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
Kootenai River Fisheries Investigations

BPA project number   8806500

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding

Sponsor type   ID-State/Local Agency

Proposal contact person or principal investigator

 NameVaughn L. Paragamian
 Mailing addressIdaho Department of Fish and Game
2750 Kathleen Ave.
Coeur d Alene, ID 83814

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

Biological opinion ID   USFWS BO Incedental Take

NWPPC Program number   10.4B.5, 10.6C.1

Short description
Determine status of sturgeon, burbot and rainbow stocks in the Kootenai River and effects of water fluctuations on these stocks. Nutrient dynamics work is subcontracted to ISU. Telemetry of tagged sturgeon in Kootenay Lake subcontracted to BC.

Project start year   1988    End year   2020

Start of operation and/or maintenance   

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
Project 8346700, 8806400, 9401200 and 9404900. All work is performed in the Kootenai River system. Activities are coordinated through the Kootenai River Basin Steering Committee. Kootenai River Burbot and Rainbow Trout Investigations (Kootenai River Fisheries Investigation). These species have been impacted by Libby Dam.

Project history
Kootenai River Fisheries Investigations (Project 88-65) began September 1, 1988. The project includes the study of white sturgeon and burbot/rainbow in the Kootenai River downriver of of Libby Dam. Through a cooperative effort, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho completed an assessment of the status of white sturgeon in the Kootenai River, successfully cultured sturgeon from the endemic stock, and stocked age 1 and age 2 sturgeon into the Kootenai River (Apperson 1992; Apperson and Anders 1990 and 1991; Siple and Aitken 1992). Recruitment of wild sturgeon to the Kootenai population has been very limited since Libby began operation in 1974. Regulated flow from the dam has been identified as the primary factor limiting sturgeon spawning and early rearing. On June 11, 1992, this population was petitioned for protection under the Endangered Species Act and listed as endangered by the FWS on October 6, 1994. The first experimental spawning flows occurred May-June 1991,1993, 1994 and 1995. Declines observed in populations of burbot, kokanee, and Gerrard rainbow trout have been attributed to regulated flows from Libby Dam warmer winter temperature and entrapment of nutrients within the reservoir.

Biological results achieved
Possibly, six wild juveniles have been caught from the 1991 year class and two from the 1992. Wild sturgeon have been found from other years but in very low numbers (1-5/year class). This indicates that sturgeon are being recruited to the system after Libby Dam was constructed and began operation. However, the number of sturgeon being found does not represent a heathly population. Burbot spawning migration in 1994-95 was inpeded by power production by Libby Dam.

Annual reports and technical papers
Annual Reports: Kootenai River White Sturgeon Investigations and Experimental Culture - FY 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992. Kootenai River White Sturgeon Investigations - FY 1993 and FY 1994 (being printed). Kootenai River White Sturgeon Investigations: Stock Status of Burbot and Rainbow Trout and Fisheries Inventory - FY 1993. Natural Spawning of White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) in the Kootenai River, Idaho, 1994. Preliminary Report of Research, KTOI, IDFG and MDFWP. Draft Kootenai River White Sturgeon Investigations - FY 1995.

Management implications
We will be able to determine the minimum augmented flow to provide a self sustained white sturgeon population and remove it from the Endangered Species list. Knowledge of the minimum flow and duration will provide information necessary to allow spawning migrations of burbot to enter Idaho and provide a sustained fishery. Modification of power peaking at critical periods will ensure adequate survival of rainbow trout recruits and improve the fishery.

Specific measureable objectives
FY 96: (1) Determine the numerical population status and growth of adult white sturgeon. (2) Determine the minimum flow that will provide spawning and rearing habitat in the Kootenai River. Determine response of spawning white sturgeon during experimental discharges from Libby Dam by tracking tagged adults. Habitat physical parameters used by spawners will be measured during the migration and spawning periods. Measure egg deposition and physical parameters at each site. Measure larval abundance during flows. Measure fry and yearling abundance as related to flows. Habitat for sturgeon life histories will be compared to established habitat suitability curves for Lower Columbia River white sturgeon. (3) Determine the effect of sand coating on development and survival of white sturgeon eggs. (4) Determine if food is a limiting factor to growth and survival of juvenile white sturgeon. Capture and sacrifice 10 hatchery juvenile sturgeon to identify food items and other parameters such as length, weight, and fin rays. (5) Determine if high flows created by power peaking during the winter block or delay burbot migration. Burbot will be captured, tagged and monitored throughout the year. Velocities will be measured at four randomly selected areas within three main river reaches. Burbot reproductive status, spawning, habitat use and periodicity of spawning will be assessed by implanting sonic tags in adults. Telemetry will occur year round. Temperature will be recorded in tributary streams and the Kootenai River on a daily basis. (6) Identify methods to effectively sample larval burbot and white sturgeon. Various gear types (mid-water trawl, bottom trawl and experimental sled) will be tried to capture larval burbot and sturgeon. (7) Identify factors limiting rainbow trout survival and or recruitment in the Kootenai River. Conduct a literature review and confer with other biologists to assess whether or not systems comparable to the Kootenai River have significant mainstem spawning and early rearing. Conduct an initial stock assessment to determine age structure and abundance of juvenile rainbow trout in the main Kootenai River. Determine the extent of rainbow trout spawning activity in the main river. Redds identified in the mainstem will be marked and monitored for desiccation and/or scouring. Determine the size and age of juvenile rainbow trout imigrating from the tributaries to the main river.

