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

Project 2008-203-00 - Assess Reintroduction of Steelhead in Butter, McKay & Willow Creeks
Project Number:
Assess Reintroduction of Steelhead in Butter, McKay & Willow Creeks
Steelhead are extirpated in Willow Creek (part of the NPCC Umatilla Subbasin Plan) and Umatilla tributaries, McKay Creek and Butter Creek. A proposal will be developed to assess the potential for steelhead reintroduction. The proposal will include methodologies for assessing current habitat conditions, determining habitat enhancement needs and identifying steelhead reintroduction options. The focal species is ESA-listed summer steelhead. If the proposal leads to an assessment and actions are implemented, available habitat would be greatly expanded. CTUIR will hire new staff which will be responsible for developing work element deliverables.
Proponent Orgs:
Umatilla Confederated Tribes (CTUIR) (Tribe)
Starting FY:
Ending FY:
Implementation - Project Status Report
Province Subbasin %
Columbia Plateau Umatilla 100.00%
RM and E
Focal Species:
Coho - Unspecified Population
Lamprey, Pacific
Steelhead - Middle Columbia River DPS
Species Benefit:
Anadromous: 100.0%   Resident: 0.0%   Wildlife: 0.0%

No photos have been uploaded yet for this Project.

Summary of Budgets

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

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

Decided Budget Transfers  (FY2023 - FY2025)

Acct FY Acct Type Amount Fund Budget Decision Date
FY2023 Expense $68,343 From: Fish Accord - LRT - Umatilla Umatilla Tribe (CTUIR) 2023-2025 Accord Extension 09/30/2022
FY2024 Expense $70,052 From: Fish Accord - LRT - Umatilla Umatilla Tribe (CTUIR) 2023-2025 Accord Extension 09/30/2022
FY2025 Expense $71,803 From: Fish Accord - LRT - Umatilla Umatilla Tribe (CTUIR) 2023-2025 Accord Extension 09/30/2022

Pending Budget Decision?  No

Actual Project Cost Share

Current Fiscal Year — 2024   DRAFT
Cost Share Partner Total Proposed Contribution Total Confirmed Contribution
There are no project cost share contributions to show.
Previous Fiscal Years
Fiscal Year Total Contributions % of Budget


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
65434 SOW Umatilla Confederated Tribes (CTUIR) 2008-203-00 EXP ASSESS STEELHEAD REINTRODUCTION IN 3 CREEKS Closed $52,502 6/1/2014 - 5/31/2015
69194 SOW Umatilla Confederated Tribes (CTUIR) 2008-203-00 EXP STEELHEAD IN WILLOW CREEK Closed $105,905 6/1/2015 - 6/30/2017
73982 REL 21 SOW Umatilla Confederated Tribes (CTUIR) 2008-203-00 EXP STEELHEAD IN WILLOW CREEK Closed $19,808 7/1/2017 - 12/31/2017
73982 REL 121 SOW Umatilla Confederated Tribes (CTUIR) 2008-203-00 EXP STEELHEAD IN MCKAY CREEK Closed $56,707 1/1/2021 - 2/28/2022

Annual Progress Reports
Expected (since FY2004):4
On time:3
Status Reports
On time:2
Avg Days Late:53

                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
65434 69194, 73982 REL 21, 73982 REL 121 2008-203-00 EXP STEELHEAD IN MCKAY CREEK Umatilla Confederated Tribes (CTUIR) 06/01/2014 02/28/2022 Closed 19 19 0 0 4 23 82.61% 0
Project Totals 19 19 0 0 4 23 82.61% 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: RME / AP Category Review

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 2008-203-00-NPCC-20110124
Project: 2008-203-00 - Assess Reintroduction of Steelhead in Butter, McKay & Willow Creeks
Review: RME / AP Category Review
Proposal: RMECAT-2008-203-00
Proposal State: Pending BPA Response
Approved Date: 6/10/2011
Recommendation: Fund (In Part)
Comments: Implement objectives 1 and 2 through completion. Implementation for objective 3 based on outcome of ISRP and Council review of the reintroduction plan.

