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
Libby Reservoir Levels/Kootenai IFIM

BPA project number   8346700

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding

Sponsor type   MT-State/Local Agency

Proposal contact person or principal investigator

 NameBrian Marotz
 Mailing addressMontana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
490 N. Meridian Road
Kalispell, MT 5990

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

Biological opinion ID   USFWS BO Incedental Take

NWPPC Program number   10.3B.5, 10.4B.5

Short description
Uses Instream Flow Incremental Methodology Models and field techniques to relate hydraulic conditions in the Kootenai River to fish, habitat and food production requirements for riverine fish assemblages; links river model to existing reservoir model to balance hydro operations; examines options to mitigate the effects of Libby Dam. Becomes Libby Mitigation Habitat Improvements in FY98.

Project start year   1983    End year   Transition from IFIM component to Libby Mit. FY98

Start of operation and/or maintenance   1996

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
Projects 8446500 and 9501200 Libby Tech. Analysis/IRC development: modeling to link river/reservoir components. Project 9500400 Libby Mitigation Plan: public scoping, literature compilation to develop plan. Projects 8806400, 8806500, 9401200 and 9404900: Kootenai River system projects coordinated through the Kootenai River Basin Steering Committee. Project 9502600 Model Watershed Program under development.

Project history
1. Work on fish entrainment through the Libby Dam penstocks and effects of operations on the river fishery continued in FY 1994 and FY 1995 to develop an entrainment component for the reservoir model. 2. Effects of stream fluctuations on Kootenai River burbot fishery examined in FY 1994 and continue in FY 1995. 3. IFIM studies were completed in Kootenai River below dam to determine spawning area available to sturgeon at various river flows. Microhabitat measurements to be completed in 1996. Development of Integrated Rule Curves continued (FY94 and 95) to balance all water uses in the Kootenai River system.

Biological results achieved
Established relationship between reservoir operation and biological productivity, incorporated results in the computer model LRMOD. Developed Integrated Rule Curves (IRCs) adopted by NPPC but not yet implemented. Developed tiered approach for white sturgeon spawning flows balanced with reservoir IRCs and biological opinion. This strategy was unanimously supported by the White Sturgeon Recovery Team. Long-term monitoring of kokanee, bull trout, westslope cutthroat, rainbow and burbot and other native species. Long-term monitoring of zooplankton and trophic relationships. Developed model of fish and zooplankton entrainment through Libby Dam as related to hydro operations and selective withdrawal structure. Began pilot mitigation projects on selected spawning/rearing tributaries. Established effects of dam operation on benthic macroinvertebrates in the Kootenai River (report In Press).

Annual reports and technical papers
(1) Model Development to establish Integrated Operation Rule Curves for Hungry Horse and Libby Reservoirs, Montana. January 1996. (2) Quantification of Libby Reservoir Levels Needed to Maintain or Enhance Reservoir Fisheries: Investigations of Fish Entrainment through Libby Dam 1990-1994. January 1996. (3) Natural Spawning of White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) in the Kootenai River, Idaho, 1994; also 1995. Research Reports. KTOI, IDFG and MFWP. (4) Effects of stream regulation on the macrozoobenthos of the Kootenai River. Yellow Bay Biological Station (In Press 1996).

Management implications
Program is divided into operational (measures requiring modified dam operation) and non-operational mitigation (measures which can be accomplished without changing dam operations). Operational changes can now be assessed via modeling; the IRCs and tiered sturgeon flows can be implemented to balance resident fish concerns with anadromous species recovery. Entrainment of fish through Libby Dam is significant (especially kokanee) and must be balanced with white sturgeon recovery. Completion of IFIM project and model will provide biological data on the requirements of target riverine species. Non-operational mitigation opportunities will be compiled in the Mitigation Plan.

Specific measureable objectives
Specific Objectives for FY97: (1) Implement the mitigation plan submitted to NPPC in Dec. 1996 to compensate for fisheries losses due to the construction and operation of Libby Dam. Stimulate public interest in the Kootenai Valley using a citizen's advisory committee; (2) Implement Libby Dam operations necessary to enhance sturgeon, burbot, rainbow trout, bull trout and mountain whitefish populations in the Kootenai River; (3) Examine the cost/benefit of reclaiming lost spawning and rearing habitat for Kootenai River fish by creating a fish bypass facility at the Lake Creek Dam; (4) Monitor deltas at Kootenai River tributary mouths; recommend removal of deltas if necessary.

Testable hypothesis
Implementing IRC will improve primary, secondary and tertiary biological production. Implementing tiered approach to sturgeon spawning/rearing flows will provide an experimental design containing sufficient variance to isolate thresholds between successful recruitment and reproductive failure. Fish entrainment through Libby Dam can be influenced by the seasonality, depth of withdrawal and volume of discharges from Libby Dam. Habitat restoration will benefit spawning and rearing. Spawning runs can be initiated when suitable tributary habitat is reconnected. Reduced fines in spawning gravel will increase egg to fry survival.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
Entrainment: The seasonality and vertical depth distribution of fish in the dam forebay is approximately equal from year to year (or model inputs must be empirically calibrated annually). Model/IRC: (1) Reservoir nutrient input will not change significantly due to human activity; (2) Benthic insect production and kokanee growth assume constant dam operation for two consecutive years (model design was to compare one operating regime to another). Sturgeon: Flow and water temperature influence spawning and rearing to a great extent. IFIM: Water discharge/velocity is related to habitat which is related to biological productivity, growth and survival.

