Response for project 199802000: Walla Walla R. Habitat Assess.

Comment on proposed FY 2006 budget

We wish to continue this project in 2006 and the council proposed amount is consistent with our 2005 project. We requested an inseason revision to our 2005 budget, although it has not been approved. Our needs for 2006 will increase because of State of WA mandated personnel cost of living increases of 3.2% in July of 2005 and another 1.6% expected in July of 2006. In addition there are individual State mandated annual salary increases for some employees as step increases and increased benefit costs. We need to replace old computers (as old as 1998) and fuel costs have increased over the last year or two. As salary and benefit costs increase there is also an associated increase in indirect costs. Without these increases we will be forced to reduce staff and therefore less of our assessment activities will be carried out to meet the objectives or our project. The 2006 budget request is $201,467. This reflects mandatory pay increases and increased benefit costs, and slight increases needed in goods and services for increased fuel costs and computer replacement.

Accomplishments since the last review

Produce Environmental Compliance DocumentationWe are required annually to submit USFWS and NOAA ESA take reports for activities associated with this project. In addition, we are required by NOAA to annually submit an application under Section 4d for our planned research and monitoring activities.
Manage and Administer ProjectsWe are required to take BPA contracts training and convert our SOW to include Work elements and metrics accounting. We also are required to submit accruals and other accounting or responses to BPA or the Council. Annually, we complete a SOW and contract
Produce Annual ReportWe submit quarterly and annual reports. Data and summaries in these reports are distributed to other managers in the basin for use in subbasin plans, salmon recovery, and watershed plans, etc., to guide restoration actions and monitor the effects.
Produce Status ReportWe have produced a 3 yr status report in the form of an abstract and powerpoint presentation for the September 2004 CBFWA workshop in the Tricities. We produced quarterly reports.
Collect/Generate/Validate Field and Lab DataWe have collected water temperature and flow information annually as well as initiate IFIM studies of flows at two sites. We have collected fish distribution and abundance information from spawning surveys and electrofishing or snorkel surveys.
Disseminate Raw & Summary DataWe provided raw and summarized data on stream flows, temperatures, juvenile fish distribution and abundance, spawning surveys, etc. to managers in the subbasin for many planning efforts. This includes our annual reporting as well as other data sharing.
Analyze/Interpret DataWDFW staff have analyzed steelhead genetic data to characterize the steelhead stocks within the basin and how they compare to nearby basins. This was briefly summarized and referenced in our 2003 annual report.

This project has been instrumental in providing fish, and fish habitat, data or summaries necessary for many planning efforts (subbasin planning, Salmon Recovery planning, HB2514 Watershed planning, Bull Trout recovery planning,Restoration project planning and prioritization, etc.) We measured stream flows at 56, 57, 49, and 63 sites respectively over the last 4 years. We monitored daily temperatures at 76,64,67,and 70 sites the past 4 years. We began habitat inventory on several streams and completed IFIM studies to model flow and habitat conditions at 2 sites. The IFIM studies were then expanded by others for better coverage and planning and for setting stream flows under WA law. We conducted surveys for steelhead and bull trout spawning over 109-150 miles per year,and a limited amount for spring chinook. We documented spawning in some previously unknown areas, and estimated spawning abundance or trends in other areas. We surveyed rearing fish distribution and abundance at 136, 110, 170 and 131 sites the last 4 years. We collected numerous genetic samples and have completed a preliminary analysis of steelhead stock characterization. We capitalized on opportunites to monitor effects of habitat changes, some of which were prompted by finding from this study. We have been able to do pre and post flow settlement agreement monitoring to evaluate the effects on flows, temperatures and fish as water was put back into the Walla Walla River. We have done pre and post monitoring of fish use in reaches where barriers have been removed (e.g. Whiskey and Lewis creeks). We have found many previously undocumented barriers. We have developed a better understanding of salmonid distribution, abundance and stock status. We worked with ODFW to test EMAP sampling of bull trout spawning in the Walla Walla basin. We have completed and distributed 6 annual reports and the 7th is in draft form. We have shared our data with managers and planners within the basin

FY 2006 goals and anticipated accomplishments

Produce Environmental Compliance DocumentationWe are required annually to submit USFWS and NOAA ESA take reports for activities associated with this project. In addition, we are required by NOAA to annually submit an application under Section 4d for our planned research and monitoring activities.
Manage and Administer ProjectsWe will take required BPA contracts training and do metrics accounting. We also will submit accruals and other accounting, or responses to BPA or the Council. Annually, we complete a SOW and contract
Produce Annual ReportWe will continue to submit quarterly and annual reports. Data and summaries in these reports are distributed to other managers in the basin for use in subbasin plans, salmon recovery, and watershed plans, as well as to guide restoration actions.
Produce Status ReportWe will produce quarterly reports as required for BPA and other reports or summaries for use within the basin.
Collect/Generate/Validate Field and Lab DataWe will continue to collect stream flow and temperature data for use by managers within the basin. We intend to continue to collect fish distribution and abundance data for trend and status monitoring and planning efforts.
Disseminate Raw & Summary DataWe will continue to provide data and data summaries to managers within or outside the basin through our annual reports and to fill data requests from others for restoration planning or actions.

