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

Project 2007-018-00 - Stock Assessment for salmon, steelhead, and other fish species in Lower Crab Creek, WA
Project Number:
Stock Assessment for salmon, steelhead, and other fish species in Lower Crab Creek, WA
The overall objectives of this project are to identify the origin and abundance of Lower Crab Creek salmonids; to identify the habitats they use in the stream, and to characterize changes in the environmental conditions they face.
Proponent Orgs:
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) (Govt - State)
Starting FY:
Ending FY:
Province Subbasin %
Columbia Plateau Crab 100.00%
RM and E
Focal Species:
Species Benefit:
Anadromous: 100.0%   Resident: 0.0%   Wildlife: 0.0%
BiOp Association:

No photos have been uploaded yet for this Project.

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: 2007-018-00-NPCC-20090924
Project: 2007-018-00 - Stock Assessment for salmon, steelhead, and other fish species in Lower Crab Creek, WA
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Approved Date: 10/23/2006
Recommendation: Do Not Fund

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 2007-018-00-ISRP-20060831
Project: 2007-018-00 - Stock Assessment for salmon, steelhead, and other fish species in Lower Crab Creek, WA
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 8/31/2006
Final Round ISRP Date: None
Final Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified)
Final Round ISRP Comment:
This is a fundable project and will provide valuable information for an area of the Columbia Basin that receives relatively little attention. The project participants should address some of the methodological issues raised below prior to implementing the study. These issues should be easy to rectify.

Technical and scientific background: The title is a bit misleading, in the sense that "other fish species" will not be investigated as part of this proposal but deferred to subsequent years. This project's goal is really to determine if steelhead and fall Chinook in lower Crab Creek constitute legitimate spawning populations, or are simply collections of strays from other sources. The question seems worthwhile as the environmental conditions of the Columbia Plateau differ from those of the North Cascades, and if the salmon and steelhead in Crab Creek are truly native stocks then they may possess local adaptations that contribute to the viability of the evolutionary significant unit (ESU) as a whole. Overall, the technical background section does an adequate job of defining the problem.

Rationale and significance to subbasin plans and regional programs: This proposal references the Crab Creek subbasin plan and the relevant parts of the Council's Fish and Wildlife Program. The Federal Columbia River Power System Biological Opinion (FCRPS BiOp) is not mentioned. The lack of knowledge about fish populations and habitat in Crab Creek was one of the key deficiencies identified in the subbasin plan. This project would begin to provide solid information on the origin and abundance of anadromous fishes using the basin. The habitat and water quality information should provide some indication of the productive potential of Crab Creek for salmon and steelhead and help identify potential restoration projects.

Relationships to other projects: The proposal describes its relationships to four other Crab Creek projects funded by BPA, as well as other agency and PUD efforts, in general terms. This project will also provide data to a regional monitoring effort, CSMEP. There appears to be good coordination with other genetic characterization efforts in the Columbia-Cascade province.

Objectives: The objectives are clearly stated and address a key information need identified in the subbasin plan. The four phases are framed out in a logical progression. This proposal only applies to the objectives listed under Phase 1; work under the other phases will come later. But the description of all four phases provides valuable context. A map of lower Crab Creek would have helped, especially when discussing sample locations.

Tasks (work elements) and methods: Most of the methods are appropriate. However, there are several instances where the methodology to be used is unclear, or some problems are likely to be encountered. The collection of turbidity and flow information periodically at selected locations (spawning sites) is likely to yield information of doubtful value. Turbidity and flow can change rapidly and biological responses are often related to transient episodes of high discharge or sediment transport.

It would be very unlikely to sample these episodic events with periodic sampling. Installation of a continuous flow station, perhaps at the fish trap location, would provide a good flow record. A turbidity sensor, possibly coupled with a pump sampler, located at this flow station would provide a complete record of turbidity/sediment concentration. These continuous data could be used in conjunction with periodic samples collected at spawning sites to develop an understanding of the spatial distribution of these attributes and better evaluate how the fish are responding to these parameters.

It may be possible to distinguish anadromous vs. resident rainbow trout without stable isotope sampling. Easily observable features, such as color, shape, and size, may enable this determination for adult fish. This approach likely will not work to distinguish juvenile resident and anadromous rainbow trout in lower Crab Creek as both will contain marine-derived nutrients from decomposing carcasses as the result of food web effects and isotopic differences will become progressively muted as the fish grow.

Stable isotopes may work well to distinguish between anadromous and resident adult fish. If stable isotope samples are used for determination of anadromy, samples from both known anadromous and known resident fish need to be sampled to provide a basis for evaluating isotope values from unknown fish. Perhaps samples from steelhead collected at a nearby dam could be used to represent anadromous isotope values. Resident fish selected as references should be of the same species and approximately the same size as the fish being sampled to determine life history type.

Therefore, determining appropriate resident reference fish may be a problem. Also the sponsors should be careful that resident fish selected to represent resident isotopic values are not utilizing lakes. Fishes from lakes may have a different isotopic signature than those resident fishes rearing in flowing water. How these reference fishes will be selected should be discussed in the proposal.

Work element 2.2 proposes to identify spawning locations by assessing hyporheic flows with piezometers. Networks of piezometers are effective means of mapping hyporheic patterns, but they are very labor intensive to install and maintain. There is not enough detail presented on this aspect of the study to determine how these instruments will be deployed or maintained. It may be more cost effective to locate cool hyporheic inputs using Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) technology, which was used effectively in the John Day River subbasin to identify hyporheic influences. FLIR is also a good method of locating cool water pockets, which may be very important in lower Crab Creek.

The possibility of using a fishwheel to sample migrating adults is mentioned, but the proposal states that 100% of the flow will be sampled. Is this possible with a fishwheel? Or will there be a combination fence and fishwheel setup?

Monitoring and evaluation: This is essentially an M&E proposal, as no restoration actions will be evaluated. Data collection and analysis are adequately described.

Facilities, equipment, and personnel: Facilities, equipment and personnel are well qualified for this project.

Information transfer: Annual reports and WDFW website status reports will be produced. Unfortunately, there were no plans for peer-reviewed publication. If the steelhead and Chinook spawners turn out to be local populations, it would make a good publication. No details about data archiving or public access were given.

Benefits to focal and non-focal species: More information on the status of the anadromous fishes on Crab Creek will provide a definite benefit. If determinations can be made as to origins of the focal species in this system, protection and management benefits to these species could be long-term.

There is little discussion of non-focal species other than the component of the study that will examine predation rates on salmon and trout by introduced predatory fishes in the system. However, the predation evaluation is a component of out-year funding and not covered by the current proposal. Regardless, gathering information about the anadromous fishes in this system is not likely to adversely impact other species, unless the fish trap hinders their migrations in some way.
Documentation Links:

Legal Assessment (In-Lieu)

Assessment Number: 2007-018-00-INLIEU-20090521
Project Number: 2007-018-00
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 10/6/2006
In Lieu Rating: Problems May Exist
Cost Share Rating: 3 - Does not appear reasonable
Comment: Population research, fishery managers required/authorized.

Capital Assessment

Assessment Number: 2007-018-00-CAPITAL-20090618
Project Number: 2007-018-00
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