At the Council’s August 26 request, the ISRP reviewed a proposal by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ (MFWP) titled Secure and Protect Core Fisheries Habitat in the Swan River Valley. MFWP proposes to acquire fee ownership on spawning and rearing tributaries within the Swan River Valley and thus to provide BPA with mitigation credits for approved fish losses caused by construction of Hungry Horse Dam.
This proposal outlines an important effort that would likely provide important habitat stability for bull trout, cutthroat trout, and several other key species in a sensitive area potentially threatened with imminent development. The threat of development in the area suggests that a timely response is needed while the habitat remains largely intact. The proposal, however, provided insufficient details in a number of areas. Thus, the ISRP requests a response that provides the following:
1. More background information regarding the status of the two focal fish species specifically related to scales of a) major population group (MPG), b) distinct population segment (DPS), and c) local watershed.
2. A clearer statement of scientific rationale for the particular parcels to be acquired in relation to life histories of the focal species and of watershed ecological function.
3. The protection prioritization of the chosen watersheds for bull and west-slope cutthroat trout in state or federal recovery, management, or subbasin plans.
4. Metrics that can be used to evaluate the acquisition in terms of watershed ecological function and fish species status, and a monitoring plan to collect and evaluate the metrics. The response should also give some indication of the crediting provided for the losses attributed to the Hungry Horse mitigation.
The ISRP looks forward to reviewing the response.