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 6. 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 7. 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 8. Determine the winter distribution of spring chinook salmon in the Wallowa River basin.
Objective 9. Determine seasonal habitat utilization and preference of spring chinook salmon in the Wallowa River basin.

Critical uncertainties
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 which has been obtained annually.

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 project provides information on life history and habitat use that will be used to set priorities for habitat enhancement and restoration.

Hypothesis to be tested
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.

Alternative approaches
No alternative approaches other than downstream migrant trapping were considered.

Justification for planning

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. 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, large-scale suckers, bridgelip suckers, brown bullhead, carp, bulltrout, crappie, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass.

Section 5. Planned activities

Phase ImplementationStart a. 10/97b. 10/97c. 10/97d. 10/97e. 10/97f. 12/97g. 12/97h. 12/97 i. 2/97j.11/97k. 9/98l. 7/98m.10/97n. 9/98 End a.7/98b.10/97c. 7/98 d. 12/97e. 12/97f. 2/98g. 2/98h. 2/98i. 6/98j.9/98k.9/98l. 9/98m. 9/98n.11/98Subcontractor Oregon State University
a. Continue operating six rotary screw traps in the Grande Ronde River, Catherine Creek, the Lostine River and the Wallowa River.b. Evaluate spawning data on Bear Creek to determine if trap boxes can be used to assess production, survival, and migration pattern in this tributary.c. Conduct trap efficiency tests daily, or at a minimum of three times per week.d. PIT tag 500 fall migrants from each population.e. Operate fyke traps during the fall outmigration on selected streams.f. PIT tag 500 juveniles overwintering above the traps.g. Conduct winter distribution surveys.h. Determine winter habitat use and abundance of juvenile spring chinook salmon.i. PIT tag 500 spring migrants from each population.j. Evaluate use of thermal refugia by juvenile spring chinook salmon.k. Obtain dam detection data from PSMFC.l. Determine summer habitat use and abundance of juvenile spring chinook salmon.m. Analyze data collected.n. Write and submit annual progress report.
Project completion date   N/A

Constraints or factors that may cause schedule or budget changes
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. 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. All field activities on private land are subject to obtaining permission from the landowner for access to the river.
Options for resolving these critical constraints are identified under Monitoring Approach.

Section 6. Outcomes, monitoring and evaluation


Expected performance of target population or quality change in land area affected
Results of this Early Life History 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 and local fish managers to prioritize restoration efforts on sound scientific information. Information from this study will be useful in establishing and monitoring salmon recovery efforts in this basin. Juvenile production data collected can be used to monitor changes in production over time and evaluate success of òon the ground' activities implemented. In addition, information obtained in this study on population specific differences will have implications for management of spring chinook salmon throughout their range.

Present utilization and convservation potential of target population or area
These stocks are listed as threatened under ESA and have little or no current utilization potential. Given the regional and local efforts underway these stocks have significant potential for recovery and persistence. The escapement estimate to the Grande Ronde Basin for 1996 was approximately 900 chinook salmon.

Assumed historic status of utilization and conservation potential
Grande Ronde basin populations were abundant and sustainable prior to completion of mainstem dams. These stocks were highly productive and supported tribal, recreational, and commercial fisheries.

Long term expected utilization and conservation potential for target population or habitat
The desired conservation potential is that these stocks will reach full recovery and sustainability to once again support tribal and recreational fisheries.

Contribution toward long-term goal
Regional and Grande Ronde basin recovery efforts will utilize information from this study.

Indirect biological or environmental changes
There are no additional biological nor environmental changes that could result indirectly from this project.

Physical products
The total number of fish that will be PIT tagged will range from 6,000 to 7,500, depending on whether or not trapping is initiated in Bear Creek in 1997.

Environmental attributes affected by the project
As mentioned previously, this project will provide information for prioritization of habitat restoration activities. No additional environmental attributes will be affected by this project.

Changes assumed or expected for affected environmental attributes

Measure of attribute changes

Assessment of effects on project outcomes of critical uncertainty
This project will not be conducted if a Section 10, ESA permit is not obtained.

Information products
Information products produced include monthly, quarterly, and annual progress reports, monthly activities reports to our co-managers, articles for ODFW Fish Research newsletter, as well as technical reports and presentations.

Coordination outcomes
The outcomes of coordinating efforts of this project with others as identified include increased efficiency, transfer of information, and the development of recommendations for management that extend well beyond the scope of this project.

The biological outcomes of this project can be measured by evaluating if, when, and how information produced by this project is utilized by regional fish managers in restoring and conserving chinook salmon populations in the Grande Ronde basin.

