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Project Summary

Project 1988-065-00 - Kootenai River Fishery Investigations
Project Number:
1988-065-00
Title:
Kootenai River Fishery Investigations
Summary:
The Kootenai River White Sturgeon Investigation is managed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and is comprised of four major projects collectively called the Kootenai River Fisheries Recovery Investigations. Most of the investigations are transboundary in nature and cooperative with various state, federal, provincial, and tribal agencies. White sturgeon research to monitor and evaluate measures taken to rehabilitate the Kootenai River white sturgeon population, an endangered species.
Proposer:
None
Proponent Orgs:
Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) (Govt - State)
Starting FY:
1988
Ending FY:
2018
Stage:
Implementation - Project Status Report
Area:
Province Subbasin %
Mountain Columbia Kootenai 100.00%
Purpose:
Habitat
Emphasis:
RM and E
Focal Species:
Burbot
Cutthroat Trout, Westslope
Cutthroat Trout, Yellowstone
Kokanee
OBSOLETE-Pikeminnow, Northern
Other Resident
Sturgeon, White - Kootenai River DPS (endangered)
Sturgeon, White - Lower Columbia River
Trout, Brook
Trout, Bull (threatened)
Trout, Interior Redband
Trout, Rainbow
Whitefish, Mountain
Species Benefit:
Anadromous: 0.0%   Resident: 100.0%   Wildlife: 0.0%
Special:
None
BiOp Association:
None

Location of the Kootenai River, Kootenay Lake, Lake Koocanusa, Libby Dam, and Bonners Ferry.

Figure Name: Figure 1

Document ID: P126209

Document: Kootenai River Fisheries Investigations: Seven years of nutrient addition; 4/09 - 3/12

Page Number: 10

Project: 1988-065-00

Contract: 52001


Summary of Budgets

To view all expenditures for all fiscal years, click "Project Exp. by FY"

Expense SOY Budget Working Budget Contracted Amount Modified Contract Amount Expenditures *
FY2016 (Previous) $1,015,894 $1,015,894 $994,417 $994,417 $1,010,658

General $1,015,894 $994,417 $994,417 $1,010,658
FY2017 (Current) $1,015,894 $1,015,894 $1,015,894 $1,015,894 $916,665

General $1,015,894 $1,015,894 $1,015,894 $916,665
FY2018 (Next) $1,011,919 $1,011,919 $0 $0 $0

General $1,011,919 $0 $0 $0

* Expenditures data includes accruals and are based on data through 31-Aug-2017

Decided Budget Transfers  (FY2016 - FY2018)

Acct FY Acct Type Amount Fund Budget Decision Date
FY2016 Expense $1,015,894 From: General FY16 Initial Planning Budgets - Expense 05/22/2015
FY2017 Expense $1,015,894 From: General FY17 SOY Budgets 06/02/2016
FY2018 Expense $1,011,919 From: General FY18 SOY Budgets 07/17/2017

Pending Budget Decision?  No


Project Cost Share:

FY2016 9 %
FY2015 6 %
FY2014 8 %
FY2013 8 %
FY2012 11 %
FY2011 9 %
FY2010 0 %
FY2009 11 %
FY2008 30 %
FY2007 29 %
Fiscal Year Cost Share Partner Total Proposed
Contribution
Total Confirmed
Contribution
FY2015 (Unspecified Org) $35,000
FY2015 Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) $26,620
FY2015 Kootenai Tribe $0
FY2015 US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) $1,000
FY2015 US Department of Agriculture (USDA) $0
FY2015 US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) $1,080
FY2015 US Geological Survey (USGS) $0
FY2016 (Unspecified Org) $40,000
FY2016 Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) $31,720
FY2016 Kootenai Tribe $0
FY2016 US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) $1,250
FY2016 US Department of Agriculture (USDA) $0
FY2016 US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) $32,440
FY2016 US Geological Survey (USGS) $0
FY2017 (Unspecified Org) $40,000
FY2017 Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) $31,720
FY2017 Kootenai Tribe $0
FY2017 US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) $1,250
FY2017 US Department of Agriculture (USDA) $0
FY2017 US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) $32,440
FY2017 US Geological Survey (USGS) $0

