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

Project 2008-204-00 - Assess Reintroduction of Anadromous Fish in Burnt, Powder & Malheur Rivers
Project Number:
Assess Reintroduction of Anadromous Fish in Burnt, Powder & Malheur Rivers
Steelhead are extirpated in the Burnt, Powder, and Malheur subbasins. 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 proposed assessment leads to steelhead reintroduction, 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:
Province Subbasin %
Middle Snake Powder 100.00%
RM and E
Focal Species:
Lamprey, Pacific
Steelhead - Middle Columbia River DPS
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

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

No Decided Budget Transfers

Pending Budget Decision?  No

Actual Project Cost Share

Current Fiscal Year — 2024
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
65435 SOW Umatilla Confederated Tribes (CTUIR) 2008-204-00 EXP ASSESS ANADROMOUS REINTRODUCTION IN E. OR TRIBS Closed $35,088 6/1/2014 - 5/31/2015
69195 SOW Umatilla Confederated Tribes (CTUIR) 2008-204-00 EXP ANADROMOUS IN E.OR TRIBUTARIES Closed $66,103 6/1/2015 - 6/30/2017

Annual Progress Reports
Expected (since FY2004):2
On time:1
Status Reports
On time:2
Avg Days Late:35

                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
65435 69195 2008-204-00 EXP ANADROMOUS IN E.OR TRIBUTARIES Umatilla Confederated Tribes (CTUIR) 06/01/2014 06/30/2017 Closed 12 4 0 0 4 8 50.00% 0
Project Totals 12 4 0 0 4 8 50.00% 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: 2008-204-00-NPCC-20110308
Project: 2008-204-00 - Assess Reintroduction of Anadromous Fish in Burnt, Powder & Malheur Rivers
Review: RME / AP Category Review
Proposal: RMECAT-2008-204-00
Proposal State: Pending BPA Response
Approved Date: 6/10/2011
Recommendation: Do Not Fund
Comments: Do not implement. Reintroduction studies have already been performed as a part of the Hells Canyon relicensing process. Recommend implementation to be redirected within the Umatilla Accord for higher priority work.

Explanations as to how the Council responded to the recommendations of the Independent Scientific Review Panel -
The ISRP found this project to be qualified in part on technical grounds. The Council recommends not implementing the project given that reintroduction studies for these basins have already been performed as part of the Hells Canyon relicensing process, and so the proposed work here appears redundant and certainly not a priority for Program implementation at this time. This recommendation was updated by Mark Fritsch on 7/19/2011 3:11:12 PM.
Publish Date: 06/23/2011 BPA Response: Disagree
The Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) and Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) met on May 5, 2011 to discuss the recent Council recommendation for Project 2008-204-00, Assess Reintroduction of Anadromous Fish in Burnt, Powder & Malheur Rivers. The Accord partners have mutually agreed to clarify the project's scope of work to ensure that duplication is avoided and this project builds off of the existing assessment studies previously conducted by the Idaho Power Company (IPC). Furthermore, the project will utilize all available existing information to identify needs and gaps and ultimately develop a proposal for near and long-term actions regarding the reintroduction of anadromous fish in the Burnt, Powder & Malheur rivers. BPA and CTUIR will share the proposal with Council at such time.

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 2008-204-00-ISRP-20101015
Project: 2008-204-00 - Assess Reintroduction of Anadromous Fish in Burnt, Powder & Malheur Rivers
Review: RME / AP Category Review
Proposal Number: RMECAT-2008-204-00
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 responses for this proposal were nearly identical to those for a companion and nearly identical proposal on Butter, McKay, and Willow creeks (2008-203-00). Hence, the ISRP comments are also very similar.

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 anadromous fish 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 habitat projects in about 18 months.

