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
Flathead River Instream Flow Study

BPA project number   9502500

Short description
Conduct IFIM study on Flathead River from South Fork confluence to Flathead Lake. Determine effects of flow fluctuations on fish habitat, predator prey interactions, sediment deposition and fish migrations. Link river model to existing reservoir model (HRMOD).

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
Montana Fish, Wildlife & ParksConfederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameBrian Marotz, Fisheries Program Officer
 Mailing address490 North Meridian
Kalispell, MT 59901
 Phone406/751-4546
 Emailmarotz@digisys.net
   

Sub-contractors
Not selected yet, RFP in prep.

Section 2. Goals

General
Supports a healthy Columbia basin; maintains biological diversity; increases run sizes or populations; provides needed habitat protection; adaptive management (research or M&E)

Target stockLife stageMgmt code (see below)
Bull troutAll(P), N, W
Westslope cutthroat troutAllS, N, W
Mountain whitefishAllN
Rainbow troutAllA, N

 
Affected stockBenefit or detriment
Eastern brook troutDetrimental
Northern squawfish, northern pike, yellow perch, pumpkinseedDetrimental

Section 3. Background

Stream area affected

Stream name   Flathead River
Stream miles affected   44
Hydro project   Hungry Horse Dam
Subbasin   Upper Columbia
Land ownership   both
Habitat types   River

History
This project is scheduled to start in 1997. This effort is similar to the ongoing work in Libby Reservoir and Kootenai River.

Project reports and papers
Project has not begun. This product will link with the IRCs described in: Model Development to Establish Integrated Operational Rule Curves for Hungry Horse and Libby Reservoirs, Montana. January 1996.

Adaptive management implications
The effects of rapid or unnatural flow fluctuations of riverine biota is well document in the literature. Thermal control (selective withdrawal) coupled with a nearly natural flow regimen is critical to riverine health in the Flathead River. Improved prey production and fish growth efficiency will aid in the recovery of weakened native fish populations (e.g. bull trout and westslope cutthroat).

Section 4. Purpose and methods

Specific measureable objectives
Determine seasonal thresholds for allowable flow fluctuations (ramping rates). Define the required flow (augmented by Hungry Horse Dam) for stream channel maintenance (to clean stream substrate and maintain insect production). Evaluate the feasibility of using flows and temperatures as a tool to reduce predation on juvenile bull trout and westslope cutthroat.

Critical uncertainties
Ongoing actions for recovery of the endangered Snake River salmon as directed by the NMFS Biological Opinion could influence the timing of water released from Hungry Horse Dam. Unless we understand the effects of these releases, recovery actions may counter or reverse mitigation efforts to balance the needs of resident and anadromous fish.

Biological need
The NPPC program calls for consultations with MFWP and CSKT when conflict occurs between reservoir and river requirements. River flows and flow fluctuations cause important changes in food production, habitat availability and fish movements. An annual flow regime with tolerable flow fluctuations is needed to maximize the effectiveness of the selective withdrawal structure and to balance riverine productivity with hydropower production.

Hypothesis to be tested
Rate of flow change X is more beneficial to riverine biological production than is flow change Y (X and Y are rates selected from the continuum from minimum to maximum flows). The effect of ramping rates varies seasonally (due to the presence or absence of critical life stages of resident fish). River flows effect: (1) the movements of fish; (2) the availability of suitable habitat, and; (3) food production.

Alternative approaches
Ongoing analysis of alternatives

Justification for planning
N/A

Methods
(1) Standard application of Instream Flow Incremental Methodology in three reaches of the Flathead River (PHABSIM and HABSP). Optimization program to link the river IFIM and the reservoir model HRMOD will draw heavily from ongoing modeling in the Kootenai system. (2) Modeling typically uses the simplest mathematical tools to make maximal use of available empirical data. Non-linear regression multi-variate analysis, etc. the IFIM will be subcontracted to a competitive contractor. Project design and statistical analyses will be reviewed/edited by University statistical consultants. (3) Target species include bull trout, westslope cutthroat and northern squawfish (native), lake trout and northern pike (non-native).