Contracts

The table below contains contracts with the following statuses: Active, Complete, History, Issued.
Expense Contracts:
Number Contractor Name Title Status Contracted Amount Dates
BPA-007718 Bonneville Power Administration PIT Tags - Kootenai R Fishery Investigations Active $3,326 10/1/2013 - 9/30/2014
75805 SOW Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) 1988-065-00 EXP IDFG KOOTENAI RIVER INVESTIGATIONS Issued $1,013,134 5/1/2017 - 4/30/2018
BPA-009495 Bonneville Power Administration PIT Tags - Kootenai River Fishery Investigations Active $2,760 10/1/2016 - 9/30/2017



Annual Progress Reports
Expected (since FY2004):33
Completed:20
On time:20
Status Reports
Completed:57
On time:40
Avg Days Late:10

Earliest Subsequent           Accepted Count of Contract Deliverables
Contract Contract(s) Title Contractor Start End Status Reports Complete Green Yellow Red Total % Green and Complete Canceled
4691 22684, 27421, 32681, 37711, 42367, 47135, 52001, 57130, 60966, 64937, 68393, 72417, 75805 1988-065-00 KOOTENAI R. WHITE STURGEON INVESTIGATIONS Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) 04/2001 04/2001 Issued 57 212 15 0 27 254 89.37% 0
BPA-007718 PIT Tags - Kootenai R Fishery Investigations Bonneville Power Administration 10/2013 10/2013 Active 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
BPA-009495 PIT Tags - Kootenai River Fishery Investigations Bonneville Power Administration 10/2016 10/2016 Active 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Project Totals 57 212 15 0 27 254 89.37% 0


Review: Resident Fish, Regional Coordination, and Data Management Category Review

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 1988-065-00-ISRP-20120215
Project: 1988-065-00 - Kootenai River Fishery Investigations
Review: Resident Fish, Regional Coordination, and Data Management Category Review
Proposal Number: RESCAT-1988-065-00
Completed Date: 4/13/2012
Final Round ISRP Date: 4/3/2012
Final Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified)
Final Round ISRP Comment:

The ISRP thanks the sponsors for a very thorough response effort in which an attempt was specifically made to directly address each of the questions. They provided considerable clarity on a number of issues. The responsibilities, sharing of tasks and details on approaches are much better articulated and are appreciated.

Objective 1: Restore natural recruitment of Kootenai River white sturgeon

All responses were satisfactory.

The sponsors suggest that they have an understanding of the substrate and recruitment problem, but the ISRP concluded that uncertainty remains. The hypothesis forwarded by them as to why sturgeon are not recruiting well, in terms of substrate, is plausible and well worth testing, but not proven. It is unclear why sturgeon would repeatedly spawn over finer substrate when natural river processes might suggest that if they went farther upriver, as they are able to do, they might find larger substrate, and that such behavior might not have been selected for. Another hypothesis perhaps worth considering is that because of energetics, the largest, oldest sturgeon, in this case the wild fish, may remain farther downriver, whereas smaller younger hatchery fish, both mature and immature, may move farther upriver. If so, as the hatchery fish mature, they may spawn farther upriver over the more desirable substrates. This pattern has been observed repeatedly in other species, and it may explain why some hatchery fish are moving upriver into Montana whereas the older fish typically have not.

The response to linkages with other programs was clearly presented. They have evidently developed a close working relationship with British Columbian biologists in population estimates and other key areas where coordination is needed.

The responses regarding choice of gears and use of trammel nets was well reasoned and well presented.

The description of the VEMCO telemetry approach and its advantages was clear although the technique provides an approximation of what is usually considered fish microhabitat.

The clarification of the egg mats, cues, and hypotheses tested was adequate. However the sampling for larvae is a difficult proposition given the vast area of river to be sampled and the likely very low density of organisms to be sampled. The ISRP recommends that attention should be paid to geospatial aspects of the sampling grid.