Several specific comments about the proposal are important to consider while undertaking this work on Objectives 1 and 2, including:

1. The proponents feel that RIPPLE-GEO is a powerful tool for analyzing stream geomorphology and habitat, and the budget includes $43K for Stillwater Sciences to conduct this work. However, there is no justification for why this takes precedence over determining whether temperatures are suitable, using FLIR or another technique carried out at the whole-basin scale. As a result, the original ISRP question remains, about whether such sophisticated modeling is warranted if temperatures are too warm, especially under projected climate change, or if habitat is simply too poor to consider any reintroduction. This potential conflict was not addressed. For example, it was unclear to the ISRP how median grain size of substrate in channel units would actually be used to assess suitable habitat for anadromous fish reintroduction.

2. In the end, any reintroduction would require a significant program of trapping, trucking, and hauling adult spawners into habitat that is in very poor condition. Likewise, downstream migrating smolts would encounter large populations of non-native fishes like smallmouth bass in the receiving reservoirs. The ISRP anticipates that an assessment will find that the feasibility of this reintroduction effort is minimal, and thus the benefits to fish and wildlife minimal as well.

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:

Questions raised by the ISRP that require responses include: 1. The objectives for this work are unclear, and it seems like they could be simpler and more straightforward than presented in this proposal. Please rephrase more clearly. 2. Develop a simpler logic path to be used to lay out a hierarchy of limiting factors, and develop straightforward methods for sampling them. For example, if temperatures are limiting (as determined by FLIR), then there may be little point in measuring habitat in great detail until the problems with temperature are corrected. 3. Provide a summary of fish species status and trends (they might be surrogate species in these blocked subbasins), habitat, and limiting factor analysis that has already been assembled from previous efforts in these subbasins. Explain the deficiencies in the data and analysis and identify how the proposed work will rectify the deficiencies for planning reintroduction. 4. Will statistical modeling be useful for this small sample of basins, given the high variance in predictions? Would it be more effective to simply measure habitat directly on the ground or from low altitude flights, rather than attempting to predict it from models? 5. 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 anadromous salmonid reintroduction into these watersheds, or predicting where habitat should be restored. Please clarify the deliverables? Overview: The project proponents propose to evaluate the possibility of reintroducing anadromous salmon and steelhead and developing self-sustaining populations in three tributaries of the Snake River above Hell’s Canyon and several other dams. These plans assume that adult fish could be trapped and hauled above the dams, and smolts could be trapped and passed downstream. The main focus is on developing a comprehensive landscape/watershed scale evaluation of habitat features that are needed to sustain anadromous salmonid populations in these streams. 1. Purpose, Significance to Regional Programs, Technical Background, and Objectives The overall objective of assessing the reintroduction and recolonization potential of salmon and steelhead into Burnt, Powder, and the Malheur rivers 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 and 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 salmon and steelhead are to develop successfully reproducing populations, they must (in order of their life history) (1) be provided access to habitat as adults, (2) have access to suitable stream temperatures throughout summer, (3) find suitable spawning and rearing habitat, and (4) 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. 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 salmon and steelhead oversummer, and juvenile salmon 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 salmon and 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 Umatilla anadromous fish restoration master plan, the relevant subbasin plans, and TRT mid-Columbia steelhead ESU assessments. 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 and/salmon 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 for both proposals) 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, would 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 these subbasins. Either this section, or the problem statement, should review what has been accomplished in these subbasins and address 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 (1) how the work proposed will use the information already available and (2) 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 (11/15/2010)

2008 FCRPS BiOp Workgroup Assessment

Assessment Number: 2008-204-00-BIOP-20101105
Project Number: 2008-204-00
Review: RME / AP Category Review
Proposal Number: RMECAT-2008-204-00
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: (0)
All Questionable RPA Associations (0) and
All Deleted RPA Associations (57.5)
Proponent Response:

Project Relationships: None

Name Role Organization
Gene Shippentower Project Lead Umatilla Confederated Tribes (CTUIR)
Jeremy Wolf Technical Contact Umatilla Confederated Tribes (CTUIR)
Julie Burke Administrative Contact Umatilla Confederated Tribes (CTUIR)
Timothy Ludington (Inactive) Project Manager Bonneville Power Administration