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198806400 - Kootenai River Native Fish Restoration and Conservation Aquaculture

Sponsor: Kootenai Tribe of Idaho

Budgets: FY07: $1,970,800 | FY08: $2,739,146 | FY09: $3,523,054

Short description: Prevent extinction and begin rebuilding healthy age class structure of sturgeon and burbot using conservation aquaculture techniques with wild broodstock. Reintroduce kokanee into westside tributaries. Provide fisheries program outreach.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $1,970,800 | FY08: $2,465,200 | FY09: $2,866,520

Comment: The expansion (for sturgeon and burbot) Work Element 5a, dependent upon favorable step review. Step 1 deliverable (Master plan) due July 20, 2007. Capital review needed for facility construction and land purchase in outyears per step sequence.

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable (Qualified)


This is an excellent proposal in many respects. The project has a history of being well managed and productive. But its breadth and complexity can be confusing and have led to questions and concerns, some of which remain even after an excellent and thorough response to ISRP’s initial comments. The main qualifications in the ISRP’s endorsement are that there are too many loosely linked projects under one umbrella and that the relatively weak kokanee reintroduction work should show substantive progress or begin to develop alternate approaches to the problem. The response adequately clarified questions raised by the ISRP. The sponsors responded explicitly to technical questions the ISRP raised and to the complexity of the project. It is hard to argue with the overall success of this project over several years. The intent and rationale of the sponsors on each question are now clearer. Abundant documentation is provided, both from the literature and from their own publications. The new and revised tables are especially helpful and should aid not only this project but others in the Kootenai. However, the ISRP continues to be uneasy about the large scope of this project that is reflected in the large proposal, many ISRP preliminary comments, and extensive responses. The ISRP encourages further exploration of the administrative value of separating some portions (e.g., the burbot work) from other components. The summary of the Kootenai River system and associated fish species was well done. The maps were particularly helpful. The technical and scientific background was improved in the response by adding information on what action is going to be taken to address each of the identified problems, and why the sponsors think the action is appropriate. The linkage of project objectives and limiting factors (page 13) is good but would have been more appropriate in the rationale or objectives sections. The proposal addresses species identified in subbasin and regional plans using restoration strategies identified in those plans. There are clearly many projects that are ongoing in the Kootenai River subbasin that are related to this proposal, and many are identified. The overall level of collaboration on this project is very good. It is well integrated into other activities in the basin and communication and cooperation are very good among agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and Tribes. A particularly constructive element in this section of the proposal is Table D1, which was modified in the response to show the main actions that will be taken by each project. The project history, which was interesting but overly long, shows that there is significant potential for intermediate term benefits for white sturgeon. Because of the long lifespan of sturgeon it is possible that cultured individuals released into the wild could provide gametes or embryos to maintain the population for several decades. The sponsor's rationale for artificial production and the quantitative analysis leading to that conclusion are explained in the response and by the recent paper published in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. Nonetheless, there is considerable concern about the long-term prognosis of this project. It is not clearly established that the Kootenai stock was ever strong, nor that, under existing habitat conditions, it can recover to a level envisioned. The lack of clear evidence for stock distinctiveness is an issue as well. For burbot, at this time the results of efforts to collect broodstock and culture juveniles is discouraging and not promising. Beginning a cell line for viral investigations for burbot at this early state of their culture seems premature and the response simply restated the sponsor’s view. The summary of kokanee reintroduction was initially confusing but clarified in the response. Because kokanee are abundant elsewhere in the system and they have been introduced throughout the western US in reservoirs and lakes, it seems like there are survival factors that need to be corrected before expecting their reintroduction to this area to be successful. The proposal adopts the overarching objectives from the Kootenai subbasin plan. One weakness is that a timeline to achieve numerical abundance is not provided, a second is a lack of evidence that the objective is achievable using the strategies employed. The project is very broad in scope. Some of the work elements are appropriate and employ the best available scientific techniques. For other work elements, the experimental design and approach is not entirely defensible. The response helped clarify most of the ISRP’s questions in the preliminary review, if only to reassert the sponsor’s views.

Response loop edit

See the sponsor's revised proposal from the response loop. You'll be taken to CBFWA's proposal system in Section 10 where most sponsors uploaded revised narratives or other responses to the ISRP comments.

State/province recommendation: Fundable

Review group: Mtn Col

Recommended budgets: FY07: $1,970,800 | FY08: $2,465,200 | FY09: $2,866,520

Comment: Budget reductions occurred in FY09 regarding the proposed land purchase. The OG requests that land purchased for hatchery construction be capitalized.