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Project Summary

Project 1994-049-00 - Kootenai River Ecosystem Restoration
Project Number:
1994-049-00
Title:
Kootenai River Ecosystem Restoration
Summary:
The overarching goal of project 1994-049-00 is to recover a productive, healthy and biologically diverse Kootenai River ecosystem, with emphasis on native fish species rehabilitation. It is designed to aid the recovery of important fish stocks, i.e. white sturgeon, burbot, bull trout, kokanee and other salmonids important to the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and regional sport-fisheries.

The major objective of the project has been to address factors limiting key fish species within an ecosystem perspective. Major components completed include: establishment of a comprehensive and thorough biomonitoring program, investigation of ecosystem-level productivity, testing the feasibility of a large-scale Kootenai River nutrient addition experiment, evaluation and rehabilitation of key Kootenai River tributaries important to the health of the Kootenai River ecosystem, provision of funding for Canadian implementation of nutrient addition and monitoring in the Kootenai River ecosystem (Kootenay Lake) from lost productivities created by construction and operation of Libby Dam, providing written summaries of all research activities, and, holding an annual workshop with other agencies to discuss management, research, and monitoring strategies related to this project and providing a forum to coordinate and disseminate data with other projects involved in the Kootenai River basin.

The proposed biological objectives include : continuation of a system-scale multi trophic-level biomonitoring and water quality program sensitive to changes in biological productivity, continued evaluation and rehabilitation of key Kootenai River tributaries important to the health of the Kootenai River ecosystem, provision of funding for Canadian implementation of nutrient addition and monitoring in the Kootenai River ecosystem (Kootenay Lake), holding an annual meeting to convene with other agencies and institutions to discuss management, research, and monitoring strategies for this project and disseminate information, and, providing written summaries of all research activities related to the project.

Therefore this project, which addresses system productivity and other ecosystem level management issues (e.g. restoring normative flows as part of hydro operations), is crucial to recovery of the Kootenai River ecosystem in the post-Libby Dam era.


Problems Project Addresses:

The Kootenai River aquatic ecosystem has been significantly degraded due to wetland loss and impoundment during the last century causing nutrient deficiencies and reductions in habitat types and complexity. Very low levels of phosphorous and nitrogen have been found downstream of Libby Dam resulting in oligotrophic and ultra-oligotrophic conditions in most reaches. Chlorophyll a levels, macroinvertebrate, and salmonid densities are well below similar-sized regional rivers. Macroinvertebrate biomass, diversity, and fish condition factors are low and generally decline with increased distance from Libby Dam (Holderman and Hardy 2004). Kootenai River white sturgeon (Acispenser transmontanus ), burbot (Lota lota) and all salmonid species (Oncorhynchus spp.), important to Kootenai Tribal and regional sport fisheries, are scarce relative to historical accounts and are currently unfishable.

This project (199404900) is designed to address ecosystem level problems within a adaptive management framework. Currently system productivity in the regulated mainstem of the Kootenai River has been identified as a strong limiting factor to biogenic development in the river, ultimately resulting in reduced fisheries (KRSA 2004; Holderman and Hardy 2004). The International Kootenai River Ecosystem Team (IKERT) recommended in 2003 to initiate a 5 year experimental nutrient restoration effort, which began in July of 2005 with additions of liquid phosphorus to the Kootenai River near the Idaho-Montana border. However, additional problems remain. Most notable are a lack of habitat complexity (especially in the meander reach downstream of Bonners Ferry, ID, and key Idaho tributaries), and regulated flow patterns that are often at odds with the "natural" hydrograph that occurred prior to the construction of Libby Dam in 1972.
Proposer:
None
Proponent Orgs:
Kootenai Tribe (Tribe)
Starting FY:
1994
Ending FY:
2017
Stage:
Implementation - Project Status Report
Area:
Province Subbasin %
Mountain Columbia Kootenai 100.00%
Purpose:
Habitat
Emphasis:
RM and E
Focal Species:
Bass, Largemouth
Bass, Smallmouth
Burbot
Cutthroat Trout, Westslope
Cutthroat Trout, Yellowstone
Freshwater Mussels
Kokanee
OBSOLETE-Perch, Yellow
OBSOLETE-Pike, Northern
OBSOLETE-Pikeminnow, Northern
OBSOLETE-Trout, Brown
OBSOLETE-Trout, Lake
OBSOLETE-Walleye
Sturgeon, White - Kootenai River DPS (endangered)
Sturgeon, White - Lower Columbia River
Trout, Brook
Trout, Bull (threatened)
Trout, Interior Redband
Trout, Rainbow
Whitefish, Mountain
Wildlife
Species Benefit:
Anadromous: 0.0%   Resident: 100.0%   Wildlife: 0.0%
Special:
None
BiOp Association:
None