Section 5. Planned activities

Phase PlanningStart 1997 End 1997?Subcontractor none
Planning will be completed through bid process in FY97. Bid will be awarded in FY97?; project implementation will begin as soon as possible. A validation plan will also be developed.
Phase ImplementationStart 1997 End 2000Subcontractor Not awarded
(1) Establish IFIM transects for hydraulic measurements. (2) Initiate data collection at all transects. (3) Compile and proof data sets. Project will move from macro to microhabitats during the first three-year project, the fourth year will be used for implementation and reporting.
Project completion date   2000

Constraints or factors that may cause schedule or budget changes
The time it will take to start this project remains uncertain.

Section 6. Outcomes, monitoring and evaluation

SUMMARY OF EXPECTED OUTCOMES

Expected performance of target population or quality change in land area affected
Project will recommend an annual regime of flows and allowable flow fluctuations to balance riverine fish production with hydropower generation. River model will be linked with the existing reservoir model to assess tradeoffs when reservoir and river requirements conflict. Thermal control via selective withdrawal on the dam and moderation of flow fluctuation will return the river to a more natural state, improving insect production and fish growth.

Present utilization and convservation potential of target population or area
Recreational use of the river is increasing. Water temperatures are now back to nearly natural condition (selective withdrawal at H. Horse Dam) for the first time since 1952. Water quality has improved somewhat during the last decade due to improved land management practices, but has always remained relatively pristine. Flow fluctuation due to hydropower generation and reduction of the spring freshet due to flood control remain the greatest threat to riverine health. Other impacts such as the loss of riparian vegetation, chemical runoff from lawns and fields, channelization and impoundment (backwater effect caused by unnaturally high Flathead Lake elevations during the historic low flow period) remain impediments to system recovery. Bull trout in the main stem Flathead River have declined alarmingly during the last five years, apparently due to habitat loss and food web interactions or competition with introduced species (eg. Lake trout, mysis shrimp, eastern brook trout). Westslope cutthroat have also shown signs of decline. The fishery has persisted since dams were installed on the system despite gross changes to the natural environment, but the food web is now destabilized and changing (synergy?). Restoration of more natural river function is possible through seasonal ramping limits, periodic flushing flows, and thermal control. Thermal control is complete. The flow related aspects can be developed through this project.

Assumed historic status of utilization and conservation potential
Native species assemblage, natural river.

Long term expected utilization and conservation potential for target population or habitat
Protect what remains, restore what we can.

Contribution toward long-term goal
IFIM data on the lower Flathead River will define acceptable flow fluctuation balanced with power production, flood control, reservoir elevations and anadromous species recovery.

Indirect biological or environmental changes
Normalized river function provides benefits for terrestrial species as well as aquatic.

Physical products
More natural flows in 44 river mile of the Flathead River which are a migration corridor for the unregulated North and Middle Forks bordering Glacier National Park.

Environmental attributes affected by the project
Limits to flow fluctuations or seasonal flow constraints may have minor to moderate impacts on power generation at Hungry Horse Dam and Kerr Dam at the outlet to Flathead Lake.

Changes assumed or expected for affected environmental attributes
Moderation of unnatural flow fluctuation, combined with thermal control, will improve biological production and fish growth potential. Temperature control alone will make a big difference, but both are needed to maximize benefits.

Measure of attribute changes
A goal, but unquatifiable at this time (work hasn't begun).

Assessment of effects on project outcomes of critical uncertainty
This will be done under the Hungry Horse Mitigation Program: population monitoring, sampling of primary production using C14 scintillation, chlor a, zooplankton density and vertical distribution, benthic insect grabs, fish food habits, growth rate evaluation (scale and otolith), migrant trapping, riparian revegetation evaluation, hydrographic monitoring. We will also learn much by communication with operating agencies (BPA,BOR,ACOE) and ESA implementers (NMFS,USFWS).

Information products
Contractor report, seasonal ramping rates, flushing flow requirements, substrate mapping.

