Columbia Basin Bulletin


Weekly Fish and Wildlife News
June 26, 2009
Issue No. 490

All stories below are posted on the CBB's website at
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Table of Contents:

* Obama Administration's Perspectives On Salmon BiOp Due In Court August 14

* June's Liquid Bounty Has All Snake River Basin Reservoirs Full For Farm And Fish

* Feds, State Aim For 'Integrated Approach' To Tackle Yakima Basin Water Issues

* Summer Chinook Fishing Off To Good Start, Tribes Urge Caution On Run Forecasting

* Kootenai River White Sturgeon: Recovery Focuses On Understanding, Increasing Spawning

* Kootenai River White Sturgeon: Species' Future Relies On Kootenai Tribe Hatchery Program

* Groups Sue FEMA Over Floodplain Development Without Considering Impacts To Salmon

* Biologists Hope To Avoid Invasive Small Predatory Fish Becoming Entrenched

* More Lake Trout Found In Montana's Swan River Drainage, Poses Threat To Bull Trout

* IDAM, Integrated Dam Assessment Modeling, Shows Costs, Benefits Of Building A Dam

* Report Details West Coast Research Needs About Fisheries, Ocean Health

* Colorado Attorney Confirmed As Assistant Secretary Of Interior For Water, Science

* Feedback: The Science Of Supplementation


* Obama Administration's Perspectives On Salmon BiOp Due In Court August 14

The federal government has requested, and received, more time to decide whether it might consider changes to the strategy it completed a little over a year ago to reduce Columbia-Snake river hydro system impacts on protected salmon stocks.

"At the end of this period we will advise the Court of the administration leadership's perspectives on the BiOp and whether further discussions are warranted," according to a June 19 e-mail sent by the U.S. Department of Justice to U.S. District Court Judge James A. Redden. The BiOp is NOAA Fisheries Service's May 2008 judgment -- an Endangered Species Act biological opinion -- that the Federal Columbia River Power System and its planned operations won't jeopardize the survival of 13 listed Columbia basin salmon and steelhead stocks.

Judge Redden responded positively with a two-sentence e-mail Monday.

"I agree that the administration will have the 45 days, through August 14, 2009," he said. "We look forward to the administration leadership's perspectives, and whether 'further discussions are warranted.'"

The 2008 BiOp was immediately challenged in federal court as being contrary to the ESA and the Clean Water and Administrative Procedures acts. By March litigation had reached the final stages with oral arguments. At the end of that debate Redden said he still had concerns about the BiOp.

He reiterated those concerns during an April 2 meeting with the litigants and in communications with the litigants, including a May 18 letter in which the judge "briefly sets out the court's tentative position on the validity of the 2008 Biological Opinion, and suggests additional actions that may avoid another remand."

The letter said the BiOp's "conclusion that all 13 species are, in fact, on a 'trend toward recovery' is arbitrary and capricious�" for a number of reasons. Redden's missive then asked those involved "to consider implementing some, or all, of the following measures as part of the adaptive management process:
-- committing additional funds to estuary and tributary habitat mitigation, monitoring, and evaluation;
-- identifying specific tributary and estuary habitat improvement projects beyond December 2009;
-- providing periodic reports to the court, and allowing for independent scientific oversight of the tributary and estuary habitat mitigation actions;
-- committing additional flow to both the Columbia and Snake rivers;
-- developing a contingency plan to study specific, alternative hydro actions, such as flow augmentation and/or reservoir drawdowns, as well as what it will take to breach the lower Snake River dams if all other measures fail (i. e., independent scientific evaluation, permitting, funding, and congressional approval); and
-- continuing ISAB's recommended spring and summer spill operations throughout the life of the BiOp."

A May 1 letter from the Justice Department asked the judge to delay ruling in the lawsuit for from 30 to 60 days so that President Barack Obama's administration could "more fully understand all aspects of the BiOp."

"Since that time, the new leadership has undertaken several steps to familiarize itself with the 2008 BiOp," according to the memo sent to Redden last week. "In particular, the new leadership has been briefed by its respective staff and also has solicited a wide range of regional viewpoints.

"On May 26, 2009, the administration conducted listening sessions, one with regional technical personnel and another for the sovereign parties. A similar session is scheduled for non-sovereign parties on June 25, 2009.

"In addition, on May 27, the new leadership also conducted a site visit to Lower Monumental and Ice Harbor dams to view dams and fish passage facilities and discuss operations. The leadership has also received the Court's letter Of May 18,2009, and is reviewing it.

"Although much progress has been made to date in this effort, the administration believes additional time is warranted."

For more information and documents related to BiOp litigation go to


* June's Liquid Bounty Has All Snake River Basin Reservoirs Full For Farm And Fish

Just as flows out of the high country usually begin to taper off, the pulse of water from the upper Snake River has built to a new crest thanks to a series of storms that have spread across the southern part of the Columbia River basin this month.