Cover photo

Figure Name: Cover

Document ID: P126183

Document: Nutrient Addition Biomonitoring report, 2010

Page Number: 1

Project: 1994-049-00

Contract: 54017

Map of the Kootenai River watershed in Canada and the United States.

Figure Name: Figure 1

Document ID: P126183

Document: Nutrient Addition Biomonitoring report, 2010

Page Number: 18

Project: 1994-049-00

Contract: 54017

Location of Kootenai River Nutrient Monitoring program KRF site 12, in the Kootenai River at the City of Bonners Ferry municipal water intake, rkm 247 ½ , 2010.

Figure Name: Figure 4

Document ID: P126183

Document: Nutrient Addition Biomonitoring report, 2010

Page Number: 22

Project: 1994-049-00

Contract: 54017


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) $1,797,685 $1,797,685 $1,664,420 $1,664,420 $1,737,249

General $1,797,685 $1,664,420 $1,664,420 $1,737,249
FY2017 (Current) $1,797,685 $1,797,685 $1,715,488 $1,715,488 $993,078

General $1,797,685 $1,715,488 $1,715,488 $993,078
FY2018 (Next) $0 $0 $0 $0

General $0 $0 $0 $0

* Expenditures data includes accruals and are based on data through 30-Apr-2017

Decided Budget Transfers  (FY2016 - FY2018)

Acct FY Acct Type Amount Fund Budget Decision Date
FY2016 Expense $1,797,685 From: General FY16 Initial Planning Budgets - Expense 05/22/2015
FY2017 Expense $1,797,685 From: General FY17 SOY Budgets 06/02/2016

Pending Budget Decision?  No


Project Cost Share:

FY2016 27 %
FY2015 28 %
FY2014 30 %
FY2013 2 %
FY2012 32 %
FY2011 30 %
FY2010 29 %
FY2009 30 %
FY2008 30 %
FY2007 34 %
Fiscal Year Cost Share Partner Total Proposed
Contribution
Total Confirmed
Contribution
FY2015 Bonneville Environmental Foundation $0
FY2015 British Columbia Ministry of Environment $663,393
FY2015 Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) $25,000
FY2015 Upper Columbia United Tribes (UCUT) $15,000
FY2016 British Columbia Ministry of Environment $639,237
FY2016 Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) $25,000
FY2016 Upper Columbia United Tribes (UCUT) $15,000

Contracts

The table below contains contracts with the following statuses: Active, Complete, History, Issued.
Expense Contracts:
Number Contractor Name Title Status Contracted Amount Dates
58 REL 22 SOW Concannon, Kathleen A KOOTENAI RIVER ECOSYSTEMS PROJECT History $20,575 10/1/2004 - 7/6/2005
592 REL 18 SOW Eastern Washington University CULT. RES SURVEY KOOTENAI R NUTRIENT DOSING PROJECT History $5,267 2/4/2005 - 5/2/2005
72784 SOW Kootenai Tribe 1994-049-00 EXP KOOTENAI RIVER RESIDENT FISH ASSESSMENT Issued $1,664,420 6/1/2016 - 5/31/2017
76201 SOW Kootenai Tribe 1994-049-00 EXP KOOTENAI RIVER RESIDENT FISH ASSESSMENT Issued $1,715,488 6/1/2017 - 5/31/2018



Annual Progress Reports
Expected (since FY2004):12
Completed:10
On time:10
Status Reports
Completed:47
On time:35
Avg Days Late:1