Testable hypothesis
(1) Augmented discharge from Libby Dam will stimulate white sturgeon migration, and enhance survival of eggs and larval sturgeon. (2) Minimum winter flows will allow burbot to migrate and spawn in traditional Idaho tributaries. (3) Enhancement of phosphorous and nitrate at key locations, time, and amounts will improve primary and secondary production. This will enhance survival, abundance and growth of sport fish.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
(1) Minimum flow at Bonners Ferry for sturgeon spawning, rearing, and recruitment does not impair agricultural uses of the Kootenai Valley flood plain. (2) The paucity of nutrients in the Kootenai River are not the single most important factor in restoration of white sturgeon; burbot or rainbow trout. (3) Winter power production in the Kootenai River prevents burbot from migrating to and spawning in Idaho tributaries. (4) Water management from Libby Dam is limiting recruitment of trout in the Kootenai River.

White sturgeon studies; capture adult white sturgeon w/set lines (up to 50) white sturgeon respond to augmented flow - telemetry of 30-50 adult sturgeon (sonic and radio), documentation of sturgeon spawning by deploying 80 egg mats at various locations. Sample larval sturgeon with shrimp trawl, meter nets or midwater trawl, sample up to 50 juvenile sturgeon w/small mesh gill nets and sacrifice 10 hatchery juveniles for food habit analysis. Burbot studies; sample burbot w/baited hoop nets in lower river, implant sonic transmitters. Use Fisher Exact Test to determine affect of Power Production on burbot migration. Sample burbot eggs with drift nets to verify burbot spawning and locations. Rainbow trout, visual inspection for trout redds, sample adults and juveniles with backpack electroshocker, use ANOVA to determine differences in outmigrants from tributaries, sample with drift traps.

Brief schedule of activities
(1) Sample burbot, implant transmitters and continue telemetry, evaluate spawning migration and minimum winter flow - Winter. (2) Sample burbot eggs, larval and juvenile burbot - Winter - Spring. (3) Attach transmitters to prospective white sturgeon spawners and track w/telemetry - Spring. (4) Sample sturgeon eggs and larvae - Spring - Summer. (5) Sample age-0 and juvenile sturgeon - Summer to Autumn. (6) Track juvenile sturgeon and collect stomach samples from juvenile hatchery sturgeon. (7) Laboratory work, age analysis, food habit and habitat analysis, report writing and data analysis - Autumn - Winter. (8) Rainbow trout literature review - Winter. (9) Spawner survey - Winter. (10) Redd monitoring - Winter - Spring. (11) Stock assessment and outmigrant netting - Spring - Summer. (12) Lab and data analysis and report writing - Autumn - Winter.

Biological need
The Kootenai River white sturgeon is an Endangered Species. It once provided a popular sport fishery for Native Americans, residents, and tourists. Burbot provided a popular consumptive winter sport and commercial fishery for Native Americans, residents and tourists. Rainbow trout is the most popular sport fish in the Kootenai River but the harvest is much lower than that of other rivers in Idaho.

Critical uncertainties
Endangered Species Act is abandoned by Congress and Kootenai River white sturgeon goes extinct.

Summary of expected outcome
Modified management of water from Libby Dam will allow spawning and recruitment of white sturgeon and burbot. White sturgeon will be removed from Endangered Species lists. White sturgeon and burbot stocks will be self sustaining and fisheries will be reopened. Rainbow trout stocks will improve fishing and angler use of the Kootenai River will increase. Addition of nutrients will improve survival, abundance, and growth of sport fish while trophic structure improves.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
Province of British Columbia or state of Montana do not support experiment of adding nutrients to Kootenai River. Water management of Lake Koocanusa violates international treaty of water releases of water for hydropower.

Release of hatchery white sturgeon dilutes the unique gene pool and population is threatened because of unfit and poor genetic characteristics of hatchery fish.

Monitoring activity
Monitoring and Evaluation plans are expected each year for each study. These plans are essentially outlined in the specific measureable objectives, methods, and Brief Schedule of Activities Field.

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
1988: 139,174
1989: 146,778
1990: 148,595
1991: 163,117
1992: 86,386
1993: 379,810
1994: 444,492
1995: 451,167
1996: 466,823
Obligation: 466,823
Authorized: 462,000
Planned: 503,494
1997: 485,839
1998: 559,020
1999: 614,922
2000: 676,414
2001: 744,055

* 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   $485,839

BPA 1997 authorized budget (approved start-of-year budget)   $485,840