The Snake River basin above the lower river's Ice Harbor Dam in southeast Washington has received precipitation through the first 22 days of June that is, on average, 292 percent of normal, according to data posted by NOAA's Northwest River Forecast Center. The center cautions that the precipitation summary is based on an analysis using a limited number of reporting stations.

The Snake River plain area in Idaho is at 420 percent of average and the Snake headwater region at 339 percent. The Owyhee and Malheur basins have had 404 percent of their average June precipitation.

"Some areas have had 7-8 inches of rain," according to the Bureau of Reclamation's Ted Day. That's a considerable dousing in a short time frame in a region that is, for the most part, semi arid.

The rain has forced the Bureau to switch to its second round of flood control operations. Its 10 storage reservoirs in southeastern Idaho and western Wyoming are brimful, or overfull. One, Milner, registered 116 percent full late this week.

"This is the first time they have all been completely full at the same time, I believe, since 1998," Day said. "This is a good problem to have."

The streams draining from those reservoirs are also running full as the Bureau tries to get rid of some of some of the water.

The cool, wet weather has also delayed demand.

"They're not using much water," Day said of farmers in the region with rights to the water.

That good news for farmers is also good news for fish.

The Bureau's John Roache told the Technical Management Team Wednesday that the upper Snake's liquid bounty" should help those flows in the Snake for quite awhile."

The TMT federal, state and tribal fish and hydro system managers help guide Federal Columbia River Power System day-to-day operations with the goal of improving conditions for salmon and steelhead that are listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Those stocks include Snake River fall chinook and sockeye salmon and steelhead that are cut off from the upper Snake by the Hells Canyon Complex. Fish passage was not included when the three Idaho Power Company dams were built.

But the upper Snake water does help push up flows through FCRPS projects in the lower Snake and Columbia rivers for salmon young and old.

"The upper Snake has had a lot of rain. That slug of water is going to hit us right about the time we start to heat up," said Steve Hall of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Steve Hall. The Corps operates eight lower Columbia and Snake river dams, as well as Dworshak on the North Fork of the Clearwater River.

Dworshak plays a key role in late summer fish operations. Its deep reservoir supplies cooling waters on demand to hold down temperatures downstream in the lower Snake River. A goal is to hold water temperatures below 68 degrees. Higher temperatures are harmful to coldwater species like salmon and steelhead.

That Dworshak flow augmentation typically begins around the Fourth of July. The reservoir reached full pool, 1,600 foot elevation, on Wednesday, filled with the spring runoff from mountain snowpack. It has risen 75 feet since May 1.

The in-flows from the North Fork have slowly declined since reaching a peak of nearly 25,000 cubic feet per second at the end of May. The in-flow Wednesday was 6.3 kcfs.

"In-flows are dropping like a rock right now," Hall said. Still, with an untapped reservoir and cooler weather continuing to prevail across the basin, conditions are good approaching the warmest part of the salmon migration season.

The "mid-month" water supply forecast released June 18 by the NWRFC predicts that runoff from the upper Snake, as measured at Lower Granite Dam, from April through September this year will be 106 percent of the 30-year average. That's a spike from the June 5 "final" forecast of 101 percent. The mid-month forecast includes precipitation through June 15 and the final included precipitation through the end of May.

Other river basin's in the southern reaches of the Columbia basin also likely benefited from above average June rainfall. The upper Deschutes/Crooked river areas in central Oregon have absorbed 312 percent of their average precipitation so far in June and the Harney/Malheur basins are at 339 percent. The upper John Day basin had 256 percent of its average rainfall June 1-22.

The northern portion of the Columbia basin has not experience as much moisture. The Columbia River basin above Grand Coulee Dam averaged 153 percent over normal precipitation but had its low spots.

The Kootenai River drainage has received 81 percent of normal precipitation in June and the Flathead was at 83 percent. The water supply forecast for in-flows to Libby Dam's reservoir has fallen from 80 percent of the 30-year average to 74 percent from the June 5 to the June 18 forecast. The mid-month forecast estimates that Columbia River runoff originating above central Washington's Grand Coulee Dam will be 83 percent of normal this year, down from the June 5 estimate of 87 percent.


* Feds, State Aim For 'Integrated Approach' To Tackle Yakima Basin Water Issues

A newly completed document is expected to provide the framework for a comprehensive water resource management plan aimed at easing water shortages that affect humans and fish in Washington's Yakima River basin.

A final environmental impact statement released Tuesday by the state Department of Ecology prescribes an "integrated" approach to improving water supplies and fish habitat in the basin.

Its completion serves to launch the next stage in a decades'-old effort. On June 30, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the state Department of Ecology will co-host the kick-off meeting of the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project 2009 Work Group. The work group aims to draw on 30-plus years of information and experiences gained under Bureau's YRBWEP and various planning efforts to develop comprehensive solutions to water resource issues in the Yakima basin.

The meeting will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Yakima Arboretum at 1401 Arboretum Drive, Yakima, Wash.