Coordination outcomes
See above

MONITORING APPROACH
(1) Standard application of Instream Flow Incremental Methodology in three reaches of the Flathead River (PHABSIM and HABSP). Optimization program to link the river IFIM and the reservoir model HRMOD will draw heavily from ongoing modeling in the Kootenai system. (2) Modeling typically uses the simplest mathematical tools to make maximal use of available empirical data. Non-linear regression multi-variate analysis, etc. the IFIM will be subcontracted to a competitive contractor. Project design and statistical analyses will be reviewed/edited by University statistical consultants. (3) Target species include bull trout, westslope cutthroat and northern squawfish (native), lake trout and northern pike (non-native).

Provisions to monitor population status or habitat quality
Excessive Drawdown Mitigation Project: predator / prey interaction, species seasonal movements. Mitigation and Implementation Plans, Flathead Basin Commission Master Monitoring Plan

Data analysis and evaluation
See above

Information feed back to management decisions
Adaptive management will guide future direction. Things that produce measurable results will continue, things that do not work will be modified or discontinued.

Critical uncertainties affecting project's outcomes
The main issue here is when the IRCs will be implemented. Scientific review has taken place and concurred with this approach. Yet, policy direction has not allowed any deviation from the NMFS Biological Opinion. We are constantly assured that the BiOp is "a living document" with flexibility to change as new information becomes available, but no change in implementation has occurred. ESA actions must be based on the best available science. Policy makers should assure this occurs.Specific to this project, flow ramping has no real effect on downstream water availability because only diel timing is effected. Power concerns will be addressed similarly to other non-power constraints; with a realistic balance in mind.

Evaluation
Biological response in the river. Periodic assessment of insects (repeat the work of Perry and Hauer) and fish (otolith growth, population estimate, creel census)

Incorporating new information regarding uncertainties
Our track record has shown that we readily accept and adapt to new information. Scientific principal leads us to search for the truth. If we are wrong we admit it and gratefully accept the correction, this makes our product better.

Increasing public awareness of F&W activities
Its a highly visible project. The media will be told this is part of a regional effort.

Section 7. Relationships

Related BPA projectRelationship
9501200 Project is high priority for funding, but can not begin until the IRCs are implemented. Will assess the effectiveness of the IRCs for Hungry Horse after implementation
8446500 Libby and Hungry Horse Tech. Analysis Funds one modelor to build an optimization model to link river model to existing reservoir model HRMOD
9101903 Hungry Horse Mitigation Implements mitigation plan
Related non-BPA projectRelationship
Project 9101901 is another aspect of the Hungry Horse mitigation program conducted by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and USFWSCSKT is a full cooperator in Hungry Horse Mitigation. Tribal personnel repair habitat and perform monitoring on the southern portion of Flathead Lake and River
Project 9101904 is another aspect of the mitigation project conducted by the USFWSUSFWS provides hatchery support for the kokanee restoration test, experimental culture of bull trout to determine imprint timing and assists with monitoring of hatchery plants

Opportunities for cooperation
The ability to implement an appropriate flow regimen is dependent on a balanced system operation. River work compliments ongoing research on selective withdrawal and predator prey interactions. Partnerships can be formed with the Flathead Basin Commission, Bureau of Reclamation, Flathead River action groups and landowners along the river. Partnerships have already been demonstrated with BOR and BPA (including ramping rates, minimum flows and kokanee spawning flows).

Section 8. Costs and FTE

1997 Planned  $95,600

Future funding needs   Past obligations (incl. 1997 if done)
FY$ Need% Plan % Implement% O and M
1998100,000    100%
contracted
1999100,000    100%
2000100,000    100%
20010    100%
 
Longer term costs   MFWP but costs cannot be even estimated until watershed planning is in its later stages.
FY97 overhead percent   17%

How does percentage apply to direct costs
[Overhead % not provided so BPA appended older data.] Salaries only

Contractor FTE   One
Subcontractor FTE   Potential for one-quarter time fte