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199500400 - Libby Mitigation Program

Sponsor: Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Budgets: FY07: $816,935 | FY08: $841,925 | FY09: $843,710

Short description: Fisheries mitigation for the construction and operation of Libby Dam. Implements habitat restoration, improves fish passage, protects and recovers native fish populations and reestablishes fish harvest opportunities.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $816,935 | FY08: $841,925 | FY09: $843,710


ISRP final recommendation: Fundable


This is a reasonably thorough proposal for continued mitigation of Libby Dam environmental impacts via stream habitat enhancement. The current and previous ISRP reviewers were concerned that the stream restoration efforts seemed to be following too much of a "hard-engineering" path. That concern was heightened by the proposal’s reporting of the lower Cleveland results. These results call into question the "hard" fixes/active restoration, but the proposal continues to emphasize heavy equipment, logs, and rocks. The cutthroat trout seem to be responding to the restoration activities as a disturbance and avoiding the area. The responses adequately clarified the ISRP's questions. The rationale for assisting natural, passive restoration with "hard" construction techniques as well as riparian plantings seems reasonable. Physical data and narrative results were presented that indicated the success of creating stream habitat desired by salmonids (according to literature cited). It is reasonable to expect some time to elapse before biological responses are evident. There is a commitment to monitoring biological features (proposal) that will test for the expected biological responses in the long run. Knowing how labile (apt to change) some other physical stream improvement projects have been and the vagaries of biological expansion, the ISRP strongly supports the continued M&E as well as further stream rehabilitation. The proposal provides generally good background, from general Libby Dam effects to specific project streams. The work is largely related to the Council's Fish and Wildlife Program and Libby Mitigation Plan, although justification might have gone broader. There is a rather good narrative of interrelationships with other projects. The objectives for the proposed work include continued stream restoration, removal of non-native salmonids with toxicants, and burbot stock assessment. The proposal provides a good history that emphasizes actual results not just tasks undertaken. Results of the recent phase of the Libby Creek Lower Cleveland restoration are given in good detail for physical and biological attributes. The soundness of the techniques depends on the results produced. Results of the enhancement actions presented in the proposal did not provide convincing evidence that the methods are generating fish benefits, but the response helped place these in perspective. The sponsors are confident that this project will provide significant and lasting fishery benefits. They completed a project in Upper Cleveland Creek in 2002 and they are accumulating fish productivity data beginning in 2003 to test their hypothesis concerning what was necessary to increase productivity for the fish populations. Given that it is a test, it would be best if it were completed before the assumption is made that it was successful and similar methods applied elsewhere. The ISRP suggests that the test include comparison of the recruitment to adult stages from production in the treated area and in a similar but untreated area.

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: $816,935 | FY08: $841,925 | FY09: $843,710