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200716400 - Determination of Steelhead Production and Productivity Response to Habitat Manipulations in the Upper Potlatch River, Idaho

Sponsor: Idaho Department of Fish & Game

Budgets: FY07: $262,126 | FY08: $237,926 | FY09: $241,767

Short description: The project sponsors will determine the production and productivity of steelhead trout in the Upper Potlatch River basin and compare tributary (spatial) variations and trends in production and productivity to determine the effectiveness of habitat manipulations.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

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

Comment:

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable in part

Comment:

This is a relatively good proposal to monitor habitat restoration effectiveness, with a well-written technical and scientific background. The work could benefit from a broader review and collaboration with related projects. This proposal was well positioned to provide M&E for several ongoing habitat enhancement projects, and the 2005 run monitoring helps to give it credibility. The monitoring proposed has high significance for the region and in support of other projects. The Potlatch system has high potential if habitat problems are ameliorated. The strongest areas of the proposal, and that which reviewers suggest may be the only component worthy of support, is the smolt and adult monitoring; the remaining tasks are very low priority. Furthermore, the sponsors should be participating in the Pacific Northwest Aquatic Monitoring Partnership (PNAMP) and Collaborative Systemwide Evaluation Program (CSMEP) to ensure they are using methods adopted throughout the subbasin and basin for the adult and smolt monitoring and subsequent analyses. Please refer also to programmatic comments on monitoring and evaluation, and previous ISRP reports, as well as the basin M&E guidelines that are in development. The project would primarily conduct M&E for other projects: "In 2004, PCSRF funds were awarded to establish the relationship between habitat quality and steelhead production. The goal of the ongoing PCSRF project is to determine steelhead population response (yield and productivity) to habitat enhancement. The project is focused on lower Potlatch River tributaries where PCSRF and other funds are being used to implement habitat restoration. The purpose of this proposal is to establish a companion project in the upper Potlatch River basin to complement the PCSRF evaluation project. Latah County SWCD has project #200206100 to improve habitat. This project is not discussed. An indication of coordination with all related projects in the area is required. Project objectives as stated are to: 1) increase anadromous fish productivity and production, 2) develop an index area in the lower Clearwater River, 3) improve aquatic habitat diversity and complexity, 4) assess temperature-amelioration restoration projects and reduce water temperature, 5) determine migration characteristics and timing of smolts, 6) assess competition between reintroduced and native salmonid populations, 7) participate in local watershed and technical groups, and 8) quantify steelhead stray rates. Statistical designs for the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 6th objectives were not clearly presented, and thus they cannot be reviewed effectively. Some of these objectives seem very low priority. The 6th objective is too thinly described to enable review. The importance of others in addressing critical needs is not established. For example, "the basic data collected in the field surveys will allow us to examine steelhead production, productivity, and limited life stage survival. As data are gathered productivity estimates such as adults/adult, smolts/adult, and juveniles/km are obvious metrics available to evaluate watershed scale responses to habitat improvement. Less obvious are the in-stream survival estimates obtained from summer- and spring-tagged fish. In-stream survival for PIT tag-able steelhead will be estimated through the use of time-varied tagging. Survival to detection sites from spring tagged fish minus the survival of the previous summer tagged fish represents the survival gap (in-stream mortality) and separates migration from rearing survival. In combination with estimates of juvenile abundance, in-stream survival gives another index for stream productivity." The need for these observations is not compelling. If they were intended to test particular hypotheses (e.g., winter survival is poor because suitable habitat is unavailable), then the data may be useful, and experimental designs to test these hypotheses may be developed for review. Such designs are not presented in this proposal. The closest that the proponents come to this is "A generalized linear model will be developed to assess the impact of a variety of habitat actions on fish production and productivity metrics.” This vague statement is not supported by reference or experimental design, and methods are not well defined. There is a need to reference similar studies and methods, and to justify the monitoring in relation to the needs beyond what is already known of habitat requirements for A-run steelhead and their presence or absence in the Potlatch system. Once methods for adult and smolt monitoring are clearly defined and standardized to basinwide efforts, there is a need for reporting of the results regionally, basinwide, and in the formal fisheries literature.

State/province recommendation: MS: Subbasin

Review group: MSRT

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

Comment: This is a project to assess the benefit of habitat actions in the Potlatch River to benefit steelhead production. This project would be more appropriately reviewed in the subbasin process. This is an on-the-ground project occurring wholly in the Clearwater subbasin.

State/province recommendation: Not fundable

Review group: Snake

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

Comment: Project not prioritized