Provisions to monitor population status or habitat quality
One objective of this Early Life History study is to determine abundance of juvenile spring chinook salmon leaving tributary systems in the Grande Ronde basin. This information can be used to estimate and monitor juvenile production from these tributaries over time. In addition, this study is exploring differences in life history strategies utilized by tributary populations and is collecting information on migration patterns and size, age, and condition of migrants. Other projects in the basin are also collecting information important for monitoring population status including: redd counts, estimates of adult escapement, hatchery: wild ratios on spawning grounds, age composition on spawning grounds.

Data analysis and evaluation
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.

Information feed back to management decisions
There are both informal and formal channels for communication to local and regional managers. Perhaps the most effective means of communication are through project presentations, such as ODFW biennial Research Reviews, presentations to the Grande Ronde Model Watershed, and Oregon Chapter AFS. In addition all of our project progress reports are copied to local fish managers.

Critical uncertainties affecting project's outcomes
Each critical uncertainty affecting project outcomes could be resolved in a different fashion. Uncertainties imposed by ESA could be resolved by moving forward toward a Section 6 consultation for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife or some such similar simplification of the annual permitting process. We are attempting to resolve uncertainties associated with access to private land by developing long term landowner agreements that extend for the duration of the project. Sample size uncertainties can be resolved by marking or tagging more fish than necessary to assure adequate sample sizes upon recapture.Corollary research needs include similar life history information for wilderness populations of spring chinook salmon in northeast Oregon as well as for local populations of summer steelhead. In addition, more specific information on survival by specific life stage (especially fry and parr) is needed for these populations of spring chinook salmon. Given the information produced by this study, specific information on summer parr densities would contribute substantially to our understanding of juvenile survival.

Overall project performance should be evaluated by comparing the objectives and tasks identified in the work statement to the annual progress and final completion reports. In addition, evaluation of how the information produced by this project is used by area fish managers can be used to evaluated overall effectiveness of the project.

Incorporating new information regarding uncertainties
Any changes to critical uncertainties will be incorporated using an adaptive management process.

Increasing public awareness of F&W activities
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife employees have established public outreach plans. As part of our public outreach in Fish Research, employees meet with school groups, clubs, and organizations as well as initiate articles for the local newspaper to inform the public of our activities. In the past three years project personnel have taken volunteers and school children out to participate in field activities, have given presentations to local groups, and have been interviewed for or sponsored articles for the local newspaper. We plan to continue these activities in the future.

Section 7. Relationships

Related BPA projectRelationship
9604400 Grande Ronde Basin Spring Chinook Captive Broodstock Program Our study summer habitat surveys serve as reconnaissance surveys for locating juvenile chinook salmon for the Captive Brood study. In addition, knowledge of life history information will help guide development of production and release strategies.
9600800 PATH - Plan for analyzing and testing hypotheses Provide data for life cycle mode development
8810804 STREAMNET - the Northwest Aquatic Information Network Provide information for use in database.
Related non-BPA projectRelationship
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.Data will be combined from both projects when assessing smolt-to-adult survival and spawner/recruit relationships in the Grande Ronde River basin.

Opportunities for cooperation
This Early Life History study cooperates with numerous ongoing projects both within the Grande Ronde basin and in the Columbia River region. Information collected by our project has been and continues to be utilized by other projects including but not limited to Grande Ronde Basin Captive Broodstock Program and the PATH project (see above for integration with other projects). This data integration eliminates potential duplication of efforts, increases the efficiency of project operation, and enhances the data base of these other projects. The Early Life History study also provides the opportunity to monitor changes in tributary smolt production and survival of wild smolts to Lower Granite Dam over time, thereby providing information useful for evaluating ôon the ground' restoration and enhancement activities. Lastly the Early Life History study has been approved by and is supported locally as an integral part of the Grande Ronde Model Watershed Program.

Section 8. Costs and FTE

1997 Planned  $494,000

Future funding needs   Past obligations (incl. 1997 if done)
FY$ Need% Plan % Implement% O and M
1998510,977  100%  
1999521,200  100%  
2000531,600  100%  
2001542,200  100%  
2002553,000  100%  

Other non-financial supporters
This research project is supported by the Grande Ronde Model Watershed, Union County Commissioners, US Fish and Wildlife Service's Lower Snake River Compensation Program, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Nez Perce Tribe.

Longer term costs   $550,000

It is anticipated that managers will request that we continue monitoring smolt survival and life history characteristics to generate a long term database.

FY97 overhead percent   Presently ODFW overhead is 20.5%, however, it varies annually.

How does percentage apply to direct costs
Overhead applies to a portion of the total direct costs excluding capital and contract services.

Contractor FTE   8 FTEs
Subcontractor FTE   1 FTE