Objective 2: Restore natural recruitment of Kootenai River burbot

All responses were found to be adequate. Gear questions were adequately addressed. If bull trout redd survey methods are being employed, their statistical basis should be reviewed to make sure they are appropriate for burbot work. Burbot tend to spawn in “balls” which is a quite different behavior compared to salmonids. See McPhail, J.D. and V. I. Paragamian, 2000. Burbot Biology and Life History p.10-23 in Paragamian, V.I. and D.W. Willis (Ed) Burbot: Biology, Ecology, and Management. Publication No. 1: Fisheries Management Section of the American Fisheries Society.

OBJ-3: Increase resident salmonid densities in the Kootenai River

Responses seemed adequate but would be useful if this nutrient work were developed in a broader, more effective conceptual framework for its effect on river productivity (see also comments on 199404900 - Kootenai River Ecosystem Improvements Project).

Clearly Libby Dam is the source of the nutrient deficiency problem. As a suggestion, it seems worthwhile to begin discussions with Montana and the Tribes for adding nutrients at the Libby Dam outflow, perhaps in addition to the present site. This strategy would treat the Kootenai River as an integrated system rather than as starting at jurisdictional borders.

Overall, the nutrient addition program and its success in increasing resident salmon populations – while a tremendous experiment, and apparently successful – has been unable to take the results to publication where others could learn from the Kootenai River results and also provide anonymous, peer reviewed, and constructive criticism . We would recommend a multi-agency, multi-authored synthesis published in a highly regarded professional journal on the approach and the results. The synthesis referred to in the introductory part of this review would be a start toward such a publication.

Although the IDFG’s group publication record is good, many of the planned publications are targeted at specialized journals with a limited audience and citation rate. The impact and dissemination of project findings could be improved by targeting broadly read ecosystem-oriented journals.

ISRP Retrospective Evaluation of Results

In 2006, the ISRP reviewers of the resident fish component of the Kootenai River had some of the same concerns identified in the present review of the project. They noted connection between sturgeon, burbot, and salmonids was not established, and why ecosystem rehabilitation is a separate category was not clear. The sponsors included hypothesized limiting factors and key strategies from the subbasin plan. What they were actually going to try to accomplish toward those objectives was less clearly presented. Additional information on the focal species obtained from the proposed work will add to the understanding of their limiting factors. However, now, with at least 15 y of investigative work completed to date, little progress has been made to improve natural recruitment of either sturgeon or burbot. Clearly it is time for a “summing up” or synthesis of the collective progress of the projects, which should help chart the way ahead.

Qualification #1 - Qualification #1 - co-lead the proposed synthesis document
The ISRP suggests this project co-lead the proposed synthesis document (referred to in the ISRP review of Kootenai River Habitat Restoration Program Project Number: 200200200) that could focus on the two overarching objectives of the four Kootenai river projects. The present sponsors are measuring the restoration response in the fish community and hence their data sets are a logical point to start the assessment.
First Round ISRP Date: 2/8/2012
First Round ISRP Rating: Response Requested
First Round ISRP Comment:

On balance, this project has a long and successful research record of tracking the general population trends of the target species. The three accompanying projects dealing with habitat restoration in the Idaho-Montana portion of the Kootenai River require data from this project to evaluate their efforts. However, there is substantial overlap in almost all the elements of this proposal with the other projects and the degree of collaboration is unclear.

Information has been obtained on many key aspects of sturgeon life history and habitat needs. Research has progressed to the point that specific hypotheses can be tested, such as the issue of whether spawning substrate is adequate. The main significant limitation has been that the research has thus far failed to actually understand the fine points or effectively address the recruitment problems for the Kootenai sturgeon. Not much of the research has seemed to be applied to effectively managing the population.

The inability thus far to restore any natural recruitment does not bode well for more recent efforts with burbot, which are essentially extirpated. Biologists do not have the luxury of as long of a burbot lifespan as that of sturgeon, and understanding will need to be arrived at more rapidly for this species.