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
4029 24627, 27677, 34863, 39133, 42614, 49073, 54017, 57486, 61690, 65368, 68921, 72784, 76201 1994-049-00 KOOTENAI RIVER AQUATIC IMPROVEMENTS STUDY Kootenai Tribe 03/2001 03/2001 Issued 47 180 14 0 18 212 91.51% 0
Project Totals 47 180 14 0 18 212 91.51% 0


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

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 1994-049-00-ISRP-20120215
Project: 1994-049-00 - Kootenai River Ecosystem Restoration
Review: Resident Fish, Regional Coordination, and Data Management Category Review
Proposal Number: RESCAT-1994-049-00
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 noted the Kootenai River is one of the largest systems that has received long term nutrient additions and, therefore, is very important to monitor and report how the ecosystem is being altered. Smaller systems such as Kuparuk River in AK and the Keough River in BC are not directly comparable because of their smaller size. The connection to Kootenay Lake is a unique attribute since eventually the nutrients added to the river are going to accumulate in Kootenay Lake which is also being fertilized. Further, kokanee from the lake are likely to spawn only in lower tributaries, and the benefits of this “nutrient pump” farther upstream may be minimal.

Comments on specific responses

1. The sponsors state that a report “currently in progress, will update and combine previous reports from 2009 and 2010 with recent data covering water quality, algae, macroinvertebrates and fish. Reports will emphasize pre-nutrient and post nutrient addition periods (2003-2010). Findings, thus far, have continued to strongly support the positive benefits of nutrient addition to the Kootenai River biota (Holderman and Gidley 2011, In Prep.). Significant increases in primary, secondary, and tertiary productivity levels have been demonstrated”. The ISRP would like to see the latest draft of the report.

An on-line draft of the report was provided.

2. If tributaries are being used by rainbow trout in the Canyon reach what evidence exists that habitat conditions are limiting there as well in the main river where the nutrients are being added?

The response is satisfactory.

3. How far downstream are the nutrient benefits expected to be realized and will these benefits interact with the bioengineering work being done in the braided reach? Do the sponsors anticipate a nutrient spiraling effect?

In response to the ISRP question about the long-term plans for nutrient additions (i.e., sustainability of this restoration approach) the project sponsors indicated that they view continued nutrient addition as necessary to compensate for nutrients being sequestered above Libby Dam. However, the ISRP has a practical concern; namely, nutrient additions on this scale cannot go on forever. As well if Libby Dam is the source of the problem, why are the nutrient additions, at appropriate magnitudes and scales, not being done at Libby Dam? It seems that point of supplementation would be more appropriate from a system-scale perspective.

It seems that the use of stable isotopes signatures would be more effective in answering questions about downstream spiraling of nutrients, quantifying how far downstream the positive effects of the nutrient additions can be detected, and the pathway leading to whitefish. The sponsors should take a careful look at these methods to see if they would be more effective in terms of cost savings and better quantification of ecological processes. See above general comments regarding implications of downstream nutrient spiraling and upstream nutrient “pumping” from migrating kokanee. A rough estimate of the overall benefit of an increased kokanee population to nutrient dynamics of the river should be possible using pre Libby dam information on escapement levels and spawner distribution.

4. Is there a working model that sets the nutrient addition response in the context of the whole ecosystem? If so ISRP would like to see details on the model. Will the annual cost of $1.8 M be ongoing?

It is a major oversight not to have a working model that sets the nutrient response in the context of the whole ecosystem. This needs to be completed immediately; it should be the number one priority of the program.

The sponsors should consider using an “off the shelf” model such as Ecopath to provide an ongoing perspective on the trophodynamics of the ecosystems they are trying to restore with nutrient additions.

5. Whitefish seem to be responding to nutrient addition. What is their role in Kootenai River food web and could they be a food item for sturgeon?

The response is satisfactory. Given that the whitefish seem to be responding to the nutrient addition, their role in the food web is a key factor to understand.

The ISRP encourages investigations on feeding habits of top predators such as white sturgeon in the reaches where whitefish are available as food.

