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199500100 - Kalispel Tribe Resident Fish Program

Sponsor: Kalispel Tribe

Budgets: FY07: $520,815 | FY08: $544,049 | FY09: $568,061

Short description: This project works to assess and restore native salmonids in tributaries to enhance largemouth bass populations in the lower Pend Oreille River. Activities include habitat and population assessments, habitat restoration, and non-native fish removals.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $520,814 | FY08: $544,049 | FY09: $568,060

Comment: ISRP fund in part: ISRP recommended not funding rearing and release of bass, the Council has reviewed this same issue in the past and decided to accept the risks of going forward. The Council is not going to change that conclusion at this time.

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable in part

Comment:

The project has three major components: coordinate bull trout restoration, manage trout habitat and non-native trout in tributaries, and propagate largemouth bass. Based on the proposal, the ISRP felt in its preliminary review that all components either were producing no benefits or were showing evidence of failure, and should not receive future funding. However, material furnished in the response satisfactorily addressed many of those concerns, and the ISRP recommends Fundable for the trout components (Objectives 1, 3, and 4) and Fundable in Part for the largemouth bass component (Objective 2) to monitor and evaluate the bass already reared and released. The ISRP does not recommend further rearing and release of largemouth bass. The primary basis for the recommended reduction of the project is the serious potential for deleterious interactions between the stocked largemouth bass and native aquatic species. This potential is not restricted to this location, but exists throughout the Columbia River Basin, as a result of natural migration and angler-assisted translocations. Secondary considerations are the inconsistent goals of improving habitat for native trout and removal of non-native brook trout while simultaneously stocking large-mouth bass, and a lack of evidence supplied in the proposal or response, that the bass stocking is efficacious. The ISRP has reviewed the largemouth bass supplementation for FY 98, 99, 00, the Provincial Review (01), and a Three-Step Review. The initial reviews (FY 98, 99, and 00) found the proposal inadequate (98) or recommended no bass stocking (99), emphasizing the problem of conflicting program goals – stocking bass while removing non-native trout and attempting to restore native trout habitat. In the Provincial (01 – 03) and Three Step reviews the ISRP focused on the lack of evidence that a bass hatchery could be successful and the need for a strong experimental design. This FY 07-9 recommendation is consistent with the earliest ISRP reviews, and with the ISRP’s understanding of the guidance for fish substitution in the Council’s program. The current panel understands that this recommendation is more conservative than the Provincial and Three-Step Review. In reaching its conclusion, the ISRP gave consideration to the preexisting introduced species in the Pend Oreille River system, but concluded in the end that the action is inherently in conflict with not only other Fish and Wildlife Program goals and guidance, but also with good conservation principles in general. Reviews evaluating aquatic biodiversity issues have concluded that interactions with exotic species are perhaps even more of a cause of the loss of diversity than habitat alteration (degradation). Largemouth bass have been introduced in various places in the Columbia River Basin and have established reproducing populations. These introductions would likely not pass scrutiny at this time, and would not now form a basis for actively engaging in the rearing and release of exotic species into open waters. There is increasing awareness throughout the western U.S. and around the world of the negative impact of largemouth bass outside their native range. Projects such as this pose risks well beyond their immediate areas, as bass are particularly good at living in buckets while being moved for 50 miles. Largemouth bass are adapting to cooler temperatures; once thought to become inactive below 50 degrees F, they have recently been found to actively travel and feed in ice-covered water bodies. In response to the ISRP request for information on the success of the largemouth bass stocking, the response argues that more time is needed: "the hatchery went through a Three-Step review process in 2002 for the construction of 3 rearing ponds. Until these ponds were built, the hatchery program was unable to achieve the goals of the hatchery (produce 100,000 largemouth bass). In 2003, the ponds were first used, which has dramatically increased the numbers of bass produced and helped to address program goals. Unfortunately, these fish will not be recruited into the fishery for several more years." Reviewers believe this period of time is easily long enough for bass (now 3+years old) to have reached the creel. There should be information available. In any case, stocking additional largemouth bass is not needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the initial stocking program, and continued stocking may in fact help establish an unwanted non-native species. Regarding the trout and trout habitat activities, fencing to exclude livestock is continuing and engineered large woody structures are being placed. In the plan for revised and improved M&E on the habitat work, the intent is to make population estimates in three randomly selected 50-meter sections of stream and in one 100-m section. The amount of sampling should probably be more intense in order to get valid results. There should be more sections sampled, and each section should be at least 100 m long. The plan includes dividing the stream into 50-m reference sections, which is probably a very good idea for physical monitoring. For the electrofishing, adjacent 50-m sections can be combined. The sponsors should obtain the advice of a biostatistician in further designing the M&E data collection and analysis. The response material was clear and focused in regard to Objective 3 (manage nonnative fish species). Reviewers agree the brook trout suppression by electrofishing should proceed, but on a strict experimental basis while results are evaluated over the next three years, e.g., the cutthroat trout response to the completed partial brook trout removal by electrofishing in Mineral and Saucon creeks. Reviewers anticipate the surviving brook trout will increase in numbers much faster than will cutthroat trout, but hope they are incorrect. The sponsors should plan to publish results in a scientific journal.

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: Intermountain

Recommended budgets: FY07: $520,814 | FY08: $544,049 | FY09: $568,060

Comment: No change to proposed budget.

State/province recommendation: Washington

Review group: Washington list

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

Comment: See Washington guidance