Response for project 199102800: Pit Tagging Wild Chinook

Comment on proposed FY 2006 budget

The proposed budget ($350,000) for project 199102800 in FY2006 is enough to do the basic wild fish PIT tagging and monitoring, environmental (water quality) monitoring, and maintaining the Valley Creek PIT-tag in-stream monitoring. However, this is not enough funding for planned (in 2005) expanded in-stream PIT-tag monitoring in Big Creek (see project information in Pisces for more information). We feel this is a very important part of this study, for monitoring movements and survival of these wild listed stocks within a pristine wilderness that has not been affected by hatchery operations. All Permits/approvals have been obtained for this work. Any extra money would help, but $50,000 is the minimum amount to purchase equipment and do the initial installation work. Obviously, if this extra money is not approved, this part of the study will be delayed. The following budget is based on our 2005 Contract: Total direct costs--$260,682; total indirect costs (NOAA support)--$68,118; total PIT-tag costs-- $21,200. Work Element Funding--Mark and tag animnals--$135,600; Collect/Generate/Validate field data--$82,400; Analyze/Interpret data--$39,600; Produce Annual Reports--$13,800; Produce/Submit scientific findings--$13,800; Environmental Compliance Documentation--$6,900; Manage and administer project--$29,800; Produce status reports--$6,900.

Accomplishments since the last review

From 2002 to 2004, collected, PIT tagged, and released from 14,290 to 19,871 wild spring/summer Chinook salmon parr from 15 to 16 streams of the Salmon River basin of Idaho. Subsequently, we monitored these fish (2003 and 2004) annually at juvenile migrant traps, in-stream PIT-tag monitoring sites (Valley Creek), and dams. We characterized the parr-to-smolt survival and movements of these fish from natal rearing areas to Lower Granite Dam. We collected water quality information at five locations in conjunction with fish monitoring sites in natal rearing areas and collected parr-to-smolt growth information on a sample of these wild fish each spring at Little Goose Dam. All this yearly information have been reported in annual reports. The PIT-tag detection information on these fish is used annually by regional fish managers for monitoring of ESA-listed fish to guide decisions on operations of the FCRPS to better protect these fish.

FY 2006 goals and anticipated accomplishments

Continue the PIT tagging and monitoring efforts on these ESA-listed fish stated in the past accomplishments. Continue the development of in-stream PIT-tag monitoring by expanding this work to Big Creek in the middle fork of the Salmon River drainage. This stream is within a pristine wilderness, with no influence from hatchery plants. Begin to examine the relationships between fish movement/survival, and environmental conditions within streams, and weather and climate data. The ultimate goal were are working toward is to generate a large enough dataset so we can accurately predict fish movements and survival given a set of environmental conditions and thus use this information to recover these listed stocks.

Subbasin planning

How is this project consistent with subbasin plans?

Project 199102800 is consistent with the Salmon Subbasin Mangement Plan per Strategies and Objectives statements on pages 23 and 24. Strategies: 2A1, states: “Preserve the genetic integrity of existing wild stocks in the Salmon Subbasin. Preserve the genetic diversity of existing wild stocks in the Salmon Subbasin. Protect and monitor abundance and productivity of wild stocks in the subbasin that have not been influenced by hatchery intervention.” Aquatic Objective 3A, states: “Address data gaps necessary to measure freshwater survival and productivity.” Strategies: 3A1, states: “Use new and existing projects to further the knowledge of egg-to-smolt survival and the mechanisms that affect survival.” Finally, 3A3, states: “Use information developed in the Strategies to aid in the definition of project prioritization.”

How do goals match subbasin plan priorities?

In the discussion section on page 26 of the Salmon Subbasin Management Plan, priority needed research and monitoring is discussed. Project 199102800 goals of characterizing stage-specific migrational timing/survival and how it relates to environmental conditions within the streams and weather/climate data, relates directly to the priorities discussed in this section. In this discussion, there is an emphasis on addressing Biological Opinion Tier 1, 2, and 3 questions for listed species research, monitoring, and evaluation and understanding mechanisms that affect freshwater survival. The discussion further states: “Basic egg to fry, parr, presmolt and smolt survival information for focal species is poorly understood in the Salmon subbasin. Information needs to be collected to quantify survival, and the natural variation in survival within spectrum of degraded to high quality habitat conditions. Understanding more refined life stage survival may allow an understanding of the mechanisms that affect survival in freshwater habitats. It also may allow an understanding of the improvements in survival that may result from various types of habitat rehabilitation activities.”

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