See also comment to response # 3 on possible use of stable isotopes as a tracer for whitefish food relationships.

6. Reports being prepared for publication were not provided although requested at the last ISRP review. At a minimum, the sponsors should provide a table with the publication title, key authors, target journal, and submission date.

Given the importance of this effort, the sponsors should improve their rate of publications, preferably in highly regarded professional ecosystem oriented journals. The KTOI and IDFG should be authoring joint publications. This would provide evidence of sustained collaboration.

7. Some of the protocols related to environmental and physiochemical sampling are not complete on the MonitoringMethods.org website, thereby making it difficult to evaluate. The ISRP would like to see a complete description of all protocols.

See comment below response # 8.

8. If changes in the monitoring protocols are anticipated in the future, the ISRP would like a description of them.

The current monitoring design does not appear to be well-suited to addressing the ISRP concerns about the spatial extent of the nutrient effect. The figures provided in the response to illustrate downstream responses (Figure 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4) do indicate that there is an increase in various biological parameters from the point of nutrient addition to sample site KR6. However, virtually every monitored parameter declines dramatically between KR6 and KR4. This decline also occurs during years prior to the addition of nutrients, raising the question of whether this change is due to a diminution of nutrient effects or change in some other factor that prevents the benefits from nutrient addition from being expressed. It is interesting that site KR4 is in the straight reach while the sites within the response reach are either in the canyon or braided reaches. Is it possible that the observed pattern in the monitored parameters is a response to change in physical habitat conditions rather than a lack of nutrients? It would seem that some investigation of the interaction between physical habitat conditions and response to nutrient enrichment should be incorporated into the monitoring effort to better understand this dynamic. Recognition that certain channel conditions are unresponsive to nutrient addition would be of critical importance in considerations for expanding nutrient enhancement of the Kootenai River. For example, the plan to increase P additions to achieve a concentration of 5 ug/L may not extend biological responses further downstream if factors other than nutrient availability are governing biological response.

9. More details are required on the particular relationships, at the working scientific level, between this project and the other three Kootenai River proposals.

There seems to be much overlap in what the various Kootenai River projects are doing as provided in the Table in the response. This suggests a need to consolidate the projects into one that can be carefully monitored for redundancies as well as overall restoration effectiveness and professional productivity. If consolidation is not possible or practical, frequent data synthesis is required. By this ISRP means actual merging of data sets between projects, not meeting to discuss separate results.

The ISRP appreciates that there is a Core Adaptive Management Team, a Modeling Team, a Policy Team, and a host of other teams and committees listed. However, the key aspect is how they interact and, more importantly, it should be clear who makes the important management decisions in this complex project. Essentially, they should have a standing scientific advisory committee that meets with them at least annually and offers them advice on program components, models, and research directions.

The draft Kootenai Subbasin Adaptive Management Plan was provided. However the sponsors state “The Kootenai River Habitat Restoration Program (KRHRP) adaptive management and monitoring program does not [sponsors’ underlining] specifically include metrics related to the biological response of the focal aquatic species populations”. These metrics are being collected in other projects/agencies and will be shared and evaluated in the context of the KRHRP monitoring and adaptive management plan. A procedure should be worked out to determine which of these several adaptive management plans, including that for the nutrient addition project, will be implemented, should there be disagreement about them. At present there does not seem to be an overarching adaptive management plan.

ISRP Retrospective Evaluation of Results

This proposal and project remain the broadest of the Kootenai River projects. The attention is to the whole ecosystem rather than to the more limited fish species components of other studies. The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and Idaho Department of Fish and Game initiated a comprehensive, multi-trophic level and water quality monitoring program in 2000 to investigate the underlying problems of the Kootenai River ecosystem. The current ISRP review is the latest review for the project which is now somewhat narrower in focus, with specific emphasis on nutrient addition as a tool to increase resident salmonid production.

 In 2000, reviewers were not confident that all the issues to be studied have been thought through and they thought this was particularly true for the proposed nutrient addition study, which was viewed as inadequately planned. The study was described as too simplistic and short term and reviewers thought it probably should be dropped.

