Response for project 200302900: Assess Upper Malheur Above Beu

Comment on proposed FY 2006 budget

The Burns Paiute Tribe Fish and Wildlife Department recommend that FY 2006 funding be allocated to project no. 2003-02-900, Assess the Feasibility of the Upper Malheur Watershed to support the Reintroduction of Anadromous Populations above the Beulah and Warm Springs Reservoirs. The proposed budget set forth from the NPCC is not sufficient to successfully implement the proposed FY 2006 Tasks. Project implementation costs for FY 2006 are $141,000 per reach or total budget of $282,000. Bonneville Power Administration Responsibility should be 50% of the total budget or $141,000 for FY 2006. Funding from the Idaho Power Company is not secured.

Accomplishments since the last review

No direct funding has been provided by Bonneville Power Administration for this project. Nevertheless, Task 1.2 and 1.3 relate to the collection of existing data and this has been done by Idaho Power Company (IPC) in their Reintroduction Feasibility Study submitted in their draft License Application to the Federal Energy Re-licensing Commission, The NPCC Malheur River Subbasin Plans, and project no. 199701900, Evaluate the Life History of Native Salmonids in the Malheur River Basin. The Idaho Power Re-licensing study drew some strong assumptions that conflict with ongoing research finding in project 199701900. Studies that utilize live anadromous fish needed to complete Phase I are: 1) Adult Behavior and Egg-to-Fry Survival, 2) Juvenile Migration Behavior and 3) Survival, Juvenile Transportation / Adult Return. Many of the other tasks identified in the original proposal under Phase are suspected to be completed by the IPC in their re-licensing effort.

FY 2006 goals and anticipated accomplishments

Category – Planning and Coordination Work Element – Coordination Metric Description – Obtain necessary state / federal permits and coordinate efforts with cost share entities. Value – All necessary animal transportation and release permits. Value – Coordinated work plan with cooperators and cost share entities. Category – RM & E and Data Management Work Element – Collect Data Metric Description – Adult Behavior and Egg-to-Fry Survival Study on the Malheur River Reach (above Warm Springs Dam) and North Fork Malheur River Reach (above Agency Valley Dam). Value – Radio tag 100 Adult Salmon per reach Value – Weekly migration observations through radio tracking tag fish per reach Value – Determine spawning locations per reach Value – Cap natural redds and create artificial redds in same are and plant eggs per reach Value – Determine incubation success from natural and artificial redds per reach

Subbasin planning

How is this project consistent with subbasin plans?

Chinook salmon was selected as an aquatic focal species for the Malheur River Subbasin Management Plan (page 19). The Malheur River Subbasin Plan list re-introduction of anadromous fish as an Aquatic Species Goal 2.1.2.1 and 2.1.2.3 (page 12). The project is consistent with and implements Aquatic Strategies 6.1.2 (page 79). These strategies relate to Objectives 6.1 for chinook salmon. This project is also consistent with the 2002 draft Bull Trout Recovery Plan Malheur River Unit task 5.5.2, Investigate potential for restoring historic prey base by reintroducing anadromous species. The tasks in the draft Bull Trout Recovery Plan Malheur River Unit relate to Objective 2.2 in the Malheur Subbasin Management Plan (page 76). A few specific measures from the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program (NPPC 1994) that relate to this project: 1.6 - Indian Rights, 2.2A: Support native species in native habitats, 2.2E6: Criteria for establishing constraints on hydroproject operations, including (a) protection and rebuilding of weak native fish stocks and resident fish substitutions, (b) protection of tribal rights to fish at usual and accostomed fishing places and ceded areas, 3.2C.1 Focuses on identifying key uncertainties associated with program measures, 7.10K: Passage into historic habitat, and 7.10K1: Where appropriate, determine the feasibility of providing passage above blockages to habitat caused by human development activities. Appropriate habitat includes areas where weak stocks are habitat limited and, therefore, would benefit from additional habitat.

How do goals match subbasin plan priorities?

Chinook salmon is a focal species for the Malheur River Subbasin. These studies will address critical uncertainties in developing a plan for re-introducing anadromous fish in the Malheur River Subbasin. The Qualitative Habitat Assessment has no protection priorities due to the absence of these populations. The habitat above Beulah and Warm Springs Reservoirs contain approximately 90% of the historical spawning habitat. The draft 2002 Bull Trout Recovery Plan Malheur River Unit task 5.2.2 (Investigate potential for restoring historic prey base by reintroducing anadromous species) is a high priority and this task relate to Objective 2.2 in the Malheur River Subbasin Management Plan.

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