Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program
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Project Summary

Project 2003-038-00 - Eval Restor Of Snake R Chinook
Project Number:
Eval Restor Of Snake R Chinook
The research to be conducted under this proposal will evaluate the restoration potential of mainstem habitats for fall Chinook salmon. The studies will address two research questions: "Are there sections not currently used by spawning fall Chinook salmon within the impounded lower Snake River that possess the physical characteristics for potentially suitable fall Chinook spawning habitat?" and "Can hydrosystem operations affecting these sections be adjusted such that the sections closely resemble the physical characteristics of current fall Chinook salmon spawning areas in similar physical settings?" We propose to focus our efforts at two study sites: 1) the Ice Harbor Dam tailrace downstream to the confluence with the Columbia River, and 2) the Lower Granite Dam tailrace. Our previous studies indicated that these two areas have the highest potential for restoring Snake River fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat.

The study sites will be evaluated under existing structural configurations at the dams (i.e., without partial removal of a dam structure), and alternative operational scenarios (e.g., varying forebay/tailwater elevations). The areas to be studied represent tailwater habitat (i.e., riverine segments extending from a dam downstream to the backwater influence from the next dam downstream). We will use a reference site, indicative of current fall Chinook salmon spawning areas in tailwater habitat, against which to compare the physical characteristics of each study site. The reference site for tailwater habitats will be the section extending downstream from the Wanapum Dam tailrace on the Columbia River. Escapement estimates for fall of 2000 indicate more than 9000 adult fall Chinook salmon returned to this area, accounting for more than 2100 redds within a 5 km section of river (Grant Co. PUD, personal communications). Using the National Marine Fisheries Service Reasonable and Prudent Action (RPA) 155 (NMFS 2000) as a guide, we will collect baseline data on physical habitat conditions, identify opportunities for mimicking the range and diversity of historic habitat conditions, and monitor and evaluate the results of any operational changes (actual or modeled).

The results to be reported during FY2006 will be used as a guideline to develop additional hypotheses regarding potential Snake River fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat. We expect that these hypotheses will include hydrosystem operational scenarios not considered in the initial analyses (FY04-06), as well as alternative reaches of the Snake River not initially considered. It is also expected that future fall Chinook salmon spawning periods (fall of 2006 and 2007) will provide ideal opportunities for monitoring spawning habitat use and conditions, as well as calibrating and verifying our model results. We will be seeking continued funding in FY2007 to address all of these efforts.
Proponent Orgs:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Govt - Federal)
Starting FY:
Ending FY:
Province Subbasin %
Basinwide - 100.00%
RM and E
Focal Species:
Chinook - Lower Columbia River ESU
Chinook - Snake River Fall ESU
Chinook - Upper Columbia River Summer/Fall ESU
Species Benefit:
Anadromous: 100.0%   Resident: 0.0%   Wildlife: 0.0%
BiOp Association:

No photos have been uploaded yet for this Project.

Summary of Budgets

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To see more detailed project budget information, please visit the "Project Budget" page

No Decided Budget Transfers

Pending Budget Decision?  No

Actual Project Cost Share

Current Fiscal Year — 2024
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Previous Fiscal Years
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The table below contains contracts with the following statuses: Active, Closed, Complete, History, Issued.
* "Total Contracted Amount" column includes contracted amount from both capital and expense components of the contract.
Expense Contracts:
Number Contractor Name Title Status Total Contracted Amount Dates
652 REL 26 SOW Pacific Northwest National Laboratory PI 2003-038-00 EVAL RESTOR OF SNAKE R CHINOOK Closed $448,529 12/15/2003 - 9/30/2005
652 REL 31 SOW Pacific Northwest National Laboratory 2003-038-00 EXP EVAL RESTOR OF SNAKE R CHINOOK Closed $285,078 10/1/2005 - 9/30/2007
26934 REL 4 SOW Pacific Northwest National Laboratory 2003-038-00 EXP EVAL RESTOR OF SNAKE R CHINOOK Closed $46,760 10/1/2006 - 1/31/2007

Annual Progress Reports
Expected (since FY2004):1
On time:0
Status Reports
On time:3
Avg Days Late:7

                Count of Contract Deliverables
Earliest Contract Subsequent Contracts Title Contractor Earliest Start Latest End Latest Status Accepted Reports Complete Green Yellow Red Total % Green and Complete Canceled
652 REL 26 26934 REL 4, 652 REL 31 2003-038-00 EXP EVAL RESTOR OF SNAKE R CHINOOK Pacific Northwest National Laboratory 12/15/2003 09/30/2007 Closed 11 16 0 0 8 24 66.67% 0
Project Totals 11 16 0 0 8 24 66.67% 0

The table content is updated frequently and thus contains more recent information than what was in the original proposal reviewed by ISRP and Council.

Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 2003-038-00-NPCC-20090924
Project: 2003-038-00 - Eval Restor Of Snake R Chinook
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Approved Date: 10/23/2006
Recommendation: Do Not Fund

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 2003-038-00-ISRP-20060831
Project: 2003-038-00 - Eval Restor Of Snake R Chinook
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 generally well-prepared proposal for an ongoing project that has produced useful results. The additional work coupled with the hydrodynamic modeling should be very helpful to hydrosystem operators.

The proposal clearly explains the technical background of the project and identifies a need for the research. It mentions that the highest potential spawning areas for fall Chinook in the mainstem Columbia and Snake Rivers have been reduced to 6% of historical areas, but it was not clear whether this figure included the preferred spawning areas in the lower reaches of major tributaries. The proposal does a good job of identifying the potential to adjust operations of the lower Snake River dams in order to improve tailrace spawning potential. The background also identifies that microhabitat analysis has provided limited insight into predicting what characteristics salmon require when they decide where to spawn. The weakness of the background is that it has does not provide compelling evidence that they have overcome this limitation, and that they are, in fact, capable of making measurements on habitat, modeling flow, and then determining what the quantity and quality of the habitat might be. The predictions need to be tested empirically, if possible.

The proposal places the research in the context of the 2000 BiOp, and relates the study to knowledge gaps identified in Independent Scientific Group and ISRP reports. While it does link the study to the Council's Fish and Wildlife Program, it does not specifically mention subbasin plans. The proposal describes the partnership with the USACE and the history of hydrodynamic modeling, and it mentions some of the other Snake River Chinook projects. However, it does not mention the ongoing life history projects or discuss how hydrosystem operations to improve spawning habitat could affect other segments of the life cycle (e.g., outmigration timing). The project history is informative about what the project did, but not what they have found so far. More details on results would have been helpful.

There is a very clear set of objectives, hypotheses, and timelines. The introductory material provides a good overview of the study, although there are few explicit references to how the study addresses planning objectives (other than the overall objective of increasing natural fall Chinook spawning). As the work progresses, numerical objectives may be needed to justify the costs to the hydrosystem of operational changes.

The methods build on the results of previous research in this project. For the most part, they use the latest technology and address the various controlling factors on substrate morphology. The hydrodynamic modeling work could be very helpful in guiding hydrosystem operations. There is some weakness among the goals, the data they are going to collect, and the inferences they hope to make, which provoke a sense of caution. The assertion that the product of the proposal provides a means for linking effects of physical habitat variables to measurable biotic parameters and ecosystem processes is limited to a post-hoc description of what they observed, not a prediction of what would happen at other sites. The determination of quantity and quality of habitat suffers from lack of precise definition of each and how they are measured in the field and analyzed. It seems likely that these measures will not provide self-evident conclusions. Rather they will be inferences open to debate about their veracity, with a need to be established by empirical testing.

The monitoring and evaluation methods are clearly identified. To some extent, the investigators are at the mercy of the weather and Snake River discharge, but they should have at least some real-world conditions with which to compare model outputs. It wasn't clear how the fluctuating flows under load following would be factored into their model.

The personnel are highly qualified for this project. Similar work is being done in tailwaters elsewhere. The proposal mentions peer-reviewed publications and progress reports, but does not specify if or how data and meta-data will be archived and made available to the public. However, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has a good track record in this regard.

This project will clearly benefit naturally spawning fall Chinook salmon and could be very helpful if the US Army Corps of Engineers is willing to modify dam operations to create and maintain longitudinal bars in the tailraces that the salmon seem to prefer for spawning.
Documentation Links:

Legal Assessment (In-Lieu)

Assessment Number: 2003-038-00-INLIEU-20090521
Project Number: 2003-038-00
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 10/6/2006
In Lieu Rating: No Problems Exist
Cost Share Rating: None
Comment: Evaluation of mainstem spawning potential downstream of 4 FCRPS lower snake dams.

Capital Assessment

Assessment Number: 2003-038-00-CAPITAL-20090618
Project Number: 2003-038-00
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 2/27/2007
Capital Rating: Does Not Qualify for Capital Funding
Capital Asset Category: None
Comment: None

Project Relationships: None

Name Role Organization
Timothy Hanrahan (Inactive) Project Lead Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Julie Hughes (Inactive) Administrative Contact Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Jonathan McCloud Project Manager Bonneville Power Administration
Janie Vickerman Administrative Contact Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
David Geist (Inactive) Supervisor Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Genice Madera Administrative Contact Pacific Northwest National Laboratory