At the Council’s April 16, 2012 request, the ISRP reviewed responses from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes (hereafter Tribes) to the ISRP’s Step 1 review of the Master Plan for the Crystal Springs Fish Hatchery and Programs for Snake River Chinook Salmon and Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. The Master Plan is proposed through BPA Project #2008-906-00, Crystal Springs Planning and Operations/Maintenance. This ISRP evaluation is part of a Step 1 review in the Council’s Three Step Review Process. Step 1 is the feasibility stage, and all major components and elements of a project should be identified. This review focuses on the Tribes’ responses to the ISRP’s 2011 review (ISRP 2011-17) and Step 1 scientific review elements specified by the Council.
In the 2011 review, the ISRP found the Master Plan to be very well organized, presenting material regarding two fish species (Yellowstone cutthroat trout and Chinook salmon), three different field settings, and a proposed hatchery in a clear and professional manner. However, the ISRP found the proposed hatchery lacked sufficient scientific justification and needed clarification; consequently, the ISRP requested responses on several key issues. Specifically, as presented, the ISRP did not believe the conservation goals of the Yankee Fork, and probably Panther Creek, could be achieved given current conditions, and also believed that additional development was required for the Yellowstone cutthroat trout restoration effort to meet scientific criteria. The Tribes responded to these concerns, and the Council submitted the response to the ISRP.
Based on the response, the ISRP finds that the project Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified).
The Tribes responses to the ISRP comments are detailed, thorough, and substantial. The responses bring significant clarification, namely that for both Chinook salmon and Yellowstone cutthroat trout the primary goal will be to provide for the Tribes’ harvest, cultural, and future conservation objectives. Furthermore, terminal harvest would be the intent for Chinook salmon in both Yankee Fork and Panther Creek. Both of these components are consistent with the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program principles. The ISRP is encouraged that the Tribes are considering the use of weirs and traps as a means to capture surplus hatchery salmon. The use of live-capture gear should be coupled with live-release of unmarked salmon when feasible as a means of enabling the possible development of locally adapted salmon populations.
The Master Plan needs revision to reflect the harvest priority of spawning escapement presented in this response to the ISRP. Continuation of the dialogue on the appropriate broodstock source for Yankee Fork is needed, as is planning for broodstock management. Specific broodstock management questions to be addressed in Step 2 are itemized under Issue 3, below.
Additional modeling of potential harvest is needed, and an estimate of the harvest benefits and likelihood of broodstock replenishment should be performed using empirical data rather than using the All-H Analyzer (AHA) or AHA rollup models (Issue 4).
Further information is needed on how straying rates will be estimated including how hatchery fish will be identified, what locations will be surveyed, how often these surveys will occur, and what the sample size goals will be (Issue 5).
The protocols that will be used to assess potential interactions between hatchery origin fish and fishes resident in Panther, Yankee Fork, and the Salmon River need to be more fully explained (Issue 5).
The traits that will be measured on project smolts during the rearing period and at the time of release need to be developed (Issue 5).
Yellowstone cutthroat trout
The Yellowstone cutthroat trout component has been entirely modified. The artificial production with the objective for a conservation benefit objective will be eliminated from the Master Plan. Instead, up to 5000 five to six inch juveniles will be produced annually for release in a confined oxbow lake on reservation lands. The framework for the Yellowstone cutthroat trout sport fisheries is consistent with the Fish and Wildlife Program principles, but the information provided is too brief for an ISRP evaluation. A more detailed assessment for that program is needed. More details are needed regarding the M&E program for these fish, plus a better description of the potential for accidental escape. A comprehensive plan for native and natural trout management and integration with management for fisheries using hatchery produced trout is needed for specific watersheds and geographic regions, per ISRP programmatic comments for the recent Resident Fish Review (ISRP 2012-6).