On April 21, 2000, the Council requested that the ISRP review the Northeast Oregon Hatchery Spring Chinook Master Plan. The review is a Step One review under the Council’s Three Step Review Process. The ISRP’s review is provided below in two sections: 1) Recommendations and Findings, 2) Specific ISRP Reviewer Comments. The Specific Reviewer Comments are incorporated in the three-step review template submitted by the Nez Perce Tribe.
Recommendations and Findings
The Northeast Oregon Hatchery Spring Chinook Master Plan is one of the better master plans reviewed by the ISRP as part of the Three-Step Process. The report reads well and is logically constructed. The materials submitted adequately address the technical questions raised in the Step One Review, and the project is satisfactory to proceed to Step Two.
However, the reviewers identified several issues that the project needs to address as it further develops.
- Although materials on the monitoring and evaluation conceptual framework submitted for this stage are adequate, future submittals need to include a more complete and detailed monitoring and evaluation plan. The plan should include long term storage of data and meta-data with dates for release to the public. This plan should include comprehensive monitoring and evaluation of ecological effects and outcomes to justify concerns and assumptions about wild fish, resident fish, and carrying capacity. The detailed monitoring and evaluation plan should also benefit from additional peer-review after it is developed. (Attachment 1, Question 20, also 9, 14, 16; Attachment 2, Questions 5, 7; Attachment 3, Measures 7.0D, 7.1A, 7.1C, 7.1F; Attachment 5, Questions 2 and 8)
- The materials on limiting factors raised concerns about in-basin conditions of lower sections of the rivers, particularly high temperatures and low flows during the late summer. The project should show better linkage to habitat improvement projects that address these limiting factors. (Attachment 1, Question 3; Attachment 3, Measures 7.1A and C)
- Linked to the limiting factors recommendation were reviewer’s concerns that the late summer high temperatures and low flows, particularly in the Lostine River, were potentially adversely impacting a remnant late-run of adult chinook salmon (springs or summers?; pp. 147-148 of Master Plan). This group of fish may represent an important diversity component in the Grand Ronde chinook stock that is not being adequately addressed by the Master Plan and its proposed actions.
- We had similar concerns over the late-summer high water temperatures and low summer and winter flows and their potential to adversely affect rearing of juvenile chinook at the proposed Mark’s Ranch site in the lower Imnaha River. Use of ground water may reduce the concern, but may also reduce the effectiveness of the proposed NATURE’s strategies. Apparently, since the Master Plan was developed an additional site upstream near the confluence of Summit Creek has been examined and initial results suggest that further consideration of this site for the lower river culture facility may be warranted (B. Ashe, Personal communication to R. Williams, 11 July 2000).
- Although harvest is not an immediate factor, it is a long-term goal of the project and a long-term plan should be developed that ensures compatibility with recovery goals. (Attachment 1, Questions 1, 2, 4, 9, 18; Attachment 3, Measure 7.1A; Attachment 5, Question 9)
- It is good that the project will incorporate some elements of NATURE’s rearing such as low fish densities, but it is not clear what other NATURE’s strategies will be employed (e.g. predator avoidance and exercise programs were not described). Future submittals should better describe the strategies to be used and not used. (Attachment 1, Questions 12, 15)
- We recommend using the Imnaha Satellite (Gumboot) facility to hold, spawn, and incubate chinook eggs to the eyed state prior to transport to a rearing site lower in the Imnaha River basin. Eyed eggs will tolerate transport more readily than green eggs. Egg incubation at the Imnaha Satellite facility will likely require development of a ground water supply, however, egg incubation does not require a large water volume.
- The Master Plan should better describe whether the proposed improvement to Lookingglass Hatchery will alleviate the high risk of fish production loss due to winter icing and heavy reliance on well TW2, with no back-up. These risks were described as significant problems in the past, and the reviewers saw no indication that these risks would not continue to pose major production problems. (Attachment 1, Question 19)
- Downstream mortalities associated with mainstem passage and other downstream habitat constraints (e.g., ocean conditions) are potential limiting factors. The limiting factors effect whole system concerns. The Master Plan demonstrates an awareness of these larger-scale limiting factors, but does not tie the project goals with these factors as closely as it should for the captive broodstock component.
While it falls beyond the responsibility of the Nez Perce Tribe and this Master Plan to resolve these issues, they need to be addressed before captive broodstock programs can be effective. The region needs to carefully consider the consequences of supporting local projects that require large-scale regional supporting actions that may or may not occur.
It appears from the Master Plan that the captive broodstock effort could continue for perpetuity. However, captive broodstock strategies have inherent design constraints. Captive brood strategies should be short-term. The longer this project proceeds, the less likely the captive broodstock element will be a success. Further development of the Master Plan and Stage 2 and 3 documents need to provide specific timelines to determine success or failure of the captive broodstock strategy.