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200705900 - Abiotic and Biotic Factors Affecting the Success of Reintroductions of Anadromous Salmonids in Cle Elum Lake, Washington

Sponsor: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

Budgets: FY07: $373,544 | FY08: $367,132 | FY09: $364,075

Short description: The goal of this project is to assess how abiotic and biotic factors may limit the production of sockeye salmon smolts from Cle Elum Lake, and recommend management actions that will reduce any production bottlenecks.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $0 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $0

Comment:

ISRP final recommendation: Not fundable

Comment:

The proposal and response are inadequate. The ISRP's preliminary recommendation of "Not fundable" stands. The ISRP's preliminary comments from June 2006: The ISRP cannot recommend funding for this project; there is inadequate justification and serious doubts regarding the feasibility for success. The benefit to focal species is highly uncertain, especially since the target is sockeye, but initial passage experiments are to be performed with coho. Moreover, there are likely to be negative impacts on non-target species, but this is not addressed. Technical and scientific background: Although the broad goal of reestablishing salmon to Cle Elum Lake is certainly supportable, the fact that lake trout are present in this lake essentially eliminates this proposal from serious consideration. The authors apparently did not complete a rigorous study of the literature or study of the existing knowledge of fish communities that include this voracious predator. The technical and scientific background was rather sparse and was not presented in a way that logically set up the entire program. There are a number of technical issues remaining unresolved; the least of which was why such a large, ambitious project would be planned with so little knowledge of the aquatic community present. Rationale and significance to subbasin plans and regional programs: The rationale for doing this project is not compelling, as a priority need. Relationships to other projects: The proposed work fits with (but should come after) efforts of the Yakama Nation and others to net pen rear and release fish in the lake to assess passage success. Objectives: "The goal of this proposal is to maximize salmon smolt production from Cle Elum Lake by: 1) assessing how abiotic and biotic factors may limit the production of sockeye salmon smolts released from net pens within Cle Elum Lake, and 2) recommending management actions that will reduce production bottlenecks, if they occur (Phase I)." A shotgun approach costing $1 million is outlined to try to anticipate the factors that might be important bottlenecks for salmon rearing. While that might succeed, it is much more indirect, risky and expensive than the alternate approach of waiting until salmon are indeed rearing and then assessing predation directly, and salmon food selection directly. In any case, initiation of this proposal should be contingent upon the successful demonstration that lake-river fish passage in both directions is adequate. Tasks (work elements) and methods: Methods are adequately described but not necessarily appropriate, as mentioned above. Monitoring and evaluation: There was very little information offered on how this aspect would really be conducted - at least on a whole experiment level - some data analysis methods were given, but they do not represent a substitute for real M&E planning. Facilities, equipment, and personnel: It is unclear the likelihood for success would be good with existing facilities, equipment, and personnel. Information transfer: There appears to be no clear information transfer.

State/province recommendation: MS: Subbasin

Review group: MSRT

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

Comment: This project will pave the way for a sockeye reintroduction program in Cle Elum Lake. This project would be more appropriately reviewed in subbasin process. This is an on-the-ground action that is wholly contained in the Yakima subbasin.

State/province recommendation: Washington

Review group: Washington list

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

Comment: See Washington guidance