Response for project 200200600: Bull Trout Movement:Tucannon

Comment on proposed FY 2006 budget

WDFW response: We desire funding for this project for FY 2006. The proposed budget is consistent with 2005 funding and is generally sufficient to implement the scope of this project. However, mandatory salary increases, and increased fuel and benefit costs have cut into operating expenses and may force WDFW to reduce personnel time associated with this project. Computer replacement is also necessary for this project. This project budget (at least for WDFW) should be increased by about 10% to address these increased costs and maintain the project. Total project budget for USFWS and WDFW is $175,487 for 2005 and 2006. WDFW's portion in FY 2005 is $65,308.

Accomplishments since the last review

Since the initiation of this project, WDFW and USFWS have radio tagged 101 bull trout and PIT tagged 525 bull trout. We have tracked the spatial distribution, migration timing, and movements of radio tagged bull trout at weekly intervals from the headwaters of the Tucannon River to its mouth. We changed our tagging emphasis to radio tag smaller adult/subadult bull trout in fall and winter to increase tag retention and tracking through the winter. This has improved radio tag retention from 10-28% in 2002-03 to 56% in 2004. In addition a radio tagged bull trout was tracked into the Snake River during the winter/spring of 2004-2005. We have completed 2 annual reports and our draft annual report for 2004 will be completed in early June.

FY 2006 goals and anticipated accomplishments

Capture and radio tag up to 40 small adult or subadult bull trout in the lower reaches of the Tucannon River. Monitor their winter movements and migration weekly, and follow any movements in the mainstem Snake River. This effort will be paired with another project to track PIT tagged bull trout with a PIT tag antenna near the mouth of the Tucannon River. The two projects should provide a much more complete picture of the numbers or percentage of bull trout from the Tucannon River that migrate to the Snake River, and possibly return.

Subbasin planning

How is this project consistent with subbasin plans?

WDFW response: This project is not specifically mentioned in subbasin plans. This project helps meet Reasonable and Prudent Measures, and Conservation Recommendations associated with the Lower Snake River dams in the 2000 FCRPS Biological Opinion, and to increase understanding of bull trout movements within the Tucannon River basin. Page 5 of the Lower Snake River mainstem Subbasin Plan states, "... the Council, BPA, NOAA-Fisheries and USFWS will use adopted subbasin plans to help meet requirement under the 2000 Federal Columbia River System Biological Opinion (BiOp) at the subbasin and/or province level." There are no specific strategies or objectives related BiOp actions in the Lower Snake or Tucannon Subbasin plans. On page 159, line 27-29, the Tucannon Subbasin Plan states, "...project proponents can use the draft Bull Trout Recovery Plan to demonstrate that their project is consistent with the draft plan and will benefit bull trout, which will provide greater support for their projects." Chapter 24 of the draft Bull Trout Recovery Plan identifies recovery goals and objectives. On page 59 of that plan, lines 5-6, it specifically identifies "...connectivity (as represented by the migratory life history form and functional habitat..." as on of four elements to consider when evaluating the viability of a bull trout population. The first objective of our bull trout radio telemetry study is to "determine the spatial distribution, migration timing, and movements of adult migratory bull trout in the Tucannon and Snake rivers."

How do goals match subbasin plan priorities?

WDFW response: There are no specific strategies or objectives related to the BiOp actions in the Lower Snake or Tucannon Subbasin plans. There are no provisions that prioritize BiOp actions in the Lower Snake or Tucannon subbasin plans. Page 5 of the Lower Snake Mainstem Subbasin Plan state, "...the Council, BPA, NOAA-Fisheries and USFWS will use adopted subbasin plans to help meet requirements under the 2000 Federal Columbia River System Biological Opinion (BiOp) at the subbasin and/or province level." Page 64, line 21-36 of the draft Bull Trout Recovery Plan (USFWS 2004)states: "A primary research need is a complete understanding of the role that the mainstem Snake River should play in recovery of bull trout. Fluvial bull trout probably comprised a strong component of local populations throughout the Snake River Washington Recovery Unit, including areas in which bull trout are believed to be extirpated or persist in core populations with very low densities..." Our radio telemetry project specially addresses the above mentioned "primary research need" by documenting the spatial distribution, migration timing, and movements of migratory bull trout in the Tucannon and Snake rivers. Furthermore, priority for this project is specifically identified in at least two locations within the Actions Needed section of Chapter 24 of the draft Bull Trout Recovery Plan. On page 80, lines 31-33 and page 81, lines 1-4, item 1.4.3 (Identify study needs related to habitats for foraging, migrating, and overwintering in Snake River reservoirs). "Determine research needs associated with the operation of Lower Monumental Dam, Little Goose, and Lower Granite dams and with movement of bull trout from tributary streams into, and through, associated reservoirs. Conduct research on identified topics and then implement feasible remedies." On page 90, lines 6-18, subsection 5.2.2, this exact project is specifically recommended.

Other comments

WDFW response: This project helps meet Reasonable and Prudent Measures, and Conservation Recommendations associated with the Lower Snake River dams in the 2000 FCRPS Biological Opinion, and to increase understanding of bull trout movements within the Tucannon River basin. Page 5 of the Lower Snake River mainstem Subbasin Plan states, "... the Council, BPA, NOAA-Fisheries and USFWS will use adopted subbasin plans to help meet requirement under the 2000 Federal Columbia River System Biological Opinion (BiOp) at the subbasin and/or province level." There are no specific strategies or objectives related BiOp actions in the Lower Snake or Tucannon Subbasin plans. Chapter 24 of the draft Bull Trout Recovery Plan identifies recovery goals and objectives. On page 59 of that plan, lines 5-6, it specifically identifies "...connectivity (as represented by the migratory life history form and functional habitat..." as on of four elements to consider when evaluating the viability of a bull trout population. The first objective of this bull trout radio telemetry study is to "determine the spatial distribution, migration timing, and movements of adult migratory bull trout in the Tucannon and Snake rivers." Page 64, line 21-36 of the draft Bull Trout Recovery Plan (USFWS 2004)states: "A primary research need is a complete understanding of the role that the mainstem Snake River should play in recovery of bull trout. Fluvial bull trout probably comprised a strong component of local populations throughout the Snake River Washington Recovery Unit, including areas in which bull trout are believed to be extirpated or persist in core populations with very low densities..." Our radio telemetry project specially addresses the above mentioned "primary research need". Furthermore, priority for this project is specifically identified in at least two locations within the Actions Needed section of Chap. 24 of the draft Bull Trout Recovery Plan. On page 80, lines 31-33 & pg 81, lines 1-4, item 1.4.3. On pg 90, lines 6-18, subsection 5.2.2, this exact project is specifically recommended.