Rainbow trout are responding to some degree to nutrient addition, but other species especially whitefish are benefiting more. The localized effects and long term sustainability/cost of the nutrient addition is of concern.

Questions to be responded to arrayed by objective

  • OBJ-1: Restore natural recruitment of Kootenai River white sturgeon

 1. Clarification is required on how this proposal meshes with the ACOE 1135 project, which is directly related to Proposal 200200200 (Restore Natural Recruitment of Kootenai River White Sturgeon), and whether adequate monitoring and sampling to meet general objectives of this proposal occurs under the latter project.

 2. Data are required on gillnet mesh sizes or details of setlines including length and hook size. No details are given concerning sample sizes. The method for sampling juveniles calls for gillnets. Have trammel nets been tried? 

3. VEMCO tags are to be used for “fine scale movement.” It would be useful to have more information on what is meant by the term to identify if the plan is to assess sturgeon microhabitat or something different?

4. The proposal would be improved by details on environmental cues to be measured in conjunction with the egg mat surveys. What were they, how were they chosen, and what were the hypotheses regarding their effects?

5. The sampling for larvae is a difficult proposition given the vast area of river to be sampled and the likely very low density of organisms to be sampled. Were the stations chosen with a systematic grid of sites? If not, what sampling method was used? The same issue relates to juveniles released by the hatchery.

  • OBJ-2: Restore natural recruitment of Kootenai River burbot

1. What visual methods will be used for documentation of presence/absence/abundance of burbot?

2. How will the results of the stocking density experiments in the ponds be used in relation to natural habitat?

3. Operations at Libby Dam are the issue. What are the prospects that dam operations will change for the better in terms of burbot needs?

4. There is a graduate student at the University of Idaho investigating gears for sampling burbot in the river. How does this work mesh with this project?

  • OBJ-3: Increase resident salmonid densities in the Kootenai River

1. The proposal does not discuss the long term success of nutrient addition to increase fish production in large rivers. Has this been attempted in other rivers and was it successful?

2. A concern about this objective relates to river fertilization for salmonids. While it seems to be working within a limited section, are the cost and logistics of expanding this treatment elsewhere in the river feasible?

3. The appearance of brown trout in the system is a concern. Is there a plan in place to deal with this species, should it appear?

4. Use of specific tributaries will be investigated using microchemistry, but there are limitations with this approach as stated in the ISAB-ISRP tagging report (ISAB-ISRP 2009-1). Contingency plans for dealing with possible problems should be described.

5. Please provide any updates on the issue of property ownership for the nutrient facility. If the property for the nutrient experiments is sold, how would this affect the experimental design, especially the 3-km treatment reach?

6. A fixed, 3-km portion of the shoreline is being used as a plot for mark-recapture studies to estimate population size of rainbow trout. The type of fin mark used is not given in MonitoringMethods.org. With only one replicate reach it will be impossible to calculate site variability. The carrying capacity of individual stream reaches for salmonids and other fish will change over time. Please explain why replicate reaches are not being used.

7. How was the N:P ratio determined as the correct one to use? Does it change seasonally?

  • Data Management

The ISRP had concerns about data management for RM&E results as well as implementation data. Is there a data manager for the non-fish data? What percentage of the overall budget goes toward data management? Overall, the discussion of data and data management needs to be strengthened, especially as related synthesis and analyses.

References

Holderman C., G. Hoyle, R. Hardy, P. Anders, P. Ward and H. Yassien. 2009. Libby Dam hydro-electric project mitigation: Efforts for Downstream Ecosystem Restoration. Pages 6214-6222 In: 33rd IAHR Congress: Water Engineering for a Sustainable Environment. Copyright 2009 by International Association of Hydraulic Engineering & Research (IAHR) ISBN: 978-94-90365-01-1.

1. Purpose: Significance to Regional Programs, Technical Background, and Objectives

This project is a bellwether for large scale habitat restoration projects in the upper Columbia basins as it is measuring responses in fish populations. As such it is very significant as results will shape any future projects of this nature elsewhere, as well as deciding the long-term future of this particular project. The technical background is well described with most references timely and accurate.