 Reviewers in 2007 were much more enthusiastic about the project and supported the work in an experimental phase. The proposal demonstrated much enthusiasm for ecosystem improvement with an impressive list of potential contributors. Integration had been accomplished by cooperative development of an ecosystem model and an adaptive management process.

 In 2012, the ISRP arrived at a similar conclusion as the 2000 reviewers. The proposal, and the response to questions raised, did not adequately address the ISRP specific major concern about the need for a model, or some other method, of integrating data being collected to evaluate the response of the river ecosystem to nutrient addition. A mechanism for synthesizing data would allow hypotheses about river response to nutrient enhancement to be refined through time and the monitoring protocols to be modified accordingly. As well, current ISRP reviewers recommended that the data obtained from this project, as well as the three other related Kootenai River programs, be integrated into a synthesis paper.

Qualification #1 - Qualification #1 - A model or some other method of integrating data being collected is required
A model or some other method of integrating data being collected is required to evaluate the response of the river as an integrated ecological system to nutrient addition. As a first step, a concise data synthesis report involving the other Kootenai River ecosystem restoration projects would allow hypotheses about river response to nutrient enhancement to be refined (see also qualifications for 200200200 - Kootenai River Habitat Restoration Program). Ideally, a peer reviewed article, in a well-regarded journal, should follow. Alternate hypotheses could be tested through time, and the monitoring protocols could be modified accordingly. The understanding of system response to nutrient addition that could be generated using an integrative process would also greatly enhance the effectiveness of adaptive management.
First Round ISRP Date: 2/8/2012
First Round ISRP Rating: Response Requested
First Round ISRP Comment:

Responses are requested on the following items:

  1. The sponsors state that a report “currently in progress, will update and combine previous reports from 2009 and 2010 with recent data covering water quality, algae, macroinvertebrates and fish. Reports will emphasize pre-nutrient and post nutrient addition periods (2003-2010). Findings, thus far, have continued to strongly support the positive benefits of nutrient addition to the Kootenai River biota (Holderman and Gidley 2011, In Prep.). Significant increases in primary, secondary, and tertiary productivity levels have been demonstrated.” The ISRP would like to see the latest draft of the report.

  2. If tributaries are being used by rainbow trout in the Canyon reach what evidence exists that habitat conditions are limiting there as well in the main river where the nutrients are being added?

  3. How far downstream are the nutrient benefits expected to be realized and will these benefits interact with the bioengineering work being done in the braided reach? Do the sponsors anticipate a nutrient spiraling effect?

  4. Is there a working model that sets the nutrient addition response in the context of the whole ecosystem? If so ISRP would like to see details on the model. Will the annual cost of $1.8 M be ongoing?

  5. Whitefish seem to be responding to nutrient addition. What is their role in Kootenai River food web and could they be a food item for sturgeon?

  6. Reports being prepared for publication were not provided although requested at the last ISRP review. At a minimum, the sponsors should provide a Table with the publication title, key authors, target journal, and submission date.

  7. Some of the protocols related to environmental and physiochemical sampling are not complete on the MonitoringMethods.org website, thereby making it difficult to evaluate. The ISRP would like to see a complete description of all protocols.

  8. If changes in the monitoring protocols are anticipated in the future the ISRP would like a description of them.

  9. More details are required on the particular relationships, at the working scientific level, between this project and the other three Kootenai River proposals.

The following two references need full citations and links if available: Holderman and Hardy 2004 and Hoyle et al. 2011.

ISRP References:

Newbold, J.D., R.V. O’Neill, J.W. Elwood and W. Van Winkle. 1982. Nutrient spiraling in streams: implications for nutrient limitations and invertebrate activity. The American Naturalist 120: 628-652.

Slaney, P. A., B. O. Rublee, C. J. Perrin, and H. Goldberg. 1994. Debris structure placements and whole-river fertilization for salmonids in a large regulated stream in British Columbia. Bulletin of Marine Science 55:1160–1180.

Slaney, P. A., B. R. Ward, and J. C. Wightman. 2003. Experimental nutrient addition to the Keogh River and application to the Salmon River in coastal British Columbia. Pages 111–126 in J. G. Stockner, editor. Nutrients in salmonid ecosystems: sustaining productivity and biodiversity. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland.

