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200600800 - Evaluation of the Biological Effects of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Mainstem Amendment on the Fisheries Upstream and Downstream of Hungry Horse and Libby Dams, Montana

Sponsor: Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Budgets: FY07: $396,500 | FY08: $396,500 | FY09: $336,500

Short description: The Northwest Power and Conservation Council (Council) directed the region to test, implement, and evaluate an interim summer operation, called for by the Mainstem Amendments, that implement new drafting limits at Hungry Horse and Libby Dams.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $396,500 | FY08: $396,500 | FY09: $336,500


ISRP final recommendation: Fundable


This is a well-prepared proposal that rates high marks for all ISRP review criteria. The project is well justified and deserves continued funding. The ISRP previously reviewed this proposal; see ISRP 2004-6, Second Review of Proposal to Evaluate the Biological Effects of the Council's Mainstem Amendments on the Fisheries Upstream and Downstream of Hungry Horse and Libby Dams; www.nwcouncil.org/library/isrp/isrp2004-6.htm. In that report the ISRP recommended continued support for the project and had some suggestions to improve the project: 1. More explicitly plan the strategy for using the existing data and models with updated data and models, and 2. Identify key indicators of trends in biological responses for early judgments about the nature and magnitude of biological effects. The ISRP is pleased to note that the project sponsors responded to these ISRP suggestions by revising Objectives 1 and 2 to more explicitly include the model simulations of reservoir trophic responses and river habitat availability to provide the most immediate comparisons for assessing the biological consequences of the Council’s operation strategy per Mainstem Amendments. The proposal (Objective 5) also emphasizes incorporating benthic community productivity (recolonization rate) into the river models to help inform policy on dam operations designed to benefit the fishery in many river systems affected by hydropower operations. The radio telemetry study (Objective 7) is designed to test the null hypothesis that hourly and daily discharge variation does not influence fish movement. This will be another key indicator of a relatively quick time-sensitive biological response to changes in discharge within the Kootenai and Flathead rivers. They anticipate that a before-after and control comparison could be used as the experimental design to test the null hypothesis. Other comments: Project history: Extensive details were provided in this section and results indicate that the project appears to have achieved many of its objectives. However, we would have expected more for a project that has been continuing this long. A list of technical products and peer-reviewed papers produced would be helpful in this section (e.g. like the list of references given in the preceding rationale section describing the interactions with Dr. Taper's lab, but including the full citations). Have the reservoir models been peer reviewed and published? We couldn't find anything other than a BPA Report, where they are cited. Tasks (work elements) and methods: On page 34, the paragraph at the bottom states a null hypothesis that seems to be unrealistic. The statistical analysis seems inappropriate for the situation. Wouldn't the objective be more appropriately stated as measurement of the effects of discharge variation on behavior of fish? What would be an appropriate statistical test? The proposal says that distances moved would be the measurement used. Perhaps the initial observations might suggest that distance is not as important as location of movement - from where to where? This deserves further thought, particularly from the standpoint of developing recommendations for modification of discharge patterns. So what if the fish do move further? Would we want to do anything about that? On page 41, there is a typographical error in the top line. The word "no" has been omitted from the statement about requirements for Objective 8.

State/province recommendation: Fundable

Review group: Mtn Col

Recommended budgets: FY07: $396,500 | FY08: $396,500 | FY09: $336,500