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199402600 - Pacific Lamprey Research and Restoration Project

Sponsor: Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation

Budgets: FY07: $528,041 | FY08: $507,930 | FY09: $533,161

Short description: The purpose of this study is to provide the critical information to restore Pacific lampreys Lampetra tridentata in the Umatilla River that is called for in the Draft Umatilla/Willow Subbasin Plan.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

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


ISRP final recommendation: Fundable in part (Qualified)


The ISRP has previously called attention to the need for oversight of work on lamprey in the Columbia Basin. There has been an effort in this direction (apparently through the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority) by appointment of a Columbia Basin Lamprey Technical Working Group. However, it is clear that the Technical Working Group has served as a medium of information exchange, rather than as a coordinating body to assign tasks and avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, as was intended by the ISRP recommendation. The sponsors are reluctant to accept the concept of a "generic" applied study on lamprey on their watershed (or somewhere else in the Basin) that might provide results that are widely applicable. Watershed-specific issues, such as identification of specific obstacles to passage, are no doubt important but a concerted, well-coordinated, and cooperative effort would provide better scientific results with respect to identification of physical and biological characteristics of impediments to passage. The basic question is “Does the region need a lamprey project with similar goals, objectives and tasks in every subbasin?” If this criterion is applied to the Umatilla Basin, the question becomes “What is the innovative work that is being done that is expected to be applicable basinwide, or that requires tasks specific to the Umatilla?” The ISRP had asked for a revision of the Project History section, organized by objectives. This was not supplied. We remain convinced that the sponsors themselves would benefit from a progress report that would relate the particular aspects of the life history and behavior of lamprey in the Umatilla River. The sponsors agree with the ISRP that if mainstem passage is not improved, major increases in adult abundance in the Umatilla River may not occur. The question to be addressed by this proposal then is, to what degree factors within the Umatilla Basin might still limit abundance even if mainstem passage is improved. Direction for efforts of this project would be improved by identification of potential or possible limiting factors in the Umatilla Basin, and a focus on those that are determined to be likely to have the greatest effect on abundance. It is difficult to reconcile the sponsor's statement, made later in their response, that habitat is not a limiting factor for lamprey in the Umatilla River with comments such as: “The issue of dewatering is serious and the low head diversion dams that provide the water may also inhibit migration.” The Abstract of this proposal provides a useful summary of objectives for work in the Umatilla River: “In addition to increasing the abundance of larval lamprey in the subbasin, key components are to establish that more adult lamprey are returning to the Umatilla Subbasin, and that they are able to reach historical spawning areas. Consequently, the project objectives are: (1) estimate the numbers of adult lampreys entering the Umatilla Subbasin; (2) investigate the olfactory cues lamprey use to orient in the Umatilla Subbasin; (3) monitor passage success to spawning areas; (4) develop structures to improve passage success; (5) increase larval abundance in the Umatilla River by continuing to outplant adult lamprey; (6) monitor larval population trends in the Umatilla River by conducting electrofishing surveys, and (7) estimate the numbers of juvenile lampreys migrating out of the Umatilla River.” ISRP requested information on annual reports and meta-data. The sponsors did not respond adequately to this request. They refer to reports with results but do not summarize or give citations to many of the reports. The ISRP concludes that benefits in terms of potential for improved abundance of Pacific lamprey in the Umatilla Basin are likely to accrue from portions of this project, modified according to the following recommendation. Fundable in part, as listed below: Objectives 1, 3, 4 (except Task 2d), 5, and 6. Emphasis of the work should be placed on: 1. Enumeration of upstream migration of adults in the Umatilla River. The proposed radio tracking approach deserves more emphasis. Sponsors should obtain advice from a statistician in the design and analysis of their enumeration efforts. 2. Identification of barriers to adult migration within the river. The sponsors should determine particular features of these barriers that inhibit or prevent passage and consider the possibility that if mainstem passage is the principle cause of low adult abundances, then improvements in the migration corridor in the Umatilla Basin may have little impact on adult returns. 3. Outmigrant abundance must be accurately determined. With the low numbers expected, increased effort will be required beyond what is described in the proposal, with a rigorous statistical design applied to the sampling of juveniles, with the assistance of a statistician. 4. Quantify effects of river operations, i.e., pumping of water from the Columbia River and its subsequent distribution, on abundance and success of passage of lamprey upstream and downstream. (Quantify with river flow and lamprey counts.) (Note the ISRP comments on other proposals for work in the Umatilla River, specifically 198343600, in which we recommend incorporation of all projects into a package we refer to as the Umatilla Initiative, which should be established to evaluate the effects on fish abundance of restoration of flows in the river, other habitat improvement measures, and the hatchery. Restoration of flow would seem to be an obvious habitat improvement measure that ought to affect abundance of lamprey.) 5. Carefully investigate the causes for low larval survival. Likely suspects include fluctuations or reductions in flow brought about by irrigation removals or other operations, leading to stranding and compaction of substrate in which lamprey are located. Investigate possibilities for modification of operations, if warranted. Not Fundable: We view objective 2 as being unlikely to reveal measures that might lead to increases in lamprey abundance. Our conclusion is that further studies of stress steroids, larval extracts, sex pheromones, bile salts, synthetic compounds or the like, are not, at this time, fruitful areas of pursuit and are not likely to suggest measures that might lead to increases in lamprey abundance. This work cannot be justified given current knowledge (or the lack of it) of up-river lamprey populations.

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 when money available

Review group: OSPIT - Plateau

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

Comment: CTUIR priority for only place for lamprey success monitoring for returning lamprey to stream and for basis of work occurring elsewhere in the Columbia.