 

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

Significance:The proposal does not describe clearly enough the relationships among this project and the other major projects on the Kootenai for which proposals were submitted for this review cycle. It is connected with three other Kootenai proposals (198804900, Kootenai River Fishery Investigations; 200200200, Restore Natural Recruitment of Kootenai River White Sturgeon; 200200800, Reconnect Kootenai River with Historic Floodplain). These 3 projects should be highly integrated but there is no evidence of this level of collaboration in the proposal.

Technical background: Previous research has established the fact that nutrient availability is limiting productivity in the Kootenai River below Libby Dam. The premise of the current proposal as well as 200200800 (Reconnect Kootenai River with Historic Floodplain) is that increasing the basal productivity will increase tertiary level productivity for resident fish including rainbow trout, white sturgeon, and kokanee, for a long term ecosystem recovery of the river’s mainstem. The foundation for this project appears to be the energy budget developed by Synder and Minshall (2005) which showed that fish pooled data over several species may be limited by food. A major oversight, however, is the need for an ongoing model to guide the research and restoration. For example, it is not clear how spatially extensive the nutrient additions need to be before fish populations are reasonably restored or whether the costs will be prohibitive. Although this is an interesting experiment and the results are potentially useful, the ISRP concludes that the nutrient addition may not be feasible to maintain over the long term. In other words, nutrient addition is likely not a sustainable method of ecosystem recovery.

The ISRP noted there are no references to the success or failure of other attempts to increase fish production with long term fertilization in large rivers (Slaney et al. 1994) and small rivers (Keough, Salmon; see below) and numerous other references in the ISAB Food Web Report (ISAB 2011-1).

  • OBJ-1: System-wide Biomonitoring and Evaluation of the Mainstem Kootenai River

The objectives are clearly stated and directly relevant to restoration.

  • OBJ-2: Restore Ecosystem Productivity

The sponsors state, “Bottom-up productivity in the regulated mainstem of the Kootenai River was identified as a strong limiting factor to food web development in the river, ultimately resulting in reduced fisheries.” Holderman and Hardy (2004) is one of the papers quoted but there is no citation given. It is noteworthy however that the foundation paper for the work recognized the confounding effect of habitat when discussing fish in the context of the energy budget (Synder and Minshall 2005, page 482).

The nutrient addition work in the Canyon Reach is not accompanied by physical habitat restoration but there appears to be an expectation that the positive effects of nutrients will extend into the braided reach where very substantial bioengineering is occurring. This reach is at the downstream end of the nutrient effect footprint. It would be helpful to have this clarified.

  • OBJ-3: Provide Provisions to Restore Ecosystem Productivity to Kootenay Lake, B.C.

The lake component of the project seems to be successful. However the spawning channel is a confounding factor. The sponsors state,While …Figure 44. represents kokanee production that is mainly due to the North Arm (Meadow Creek spawning channel), South Arm nutrient addition has assisted with improving foraging conditions (zooplankton availability) for kokanee in the lake as a whole.” Although this is an interesting experiment and the results are potentially useful, the ISRP is concerned that the nutrient addition may not be feasible over the long term. In other words, nutrient addition is likely not a sustainable method of ecosystem recovery.

  • OBJ-4: Restoration and Monitoring of Key Kootenai River Tributary Segments

This objective focuses on tributaries downstream of Bonners Ferry. The ISRP learned there are a few tributaries above the Canyon reach, in Montana, that are used by rainbow trout (RBT). Are any of these used by the RBT populations targeted for nutrient enrichment? If so have habitat conditions in the tributaries been factored in as possibly limiting?

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

Accomplishments and Results: This project has a long history and much detail on the results of studies on nutrient dynamics and trophic productivity that have been completed was presented in the proposal. However, results are not provided in a meaningful way. While the sponsors provide abundant detail on results they fail to articulate key advances in understanding the ecological system or how the data have been used to improve management. Clearly, substantial effort should be spent to synthesize the advances to date and show how they have been used to improve management.

