< Back to list of FY 2007-2009 projects

200200200 - Restore Natural Recruitment of Kootenai River White Sturgeon

Sponsor: Kootenai Tribe of Idaho

Budgets: FY07: $3,452,000 | FY08: $3,642,000 | FY09: $3,593,000

Short description: Design, implement, and evaluate habitat improvement and creation actions and altered hydro operations, monitor responses, and refine physical and hydraulic models to characterize sturgeon recruitment requirements, implement actions to restore recruitment.

view full proposal

Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $3,387,955 | FY08: $2,533,925 | FY09: $2,078,120

Comment: The Mountain Columbia oversight group (OG) requests that BPA allow flexibility between years and manage this as a three-year, eight-million-dollar budget (i.e. allowing of rescheduling of funds from one year to the next) because the rate and pace of implementation is uncertain and will be determined through pilot project implementation and recovery team decisions. We made substantial budget reductions in this project and so if there is a need for funding beyond the eight-million-dollar level the OG also asks that the project sponsor has the ability to request funds through the within-year process.

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable

Comment:

This was a generally well-prepared proposal for a multitude of simultaneous on-the-ground habitat restoration work, research, modeling, and data assessment in the Kootenai River where white sturgeon have reproduced historically, but now are unsuccessful at producing recruits (even though they spawn). The premise is that multiple remedial approaches are necessary because the reason(s) for recruitment failures is still uncertain and the population is in precipitous decline. The ISRP questioned the strategy of concurrently pursuing multiple (very expensive) directions, although agreeing with the ultimate desirability of restoring suitable spawning and rearing habitat. Doing all these efforts at once seemed to make it more difficult to tell what actions were successful and what ones were not, while managers need to know which actions were effective in order to sustain long-term habitat and population management. The ISRP initially recommended that the habitat modifications be funded in stages, with periodic independent reviews of syntheses of the work to date and identification of major findings, before committing to modest scale engineered habitat modification. The sponsors believe otherwise, and their response clearly lays out their arguments. The sponsors provided a very thorough and persuasive response. They defended the application and testing of multiple, nearly simultaneous approaches to improve sturgeon recruitment with logical arguments. Each of the ISRP's reservations was countered with detailed evidence supporting the sponsors' approach. In the case of the proposed spawning channel, the ISRP misunderstood its intended use (it is a research tool to learn about egg and larval habitats and survival and not a production facility). The parts of the proposal that the ISRP found not well justified were more fully explained. The entire response was informative without being overly defensive. The response was fully adequate, persuasive, and commendable. It is an expensive project but not out of line with the tenuous state of the sturgeon population in the Kootenai. The background of the proposal is well written and provides a comprehensive summary of the status of efforts to understand the factors limiting reproduction and/or recruitment of white sturgeon in the Kootenai River. The sponsors identify that the project is consistent with the Kootenai Subbasin plan, Council's Fish and Wildlife Program, and various other regional plans. The proposal provides a good narrative on specific plans and programs with a table of specific recovery plan items. A good and very helpful table links most of the projects. There is thorough presentation of the relationship of this project to others in the subbasin and in nearby subbasins (Lake Roosevelt). A succinct summary of the project history is provided, including reports, papers, and presentations of results. The primary objective is to restore natural recruitment, as emphasized in the response. Determining the requirements for natural recruitment through research is secondary. Establishing which of the multiple remedial actions they propose was most successful can occur later. The conservation aquaculture program is viewed as a necessary stopgap measure until natural recruitment is restored. The strategy and methods are generally adequate. For several of their work elements (i.e., #2) they have a good subsection "Expected outputs and how they will be measured." There were questions about other tasks that were adequately resolved in the response. For most work elements there are identified metrics to evaluate the habitat remediation experiments. The sponsors have demonstrated excellent facilities, equipment, and personnel. There are excellent communication plans and the project sponsors have a record of producing annual reports, peer-reviewed publications, and presentations.

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: $3,387,955 | FY08: $2,533,925 | FY09: $2,078,120

Comment: The OG requests that BPA allow flexibility between years and manage this as a three-year, eight-million-dollar budget (i.e. allowing of rescheduling of funds from one year to the next) because the rate and pace of implementation is uncertain and will be determined through pilot project implementation and recovery team decisions. We made substantial budget reductions in this project and so if there is a need for funding beyond the eight-million-dollar level the OG also asks that the project sponsor has the ability to request funds through the within-year process.