Progress in uncovering the factors affecting recruitment success of the resident fish has been slow, but new hypotheses are being proposed and tested. The cost of this work has been stable, and the productivity of the project in terms of reporting and refereed science papers has been excellent. Among the three Kootenai River projects that involve sturgeon, this project has the strongest scientific approach. Results have been useful throughout the basin and beyond. The real issue that the ISRP identified is the relationship of this project, of fundamental ecological significance, with the other large KTOI proposals on the Kootenai. 

Objectives

  • OBJ-1: Restore natural recruitment of Kootenai River white sturgeon

The criteria for determining if natural recruitment is occurring were established in 1999. It would be worthwhile to revisit those criteria after a decade of work. Natural recruitment has not yet occurred in the study area to meet the criteria, and it appears a bottleneck is at the egg to larvae stage.

All the signs point to this population being propped up by supplementation/hatchery releases, with its attendant genetic issues, well known in the salmon world but not yet seriously discussed with sturgeon. Although there are encouraging signs that nutrient addition is increasing productivity, and possibly generating more secondary production of forage fish for sturgeon, this management approach raises the specter of long term nutrient addition which is another artificial methodology.

As for the first objective, it is a concern that after more than two decades of work there is no major plan for addressing what has been known for years to be a recruitment problem, except for stocking hatchery fish. The proposed work introducing gravel/cobble deserves careful consideration. The RPAs seem to clearly outline the need to focus on these questions. 

  • OBJ-2: Restore natural recruitment of Kootenai River burbot

See comments above for sturgeon for similar concerns about the recruitment problem.

An additional concern relates to Libby Dam operations as they relate to this objective. The ISRP is concerned that burbot populations do not have much chance of recovering considering the state of the river/habitats and future projections of environmental conditions. Operations at Libby Dam are the issue, and it is not likely that basic operations will change for the better in terms of burbot needs anytime in the near future. 

  • OBJ-3: Increase resident salmonid densities in the Kootenai River

A concern about this objective relates to river fertilization for salmonids. While it seems to be working within a limited section, the cost and logistics of expanding this treatment elsewhere in the river do not seem feasible. 

2. History: Accomplishments, Results, and Adaptive Management (ISRP Review of Results)

The sponsors have an overall good reporting record for the project but mostly in non-reviewed report series. Accomplishments in terms of information gained are very well documented. 

A contingency plan needs to be developed in case the property where the nutrient tanks are located is sold.

Native salmonids

Results of the nutrient addition work for five years to date are not encouraging in terms of rainbow trout increases although it is difficult to evaluate whether the 0.11 fish m-2 target is actually being met. Variation in the trout densities is not given and Figure 2 does not separate out species. Mountain whitefish (Prosopium williamsonii) accounted for nearly all the response, suggesting that insects in their diet also benefited from nutrient additions (Holderman et al. 2009).

The adaptive management process being employed is strong in that it involves large scale experiments to test the system, and it allows researchers to respond and adjust to surprises. However, it does not appear to involve the public or decision-makers in any consistent way.

A more strategic approach is required. Limiting factors such as high winter flows are also suspected problems. An experimental design to try and separate density-dependent and density-independent factors is needed. The work proposed is more of an opportunistic approach.

Sturgeon

The finding that sturgeon released in Idaho move upstream into Montana and apparently grow better there than at their release location is quite significant. The sponsors attribute this to density-dependent effects, but this appears to be speculation. More cooperative work with MFWP could be beneficial.

Burbot

Results of investigations on limiting factors for wild fish seem inconclusive. As with sturgeon artificial propagation is being attempted as a last resort.

ISRP Retrospective Evaluation of Results

The ISRP 2011 Retrospective Report’s recommendation on time frame for evaluating restoration projects (p. 68) is very relevant:

“The ISRP therefore suggests that additional dialogue is needed between habitat managers, scientists, and policy-makers so that realistic timeframes can be established, and appropriate schedules agreed upon, to monitor and evaluate different types of restoration actions.”

