Response for project 199902400: Bull Trout Assessment Col Gorg

Comment on proposed FY 2006 budget

This project has no FY2006 budget projected. The project culminated in October 2004.

Accomplishments since the last review

Completed surveys of likely bull trout waters in Wind River Subbasin. Completed surveys of likely bull trout waters in Little White Salmon Subbasin. Surveyed likely bull trout waters in Upper White Salmon Subbasin. Surveyed likely bull trout waters in the Klickitat sub-basin Provided comment on AFS Interim Protocol for Determining Bull trout Presence

FY 2006 goals and anticipated accomplishments

WDFW personnel will evaluate completed research and results based upon the two AFS protocols, developed post project completion in Oct. 2004, for 1) bull trout distribution (presence/absence), and 2) determination of potential or suitable bull trout habitat. Future need to revisit this geographic area may be warranted.

Subbasin planning

How is this project consistent with subbasin plans?

This project was consistent with the following subbasin recommendations: --Klickitat River Subbasin Plan: Section 4.6.1, p112 (Table 18), bull trout identified as Focal Species. Section 4.6.4, p122, P2, “. . not enough is known about bull trout in Klickitat Subbasin to confidently state the life forms present”. P1, paraphrased, life forms coexist sympatrically and one may give rise another. Section 6.5.3, Research, Monitoring, Evaluation, p360, specifically calls for presence/absence research into juvenile/adfluvial populations with two goals; 1) limiting factors analysis, 2) comparative genetic analysis to other regional stocks --Columbia Gorge Mainstem Subbasin Plan: Section 3.2.1, p 23, P1, bull trout recognized as species of significance (Table 6, p113). Section 3.2.1, p24, Resident Salmonids, describes historical accounts of bull trout presence within multiple subbasin watersheds and Bonneville Reservoir yet scientific body of knowledge is insufficient to inform decisions on resource management in the subbasin. --Klickitat Subbasin Anadromous Fishery Master Plan: Section 3.2.3, p28-29, documents existing resident and fluvial life stages and calls for future work on life history and genetic characteristic assessments, and evaluations of potential reintroduction.

How do goals match subbasin plan priorities?

Numerous subbasin plans determine focal species by their ESA listed status while others identify them by geographic, economic or cultural significance. The Klickitat River Subbasin plan is the only plan that specifically lists bull trout as a focal species while the Columbia Gorge Mainstem Subbasin Plan lists the bull trout as a species of significance. Lower Mid Columbia Subbasin plan (section 5.1.2, p150) designates species based upon the amount and types of existing information as does the Big White Salmon Subbasin plan (section 4.6.1, p68) . The Wind River and Little White Salmon subbasin plans both state “Bull trout do not occur within the subbasin.”, Section 3.2, Focal Fish Species, P2. Although the Big White Salmon Plan does not include bull trout as a Focal Species nor does it state their lack of existence within the watershed. Yet, listed within Appendix A, Focal Fish Species, Section 5, of the The Lower Columbia River Province Plan, December 2004, which incorporates subbasins from the Estuary up to and including all Columbia River Gorge Tributaries such as the Wind, White Salmon, and Little White Salmon, there exists an extensive section of information regarding bull trout life histories, distribution, genetic diversity, etc., etc., etc. It is within this section many inferences are made to historical distribution with the Province and the lack of extant information to currently ascertain the exact abundance and distribution. This distinct lack of knowledge therefore precludes bull trout from being specifically listed as a priority within subbasin plans that rely upon existing data and research, or, are focused on species of increased geographic, economical, or cultural significance. This critical lack of available science by which management decisions are guided therefore escalates the level of priority for initial baseline research although not specifically stated within the subbasin plans themselves.

Other comments

WDFW completed a stock assessment report for bull trout/Dolly Varden, 1998, which identified 80 stocks statewide. Of these 80, 18% were healthy, 3% depressed, 8% critical and 72% unknown. The following references call for action in an attempt to alleviate the data gap for bull trout in Washington State and LCR. --2000-19, NWPCC’s revised F&W Program, page 17, addresses resident bull trout losses as a result of FCRPS operations, 4 objectives listed, first relates to baseline development, last 3 relate to restore, maintain, protect naturally viable populations. Specific objectives and priority development by species are deferred to respective subbasin plans. With lack of baseline information, few subbasin plans include bull trout as Focal species precluding them from management efforts to attain the last three objectives of the F&W Program. --December 2000, USFWS BioOp for bull trout, required actions from sections: 10.A.2.1: determine extent of bull trout use of LCR affected by the FCRPS 10.A.2.1.c: . . estimate the annual population size of bull trout migrating to and from LCR reservoirs and develop abundance trends over time. 11.A.2.1.d: . . cooperate in studies to determine the movements of bull trout from Hood River and other tributaries into Bonneville Reservoir. As evidenced in the aforementioned subbasin plans and their focal species determinations, this data gap has yet to be significantly narrowed. Prior to the completion of the AFS bull trout protocols in late October, 2004, two different detection methodologies for bull trout existed (Peterson and Bonar). Previous research for bull trout distribution within the Columbia Gorge basin did not incorporate fully, or in part, the pre-existing methodologies or the final version of the AFS protocols, therefore, results may be compromised. Lack of detection to date, not lack of existence.