Further, as a general comment, while this proposal is labeled as "Ecosystem Restoration" and many of the system-scale components are under investigation, there is no attempt to examine the data at the ecosystem scale. That is, no model linking it all together or to guide and prioritize the research and restoration activities is presented. A working model is sorely needed.

The project started in 1994 but achievement of results is not clear. A synthesis of results or reference to peer reviewed publications is needed for ISRP review. Most of the results that have been published are in the grey literature, and those that are in journals do not deal with the key results documenting how the fish community has responded and on what scale has the response been observed.

The sponsors state that a report is currently in progress that will update and combine previous reports from 2009 and 2010 with recent data. It would be useful for the ISRP to see this draft

It would be helpful to have more information on the migratory traits of rainbow trout, the apparent target species, as this has a bearing on how far afield nutrient addition effects are projected. Results to date show growth of RBT, as reflected by condition factor, is only being influenced in the nutrient addition reach shown in Figure 22. However the significant increase in whitefish populations and growth of their younger ages is noteworthy. It might be worthwhile to investigate the role of whitefish in the food web of the Kootenai River in some detail. This might involve more collaboration between this project and 199806500 Kootenai River Fishery Investigations. Are whitefish a forage fish for white sturgeon?

Further documentation on lessons learned relative to this aspect from other systems would be instructive. For example, a case history on a fertilization project on the much smaller Keogh and Salmon Rivers in BC showed that the effective distance of fish growth resulting from nutrient additions was on average 15 km (Slaney et al 2003). The furthest downstream monitoring station on the Kootenai seems to be 40 km. Do the sponsors anticipate fish enhancement over these 40 km? What is the role of nutrient spiraling in this regard? The concept is not mentioned in the proposal.

Responses to Past ISRP Comments: The reports being prepared for publication were not provided. At a minimum, there should be a Table with the publication title, key authors, target journal, and submission date.

Adaptive Management: The process is adequate, for the most part, but lacks a guiding model and criteria for change. How are decision-makers incorporated so as to make large scale changes happen?

The ISRP’s Retrospective Report 2011 includes a recommendation on time frame for evaluating restoration projects (p. 68) which 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.”

Given that this project has been underway for 11 years, it is likely the additional dialogue is required soon.

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

See above for comments on project relationships.

RME has been underway for several years, and according to the proposal an adaptive management approach reduced the number of treated sites by 50% without losing significant statistical power or representation. This assertion should be documented.

Emerging Limiting Factors:Climate and land use changes are superficially treated. There are numerous changes taking place and emerging at the local scale. The ISRP urges the sponsors to take these seriously by incorporating them into some of their planning and activities.

4. Deliverables, Work Elements, Metrics, and Methods

Deliverables and work elements generally appear to be appropriate for the project objectives. It appears that the nutrient application process, monitoring methods, and experimental design that have been used in the past will continue with this new project. However, this is not explicitly indicated in the proposal and very few details are provided about the monitoring effort going forward. This point should be clarified.

Restoring the Kootenai River and the Lower Kootenai Watershed to Pre-Impoundment Productivity Levels: The sponsors need to be specific about whether a food web analysis will be performed, how detailed it will be, and articulate how the results will be used to improve productivity. Although positive results have been obtained locally in terms of increasing trout biomass, although not to a statistically significant level, nutrients will need to be applied broadly to significantly improve total trout abundance and growth.

Work Elements: Considering all the work completed to date, is there an overriding model being developed that guides the research and restoration activities? If not, there should be as well as a peer-reviewed synthesis of the progress to date. Further, while the goals are well-articulated, when will they be achieved? A time line is needed for each objective.

Key Personnel: The sponsors have a good level of competence. Two items of concern are the heavy reliance on private consulting firms to do the work and the lack of publications in the peer-reviewed literature. The benefits from this project would increase if central personnel made peer-reviewed publications a priority. While reports are necessary, they are not sufficient for a program of this scope and importance.