3. Project Relationships, Emerging Limiting Factors, and Tailored Questions for Type of Work (hatchery, RME, tagging)

Project Relationships

There is much overlap between this proposal and the other three Kootenai River restoration projects, especially 200200200 (Restore Natural Recruitment of Kootenai River White Sturgeon). Good working relationships seem to exist between the various parties, but it is difficult to see how they all fit together. In Proposal 200200200, Table PS-2 lists the inter-related projects. The sponsors claim coordination is well orchestrated, but there are notable exceptions. For example the floodplain reconnection project (200200200) is not mentioned as a linked project with the present one.

It is not clear exactly how this proposal meshes with the ACOE 1135 project, and whether adequate monitoring and sampling to meet general objectives of this proposal occurs under the latter project. If sampling is proposed under the ACOE 1135 project, which is directly related to Proposal 200200200 (Restore Natural Recruitment of Kootenai River White Sturgeon), it would be helpful to outline the rationale for this general sampling proposed under the current proposal.

Emerging limiting factors

Will the projected loss of late summer snowpack and associated cool temperatures be issues for the Kootenai? Climate change is not addressed, but it is likely already an issue. 

The appearance of brown trout in the system is of concern. No real contingency plan to deal with this species is described. It is likely the ecosystem will adapt to its appearance through development of hybrid food webs.

Tailored questions

Hatchery – The KTOI sturgeon and burbot hatcheries are producing fish that are tracked under this project and these facilities are in Step Review.

RME – Monitoring is being conducted on a host of variables. In most instances the statistical background given for their choice, power, temporal aspects are not given and the RME aspect is rather open-ended. It would be helpful to have a concise description of RME.

The ISRP had concerns about data management for RM&E results as well as implementation data. Is there a data manager for the non-fish data? What percentage of the overall budget goes toward data management? Overall, the discussion of data and data management needs to be strengthened, especially as related synthesis and analyses.

The sponsors have given considerable thought to the tagging issue and the tags being used including PIT, radio, fin clips, and freeze branding are appropriate for the tasks at hand. The sponsors note that increased sample sizes using hatchery burbot will help documentation of “effects of release locations, timings, and other metrics on burbot survival” but of course results may not be applicable to wild fish, which presumably in the long term are the desired taxa.

4. Deliverables, Work Elements, Metrics, and Methods

  • DELV-1: Estimate spawning success and natural recruitment of white sturgeon in the Kootenai River

The proposal would be improved by provision of details on what environmental cues were to be measured in conjunction with the egg mat surveys and how were they chosen.

The sampling for larvae is a difficult proposition given the vast area of river to be sampled and the likely very low density of organisms to be sampled. How were the stations chosen? The same issue relates to juveniles although because they are larger, more sedentary, and abundant, and at least for the hatchery fish have known abundance, the difficulties are diminished.

  • DELV-2: Monitor and evaluate white sturgeon vital statistics in response to recovery strategies

Since this is a trans-boundary investigation, the sponsors are to have an annual contract for stock assessment work to be performed in Canada with BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. It is important that this linkage be more than just a formality. There are significant consequences for the stock. For a project that has been in place for more than 20 years, it is surprising to the ISRP that it was not until recently that it was understood that the sturgeon population size was larger than previously thought, evidently because of inadequate sampling downriver and into Canada. Perhaps the focus of some of this work has been a bit too localized, not adequately considering the entire habitat use of Kootenai sturgeon.

The method for sampling juveniles calls for gillnets. Have trammel nets been tried? They are the preferred gear for sampling small sturgeon such as shovelnose sturgeon in the Upper Mississippi River. It would be helpful to have details on methods of set lining.

VEMCO tags are to be used for “fine scale movement.” It would be useful to have more information on what is meant by the term and whether the plan is to assess sturgeon microhabitat or some other purpose. 