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 2008-203-00-ISRP-20101015
Project: 2008-203-00 - Assess Reintroduction of Steelhead in Butter, McKay & Willow Creeks
Review: RME / AP Category Review
Proposal Number: RMECAT-2008-203-00
Completed Date: 12/17/2010
Final Round ISRP Date: 12/17/2010
Final Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria - In Part (Qualified)
Final Round ISRP Comment:
The proponents simplified their approach, as requested by the ISRP, but did not fully address the ISRP concerns in their very brief response. This was especially true for Objective 3, relating to developing a plan for habitat restoration and steelhead reintroduction. Thus, Objective 3 does not meet scientific criteria.

The ISRP agrees that the proponents should undertake Objectives 1 and 2, specifically:

a. Summarize historical habitat and anadromous fish distributions in these streams, and carefully and completely summarize what information has already been collected, as well as Traditional Ecological Knowledge based on oral histories.

b. Determine what new information is critical to collect, that is not already included in previous reports and plans.

c. Collect this new information about current conditions that is critical for developing a reintroduction plan.

Once these tasks have been completed, the ISRP asks that the proponents outline the tasks needed to develop a restoration plan based on these data, and submit a proposal to ISRP for this work. The timing of this proposal might coincide with the anticipated geographic review of Umatilla habitat projects in about 18 months.

A few specific comments about the proposal and the work remain, which include:

1. Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) is proposed as a central tool for the research, but there is no mention in the original budget of funding for this work. Is this because other funds are used for these flights, not shown in this proposal?

2. The original budget calls for $28K per year of "model analysis," but no modeling is discussed in the revised plan. Should this amount be shifted to other needs, like FLIR?

3. As indicated earlier, the role of the changing climate in any reintroduction plan was not addressed, but needs to be in any new proposal, even if in a preliminary way.
First Round ISRP Date: 10/18/2010
First Round ISRP Rating: Response Requested
First Round ISRP Comment:

The project proponents propose to evaluate the possibility of reintroducing steelhead and developing self-sustaining populations in two tributaries of the Umatilla River and one direct tributary of the Columbia River that is adjacent (Willow Creek), These plans assume that fish passage barriers could be removed or surmounted (e.g., using fish ladders or by trapping and hauling fish). The main focus is on developing a comprehensive landscape/watershed scale evaluation of habitat features that are needed to sustain steelhead populations in these streams. 1. Purpose, Significance to Regional Programs, Technical Background, and Objectives The overall objective of assessing the reintroduction/recolonization potential of steelhead into Butter, McKay, and Willow Creeks within the Umatilla subbasin is consistent with the habitat focus of both the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program and the recovery objectives of the ESA. Likewise, focusing the work at the landscape/watershed scale is ideal for assessing whether freshwater habitat is suitable for anadromous fish reintroduction. However, the objectives for this work are unclear, and it seems like they could be simpler and more straightforward than presented in this proposal. Three issues are important: A. A basic hierarchy of limiting factors - If steelhead are to develop successfully reproducing populations, they must (in order of their life history) a) be provided access to habitat as adults, b) have access to suitable stream temperatures throughout summer, c) find suitable spawning and rearing habitat, and d) smolts must gain passage downstream for outmigration. Therefore, even if adults are trapped and hauled above certain barriers, if temperatures prevent their summer survival, then degraded spawning or rearing habitat is a moot point. On the other hand, if (as in McKay Creek), resident salmonid populations already occur above the reservoir, then it is already known that temperatures are suitable, and the amount of habitat becomes important. Given this, it seems like the proposal could be organized to assess this hierarchy of limiting habitat factors: 1) Identify fish passage barriers for adults and methods to surmount them (barrier removal, fish ladder, trap and haul) 2) Use Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) videography to assess summer temperatures during critical periods, throughout the segments where adult steelhead oversummer, and steelhead parr rear during summer 3) If temperatures are suitable, use a combination of GIS, regular color videography (done at the same time as FLIR), and on-the-ground surveys to make a continuous assessment of spawning and rearing habitat throughout the tributaries. If temperatures are suitable, then more focus can occur on habitat, but also with a simpler logic than in the proposal, such as: a. Determine through literature and expert opinion what large-scale features of habitat steelhead use at critical life stages (adults, age-0, age-1 and older) during key seasons (summer, winter) b. Determine which geomorphic or mesohabitat features (e.g., pools) provide this habitat c. Determine how to measure surrogates of these features using GIS, or simply measure them using low-elevation flights (color videography) or on the ground (see below) 4) Identify fish passage barriers for outmigrating smolts, and methods to surmount them. A main point is that if any steps in this logic chain are not met (e.g., temperatures are unsuitable), then it may make little sense to proceed further in an expensive or complicated analysis and modeling effort to predict suitable spawning and rearing habitat. B. Is existing information being adequately used? It is unclear whether data already available from previous fish and habitat assessments are being used for this new work, such as from the 1986 anadromous fish restoration master plan, the Umatilla subbasin plan, and TRT mid-Columbia steelhead ESU assessments. Likewise, will information learned from EDT analysis, conducting the assessments and executing habitat restoration and reintroduction of other salmonids, and supplementation of steelhead in other portions of the Umatilla subbasin, be used here? The ISRP felt that much is probably already known about the four limiting factors above, which could quickly be summarized and used in this project. C. Statistical modeling will likely be less useful than proposed – the proposal calls for statistical modeling, but the objectives were vague and seemed driven more by the techniques rather than objectives. That is, if the main objective is to assess whether these three basins (and three others in a companion proposal) have suitable habitat for steelhead reintroductions, then there seems little point to developing a complex statistical model. The reason is that the variance on the predictions from this small sample of basins (N=6) would be great, rendering the models of relatively little usefulness for management decisions. Instead, direct assessments of habitat using GIS, FLIR, color videography, and on the ground measurements, may be much more useful. For example, even if walking each basin takes 3-4 weeks of work, this would be far less time than the work required to develop, fit, and interpret a statistical model that has limited usefulness because the predictions are highly variable. If the more direct assessment of habitat suggested here is adopted, then only much simpler statistical analysis would be needed. For example, see the logistic regression conducted by Torgersen et al. (1999. Ecological Applications) for FLIR and direct habitat data (pool volume by reach). 2. History: Accomplishments, Results, and Adaptive Management While this is a new project, habitat assessments, reintroduction, and supplementation are not new to the Umatilla subbasin. Either this section, or the problem statement, should review what has been accomplished in the Umatilla subbasin relative to the original assessments for the subbasin Master Plan in 1986. What has worked, and what has not? How will a new assessment provide different recommendations for restoration potential and strategies? 3. Project Relationships, Emerging Limiting Factors, and Tailored Questions for Type of Work (Hatchery, RME, Tagging) Because these are low-elevation semi-arid basins, the emerging limiting factor of climate change is important to assess. If climate change is projected to either push temperatures beyond lethal thresholds, or further reduce flow and prevent passage, then habitat restoration will be pointless. At least some “first-cut” analysis of potential changes in temperature and flow is needed to prevent putting effort and funding into projects that have a high likelihood of eventually failing. 4. Deliverables, Work Elements, Metrics, and Methods Overall, the deliverables (e.g., develop a GIS database, predict the potential for redds) are vague and disconnected. The ISRP had difficulty determining how the work proposed will use the information already available, and how it would meet the objective identified of predicting the success of steelhead reintroduction into these watersheds, or predicting where habitat should be restored.

Documentation Links:
  • Proponent Response (11/16/2010)

2008 FCRPS BiOp Workgroup Assessment

Assessment Number: 2008-203-00-BIOP-20101105
Project Number: 2008-203-00
Review: RME / AP Category Review
Proposal Number: RMECAT-2008-203-00
Completed Date: None
2008 FCRPS BiOp Workgroup Rating: Supports 2008 FCRPS BiOp
Comments: BiOp Workgroup Comments: No BiOp Workgroup Comments

The BiOp RM&E Workgroups made the following determinations regarding the proposal's ability or need to support BiOp Research, Monitoring and Evaluation (RME) RPAs. If you have questions regarding these RPA association conclusions, please contact your BPA COTR and they will help clarify, or they will arrange further discussion with the appropriate RM&E Workgroup Leads. BiOp RPA associations for the proposed work are: ( )
All Questionable RPA Associations ( ) and
All Deleted RPA Associations (57.5)
Proponent Response:

Project Relationships: None

Name Role Organization
Gary James (Inactive) Project Lead Umatilla Confederated Tribes (CTUIR)
Peter Lofy Supervisor Bonneville Power Administration
Gene Shippentower Technical Contact Umatilla Confederated Tribes (CTUIR)
Craig Contor Technical Contact Umatilla Confederated Tribes (CTUIR)
Ryan Ruggiero Project Manager Bonneville Power Administration