Intensively Monitored Watersheds (IMW's)
- If IMWs are research projects, will they provide insight into practical monitoring and evaluation questions of the Programs habitat type projects or technology transfer information in 12 to 20 years? Many IMW’s have been ongoing for awhile. What is the appropriate end point for an IMW project to reach conclusions and come to a close?
- Do we need more IMWs? If so, then where in the basin do we need them? What criteria should be applied to establish additional IMWs? In addition, how should the IMW link to the habitat type projects being implemented in the program? How would a regional approach to monitoring factor in the information gained from the IMW?
- If we do not need more IMWs, should they be included in the fish and wildlife program?
- If climate change results in increased water and air temperatures, higher sea level, snow pack decreases, forces changes in vegetation patterns and water use and adds stresses to native species, how should the fish and wildlife program evolve to be responsive to climate change?
- Should the program prioritize protection of cold-water refugia for resident and anadromous fish; and if so how?
- Modeling indicates the region will be receiving increased precipitation in the future, however it will be in the form of rain, not mountain snow pack. Should the program support construction of additional water storage reservoirs in the region?
- Should the program identify sacrifice zones and thereby prioritize efforts to protect/recover stocks in those subbasins identified as least affected by climate change and those with the best and most resilient habitat? Or, should the program provide interim protection to areas likely to be high priority because of climate change, as well as continuing to protect current high priority areas for future use?
Climate and Human Population
- If population growth presents the possibility of loss and fragmentation of habitat, along with increased land, water and electricity demands, how should the fish and wildlife program evolve to be responsive to population growth and incorporate population growth changes at the planning and implementation levels?
- Land use decisions are made at the state and local level, but are there useful ways the fish and wildlife program can influence, assist, or provide incentives for local land use planning?
- Considering both climate change and population growth factors, should the Council increase its participation in water acquisitions and transfer activities given predictions of water availability in the basin?
- Should the program consider prioritizing areas where marine-derived nutrient enhancement activities and associated monitoring would benefit tributary systems?
- How can mainstem survival performance standards be established in a way that is meaningful given that fish experience variable passage history, river and ocean conditions?
- What additional changes or modifications need to be made at each mainstem dam to improve fish passage and survival to meet project and system performance standards?
- What opportunities exist to fine-tune spill levels (with or without surface bypasses), flow augmentation, and fish bypass structures at each dam, to improve in-river survival to meet performance standards?
- What changes in juvenile fish transportation would increase overall system survival?
- What policies can effectively address the effect on summer migrants of warm water and slow flows in the summer? What opportunities exist to better balance flow and temperature releases from Dworshak Dam and the Hells Canyon hydroelectric complex?
- Have the fish and wildlife program expenditures for fish passage improvements at mainstem hydroelectric dams reached the point of diminishing returns, and might some of that funding be directed more effectively to other parts of the program, such as habitat improvements upriver or in the estuary?
- What mainstem water quality improvements need to be addressed?
- What are the remaining limiting factors and critical uncertainties in the mainstem and in the program and how should they be addressed in the amended program?
- Should the Program prioritize the long-term study of the survival benefit of barge transportation for subyearling fall Chinook salmon from the Snake River in comparison to the survival benefit of summer spills at the Snake River dams to aid the downstream migration of these fish?
- Are we measuring the appropriate life history stage to assess program improvements in survival?
Lower Columbia River and Estuary
- How should the Fish and Wildlife Program focus habitat restoration efforts in the estuary and lower Columbia River considering the widely varied lengths of stay in the estuary of different salmonid populations and hatchery vs. wild fish? How can policies better connect the hydropower system to the lower river and estuary, synthesizing available scientific knowledge in order to direct future research and policy-making?
- How should the Fish and Wildlife Program focus research efforts related to the estuary, and the lower Columbia River to improve our understanding of stock-specific use of habitat including tributary deltas? Should greater efforts be made to link management of the estuary to the operation of the hydroelectric system?
- Should the FWP focus research efforts to estimate survival in the estuary of different salmonid populations including hatchery vs wild fish? Should emphasis be put on survival as well as habitat use?
Coastal and Ocean Ecosystems
- Should the Program continue to implement/invest in comprehensive fish-tagging studies to better understand how ocean conditions, distribution and high-seas fisheries management affect Columbia River stocks?
- Should strategies be designed to meet escapement goals using stock-specific estimates of early ocean survival and abundance?
- Should hatcheries be operated to put fewer juvenile fish into the river when ocean conditions are poor?
- Should the program have specific policies regarding visible marking of hatchery fish? And should the program encourage selective harvest for all stocks and fisheries?
Other Program areas
- Should the Fish and Wildlife Program focus predator control efforts in the basin? If so, how?
- Should the program continue to be a habitat-based program; and if not, what are other focal areas to consider?
- How should the Fish and Wildlife Program focus protection and/or restoration efforts for lamprey, sturgeon, burbot, Bull trout and other native species?
- Should the performance of hatcheries be evaluated solely on the number of juvenile fish released or on the number of adult returns?
- How can the program better balance protection of wild fish with the production and release of hatchery fish in the system?
- How can the FWP facilitate better linkages between research and management efforts in the watershed, estuary and ocean so that the system can be managed in a more integrated fashion?