  • DELV-3: Monitor and evaluate juvenile and adult burbot population dynamics

It is not clear what visual methods will be used, and they are not described in MonitoringMethods.org. 

  • DELV-4: Monitor and evaluate burbot early life survival strategies

It is not clear how the results of the stocking density experiments in the ponds will be used in relation to natural habitat. The genetic work looks good.

  • DELV-5: Monitor and evaluate salmonid vital statistics in response to recovery strategies

See above for comments relative to boat electrofishing. Also use of specific tributaries will be investigated using microchemistry, but there are limitations with this approach (see ISAB-ISRP tagging report 2009-1).

  • DELV-6: Co-manage and evaluate nutrient restoration program

See comments above relative to housing for the facility. The nutrient experiments could benefit from additional leadership.

  • DELV-7: Information Dissemination

This project has a respectable track record for reporting with limitations as discussed above.

Metrics/Methods: Most appear to be standard. However, there are a few specific concerns. It would be prudent to use more than one reference reach to look at population trends because the carrying capacity of individual stream reaches for salmonids and other fish will change over time. How was the N:P ratio determined as the correct one to use? Does it change seasonally? Where are the reference sites? What do the data suggest so far? For the sturgeon, how will the spawning mats be arrayed in the larger river system? What has been learned so far from doing this? While the nutrient restoration program is an interesting experiment, how practical is it to fertilize the entire river network, if that is what is needed? More information is needed on the nutrient addition method in order to evaluate it properly; it is not well described in the protocol.

Personnel: Most seem well versed in their respective areas of expertise. The nutrient experiments could benefit from additional leadership.

 Data Management: Is there a data manager for the non-fish data? What percentage of the overall budget goes toward data management? Overall, the discussion of data and data management needs to be strengthened, especially as related synthesis and analyses.

4a. Specific comments on protocols and methods described in MonitoringMethods.org

  1. Burbot

A general description of sampling methods used for burbot is given in MonitoringMethods.org, but detailed descriptions of the primary hoop net and Herzog trawl methodology including sampling efficiency are lacking. 

  1. Sturgeon

Gillnets and setlines are used for larger juveniles and adults, and the spatial aspects of the sampling is quite well described. However, no data are given on gillnet mesh sizes or details of setlines. Larvae are sampled with D rings which presumably are the same as “plankton nets” described in MonitoringMethods.org. No details are given on sample sizes.

  1. Rainbow trout, whitefish, other resident fish

A fixed, 3 km portion of the shoreline is being used as a plot for mark-recapture studies to estimate population size of rainbow trout. The type of fin mark used is not given in MonitoringMethod.org. With only one replicate reach it will be impossible to calculate site variability.

Details of boat electrofishing techniques were not provided in MonitoringMethods.org as far as could be found. This is the method used in the general fish density measurements.

  1. Nutrients

The protocol for the nutrient addition experiment needs to be finalized. As is, there is not enough information on the website to provide a proper evaluation.

Modified by Dal Marsters on 4/13/2012 12:12:26 PM.
Documentation Links:
  • Proponent Response (3/7/2012)

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 1988-065-00-NPCC-20130807
Project: 1988-065-00 - Kootenai River Fishery Investigations
Review: Resident Fish, Regional Coordination, and Data Management Category Review
Proposal: RESCAT-1988-065-00
Proposal State: Pending BPA Response
Approved Date: 2/26/2014
Recommendation: Implement with Conditions
Comments: Implement with condition through FY 2017. Sponsors to collaborate in the development of a synthesis report for Kootenai River projects (1988-065-00, 1994-049-00, 2002-002-00, 2002-008-00, 2002-011-00) as described by the ISRP. By the end of calendar year 2012, sponsor to submit timeline and plan to Council for the development of the synthesis report.
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review

Legal Assessment (In-Lieu)

Assessment Number: 1988-065-00-INLIEU-20090521
Project Number: 1988-065-00
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 10/6/2006
In Lieu Rating: Problems Exist
Cost Share Rating: None
Comment: Multiple monitoring and coordination efforts to address multiple species; multiple other entities may be authorized/required; need to confirm that BPA funding not funding activities other entities required to perform, and/or confirm that all activities funded by BPA addressing specific monitoring/coordination in relation to Libby operations/effects; otherwise needs cost share or other remedy.

