Reviews, narrative and other documents for proposal

201003000: Estimate viable salmon population (VSP) parameters for Yakima steelhead major population group (MPG)

(View full proposal and assessments at

ISRP final recommendation: Meets Scientific criteria? Yes (Qualified)

Most of the other issues raised by the ISRP in the original review of this project appear to have been addressed, although locating this information in the revised proposal was a challenge. The project proponents provided a cover document summarizing the information added to the original proposal in response to the ISRP's review. However, the cover document did not include details of the additions nor were page numbers where new material was added in this lengthy proposal provided. As a result, it was often quite difficult to know what exactly had been changed. In spite of this shortcoming, it appears that the proponent has given an adequate response to most of the critical issues identified by the ISRP in the original review. More details were given about the radio telemetry, PIT tag, and genetic stock identification protocols, as well as a justification of the sample sizes in the plan. The proposal now contains a much more complete analysis of the number of samples needed for the telemetry, PIT tag, and GSI work. A few uncertainties remain for some project elements, (e.g., the installation of 19 additional fixed antenna sites or availability of sufficient numbers of PIT tags). There was one other sample size question: What was the justification for PIT-tagging 1,000 juveniles per selected tributary (work task 5A)? While this number apparently represents a significant expansion of the juvenile PIT-tagging effort in the Yakima River, will 1,000 fish be sufficient to address Objective 5 (Biological Objective 5: Evaluate sympatric population dynamics and the effects on population viability between resident and anadromous forms of O. mykiss)? These questions are partially answered on pages 59-60 of the revised proposal, but there should be some contingency planning in the event the numbers of tagged fish are insufficient. Overall, however, the proponents have provided a thoughtful response to the ISRP's questions. Once the remaining questions on resource availability and linkages with other projects have been resolved, this ambitious project should provide very useful information about steelhead and resident rainbow trout populations in the Yakima River subbasin.

from Apr 2010 ISRP 2010-10 report

Narrative and other documents

201003000_Yakima_SthdVSP_REVISED_FINAL.doc (narrative)
2010003000- YakimaVSP.doc
201003000_SthdVSP_Rev_Final.pdf (narrative)

ISRP preliminary recommendation: Meets scientific criteria? Yes (Qualified)

This proposal addresses several key uncertainties relative to population structure of Yakima River steelhead/rainbow population but this proposal lacked some details about methods - specifically, sample sizes, specific study locations, and the division of labor among cooperators. A revised proposal narrative providing this information is necessary to conduct a complete scientific review. The following modifications of the proposal are necessary for the ISRP to complete its review: 1) More information is required on the relationship of this project to ongoing efforts. A very clear description of how this project addresses specific RPA commitments is required. Some discussion of the relationship to the ISEMP work that is taking place in neighboring subbasins and to steelhead recovery efforts in the adjacent Wenatchee subbasin also should be added. 2) Information should be provided to specifically indicate how this project addresses gaps not addressed by project #19956325. Inclusion of a more detailed presentation of the results generated by project #19956325 to date would provide a much stronger justification for this project that is provided in the current proposal. 3) An indication of the number of samples to be collected for each work element, and some rationale as to why the project proponents feel this number of samples will be adequate, should be included in the proposal. 4) Provide more detail on the design and methods of the radio telemetry study for adult steelhead (Biological Objective 1). 5) Include more detail on the proposed GSI work including study design, number of samples and genetic markers types. 6) Provide a clear indication of the allocation of responsibilities among the organizations participating in this study. 1. Technical Justification, Program Significance and Consistency, and Project Relationships The justification for this project is framed in terms of existing recovery programs for steelhead in the Yakima River subbasin, but it needs to be more tightly linked to RPAs in the BiOp. It appears that this project generally responds to BiOp RPA 50 and 62, but the description of how this project will contribute to these RPAs is insufficient. Quite a few projects are listed as being related to this one but only in the most general way. A more thorough description of how this project will coordinate and share data, especially with project #199506325 should be included. The proposal also does not acknowledge the ISEMP work that is taking place in neighboring subbasins. It would have been helpful to discuss how this project relates to steelhead recovery efforts in the adjacent Wenatchee subbasin. 2. Project History and Results This is a new project, but it proposes to build on work that has been previously conducted in the Yakima watershed or is ongoing, especially project #199506325. A more thorough review of the results from project #199506325 would have given a more complete indication of the “gaps” in the current effort and provided a more compelling justification for this project. 3. Objectives, Work Elements, and Methods The proposal provides a reasonable description of the work that will be done for some of the objectives; however, there is insufficient information provided on a number of work elements to enable technical review. Failure to specify sampling effort for many of the work elements is a common issue. The number of fish to be fitted with radio transmitters, the numbers to be PIT-tagged, or the number of samples to be obtained for genetic analysis are often not provided in the proposal and when provided, little indication is given as to why this level of sampling effort is sufficient to answer the questions being asked. This deficiency makes it difficult for the ISRP to evaluate the adequacy of the sampling protocols. Obtaining adequate samples in a river system as large as the Yakima presents some daunting challenges. An indication of the number of samples to be collected for each work element, and some rationale as to why the project proponents feel this number of samples will be adequate, should be included in the proposal. For example, under work task 2B (calculate entrainment rates) it is stated that a pilot study will use acoustic tags and arrays to increase the precision of irrigation canal entrainment, but there are no details given regarding where this would take place or a ballpark figure of the number of acoustically tagged steelhead that will be needed. The Work Elements in Biological Objective 1 (Determine spatial distribution and major (MSA) and minor (MiSA) spawning areas of steelhead spawning populations in the Yakima MPG (RPA 50.6, 62.5)) require some additional elaboration. The radio telemetry study design and specific methods to be used are not well described. For example the proponents state that "We propose to conduct a three year radio telemetry project in the Yakima River Basin (upstream of Prosser Dam). We will use methods similar to those described in Karp et al. (2009)." A thorough description of these methods in the proposal, or at least a link to this document, is needed. It also is not clear why it was decided that 450 - 500 adult steelhead would be tagged. As noted above, some rationale as to why this number of tags was considered appropriate for this task should have been presented. Also, given that the average number of adult steelhead returning to the Yakima in recent years is 1,764 fish, this number of tags represents a significant proportion of the total population. As these fish are part of an ESA-listed ESU, it seems that there might be some concern about handling this many fish. No indication was given as to whether or not the required permits had been obtained for this activity. Also, an indication of how frequently ground surveys for acoustic tags (Work Element 1a) will be conducted should be included. The work proposed for GSI was also not described in sufficient detail to enable a thorough technical review. The discussion of GSI in the proposal is pretty generic. In addition to the problem noted above regarding a lack of specificity and justification on numbers of samples, more detail on marker types (microsats or SNPs) and details of the sampling design needs to be included in the proposal. Also, the Anderson et al (2008) and Kalanowski (2007) papers cited in the text are not included in the citations. Finally, it was unclear which organization would have the responsibility for the various aspects of field data collection or data analyses. Section I (key personnel) gives a list of the project staff members but does not identify their involvement in the various work elements of this project. More detail should be included regarding the division of labor.

from Feb 2010 ISRP 2010-7 report