Response for project 199506425: Ykfp Policy/Plan/Technical

Comment on proposed FY 2006 budget

We intend to continue work in FY2006 and into the future. The proposed budget does not account for increases in operating expenses that we have experienced over the past few years. Increases in salaries, benefits, and indirect are the primary factors driving higher costs. An increase of 6% seems reasonable because our budget has been flat for many years.

Accomplishments since the last review

In the initial years of CESRF operation, recruitment of hatchery origin fish has exceeded that of fish spawning in the natural environment, but early indications are that hatchery origin fish are not as successful at spawning in the natural environment as natural origin fish. Most demographic variables are similar between natural and hatchery origin fish, however hatchery origin fish were smaller-at-age than natural origin fish. Long-term fitness of the target population is being evaluated by a large-scale test of domestication. Behavioral changes caused by domestication may be occurring but more data are needed before this can be concluded. Distribution of spawners has increased as a result of acclimation site location and salmon homing fidelity. Semi-natural rearing and predator avoidance training have not resulted in significant increases in survival of hatchery fish. However, growth manipulations in the hatchery appear to reduce the number of precocious males produced by the YKFP and consequently increasing the number of migrants. Genetic impacts to non-target populations appear to be low because of the low stray rates of YKFP fish. Ecological impacts to valued non-target taxa were within containment objectives or impacts that were outside of containment objectives were not caused by supplementation activities. Some fish and bird piscivores have been estimated to consume large numbers of salmonids in the Yakima Basin. Natural production of Chinook salmon in the upper Yakima Basin appears to be density dependent under current conditions and may constrain the benefits of supplementation. However, such constraints could be countered by YKFP habitat actions such as restoration of floodplain and side channel habitats. Harvest opportunities for tribal and non-tribal fishers have also been enhanced, but are variable among years. Nonetheless, the YKFP has produced significant findings, and produced methodologies that can be used to evaluate and improve supplementation.

FY 2006 goals and anticipated accomplishments

We intend to continue to ascertain whether new artificial production techniques, coupled with strategic habitat actions, can be used to increase harvest and natural production of spring Chinook, fall chinook, coho salmon and steelhead trout while maintaining the long-term genetic fitness of the fish population being supplemented and keeping adverse genetic and ecological interactions with non-target species or stocks within acceptable limits. To this end this contract will continue to provide the WDFW portion of the policy and technical oversight of the YKFP. The co-managers of the resource (WDFW and YN) will meet regularly and make collaborative decisions using adaptive management. Much of the technical aspects of the YKFP are addressed in Monitoring and Evaluation Project 1995-063-25. Our goal, in conjunction with Project 1995-063-25, is to submit 1 overview report, 7 topical reports, and 5 peer review publications during FY06.

Subbasin planning

How is this project consistent with subbasin plans?

This YKFP partially or wholly addresses the 3 key limiting factors in the Yakima Subbasin Plan Supplement (page 4) 1) habitat, 2) population performance and response, and 3) institutional efficiency. Section 3.2.2, Page 26, Table 8 identifies Objectives and the Implementable Strategies of population performance and response. The Objectives are: “Restore existing populations to their former range, maintain genetic, and spatial diversity. Improve understanding of population dynamics and the negative and positive effects of artificial population management (production hatchery, supplementation programs, physical transfer of fish). Manage appropriate populations for harvest and all populations for sustainability over the long term. Reduce competitive effects with non-native and hatchery reared fish. Restore extirpated populations.” Strategies include: “Continue YKFP supplementation experiments and habitat restoration.”: “Monitor population productivity, abundance, and life history and habitat restoration.”: “Continue and enhance the YKFP programs for spring and fall chinook, coho reintroduction, kelt reconditioning.” and others. Page 42, Section 3.4 states, “Institutional strategies should also integrate ongoing and new supplementation strategies. Coordinating habitat restoration and protection actions in tandem or in sequence with supplementation strategies is advisable to achieve desired biological, cultural, and economic benefits.” Section 3.3 addresses the hatchery programs and the YKFP Section 3.3.3 addresses the management of the YKFP Section 3.3.4 addresses YKFP research

How do goals match subbasin plan priorities?

The YKFP is highlighted as one of the most important strategies to address the key limiting factors in the subbasin plan (see above). On Page 3; the 7th of 8 guiding principles for the Yakima Subbasin Plan states, “The science and art of restoring ecosystems is still evolving; therefore, programs and actions must be monitored and evaluated for effectiveness and may be altered as necessary.” The YKFP uses new information to adaptively manage the project. However it is also important to recognize that the learning benefits provided by the YKFP transcend the Yakima subbasin. One of the original intents of the YKFP was to generate information about critical uncertainties so that the information could be used throughout the region.

Other comments

The monitoring and evaluation activities of the YKFP were determined by consensus of the scientists from the Yakama Nation (YN) and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Project M & E activities have been subjected to rigorous scientific and technical review by the YKFP's Science/Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) and the Monitoring Implementation Planning Team (MIPT). STAC is responsible for the conceptual design of the project's M & E program, and MIPT must transform the conceptual design into the tasks identified in this agreement. The process used by STAC and MIPT to verify the usefulness of these activities and the timing of their implementation involves consideration of the following principles: 1. YKFP monitoring should evaluate the success (or lack of it) of project supplementation efforts and its impacts, including juvenile survival, natural production and reproductive success, ecological interactions, and genetics; 2. YKFP monitoring should be comprehensive; and, 3. YKFP monitoring should be done in such a way that results are of use to salmon production efforts throughout the Columbia basin and the region. For additional information on the overall YKFP projects and the linkage between work elements (M&E, Production, and Management), please see the following annual report at BPA’s publication web site: DOE # 6215.3, “Short Project Overview of Spring Chinook Salmon Supplementation in the Upper Yakima Basin: Yakima/Klickitat Fisheries Project.”