In response to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s June 6, 2018 request, the ISRP reviewed Step 2 and 3 documents from the Yakama Nation for the Melvin R. Sampson Coho Facility as part of the Yakima Subbasin Summer and Fall Run Chinook and Coho Salmon Hatchery Master Plan (Project #1988-115-25, Yakima River Design and Construction-Yakima/Klickitat Fisheries Project [YKFP]). This is the ISRP’s third review related to this Master Plan (see ISRP 2013-8 and 2012-13). In the 2013 review, the ISRP found the Master Plan “Meets Scientific Review (Qualified).” Six issues were identified in the ISRP’s qualification that the Council requested the Yakama Nation to address in Step 2 (Council October 10, 2013 decision letter):
- the transition from Phase 3 to Phase 4,
- management of harvests and spawning escapement,
- the likelihood of implementing the expected habitat restoration plans (Integrated Plan),
- management of the overall program in light of high uncertainty in the extent of habitat actions and fish responses to actions,
- the need for a robust monitoring and evaluation program to support a management decision framework, and
- overall program size.
The ISRP found that the Yakama Nation’s response presents a well-conceived plan for coho salmon reintroduction and supplementation in the Yakima subbasin. However, some important details are missing or unclear. A fully revised and updated version of the detailed 2012 Master Plan is required to facilitate an accurate review by the ISRP and to maintain accountability in this final stage of the Step Review process. Accordingly, the ISRP requests that the proponents address the following eight issues in a revised Master Plan (that focuses just on coho).
- Explain why so many (1,200) coho must be collected for use as broodstock in the segregated program.
- Provide more details about the biological metrics to be monitored during transition from Phase 3 and Phase 4, how they are expected to change, and how the transition will be triggered.
- Consider the feasibility and possible benefits of developing separate broodstocks to promote adaptation to the Naches River and Upper Yakima River – major tributaries that exhibit very different biophysical environments.
- Provide more detail about the locations of release sites for the integrated program, how sites are prioritized, the numbers of parr and translocated adults to be released at each site, and how differences in performance related to release site will be evaluated.
- Address previous ISRP concerns (ISRP 2013-8 and 2012-13) that the projected increases in both productivity and smolt capacity are based on assumptions that may be overly optimistic.
- Describe decision rules for coho harvest management, and show they are consistent with spawning targets for unclipped fish (natural origin returns), particularly if natural origin returns are substantially less than expected.
- Provide more details about contingency plans and decision trees to guide adaptive management if outcomes are not as expected.
- Describe any proposed changes to infrastructure at, or utilization of, the Prosser Hatchery. (The proponents state that previous ISRP questions about the water supply system and concrete raceways at the Prosser Hatchery are now “out of date” due to subsequent project revisions).
More detailed comments and questions to help guide the revision are contained in the full ISRP report.