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200704600 - Steelhead Spawning Ground Surveys, Flow, and Temperature Monitoring of Small Tributaries of the Upper Middle Mainstem Columbia River

Sponsor: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

Budgets: FY07: $60,350 | FY08: $56,699 | FY09: $57,776

Short description: Twelve small tributaries of the Columbia River, between Crab Creek and the Entiat River, will be surveyed to determine the abundance of steelhead redds, presence of adult steelhead, collect carcasses, and monitor flow and water temperature.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $58,333 | FY08: $58,333 | FY09: $58,334


ISRP final recommendation: Fundable


This is a well-prepared proposal for a worthwhile project. The sponsors should consider the ISRP suggestions below. There is good background rationale for studying steelhead in these small tributaries. Sponsors provide indicative preliminary data and good references. The proposal could have used a map to orient reviewers. The need for more complete information on the fish populations and habitat characteristics of the small tributaries of the Columbia in this subbasin was identified as a key priority in the subbasin plan. The data collected also would contribute to development of recovery plans and is integrated with other spawner survey efforts in the Columbia Cascade Province, which are described. This project proposes to use methods comparable to those being employed in other watersheds and indicates that all these efforts will be closely coordinated. The objectives are stated clearly. The methods are generally appropriate for the objectives. There are several issues the sponsor might want to consider prior to initiating the project. 1) Is there empirical support for the assumption that O. mykiss below 500 mm in length are resident redband rainbow and those over this length are steelhead? Unless there is a firm foundation for this assumption, there is the possibility of introducing some error into the steelhead spawner and redd counts. Could genetic analysis of the recovered carcasses and samples taken from verified resident fish be used to substantiate this assumption? 2) The genetic samples collected from carcasses in this project are only to be stored, not analyzed. It would seem that completing the genetic analysis would be an important part of this project. Answering the questions about the origins of the steelhead using these small streams could be important in understanding the population structure of the ESU. This could be done on the assumption that a genetic baseline exists. 3) The methods for temperature characterization of the streams are not clear. What is the purpose of installing a second thermistor at the upper end of anadromous access in May in a subset of the streams? Given that recording thermistors are relatively inexpensive, it would seem that two thermistors, deployed full time at the mouth and the upper end of anadromous access would provide a much better indication of the thermal environment provided by these streams. 4) Periodic flow measurements cannot capture short-term variation in discharge. One possible approach to developing a more comprehensive record of flow would be to develop a relationship between the flow measures taken on the study streams and discharge at a nearby flow recorder. If an appropriate flow recording station is available, this approach would enable the construction of a continuous flow record for each stream. There is minimal description of facilities, although the personnel are good. The information transfer process described should be effective. Coordination with groups conducting similar studies in the province also should enhance the effectiveness of information transfer. The information generated by the project should be very beneficial to the steelhead of the Upper Columbia ESU.

State/province recommendation:

Review group:

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