Response for project 200200200: Enhance White Sturgeon Habitat
Comment on proposed FY 2006 budget
Sponsor is confirming renewal of this project for FY2006. As discussed with NWPCC central staff, the budget listed here is not adequate for Phase II Implementation of this project. Instead, it was considered a placeholder by NWPCC staff for this project, pending project sponsor confirmation that the development of the USGS models and the USFWS White Sturgeon Recovery Team consensus decisions necessary to guide Phase II implementation of the project were in place. We now have both and are ready to proceed. FY2006 Phase II Implementation will entail a suite of actions identified below, informed by the USGS modeling developed by this project and the USFWS White Sturgeon Recovery Team discussions to enable us to to further define the most appropriate white sturgeon habitat restoration opportunities on a large scale. Once the pilot scale studies (Phase II) of this project are implemented, they will be used to develop large scale sturgeon spawning habitat projects (Phase III). For FY2006, Phase II scope and approach are consistent with the NWPCC, ISRP, CBFWA, and BPA recommendations and approval for the FY2002 Mountain Columbia Provincial Review. The FY2006 budget request of $700,000 is consistent with the budget approved for this project during the provincial review.
Accomplishments since the last review
Monitored and created animation of sediment transport and bedform movement in sturgeon spawning habitat Described availability and movement of fluvial sediment through white sturgeon spawning habitat and identified where habitat substrate is currently aggrading, degrading, and stable Developed sediment-transport models and in cooperation with USFWS white sturgeon recovery team, developed spawning habitat substrate improvement scenarios and assessed the feasibility of habitat enhancement Developed web site for posting data and project products Prepared 3 peer review reports for BPA submittal and posted on web page. Hydrodynamic models developed by the USGS in Phase I of the KTOI/IDFG sturgeon study (BPA 198806400 and 198806500) provide a systematic basis for evaluating the effects of lake regulation, Libby discharge, levee construction, and sediment transport on sturgeon spawning and incubation habitat. The model can be used to evaluate why spawning distribution has apparently changed, why recent sturgeon flows have failed to restore natural recruitment, and whether alternative operations might be effective.
FY 2006 goals and anticipated accomplishments
Phase II Objective 1: Rock fill: Determine whether rock introduction might realistically be considered for habitat restoration in current spawning areas using a combination of computer modeling, physical modeling, substrate cores, and pilot rock placement. The Rock Fill pilot project is not expected to provide conditions of a scale to produce a significant biological response (fish attraction, spawning or natural recruitment) Success of this experiment will be based on physical rather than biological results. If initial evaluations indicate that apparently-suitable conditions are created based on evaluations of physical conditions, then a larger scale effort will be planned (Phase III). Objective 2: Velocity and Turbulence Eductors: Explore whether mechanical devices can effectively increase local water velocity and turbulence at a scale likely to prove useful in sturgeon habitat restoration by field testing flow eductors under different habitat conditions. Results of initial field tests will be used to determine if a larger-scale test is appropriate and to design subsequent tests which would also monitor a biological response. If fish appear to cue on eductor treatment areas, eductors might be considered for use in areas upstream from current spawning sites to see if fish are attracted to areas of more suitable substrate. Objective 3: Hydro Operations: Evaluate the feasibility of using a combination of lake level regulation and Libby Dam discharge to shift the velocity transition zone upstream based on USGS hydrodynamic modeling. Objective 4: Braided Reach Alternatives: Identify and evaluate alternatives for restoring suitable migration, spawning, and incubation conditions in the braided reach upstream from Bonners Ferry. Objective 5. Concurrently explore other potential alternatives for restoration of natural recruitment based on further investigations of limiting factors and critical uncertainties (e.g. Riparian Habitat Hypothesis).
How is this project consistent with subbasin plans?
This project addresses Urgent Priority aquatic objectives M1, M5 and WST2 listed in Table 10.5 on page 123 and on Pages 21, 27 and 62 of the Aquatic Objectives Section of the Kootenai Subbasin Management Plan. The objectives address mainstem hydrograph conditions and habitat restoration and diversity, as well as restoring white sturgeon recruitment. The strategies this project implements include the following: M1 strategy - Develop and pursue opportunities to restore normative river functions in the lower Kootenai River, including hydrograph cycles, periodic channel maintenance flow, habitat diversity and floodplain connectivity (Page 21) M1 strategy - Update exisiting hydrological models based on historic temperature, flow, and velocity data (Page 22) M5 strategy - Design and implement creative solutions for increasing habitat diversity, including...in-river habitat modification and creation.....(Page 25) WST2 strategy - Restore white sturgeon natural recruitment...(Page 62)
How do goals match subbasin plan priorities?
This project addresses Urgent Priority aquatic objectives M1, M5 and WST2 listed in Table 10.5 on page 123 and on Pages 21, 27 and 62 of the Aquatic Objectives Section of the Kootenai Subbasin Management Plan. The objectives address mainstem hydrograph conditions and habitat restoration and diversity, as well as restoring white sturgeon recruitment. This project meets all Tier 1 criteria and the following Tier II criteria (1,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, and 10) found in Section 10.5 (starting on Page 125) of the Kootenai Subbasin Plan. Additionally, it is stated in the Subbasin Plan that "after applying and meeting Tier I criteria, ongoing projects that address urgent objectives will be afforded the highest priority for funding" (Page 126 - paragraph after Tier I criteria). This project falls in the above- mentioned category.
This project is coordinated through the USFWS international white sturgeon recovery team. The project is reflective of and integrated with ESA recovery goals for the white sturgeon outlined in the 1999 USFWS Recovery Plan and the 2000 Biological Opinion for White Sturgeon (RPAs 3i and 3j). It is also consistent with and complements the ACOE Habitat Evaluation and Recovery Strategy for White Sturgeon. Additionally, this project is implemented as part of the Adaptive Management Framework outlined on page 94 of the Kootenai Subbasin Management Plan.