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199404900 - Kootenai River Ecosystem Improvements Project

Sponsor: Kootenai Tribe of Idaho

Budgets: FY07: $1,785,104 | FY08: $1,782,556 | FY09: $1,831,206

Short description: The Kootenai River Ecosystem Improvements Project proposes to continue monitoring key ecological functions of the Kootenai River ecosystem and to mitigate for nutrients lost to hydro operations at Libby Dam. Habitat complexity evaluation is proposed.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $1,695,800 | FY08: $1,695,800 | FY09: $1,695,800


ISRP final recommendation: Fundable


This is a worthwhile proposal that initially suffered from lack of reporting of results to support its continuation and expansion. The excellent response provided the necessary information and illustrates the kind of material that should be in the initial proposal. The problem identified is loss of productivity (at all ecosystem levels) as a result of land and water management practices, especially Libby Dam. Early studies have led to the conclusion that nutrients limit production of valuable fish populations. Fertilizer application is used experimentally in this project to test whether nutrients are limiting productivity at various levels in the Kootenai River ecosystem, including the fish. Justification includes the Fish and Wildlife Program, Kootenai subbasin plan, FWS BiOp for white sturgeon, and the Kootenai River Network. The narrative and tables on interactions with the several other projects on the Kootenai are helpful. The proposal demonstrates much enthusiasm for ecosystem improvement with an impressive list of potential contributors. The response significantly answers the ISRP's concerns about the timing of the project with respect to experiments and implementation, and provides data and summary results for the work accomplished so far. The timeline in Table 1 is especially helpful, and we recommend that such a table be used in subsequent proposals and progress reports. It is clear now that this is a truly experimental phase and will continue to be so through the lifetime of this funding cycle. Results from the Kootenay Lake experiment still seem rather scant. Since phosphorus seems to be the limiting nutrient, we are still surprised that fertilization of the Kootenai River is heavy on nitrogen. Algae seem to have responded to nutrient addition, but the chemical results seem to require more interpretation. There was a useful discussion of other limiting factors and the multi-agency approach to evaluating them. The database development seems appropriate for assembling the results. The comprehensive discussion of fishery impacts since Libby Dam is informative and supportive of the existence of detrimental effects. Depleted nutrients are likely part of the picture, which justifies the well-planned research. The logic of planting kokanee eggs and creating a spawning channel is clearer in the response, but that work is still somewhat oddly placed in this proposal. The explanations of sampling sizes for monitoring help clarify this issue. The ISRP appreciates the additional clarifying information.

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: $1,695,800 | FY08: $1,695,800 | FY09: $1,695,800