Goals for 2006 will continue to reflect our project goals. The project goal is to monitor and assess salmonid populations and habitat conditions in the basin before and during reintroduction of spring chinook or supplementation of steelhead, as well as monitor and assess native salmonid limiting factors and population abundance/distribution, and to provide the information to managers to guide fish habitat restoration efforts within the basin. Additionally, we will work with CTUIR and others in the basin to develop and implement a comprehensive research, monitoring and evaluation plan for fish habitat and fish populations. Activities for 2006 will consist of continued monitoring of fish abundance and distribution, temperature and stream flow monitoring, as well as habitat inventory and genetic monitoring. This also requires environmental compliance for ESA consultation and contacting hundreds of landowners for access. All activities listed in our 2005 contract would be continued in 2006.

Subbasin planning

How is this project consistent with subbasin plans?

This project is consistent with the subbasin plan for the Walla Walla, although the subbasin plan mentions it was to focus RM&E efforts but not provide full RM&E details(Sec 7.6, pg 205). The plan does specify the need to focus RM&E efforts on critical data needs to fill EDT data gaps and establish baseline habitat conditions, for monitoring Viable Salmonid Pop.(VSP) attributes for recovery, for implementation and effectiveness monitoring (7.6.1, pg 206). Appexdices M and N of the plan emphasize the need to fill EDT gaps and establish baseline habitat conditions (Sec 7.6.1, pg 206, and Sec. 1.1,pg 1 of N). Appendix M, sec 1.1, pg 2 number 8 (and Appendix N, pg 1)indicates monitoring must address critical uncertainties such as adult abundance and other metrics. Verifying EDT habitat attributes was emphasized as a data need (Sec. 7.6.1, pg 206, & Appendix M, sec 1.1, pg 1. Section 7.6.1, pg 206 and 207 discuss funding needed for RM&E such as habitat inventories to collect data on EDT attributes, VSP monitoring, basic population status monitoring, and RM&E that resolves uncertainty regarding population abundance and management goals. This project establishs baseline conditions through habitat inventory, temperature and flow monitoring. It also establishes baseline conditions and status and trend monitoring for fish distribution and abundance. It also addresses critical uncertainties such as abundance and distribution of bull trout and steelhead through use of spawner surveys and juvenile fish sampling or genetic characteristics. Appendix C - Aquatic Assessment for the subbasin plan was derived from much of the data provided from this project, as was the Walla Wall basin portion of the WA State salmon Recovery plan for SE WA.

How do goals match subbasin plan priorities?

The goals for this project are to monitor and assess salmonid populations and habitat conditions in the basin before and during reintroduction of spring chinook or supplementation of steelhead, as well as monitor and assess native salmonid limiting factors and population abundance/distribution, and to provide the information to managers to guide fish habitat restoration efforts within the subbasin. The objectives are as follows: 1)Assess habitat conditions for anadromous and resident salmonids in the Washington portion of the Walla Walla subbasin. 2)Determine salmonid distribution and relative abundance in the WA portion of the subbasin. 3)Identify genetic stocks of steelhead and bull trout in the Walla Walla subbasin. 4) Compile and disseminate results and conclusions to guide fish management and watershed restoration and planning. These goals and objectives match subbasin priorities because most of the monitoring efforts are in priority protection or restoration areas of the subbasin, which the subbasin plan emphasizes for priority actions. The goals and objectives of this project also match the subbasin plan priorities for RM&E actions because they address critical uncertainties or data gaps for EDT, VSP and stock status as well as provide baseline information regarding fish habitat conditions and fish stocks. Trend and status monitoring, or monitoring for baseline conditions and stock status are necessary for measuring habitat and population responses to watershed restoration actions and progress towards population recovery. Additionally, the goals and objectives provide information to address imminent threats (barriers or dewatering or some other issue that is human caused and car cause direct mortalities of fish) identified as very high priorities in the subbasin plan. This project has identified many barriers or other imminent threats that had not been previously documented so they can be addressed by other projects. e.g. - documented the effects of current management actions/conditions (dewatering & passage barriers)in Mill Creek to focus restoration.

Other comments

This project is consistent with the NPCC 1995 that calls for regular updating of subbasin plans (7.0C) and collection of population status, life history and other data on wild and naturally spawning populations (7.1C and 7.1C.3), which includes bull trout (10.5A). It calls for improved hatchery production, or developing new hatchery supplementation programs, while proceeding with extreme caution to avoid damaging remaining wild and naturally spawning populations (7.2). The Fish and Wildlife Program recommends developing, implementing and evaluating supplementation plans and risk assessments (7.3, 7.3B.1, 7.4A). A watershed assessment and coordination of habitat planning efforts is recommended (7.6C). This project is consistent with actions and strategies called for under subbasin planning and WA State salmon recovery planning processes, as well as under the draft USFWS bull trout recovery plan. It has been instrumental in providing data for WA State Watershed Planning (HB 2514), TMDL planning, Limiting factors Reporting in WA, etc.