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200727200 - Conservation and Recovery of Endangered Species Act Listed Floodplain Fishes in the Willamette Basin, with Emphasis on Oregon Chub

Sponsor: US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)

Budgets: FY07: $294,109 | FY08: $143,629 | FY09: $143,629

Short description: The primary focus of the proposed project is for the conservation and recovery of Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed floodplain fishes and their habitats in the Willamette Basin. The project is a collaborative effort between various agencies.

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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 (Qualified)

Comment:

The proposal satisfies a clear need to protect and restore a listed non-salmonid species and is consistent with the Fish and Wildlife Program goal of protecting biodiversity. The project could be of great benefit for Oregon Chub recovery. Although the ISRP is not requesting a response, the proposal would be improved if the sponsors addressed several methodological questions described below related to monitoring and evaluation. Technical and scientific background: The problem is well defined. There is a clear need to recover Oregon Chub, a listed species, so that the species can be downlisted. Declines have resulted from habitat loss and non-native species introductions. The sponsors provide an extensive description of the effects of changes in the Willamette River Basin on floodplain-dependent native fish such as chub, and the conditions under which this species is productive. The proposal includes excellent referencing of the related scientific literature. Data are provided to support the time trend of abundance. The rationale for increasing off-channel habitat is persuasive. The sponsors should discuss what has been learned about chub reintroduction as a result of both the successes and failures that will influence future reintroductions. Rationale and significance to subbasin plans and regional programs: The project would contribute toward meeting objectives for the Oregon Chub Recovery Plan, Willamette Subbasin Plan, and the Fish and Wildlife Program. Relationships to other projects: The project relates to several other chub projects in the Willamette Basin, one of which funded by BPA. A number of other BPA projects related to Oregon chub are briefly described but little detail is provided on how each project relates to this proposal. Monitoring of chub populations is funded by a number of agencies and will be coordinated with this project. Objectives: Objective 1 is very well defined and proposes to enhance five off-channel flood plain habitats/ponds for Oregon chub re-introductions in the Willamette subbasin. Specific sites with favorable or recoverable habitat have been identified according to criteria established in the Oregon Chub Recovery Plan. Tasks (work elements) and methods: Methods involve construction of ponds at the suitable sites and stocking fish, but details of the work are lacking. Five restoration sites have been identified. All are on private land and are described specifically. Techniques appear reasonable. The sponsors have experience with pond construction and fish reintroduction and should be able to successfully achieve the objectives. Monitoring and evaluation: The sponsors propose a monitoring program that appears to be adequate to assess changes in chub abundance. How often will the sites be sampled? What kind of habitat data will be collected and how will it be analyzed? Mark-recapture methods are notorious for having large confidence intervals around the population estimate. What has been the variability of the estimates so far and how will this variability (uncertainty in the estimate) be taken into account when analyzing population trends? How well have the assumptions of the mark-recapture method been satisfied? Have abundance and habitat targets been established? Facilities, equipment, and personnel: The facilities are adequate and the personnel are exceptionally qualified. Information transfer: Information transfer will occur via electronic annual reports, hard copy reports, on the website of the ODFW Fish Investigations Project, and in the ODFW database for ESA listed fishes of Oregon. Data will be shared with the Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center. We encourage the sponsors to publish their work on re-introductions in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Benefits to focal species: Oregon chub will realize long-term benefits from an increase in suitable habitat. The sponsors have had some success with re-introductions so far. This project could serve as a model for similar future projects. Benefits to non-focal species: Other aquatic species such as red-legged frogs also will likely receive long-term benefits from an increase in floodplain habitat.

State/province recommendation: Not fundable due to budget constraints

Review group: OSPIT - Estuary

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

Comment: Though OSPIT believes this is important work, the budget will not accommodate this project.