Capital Assessment

Assessment Number: 1988-065-00-CAPITAL-20090618
Project Number: 1988-065-00
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 2/27/2007
Capital Rating: Does Not Qualify for Capital Funding
Capital Asset Category: None
Comment: None

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 1988-065-00-ISRP-20060831
Project: 1988-065-00 - Kootenai River Fishery Investigations
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 8/31/2006
Final Round ISRP Date: None
Final Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria
Final Round ISRP Comment:
This proposal is long and rambling, and covers so many species it is a challenge to provide a quality evaluation. The title (on white sturgeon) does not represent the content of the proposed work. This proposal is so broad in scope -- covering sturgeon, burbot, salmonids, and ecosystem rehabilitation -- that it is difficult to follow the logic of the sponsors. It would be easier to evaluate if each species had a stand-alone proposal. There is much redundancy among proposal sections. There appears to be a mix of stock assessment, habitat assessment, aquaculture, and nutrient enhancement. The connection between sturgeon, burbot, and salmonids is not established, and why ecosystem rehabilitation is a separate category is not clear. The proposal is to address species and problems identified in the subbasin plan and regional and recovery plans for sturgeon and burbot, but one gets the impression that the project staff wants to do anything and everything related to fish in the Kootenai (which may be true, since this is IDFG's portion of the overall large Kootenai River effort). Sponsors would be better served if they had submitted a succinct proposal that is half the length and twice as clear.

Nonetheless, the project has been exceptionally productive at evaluating problems with key species in the Kootenai River, and the work has been well reported in workshops, symposia, and the peer-reviewed literature. There are obvious linkages between this project and others in the Kootenai Subbasin. The overarching biological objectives -- to restore natural recruitment of white sturgeon, rehabilitate burbot, etc. are fine (although time elements are missing). Given the inherent uncertainties surrounding these species in the Kootenai Basin, the objectives are clear. Sponsors include hypothesized limiting factors and key strategies from the subbasin plan. What they are actually going to try to accomplish toward those objectives is less clearly presented.

There is status monitoring of the species but the portions of the project that include habitat manipulations do not have clear methods to evaluate effectiveness. What seems needed is a very brief problem statement, followed by the action that is going to address the problem, followed by the analysis that will permit evaluating whether the action actually contributed to solving the problem.

Additional information on the focal species obtained from the proposed work will add to the understanding of their limiting factors. However, with at least a decade of investigative work completed to date, little progress has been made to improve natural recruitment of either sturgeon or burbot. So, realistically, there is not a basis for optimism that solutions will be found in the near-term.

No response is requested, but in future ISRP reviews a more succinct and well-ordered proposal would be appreciated.

As a general comment, there are many projects in the Kootenai and several project sponsors. What is needed is a brief list of what needs to be done in the subbasin for these species in the near term and then a listing of which projects are completing which tasks. From the presentation in this proposal (and others, as well) it is difficult to know whether all the tasks are identified, and that a particular project(s) is actually completing the work. This was likely worked out in the subbasin plan, but a succinct presentation for proposal purposes would be helpful for reviewers and program administrators.
Documentation Links:

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 1988-065-00-NPCC-20090924
Project: 1988-065-00 - Kootenai River Fishery Investigations
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Approved Date: 10/23/2006
Recommendation: Fund
Comments:

Project Relationships: None

Name Role Organization
Virgil Watts III Project Manager Bonneville Power Administration
Paul Krueger (Inactive) Supervisor Bonneville Power Administration
Melo Maiolie (Inactive) Interested Party Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG)
Pete Rust (Inactive) Technical Contact Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG)
Ryan Hardy Project Lead Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG)
Ted Gresh Env. Compliance Lead Bonneville Power Administration
T.J. Ross Technical Contact Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG)
Paul Kline Technical Contact Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG)