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200205300 - Assess Salmonids Asotin Creek Watershed

Sponsor: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

Budgets: FY07: $320,516 | FY08: $213,711 | FY09: $221,572

Short description: The goal of this project is to assess the status of anadromous salmonid populations in the Asotin Creek watershed. This project implements the RM&E criteria in the Asotin Subbasin Plan for ESA-listed species, primarily steelhead trout, and Chinook salmon.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $212,000 | FY08: $212,000 | FY09: $212,000


ISRP final recommendation: Fundable


The proposal is excellent, especially the reporting of progress to date. The installation of the resistivity counter is a positive step and should help enumerate adult Chinook and steelhead escapements, particularly in combination with the juvenile PIT tag effort. Technical and scientific background: The goal of this project is to assess the status of anadromous salmonid populations in the Asotin Creek watershed. Much of Asotin Creek and its tributaries have been straightened, diked or relocated. Many habitat restoration projects have been completed or are ongoing in the Asotin Creek watershed with state (Salmon Recovery Funding Board, Washington Conservation Commission) and federal (BPA) funding. More than $1.5 million has been spent on habitat restoration projects in the Asotin Creek Subbasin. The data suggests that Asotin Creek – above eight FCRPS dams on the Snake and Columbia Rivers – has a highly productive and resilient population of naturally-producing summer steelhead, which may be an important nursery of the Snake River steelhead ESU. Fish management in Asotin Creek, directed by Washington’s Wild Salmonid Policy (WSP 1997), is focused on the protection and restoration of wild steelhead (lower Snake River ESU) and bull trout. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) designated the Asotin Creek Subbasin a wild steelhead refuge in 1997 and has planted no hatchery fish since 1998. Limited efforts have been made to assess the salmonid populations in the subbasin. Most of the data used by the co-managers for fish management are from limited research, monitoring, and evaluation (RM&E) activities conducted with funds from the Lower Snake River Compensation Plan (LSRCP). Rationale and significance to subbasin plans and regional programs: This project implements the research, monitoring and evaluation (RM&E) criteria specified in the Asotin Subbasin Plan by providing estimates of abundance, productivity, survival rates, and temporal and spatial distribution of ESA-listed species, primarily summer steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and secondarily spring Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha). The project also implements reasonable and prudent alternative (RPA) 180 in the NMFS 2000 and 2004 Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) Biological Opinions (BiOp) for population status monitoring and review of status change over time. This project is designed to enumerate adult salmonids entering Asotin Creek to spawn and to estimate the juvenile migrant population and emigration patterns Relationships to other projects: As a result of the several associated projects in the Asotin subbasin, a sizeable investment has now been made toward understanding salmonids in Asotin Creek. Allowing the project to continue until relevant metrics can be described for a small system with a relatively large steelhead population has significant potential value. This is underscored by early project data that show substantially more adults and juvenile out-migrants in the system than were expected (ASP 2004, p5. 15; 45). Understanding the population dynamics of the Asotin Creek steelhead population can be instructive for understanding small-river summer steelhead biology throughout the Interior Columbia basin and the potential of these smaller systems to contribute to recovery. Project history: A detailed and thorough recounting of project history and accomplishments is provided. Objectives: Five objectives clearly defined and linked to Asotin Subbasin Plan Tasks (work elements) and methods: Detailed methods with sound scientific principles and explained and referenced. Facilities, equipment, and personnel: The basic infrastructure needed to complete the proposed work elements is already in place. Information transfer: An Annual Report will be submitted to BPA as a deliverable work product, which will include an abstract, introduction, description, methods, results, discussion, summary, and list of expenditures, in the Pisces format. Quarterly status reports will also be submitted to BPA in Pisces. Written or oral summaries will be provided to co-managers, subbasin planners and other interested parties, as necessary/requested, for inclusion in Asotin Subbasin planning efforts. The data from this project will also be submitted to the StreamNet database, if possible. Benefit to focal and non-focal species: For the steelhead Snake River ESU, this assessment work should provide benefits including improved knowledge of species/habitat relationship. The baseline data collected for each focal species under this project is needed to refine fish return and management goals, and to assist in the establishment of future numeric fish population goals as outlined in the Asotin Subbasin Plan (ASP 2004, p. 160). In addition, assessing the Asotin Creek steelhead population may provide a better understanding of limiting factors that affect similar or adjacent populations. Moreover, data from this project could be used to help determine if regional recovery efforts to stabilize and rebuild steelhead populations would be best spent on within-subbasin projects or out-of subbasin actions (i.e., FCRPS modifications). Rebuilding the bull trout population and eventually reintroducing spring Chinook are goals for the Subbasin. Understanding the steelhead population trend may allow managers to initiate recovery actions directed toward these populations at the appropriate time.

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