In response to the Council’s August 9, 2012 request, the ISRP reviewed the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho’s Step 2 documents for the Kootenai River Native Fish Conservation Aquaculture Program (project #1988-064-00). The program has sturgeon and burbot components. The goals of the Kootenai sturgeon aquaculture program are to prevent extinction of Kootenai sturgeon and restore a healthy age class structure to enhance demographic and genetic viability and persistence of the population. The burbot aquaculture program’s goal is to re-establish a naturally producing, self-sustaining burbot population in the lower Kootenai River capable of future sustainable subsistence and sport harvest. To accomplish these goals, the Tribe proposes to expand and improve the existing Tribal Sturgeon Hatchery near Bonners Ferry and to develop a new Twin Rivers Hatchery to support burbot and additional sturgeon production.
This is an ISRP Step 2 review in the Council’s Three Step Review Process. Step 1 was the feasibility stage in which all major components and elements of the project were identified. The ISRP’s Step 1 review was iterative (ISRP 2010-27 and ISRP 2009-40). In the ISRP final Step 1 review, the ISRP found that the burbot and sturgeon programs met the requirements for proceeding to Step 2. However, the ISRP added three qualifications for the sturgeon component that needed to be addressed in Step 2.
Based on the documentation provided, the ISRP finds that the sponsors did a very good job of technically justifying and detailing their sturgeon and burbot programs. The ISRP recommends that the programs meet Step 2 requirements and can proceed to Step 3. The comments, questions, and recommendations in the ISRP’s attached review are offered for use in preparation of the Step 3 documents and do not require a response. The ISRP hopes that the items will be carefully considered in the final documents.
In sum, the ISRP notes that the sponsors have established objectives for the focal species; appreciate the need for an ecosystem level perspective in the restoration of sturgeon and burbot; have incorporated concepts from the ISAB food web report (ISAB 2011-1) and the ISRP recommendations for modeling capacity; and designed artificial production programs of limited scale that recognize the uncertainties of restoration.