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
Salmon River Anadromous Fish Passage Enhancement, Idaho

BPA project number   9306200

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
Lemhi and Custer Soil and Water Conservation Districts

Sponsor type   ID-Model Watershed

Proposal contact person or principal investigator

 NameRalph Swift
 Mailing addressIdaho Soil Conservation Commission
206 Van Dreff, Suite A
Salmon, ID 83467

BPA technical contact   Allyn Meulman, EWP 208/334-1005

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   3.1D.1, 7.0A.1, 7.7B

Short description
The purpose of this project is to identify fish passage problems, and making recommendations for project implementation followed by the implementation of habitat enhancement and passage restoration projects on specific reaches of those streams identified above. Improvements include fishways, diversion headgates, improved water distribution, and acquiring instream flow agreements.

Project start year   1993    End year   1999

Start of operation and/or maintenance   

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
IDFG's screening program, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Salmon River BPA project BPA Project 84-24, Middle Fork and upper Salmon River Anadromous Fish Habitat Enhancement and BPA Project 93-33, South Fork Salmon River Anadromous Fish Habitat Enhancement, Model Watershed Coordination 9202603, and Model Watershed Implementation 94011700 are related to this project.

Project history
In 1993 the U.S. Forest Service, Inter-mountain Region, (FS) contracted with Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to improve habitat for anadromous fish (Project 93-62 Upper Salmon River Anadromous Fish Passage Enhancement Project Agreement No. DE-Al 7993BP00818). The FS began NEPA and BA (biological assessment) reports for the projects in the contract with the start of construction planned for 1994. The projects are designed to provide offsite mitigation for fish losses resulting from the Columbia River hydroelectric system. Fish population responses are being documented by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) as a part of BPA Project 83-7.

A cooperative project between the water right holder on the Yantis Ditch, the New Meadows Ranger District Idaho Water Resources and this project is underway to prevent the dewatering of Boulder Creek (Little Salmon River drainage). This will involve a headgate, permanent diversion dam and piping the diverted water about 3,000 feet down the ditch to prevent ditch loss. We have began design on consolidating the two upper diversions in Valley Creek (VC-5 & VC-6). Negotiations with the private land owners to provide additional flow in Alturas Lake Creek (a sockeye salmon stream) are proceeding. Design of the new diversion in Alturas Lake Creek about 300 yards upstream of the old diversion dam (a passage barrier) will be coordinated with IDFG engineers.

In 1994 a siphon was installed to convey Salmon River water under Carmen Creek and eliminate the dewatering of Carmen Creek during spring for irrigation. This was done on a cost share basis with the irrigators. This fall another diversion was eliminated from Carmen Creek with a cooperative agreement with the land owner to use the Big Flat Ditch as their water source. A pipeline from the Big Flat Ditch was installed using a grant and the heading from Carmen Creek eliminated.

Other projects to be developed on the Challis, Payefte, Salmon and Sawtooth National Forests this summer include three headgates and ditch consolation in the Loon Creek drainage, survey of passage problems on the New Meadows Ranger District, the North Fork Salmon River and tributaries, and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Working with private water right holders and landowners is time consuming, but progress is being made.

Biological results achieved
Steelhead are currently using Carmen Creek as the result of this project. Spring chinook salmon have access to the spawning and rearing above the former diversion blockage. improvement in fish production depends on reduction in downstream mortalities.

Annual reports and technical papers
USFS annual reports are in draft and should be completed by the end of March, 1996.

Management implications
It is more cost effective to establish habitat routes to existing habitat than it is to restore degraded habitat.

Specific measureable objectives
The 1997 project goals would be to treat 10 to 15 irrigation diversion sites that are either unscreened or blocking access to priority streams that are tributary to the Salmon River and identified as critical habitat for Snake River spring and summer chinook salmon.

Testable hypothesis

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
The underlying assumption is their are a number of ways to improve passage and restore access to habitats but it takes a cooperative water right holder and some incentive to achieve the intended results. This takes a trust relationship that the Districts have already developed with private land owners and water right holders. This holds true for the Natural Resources Conservation Service that have provided technical assistance to land owners for the last 50 years to solve resource related problems.

