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200003800 - NEOH Walla Walla Hatchery - Three Step Master Planning Process

Sponsor: Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation

Budgets: FY07: $268,675 | FY08: $225,375 | FY09: $254,950

Short description: Complete 3-Step Master Planning process for NEOH Walla Walla Hatchery to produce spring chinook salmon for release in the Walla Walla River Basin.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $0 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $0

Comment:

ISRP final recommendation: Not fundable

Comment:

The sponsor response emphasizes that they believe there was significant information overlooked in the preliminary Walla Walla Hatchery Master Plan proposal review. They also conclude that the ISRP review contradicted itself. In the introductory description of the project in the preliminary review the ISRP stated, “More detailed review and evaluation would be encompassed in a Three-Step process, which the ISRP supports.” Apparently the sponsors took this statement to indicate endorsement of progressing to a Three-Step Review. They comment in their response that this statement is inconsistent with the Not Fundable recommendation in the preliminary review. The ISRP regrets the choice of words. The ISRP intent was to communicate their general support for the Three-Step Review, not that this proposal was sufficient to progress to that point. The ISRP regrets having confused the project sponsor. The response leaves the clear impression that the sponsors thought the ISRP would at least look through the Walla Walla Hatchery Master Plan during this proposal review to find important elements indicating initiating Three-Step Review was justified. In several instances in the response, the sponsors point out that the information requested is in a Master Plan. The ISRP did not have access to the draft Walla Walla Master Plan. Nonetheless, in this review cycle all the information to support a project needed to reside in the proposal or narrative. This misunderstanding is unfortunate. The ISRP remain unconvinced of the rationale for the hatchery as the appropriate rebuilding tool for spring Chinook in the Walla Walla River, based on the material contained in the proposal. From the proposal it is confusing to determine what mix of harvest augmentation and natural production restoration is the real purpose of the hatchery production. From the proposal it is not possible for the ISRP to conclude that the habitat conditions are actually sufficient to support the hatchery production in addition to the fish that are currently returning to the watershed, even though those numbers are only in the tens to hundreds annually. From the response the question of the rationale for hatchery production becomes even more of an issue. Sponsors state: “[T]he demographics of spring Chinook remain ‘upside down’, such that recently reintroduced natural production in the Walla Walla is not likely to sustain itself to any great extent without increased human intervention, and c) there is capacity in the system for the use of artificial production to re-establish and sustain both natural and artificial production in the system.” The observation that recent reintroductions are not likely to sustain themselves argues to delay artificial production, not a rationale to undertake a Three-Step Review to develop a hatchery program that includes a goal of restoring a self-sustaining population. It is not clear to the ISRP what this capacity might be, but it seems mutually exclusive to have natural production sustained by artificial production. In an integrate hatchery program, with both natural and hatchery subcomponents, the natural component needs to be self-sustaining. The ISRP expects that a moderately fecund species like spring Chinook should be able to rebuild from low abundance if habitat conditions are suitably improved. If a future proposal is developed justification is needed that addresses expected carrying capacity or other information from EDT or similar analyses, and anticipated productivity and abundance of the hatchery and natural population components. There remains a concern for impacts to non-focal or other species (e.g., steelhead), for which there was insufficient consideration in the proposal. This topic also needs to be fully addressed.

State/province recommendation: Not fundable

Review group: OSPIT - Plateau

Recommended budgets: FY07: (n/a) | FY08: (n/a) | FY09: (n/a)

Comment:

State/province recommendation: Washington

Review group: Washington list

Recommended budgets: FY07: (n/a) | FY08: (n/a) | FY09: (n/a)

Comment: See Washington guidance