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

Monitoring has been a major component of this study and needs to continue to be the focus with the implementation of this new phase of this effort. As noted for the Deliverables and Work Elements, the proposal implies that the methods to be used will be those that have been employed in the past. But the proposal does not indicate that this will be the case. If there are any changes in sampling or project design, these changes should have been fully described in the proposal.

Some of the protocols related to environmental and physiochemical sampling are not complete on the website, thereby making it difficult to evaluate. These need to be completed in the very near future.

Modified by Dal Marsters on 4/13/2012 1:42:17 PM.

Modified by Dal Marsters on 4/13/2012 1:42:54 PM.
Documentation Links:
  • Proponent Response (3/7/2012)

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 1994-049-00-NPCC-20130807
Project: 1994-049-00 - Kootenai River Ecosystem Restoration
Review: Resident Fish, Regional Coordination, and Data Management Category Review
Proposal: RESCAT-1994-049-00
Proposal State: Pending BPA Response
Approved Date: 3/5/2014
Recommendation: Implement with Conditions
Comments: Implement with condition through FY 2017. Sponsors to develop 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: 1994-049-00-INLIEU-20090521
Project Number: 1994-049-00
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 10/6/2006
In Lieu Rating: No Problems Exist
Cost Share Rating: None
Comment: O&M on BPA-funded wildlife mitigation lands; assume requested funds consistent with terms of MOA.

Capital Assessment

Assessment Number: 1994-049-00-CAPITAL-20090618
Project Number: 1994-049-00
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: 1994-049-00-ISRP-20060831
Project: 1994-049-00 - Kootenai River Ecosystem Restoration
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 is a worthwhile proposal that initially suffered from lack of reporting of results to support its continuation and expansion. The excellent response provided the necessary information and illustrates the kind of material that should be in the initial proposal. The problem identified is loss of productivity (at all ecosystem levels) as a result of land and water management practices, especially Libby Dam. Early studies have led to the conclusion that nutrients limit production of valuable fish populations. Fertilizer application is used experimentally in this project to test whether nutrients are limiting productivity at various levels in the Kootenai River ecosystem, including the fish. Justification includes the Fish and Wildlife Program, Kootenai subbasin plan, FWS BiOp for white sturgeon, and the Kootenai River Network. The narrative and tables on interactions with the several other projects on the Kootenai are helpful. The proposal demonstrates much enthusiasm for ecosystem improvement with an impressive list of potential contributors.

The response significantly answers the ISRP's concerns about the timing of the project with respect to experiments and implementation, and provides data and summary results for the work accomplished so far. The timeline in Table 1 is especially helpful, and we recommend that such a table be used in subsequent proposals and progress reports. It is clear now that this is a truly experimental phase and will continue to be so through the lifetime of this funding cycle. Results from the Kootenay Lake experiment still seem rather scant. Since phosphorus seems to be the limiting nutrient, we are still surprised that fertilization of the Kootenai River is heavy on nitrogen. Algae seem to have responded to nutrient addition, but the chemical results seem to require more interpretation. There was a useful discussion of other limiting factors and the multi-agency approach to evaluating them. The database development seems appropriate for assembling the results. The comprehensive discussion of fishery impacts since Libby Dam is informative and supportive of the existence of detrimental effects. Depleted nutrients are likely part of the picture, which justifies the well-planned research. The logic of planting kokanee eggs and creating a spawning channel is clearer in the response, but that work is still somewhat oddly placed in this proposal. The explanations of sampling sizes for monitoring help clarify this issue. The ISRP appreciates the additional clarifying information.
Documentation Links:

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 1994-049-00-NPCC-20090924
Project: 1994-049-00 - Kootenai River Ecosystem Restoration
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Approved Date: 10/23/2006
Recommendation: Fund
Comments:

Project Relationships: None

Name Role Organization
Charles Holderman Project Lead Kootenai Tribe
Sue Ireland Supervisor Kootenai Tribe
Virgil Watts III Project Manager Bonneville Power Administration
John Barco III (Inactive) Interested Party Bonneville Power Administration
Paul Krueger (Inactive) Supervisor Bonneville Power Administration
Edna Runyan Administrative Contact Kootenai Tribe
Ted Gresh Env. Compliance Lead Bonneville Power Administration