This project involves working with irrigators both at their diversion sites on national forest land and on their own property by consolidating diversions, screening, installing headgates, improving water distribution to increase stream flows, and in some extreme cases acquiring agreements from land owners to leave water instream during critical passage periods water from willing participants to improve passage past currently dewatered reaches. A memorandum of understanding with the Lemhi County Irrigators is in place for the fish passage work on Carmen Creek.

Brief schedule of activities
Major project tasks for 1997 will be for the Idaho Soil Conservation Commission, through the Model Watershed Project and the Shoshone Bannock Tribes to continue the work of the USFS with willing irrigators to improve their diversions and distributions systems so that the savings in water can remain in the stream to benefit passage and rearing and spawning. Significant changes in project activities for 1998-2001 are not anticipated as there are 300 potential problem diversions having the potential for a loss of fish production.

Biological need
Irrigation diversions can be detrimental to migrating fish in several ways. Juveniles can be diverted into irrigation canals causing migration delays and mortalities. Gravel berms constructed in the stream to divert water can act as passage impediments to adult fish and often results in dewatering down stream sections. Operation of heavy equipment to construct gravel berms causes streambed disturbance releasing sediment into the stream. In addition, any time equipment is operated in a stream there is a risk of spills of petroleum or other toxic substances. The affected irrigators will have reduced canal maintenance costs, reduced time and money to construct gravel berms, and, for those irrigators converting to sprinklers, improved crop production.

Critical uncertainties
While most private land owners have proven to be cooperative, some irrigators will perceive this effort as an intrusion on their water right and attempt to undermine their water right.

Summary of expected outcome
The goal of this project is to increase the quality and quantity of spring or summer chinook salmon and summer steelhead with an emphasis an increasing the survival of wild and natural stocks. This goal will be achieved by protecting and improving the habitat of the stocks indigenous to the upper Salmon River. This passage project will help increase fish production over current levels.

The project objectives are to increase spring and summer chinook and steelhead production by screening, installing head gates, improving water distribution to increase stream flows from below the minimums for production and survival towards optimum. Meeting the above goal and objectives will provide off site mitigation listed in the Integrated System Plan for Salmon and Steelhead Production in the Columbia River Basin, (NPPC 1991).

Current potential smolt production capacity of the project portion of the Salmon River Sub-basin is estimated at 526,537 spring and summer chinook and 99,014 summer steelhead for a total of 635,551 smolts. The estimated annual increase in potential smolt production as the result of this project is 1 01, 1 00 spring and summer chinook and 88,679 summer steelhead.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
This project will require irrigators' approval, compliance, 404 permits from the Army Corps of Engineers, consultation with NMFS, and archaeological clearance.

Cooperators include:

Idaho Soil Conservation Commission, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Bureau of Reclamation, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Natural Resources Conservation Service,

Custer Soil and Water Conservation District, Lemhi Soil and Water Conservation District, USDA Forest Service, and individual irrigators.

Most of this project involves working with irrigators both at their diversion sites on national forest land and on their own property. A memorandum of understanding with the Lemhi County Irrigators is in place for the fish passage work that was done on Carmen Creek. Other memorandums of understanding will be developed as part of this project. The local community will be contacted during the NEPA scoping process. Local contractors will be hired to do the construction.

The private land owners will pay 25 percent of the costs of headgates constructed on their property.
The Big Flat Ditch Company irrigators contributed $3,000 to the fish passage work on Carmen
Creek. A multipartnership is being planned for treating fish passage problems associated with the
Yantis Ditch.

The opportunity to improve both adult and juvenile passage for the wild summer chinook salmon and summer steelhead at present problem areas in the Salmon River sub-basin would be delayed or foregone.

Monitoring activity
Monitoring of the project consists of physical evaluation of the habitat before and after project implementation to document changes in anadromous fish habitat production capability. The IDFG monitors the biological data to estimate the fish population responses as the result of this project.

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
1993: 91,964
1994: 98,741
New project - no FY96 data available 1997: 100,000
1998: 100,000
1999: 100,000

* 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   Snake River

Recommendation    Tier 1 - fund

Recommended funding level   $100,000

BPA 1997 authorized budget (approved start-of-year budget)   $90,000