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
Smolt Monitoring by Non-Federal Entities

BPA project number   8712700

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding

Sponsor type   PSMFC

Proposal contact person or principal investigator

 NamePam Kahut
 Mailing address45 SE 82nd Drive, Suite 100
Gladstone, OR 97027-2522

BPA technical contact   John Rowan, EWI 503/230-5199

Biological opinion ID   NMFS BO RPA Sec. 13a

NWPPC Program number   5.9A.1

Short description
Monitor smolt migration in the Lower Snake and Columbia Rivers as they leave the tributaries and pass through the dams.

Project start year   1987    End year   

Start of operation and/or maintenance   

Project development phase   Maintenance

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects

Project history
Component of basinwide Smolt Monitoring Program, which is the basis of flows and passage management data submitted to the Fish Passage Center. Agencies and tribes funded under this contract are Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), Nez Perce Tribe and Chelan County PUD. (Prior to 1994 this contract also included the funding of the Fish Passage Center budget.) IDFG has conducted smolt trapping activities for the SMP since 1985 on the Snake and Clearwater rivers near Lewiston, Idaho. Since 1993 IDFG has also operated a scoop trap on the lower Salmon River near Whitebird Idaho for the SMP. In 1996 the Snake and SalmonRiver trap operations will continue, while the Clearwater River trap operation will be replaced with an electroshocking and beach seining operation for the purpose of monitoring Gas Bubble Trauma in resident and migratory fish in the Clearwater River as a result of spill at Dworshak Dam. The Snake and Salmon River trap operations provides data on outmigration timing and serves as a site for PIT tagging smolts for subsequent analysis of travel time and survival indices. The Grande Ronde component was initiated by ODFW in 1994 to provide baseline data on the overall outmigration of smolts from the Grande Ronde River drainage. Smolt monitoring has been conducted by the Nez Perce tribe since 1991 under the Lower Snake River Compensation Plan (LSRCP) hatchery evaluations program, and in 1993 a joint effort was initiated with the Fish Passage Center (FPC) to better coordinate the ongoing outmigrant trapping operation with FPC project needs. In 1996 SMP program funds will cover about two-thirds of the cost of the Imnaha River smolt monitoring activities. Each of the trap sites provides data on outmigration timing and biological characteristics of outmigrating smolts, as well as data on migration rates and survival indices to downstream dams from the component of the run that is PIT tagged and released from each trap. An additional smolt monitoring site that is used to PIT tag outmigrating smolts is Rock Island Dam. A bypass trap has ben operated at Powerhouse 2 by Chelan County PUD for the SMP since 1995. Migration timing past the dam, and gas trauma monitoring are also conducted at this site. SMP activities occur at each of the dams on the Snake and Columbia River conducting Corps Fish Transporation. Funds at these sites are split between the SMP and the Corps Fish Transportation and Oversight Program. The Corps funds transportation related activities, fish ladder hydraulic inspections and part of the daily fish sampling activities. The SMP funds part of the daily fish sampling activities and all of the activities related to gas bubble trauma monitoring, plus SMP funds cover data summarization and daily electronic data transmission. SMP responsibilities at these Corps fish transportation sites is split among state agencies. ODFW conducts the monitoring at Little Goose Dam, WDFW conducts the monitoring at Lower Granite, Lower Monumental and McNary dams. Monitoring at Lower Monumnetal and McNary dams was originally conducted by NMFS, but WDFW assumed responsibility for this activity in 1988 at Lower Granite Dam and in 1990 at McNary Dam. This resulted in an overall cost reduction due primarily to lower state administration overhead rates and partial time sharing of positions funded through other contracts. At Lower Monumental Dam, WDFW conducted gatewell sampling from 1985 through 1991, and beginning in 1993 conducted smolt monitoring activities in the newly constructed collection/bypass system...

Biological results achieved
The quality of passage conditions at the Snake River dams directly affects survival to the estuary and eventually to adult. Whatever can be done operationally to insure a better quality smolt leaving the system is a priority for this project (i.e. reduce descaling, lingering in areas where H20 temps increase occasionally, etc.) The travel time and flow relationship of smolts is quantified along with the documentation of the actual migration timing for each species for a particular year. Ball park estimates of survival from tag observations as fish move downstream through the system and at their return as adults. Assessment of GBT related to the spill program has also been realized. Collection of basic biological and hydroelecteric operation data has also been achieved along with providing sample fish for research activities. Results have included the outmigration timing of smolts biological characteristics of smolts, and relative effect of water temperature and water discharge on smolt outmigration of wild and hatchery chinook salmon and steelhead trout smolts. PIT tagging studies have allowed distinction of chinook salmon and steelhead trout smolts migrating through the Snake River and Columbia River hydroelctric projects. Results from chinook salmon and steelhead trout smolt outmigration timing data and from PIT tag interrogation information at the dams have allowed managers increased information to make informed decisions concerning flow augmentation and spill planning. Documenting dam arrival timing of wild chinook smolts will assist managers to implement spill to benefit smolt survival at hydroelectric facilties.

Annual reports and technical papers
Annual reports are prepared by all agencies and tribes participating in the Smolt Monitoring program.

Management implications
The data provides an essential component for making decisions regarding flow augmentation and spill as they affect wild and hatchery salmonid stocks in terms of survival and rate of migration. Gas Bubble trauma data is particularly relevant to strategies for spill management and flow augmentation. At the same time the fish condition data relevant to any water management strategy allows for policy decision makers to reflect on fish passage quality with specific river operations. Decision makers use information on the spring and summer outmigration timing of wild and hatchery chinook salmon and steelhead trout smolts. They also use the data on PIT tagged fish arrival timing at dams, travel time to the dams and relative survival to the dams. This provides managers in-season information on which to base flow augmentation and spill decisions relative to management of endangered chinook salmon juveniles.

Specific measureable objectives
Ability to evaluate and implement operational modifications to reduce injury to fish passing via the collection facility. Each monitoring site has the following specific objectives 1) determine the spring and summer outmigration timing of salmonid smolts, 2) determine for PIT tagged smolts the outmigration timing and travel time from release site to downstream dams, and 3) provide final report summarizing results of smolt monitoring activities.

Testable hypothesis
Salmonids that outmigrate at higher river discharges migrate faster and survive to Lower Granite Dam interrogation site in higher numbers. Higher river discharge and lower water temperatures during summer months increase fall chinook smolt survival.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
Years with high turbidity/debris loads during spring runoff can influence the cumulative trapping season percent capture efficiency by necessitating greater effort toward efficient trap operation and fish condition considerations. GBT examination assumes fish in the sample will show external signs of gas saturation exposure similar to that in the population. Fish injury examination assumes injury took place during collection related activity unless predator/parasite, etc marks are obvious. Trap collects a representative sample of wild and hatchery chinook salmon and steelhead trout smolts migrating pass the site. Handling and anaesthectic does not significantly affect subsequent smolt behavior or survival following release. PIT tagging does not affect smolt behavior or survival. PIT tagged wild and hatchery chinook salmon and steelhead trout smolts are representative of the population as a whole. All trap operations are constrained by not being able to operate throughout the high spring runoff to determine what number of percent of the spring smolt outmigration occurs during that period of time.

Fish are sorted by size at the wet separator and funneled accordingly through a pit tag detector which either bypasses them to the river or sends them to a sample tank. Fish are subsampled from this group at an interval relative to the number of fish passing. The 24 hour subsample is anesthetized and species, fork length, GBT, fish injury data are collected. The data are summarized entered into appropriate software and downloaded. Smolts pit tagged and released are used in travel time analyses. Analysis involves summarization and subsequently a regression between travel time and the reciprocal of flow. The salmonids intercepted will be wild and hatchery spring chinook, wild and hatchery steelhead and subyearling fall chinook. Incidental capture of other non target species is also roughly assessed. The Fish Passage Center plans the annual Smolt Monitoring Program which the fishery agencies and tribes implement at smolt monitoring sites. Fish Passage Center staff provides technical assistance, computer assistance, and biometrician consultation to the SMP sites as needed.

Brief schedule of activities
Major tasks include a new lower river monitoring site to be developed for the Grande Ronde River, and major modifications to the fish sampling facilities at John Day and Bonneville dams. Project activities are generally the same each year but the number of fish to be PIT tagged by specifies can vary. The SMP sites will collect data from a subsample of the total daily collection on species abundance, mark recaptures, fork length, gas bubble trauma, fish condition (descaling body fungus), project operations, flow data, and water temperataure. The SMP sites will transfer these data electronically on a daily basis to the Fish Passage Center. Major project tasks for 1997 and beyond will continue to focus on the SMP objectives outlined in the 1996 statement of work.

Biological need
The SMP is mandated in the Northwest Power Planning Council’s (NPPC) Program for flow augmentation and spill management and to evaluate any future reservoir drawdowns. This information will be useful for evaluation of the effects of flow, smolt condition and other environmental factors on outmigration timing, travel time and relative survival of wild and hatchery chinook salmon steelhead trout smolts. The NPPC’s Program includes measures for flow, spill, and drawdown to provide for partial mitigation for losses due to operation of mainstem dams on the Snake and Columbia Rivers. The Program establishes and directs the Fish Passage Center to manage fish mitigation measures on behalf of the fishery agencies and tribes represented on the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority. Specifically, the Program directs the Fish Passage Center to: 1) plan and implement the annual Smolt Monitoring Program; 2) develop and implement flow and spill requests; and 3) monitor and analyze smolt monitoring results to assist in flow augmentation and spill planning and reporting. The project ensures that avenues to reduce fish injury or stress are a primary concern to the facility operators. The collected data provides for in season water management of flow, spill effects on successful fish passage. The baseline for each drainage shifts independently and unpredictably. It is for this reason that overall outmigration needs to be assessed annually and accumulated to allow examination for trends/or lack of trends relevant to the manageable downstream water parameters.

Critical uncertainties
Whether or not PIT tags affect smolt behavior and survival. The high river discharge during smolt outmigration irrevocably implies increased survival for a particular cohort.

Summary of expected outcome
Data to support water strategies that improve fish survival. Annual data that monitors throughout the downstream migration season the quality via external examination of juvenile passing the hydroelectric facility through the collection system. SMP project will provide in-season information on relative number and outmigration timing of wild and hatchery chinook salmon and steelhead trout smolts. It will also provide data relative to outmigration timing, travel time and relative survival of PIT tagged smolts from release site to Snake River and Columbia River Dams. This information is needed by managers to make flow augmentation and water spill recommendations and decisions to enhance survival of smolts through the hydroelectric projects.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
As part of the smolt monitoring program by non-federal entities, the activities of participating entities are coordinated with the fisheries managers throught the Fish Passage Center.

We believe the benefits of the knowledge gained through the SMP with the many project safeguards put in place to protect migrating smolts far outweigh any risk involved. See Underlying Assumptions or Critical Constraints section.

Monitoring activity
The data is evaluated and reported annually by agency personnel and then combined by FPC into a cumulative regional assessment.

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
1987: 800,332
1988: 921,430
1989: 1,022,337
1990: 989,545
1991: 1,221,103
1992: 1,278,046
1993: 1,396,393
1994: 682,927
1995: 1,139,870
1996: 1,264,522
Obligation: 1,264,522
Authorized: 1,237,000
Planned: 1,340,012
1997: 1,212,704
1998: 1,268,120
1999: 1,333,250
2000: 1,407,281
2001: 1,480,241

* 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   Mainstem

Recommendation    Tier 1 - fund

Recommended funding level   $1,212,704

BPA 1997 authorized budget (approved start-of-year budget)   $1,299,700