At the Council’s May 13 request, the ISRP reviewed Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) revised proposal titled Estimate the Relative Reproductive Success of Hatchery and Natural Origin Steelhead in the Methow River Basin (2010-033-00). This proposal is intended to address high priority research, monitoring and evaluation needs identified in the 2008 Biological Opinion (BiOp) for the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS). These needs were identified for immediate action during the recent Columbia Basin Research, Monitoring and Evaluation (RM&E) Collaboration process and workshops in November 2009. This project is specifically designed to meet RPA 64.3 of the BiOp. The project’s purpose is to quantitatively evaluate the relative reproductive success of naturally spawning hatchery and natural origin steelhead in the Methow River Basin over two generations.
An earlier version of this proposal was submitted in February 2010 for the Fast Track proposal review process. The ISRP requested a response for that proposal and completed a final review onc April 15, 2010 (ISRP 2010-10). The ISRP found that the proposal did not meet scientific review criteria because it lacked detail. The ISRP recommended that WDFW should submit a more developed proposal in the RME Categorical Review and that a point-by-point response to the ISRP's concerns should accompany the proposal. Rather than wait for the RME Categorical Review, the Council recommended that WDFW "respond to the ISRP’s request for a revised proposal and a complete response ahead of the RM&E/Artificial Production Category Review so that the needed actions associated with this project can be implemented in FY 2010 if a favorable ISRP review and Council recommendation is received." WDFW revised their proposal and included a point-by-point response to the ISRP's concerns.
The ISRP finds that the revised proposal meets scientific review criteria. The proposed investigation is timely and has the potential to improve understanding of the demography and viability of upper Columbia ESU steelhead and the relationship between hatchery and natural fish in this region. There is the potential that the results would apply to steelhead populations with low abundance in other upper Columbia subbasins, i.e., Entiat, Wenatchee, and Okanogan.