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
Toppenish/Simcoe Instream Flow Restoration

BPA project number   5512000

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
Yakama Indian Nation

Sponsor type   WA-Tribe

Proposal contact person or principal investigator

 NameLynn Hatcher
 Mailing addressP.O. Box 151
Toppenish, WA 98948

BPA technical contact   ,

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   7.8E, 7.8G.2

Short description
Restoration of instream flows in Toppenish and Simcoe creeks through the lease or purchase of land and water rights, or substitution of water sources.

Project start year   1997    End year   

Start of operation and/or maintenance   2000

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
85-62: The proposed project will enhance the benefits of adult and juvenile passage facilities constructed at two locations on Toppenish Creek, and the facilities increase the proposed projectís likelihood of success.
89-90: The proposed project will enhance the benefits of a third juvenile passage facility constructed on Toppenish Creek, and the facility increases the proposed projectís likelihood of success.
8812009: The proposed project enhances the potential benefits of steelhead supplementation under the Yakima Fisheries Project.

Project history

Biological results achieved

Annual reports and technical papers

Management implications

Specific measureable objectives
The project objective is to increase the Toppenish Creek summer steelhead run to 1,000 adults. This is more than a tenfold increase over the highest recent estimate based on redd counts, but is consistent with a 1950's-era estimate based on timing and expansion of dam jumps.

Specifically, the project would facilitate the latter half of the smolt outmigration from Toppenish Creek (smolts and kelts are now stranded in dry or average years) and reopen about 10 miles of stream for summer rearing, and terminate unscreened diversions from Simcoe Creek.

Testable hypothesis

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints

Irrigation diversions dry up Toppenish and Simcoe Creeks in summer. The water supply is unreliable and delivery systems are poorly maintained. We propose to end summertime diversions without increasing hardship on local landowners.

Up to 2,000 acres are currently irrigated from Toppenish and Simcoe creeks within and upstream from the Toppenish-Simcoe Unit of the Wapato Irrigation Project, with 70 percent in tribal trust status and 30 percent in fee patent ownership. Tribal land would be leased from willing parties for a 10-year period, and fee patent land purchased outright from willing sellers. Resident landowners would be offered compensation for giving up or accepting limitations on water rights in lieu of sale or lease. The proposed project would then tailor diversions to mimic historical distribution of spring floodwaters across the upper Toppenish Creek and Simcoe Creek basins, recharging aquifers to maintain summer flow and fish habitat in Toppenish and Simcoe creeks. The two largest diversions in the Simcoe Creek basin would be screened and used as above; the other three would be replaced with wells or Wapato Irrigation Project water if all irrigated land or water rights could not be obtained from willing sellers.

Brief schedule of activities
1997: Map public and private irrigation systems and irrigated lands. Begin monitoring canal flows and stream flows, and fish populations (electrofishing, smolt trapping, redd counts) above and below diversions. Survey fish habitat above and below diversions Inform property owners of options available for sale or lease of irrigated land or water rights. Begin appraisal process, and begin acquiring land and water rights.

1998: Continue acquisition process. Continue monitoring canal flow, stream flow and fish populations.

1999: Conclude acquisition process. Develop substitute water sources. Monitor flow and fish populations,

2000 and later: Maintain leases; Yakama Nation will continue monitoring program on its own.

Biological need
The Toppenish Creek and adjacent Satus Creek watersheds produce about half the Yakima Basin's wild summer steelhead. Recent analysis indicates that two populations are genetically distinct from each other and from other Yakima Basin populations. Toppenish Creek and Satus Creek steelhead have suffered serious declines in numbers since reservation population monitoring began in 1988. Nearly all of the remaining production is in Satus Creek, but natural factors account for little or none of the difference between the two watersheds. In fact, Toppenish Creek was estimated to have produced more steelhead than Satus Creek as recently as the 1950's. Locall problems mirror the coast-wide decline in steelhead populations which has occurred in recent years. This event has prompted a petition by the Oregon Natural Resources Council for the National Marine Fisheries Service to list 111 steelhead stocks, including Yakima River summer steelhead, as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

While there are no longer any active irrigations in the Satus Creek watershed, Toppenish Creek and its tributaries are diverted in several locations. We believe irrigation diversions to be the major reason for the extremely low numbers of Toppenish Creek steelhead (probably fewer than 100 adults returning per year since 1988), compared to Satus Creek. Preservation of this stock is important to the diversity and overall productivity of Yakima Basin summer steelhead.

Critical uncertainties
The critical uncertainty lies in the assumption that more and better summer habitat, and better late-spring passage conditions will increase steelhead numbers in the Toppenish Creek basin. The larger (albeit declining) run to the Satus Creek basin, where there is similar habitat quantity and quality but no diversions, supports this assumption, as the same downstream constraints operate on both populations..

Summary of expected outcome
Diversions from Toppenish and Simcoe creeks will be limited to the high-flow period in spring, when flood waters used to fan out naturally. This will maintain seasonal recharge of alluvial aquifers in the upper basin, while allowing base flow to remain in Toppenish and Simcoe creeks in the summer and fall. With improved habitat quality and quantity, and better outmigration conditions,wee expect to increase the Toppenish Creek basin population of summer steelhead to 1,000 adults. This would not only be a numerical contribution, but would protect an important drought-adapted population.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
The Wapato Irrigation Project, Yakama Agency Realty Office and the Yakama Nation Water Program will identify irrigated parcels and assist the Fisheries Program with negotiations. The Water Program will assist in tribal code enforcement to prevent new, illegal diversions as current diversions are limited or terminated. The Yakama Nation wildlife Program will assist in managing lands and delivery systems for fish and wildlife benefit, which will include diversion of floodwaters. The two BIA delivery systems will be taken over by the Yakama Nation under a P.L. 93-638 contract.

The proposed project will benefit from coordination with the Bureau of Reclamation, which is funding the planning phase of the Toppenish Creek Corridor Enhancement Project under P.L. 103-434 (Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project). The Toppenish Creek Corridor Project can be focused farther downstream on Toppenish Creek to improve winter passage and rearing conditions.

The Yakama Nation's Lower Yakima Valley Wetlands and Riparian Area Restoration Project is receiving $4.9 million from the Bonneville Power Administration to purchase, restore and manage riparian lands along the Yakima River, lower Toppenish Creek (downstream from this project), and lower Satus Creek.

The proposed project will be conducted on tribal lands. Federally-funded actions on tribal lands are subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This type of action suggests a programmatic environmental assessment. The Yakama Reservation Interdisciplinary Team reviews environmental assessments for proposed projects, recommends project changes and mitigation, and ultimately recommends for or against a Finding of No Significant Impact. This process seldom delays carefully-planned projects.


Monitoring activity
Monitoring has already shown that loss of summer steelhead habitat quantity and quality due to summer irrigation diversions is the major local factor limiting Toppenish Creek steelhead. Monitoring the effects of this project on hydrology and steelhead habitat below diversion works, and steelhead populations above and below diversion points is important. The long-term sustainability of the project depends on its ability to generate results that outweigh the loss of cropland by curtailing summer diversions. Success will result in similar projects for streams with significant fisheries potential which now sustain only marginal agriculture.

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: 308,000
1998: 350,000
1999: 510,000
2000: 44,000
2001: 44,000

* 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   Bonneville Dam - Priest Rapids Dam

Recommendation    Tier 1 - fund

Recommended funding level   $308,000

BPA 1997 authorized budget (approved start-of-year budget)   $308,000