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198806500 - Kootenai R White Sturgeon Inventory

Sponsor: Idaho Department of Fish & Game

Budgets: FY07: $1,165,360 | FY08: $1,169,924 | FY09: $1,179,198

Short description: The main goals of this Kootenai River investigation is to determine limiting factors of key fish species, including threatened and endangered, and provide recommendations to their recovery as well as ecosystem rehabilitation through nutrient restoration.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $1,142,052 | FY08: $982,736 | FY09: $966,942


ISRP final recommendation: Fundable


This proposal is long and rambling, and covers so many species it is a challenge to provide a quality evaluation. The title (on white sturgeon) does not represent the content of the proposed work. This proposal is so broad in scope -- covering sturgeon, burbot, salmonids, and ecosystem rehabilitation -- that it is difficult to follow the logic of the sponsors. It would be easier to evaluate if each species had a stand-alone proposal. There is much redundancy among proposal sections. There appears to be a mix of stock assessment, habitat assessment, aquaculture, and nutrient enhancement. The connection between sturgeon, burbot, and salmonids is not established, and why ecosystem rehabilitation is a separate category is not clear. The proposal is to address species and problems identified in the subbasin plan and regional and recovery plans for sturgeon and burbot, but one gets the impression that the project staff wants to do anything and everything related to fish in the Kootenai (which may be true, since this is IDFG’s portion of the overall large Kootenai River effort). Sponsors would be better served if they had submitted a succinct proposal that is half the length and twice as clear. Nonetheless, the project has been exceptionally productive at evaluating problems with key species in the Kootenai River, and the work has been well reported in workshops, symposia, and the peer-reviewed literature. There are obvious linkages between this project and others in the Kootenai Subbasin. The overarching biological objectives -- to restore natural recruitment of white sturgeon, rehabilitate burbot, etc. are fine (although time elements are missing). Given the inherent uncertainties surrounding these species in the Kootenai Basin, the objectives are clear. Sponsors include hypothesized limiting factors and key strategies from the subbasin plan. What they are actually going to try to accomplish toward those objectives is less clearly presented. There is status monitoring of the species but the portions of the project that include habitat manipulations do not have clear methods to evaluate effectiveness. What seems needed is a very brief problem statement, followed by the action that is going to address the problem, followed by the analysis that will permit evaluating whether the action actually contributed to solving the problem. Additional information on the focal species obtained from the proposed work will add to the understanding of their limiting factors. However, with at least a decade of investigative work completed to date, little progress has been made to improve natural recruitment of either sturgeon or burbot. So, realistically, there is not a basis for optimism that solutions will be found in the near-term. No response is requested, but in future ISRP reviews a more succinct and well-ordered proposal would be appreciated. As a general comment, there are many projects in the Kootenai and several project sponsors. What is needed is a brief list of what needs to be done in the subbasin for these species in the near term and then a listing of which projects are completing which tasks. From the presentation in this proposal (and others, as well) it is difficult to know whether all the tasks are identified, and that a particular project(s) is actually completing the work. This was likely worked out in the subbasin plan, but a succinct presentation for proposal purposes would be helpful for reviewers and program administrators.

State/province recommendation: Fundable

Review group: Mtn Col

Recommended budgets: FY07: $1,142,052 | FY08: $982,736 | FY09: $966,942