(1) Reservoir model is component, trophic model empirically calibrated 1982-present involving C14 liquid scintillation, chlora, zooplankton density and vertical distribution by genera, benthic insect larval density (dredging) and adult emergence (emergence traps), terrestrial insect deposition (surface tows) and fish growth (vertical and horizontal gill nets, scale and otolith analysis) and fish abundance (netting, hydroacoustics). Entrainment is empirical and controlled by indices (draft-tube netting, hydroacoustics). IFIM uses standard PHABSIM techniques (modified for site-specific purposes) using SCUBA, netting, electrofishing, substrate/cover mapping, pit tags and various marks and subcontracted insect work. Pilot habitat projects include fencing, artificial spawning structures and site planning. (2) Linear and non-linear regression, multi-variate and stepwise analysis, multiple range tests, numeric transformation, ANOVA, graphical analysis. All statistics reviewed by University statistical consultants. (3) Endangered Kootenai white sturgeon, bull trout, interior redband, rainbow, cutthroat, burbot etc. Lots of 'em.

Brief schedule of activities
Program in transition from research/model calibration to on-the-ground mitigation. Final microhabitat work, 1996, will shift IFIM project to model calibration and use 1997. Pilot mitigation projects will continue. Site plans and potential mitigation projects are being prioritized. High priority projects will begin as ongoing pilot projects are completed. Libby Mitigation Plan will be completed and submitted to NPPC in 1996. Implementation scheduled for 1997.

Biological need
Project is needed to address NPPC program measures; balance Libby Dam operation with reservoir and river fishery, ESA actions to recover the endangered Kootenai white sturgeon and endangered Snake River salmon and protect critical unlisted stocks (e.g. bull trout, interior redband, burbot, westslope cutthroat, etc.) Ongoing salmon recovery actions as directed by NMFS Biological Opinion could cause permanent damage to resident species of special concern if modifications are not made to balance operational changes with resident fish requirements.

Critical uncertainties
White sturgeon recovery will not likely occur without conservation stocking immediately to conserve all year classes until (and if) natural recruitment is made possible through dam operation change and restoration of natural floodplain function. Reservoir fishery may not fully recover due to high numbers of northern squawfish and peamouth that exhibited explosive population increase after reservoir impoundment. River sediments are becoming embedded because of flow regulation; it is uncertain if discharges can be periodically increased enough to clean and resort the river substrate. Salmon recovery actions called for by the NMFS recovery plan and Biological Opinion could cause irreversible harm to resident fish and impact mitigation activities.

Summary of expected outcome
IRCs will be implemented with the tiered sturgeon flows. Reservoir productivity will be enhanced by reduced reservoir drawdown and improved reservoir refill probability. River health will be improved via IFIM results and near natural spring runoff event (within VARQ flood constraints), balanced with salmon recovery actions. Non-operational measures in the Libby Mitigation Plan will reconnect/reconstruct about 30 percent more tributary habitat, partially mitigating habitat lost with Libby Dam filled. Restoration of riparian vegetation along selected stream reaches will benefit wildlife.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
Mitigation actions under this program will be cooperative between MFWP, CSKT and KTOI. IRCs and tiered sturgeon flows are contingent on the Corps adopting and implementing VARQ flood control. The NMFS Biological Opinion must be modified to recognize the needs of resident fish and take on a basin-wide multiple species perspective. This program has already demonstrated that mitigation opportunities can assume a watershed approach, fostering cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, Corps, BPA, sporting and environmental groups, industry and private landowners. We move forward on many projects simultaneously so that when some projects bog down in permitting, contracting or funding snafus, other projects can still come to fruition. Our goal is to produce a constant string of completed projects.

Continued environmental damage from other activities (e.g. mining, logging, road construction, toxic spills, increased human use, etc.) can counter or reverse progress toward mitigation. Gas saturation problems due to a forced spill through Libby Dam could harm river biota for years, making recovery difficult. Invasion of illegally introduced or expanding populations of non-native species could cause genetic introgression, competition or extirpation of desirable native species.

Monitoring activity
Monitoring is approximately 25 percent of the project cost to document changes in fish growth, survival and relative abundance; shifts in habitat are recorded via photo points, redd counts, surveys, frequency of dewatering and insect community dynamics. Project 9501200 is scheduled to assess the effectiveness of the IRCs after implementation.

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
1983: 156,305
1984: 327,567
1985: 524,014
1986: 472,871
1987: 56,245
1988: 72,826
1989: 248,844
1990: 270,492
1991: 282,142
1992: 297,956
1993: 275,000
1994: 293,463
1995: 284,215
1996: 298,249
Obligation: 298,249
Authorized: 325,000
Planned: 325,000
1997: 310,700
1998: 500,000
1999: 520,000
2000: 600,000
2001: 750,000

* 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   $310,700

BPA 1997 authorized budget (approved start-of-year budget)   $310,700