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199404700 - Lake Pend Oreille Fishery Recovery Project: purpose to restore fisheries impacted by the federal hydropower system within the Idaho portion of the Pend Oreille drainage

Sponsor: Idaho Department of Fish & Game

Budgets: FY07: $944,262 | FY08: $980,176 | FY09: $975,483

Short description: Proposal's primary focus is to finish studies to restore kokanee spawning habitat in Lake Pend Oreille and to meet bull trout recovery objectives by balancing predator/prey ratios in the lake and removing the threat of interspecific competition.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $944,262 | FY08: $980,176 | FY09: $975,483


ISRP final recommendation: Fundable


This is a well-written proposal for continuation of work that has been productive. With the exception of the kokanee stocking, which both the sponsors and the ISRP question, the work is appropriate. There are a lot of challenges in these large lake systems. They have published work, gained understanding, and moved on. Earlier, they looked at recruitment problems with a lake level experiment looking at gravel spawning. Now they feel they have good recruitment. The study now is looking primarily at predation. Rainbow and lake trout are significant predators. The proposal provides a good background for both the lake level work for kokanee spawning and the additional proposed studies to balance kokanee with other species. The problems are generally well described insofar as they are understood. The probable depression of reproductive fitness of wild kokanee by interbreeding with hatchery kokanee is not discussed. The rationale includes regional bull trout conservation efforts, subbasin plan, IDFG five-year plans, and the Fish and Wildlife Program. The conceptual framework presented is helpful. The section is beautifully organized -- refers to specific plan sections for each task. The proposal cites relationships to other Pend Oreille projects and similar project at Upper Priest Lake. The discussion does not adequately (if at all) link to proposed project 2007-060-00 (Lake Pend Oreille Invasive Fish), which would seem to deal with a major influence on matters that 1994-047-00 is trying to address. The project history gives an excellent overview showing how a well-planned program can, in 10 years, gain significant insight into a very complex system that is exceptionally difficult to sample. Map and figures were appreciated. Objectives are nicely described and mostly justified, with good hypothesis testing in a challenging situation. Specifically, objectives 1, 2, and 3 are appropriate biological objectives. Objective 5 is for information dissemination. Objective 4, concerning kokanee stocking is the least justified and might be omitted. Research results of this project indicate that stocking hatchery-produced kokanee depresses egg-to-fry survival of wild kokanee (supposedly by stimulating excessive predation). The project should monitor possible increase of wild kokanee after the stocking program ceases and as efforts are continued to reduce rainbow trout, the main predator on kokanee (and to reduce other non-native predators). It appears there are too many objectives, i.e., the sponsor is trying to manage and measure too many things. Eliminating the stocking program should simplify matters and halt a counterproductive influence on the fishery. Methods are generally well described. The project provides annual workshops, good communications, and good reports with an excellent link. The bottom line, after some very sound work, is that they are still trying to show real benefit to kokanee, bull trout and rainbow. Success with kokanee spawning management has led to realization that the species mix needs fixing, especially non-native lake trout.

State/province recommendation: Fundable

Review group: Intermountain

Recommended budgets: FY07: $944,262 | FY08: $980,176 | FY09: $975,483

Comment: No change to proposed budget.