Follow-up Review of Mid-Columbia Coho Restoration Program - Response Requested

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In response to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s February 15, 2017 request, the ISRP reviewed a revised Mid-Columbia Coho Restoration Program Master Plan which included responses to issues raised in the ISRP’s most recent review of this project (ISRP 2009-47, November 2009). The Master Plan is designed to achieve the Yakama Nation’s (YN) long-term vision to re-establish naturally spawning coho salmon populations in mid-Columbia tributaries to biologically sustainable levels that will provide significant harvest in most years. The project proponents are testing whether out-of-basin broodstock from Lower Columbia River hatcheries can be used to reintroduce coho salmon into two mid-Columbia River tributaries. A five-phased approach to create self-sustaining populations of coho in the Wenatchee and Methow Rivers is being evaluated.

The revised Master Plan shows that substantial progress has occurred since the last ISRP review. Quantitative objectives and time periods for when project milestones should be reached have been established. A contingency plan that presents a series of alternative actions that the project may take if circumstances prevent it from achieving expected goals is also in place. What needs some further thought, however, is how to create a coho broodstock that is suited for the upper Wenatchee River.

The ISRP requests a two-part response. The ISRP requests that the proponents (1) consult with CRITFC or other regional geneticists to evaluate the benefits and costs of a breeding program that would selectively use coho capable of ascending Tumwater Canyon, and (2)  with assistance from geneticists, determine if existing genetic samples can be used to track the ability of progeny produced from four different types of parental crosses to ascend Tumwater Canyon. A report describing the results of these consultations should be submitted to the ISRP to determine if the project fully meets scientific review criteria.