Work group participants will include representatives of the Yakama Nation, state, federal, county and city governments, environmental organizations and irrigation districts. Representatives from congressional delegations have also been invited to attend.
"We are looking forward to bringing an effective work group together again to find comprehensive solutions to managing the basin's water needs," said Jerry Kelso, the Bureau's Columbia-Cascades Area office manager.

The programmatic EIS evaluates a broader range of projects than were considered as part of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's recently completed storage feasibility study, which included a proposal for building a dam to create a 1.3 million acre-feet storage reservoir in the Black Rock Valley east of Moxee, Wash. The Bureau analysis concluded that none of the three storage proposals considered was economically justified.

The new WDOE report studies modifications to existing facilities and operations, creation of new or expanded storage reservoirs, fish habitat enhancements on the Yakima and tributaries, fish passage at existing storage reservoirs and other structures and water markets and other supply and demand options for freeing up water for farms, cities, industries and fish.

The work group will help develop an implementation plan for the Integrated Water Resource Management Alternative, the EIS's preferred option. Ecology officials say they anticipate that consensus will be reached on a plan within one year.

No specific projects have been identified for implementation in the EIS, which satisfied programmatic requirements of the State Environmental Protection Act and was prepared to generally address probable significant adverse impacts associated with projects proposed to improve water resources in the Yakima River basin. Implementation of specific future projects in the future will require additional SEPA and/or NEPA review and permitting.

In 2003, the state and federal agencies initiated the Yakima River Basin Water Storage Feasibility Study to examine the feasibility and acceptability of storage augmentation in the Yakima River basin. The study was authorized by Congress and drew funding from federal and state treasuries. The evaluation of the Black Rock Dam alternative and other storage alternatives was presented in Reclamation's final Planning Report/Environmental Impact Statement in December 2008.

The WDOE began a separate evaluation in mid-2008 to consider an expanded list of remedies for the Yakima basin's water supply problems, including consideration of habitat and fish passage needs. The state study was undertaken in response to concerns raised by local irrigators and the Yakama Nation that the federal storage study was too narrowly focused.

The EIS will be among existing reports and studies to be considered by a stakeholder group next week at the meeting in Yakima.

A variety of water resource problems affect agriculture, municipal and domestic water supplies, and fish in the Yakima River basin. Factors contributing to water shortages include drought and increased demand. Other concerns include blocked fish passage to upstream tributaries, insufficient flows for migrating smolts, diking and vegetation damage. Also, full-appropriation of available water makes it difficult to acquire water rights to meet future municipal and domestic water demands.

The preferred alternative includes a package of potential tools to improve water supply and fish habitat. They include:

-- Fish passage at existing Cle Elum, Bumping, Kacheelus, Kachess and Tieton dams as part of a phased program;
-- Changes to Roza and Chandler power plants; improvements to Wapato Irrigation Project and Chandler fish bypass; completion of the Kennewick Irrigation District Pump Exchange and similar projects in the lower basin; improvements to Kittitas Reclamation District facilities and completing the Wapatox Project.
-- Naches River basin storage options, including Bumping Lake expansion; Wymer reservoir including new reservoir fill options, and modification to river operations in conjunction with storage and direct pump projects.
-- Ground water storage with injection recharge with active recovery, and surface recharge with passive recovery.
-- Fish habitat enhancements on the mainstem Yakima River and its tributaries; reconnecting and reestablishing floodplains and side channels, enhancing and restoring riparian habitat conditions, increasing channel complexity, and fish passage and stream flow improvements on tributaries.
-- Enhanced conservation for irrigation district infrastructure improvements; on-farm conservation and irrigation efficiency improvements; and municipal, commercial and industrial conservation, and incentives for conservation including new proposals for the percentage of conserved water retained by the implementing entity and in-stream flows.
-- Market-based reallocation of water resources through short-term options that are a continuance of existing programs with additional steps taken to reduce impediments to transfer of water for water markets, and long-term options designed to open the water market to a much larger group of water users and change the administration of water markets.

Completing the implementation plan will involve selection and prioritization of projects that would be included in the alternative, according to the EIS. It is intended that the completed implementation plan will provide the basis for a request by Ecology and basin water users, fish managers and local governments for congressional authorization and state legislative funding.

The state agency says implementation of the plan should allow water users to meet their water supply needs and significantly improve conditions for fish.

An integrated plan "would address many in-basin factors that currently limit the restoration of sustainable fish populations in the Yakima River basin by improving fish passage, restoring fish passage into historically occupied habitat upstream of reservoir dams, enhancing fish habitat, and improving stream flows by modifying structures and operations and providing new storage," the EIS says. "

"Fish populations would benefit more from an integrated approach that combines all the elements of the Integrated Water Resource Management Alternative than they would through individual projects."

Implementing a fish passage element that would provide upstream and downstream fish passage at Cle Elum Dam, as an example, would open up reservoir habitat as well as 29.4 miles of high-quality tributary habitat that has not been used by chinook and coho salmon steelhead since the dam was built in 1933. That includes 21.6 miles of the Cle Elum River, 0.6 miles of the lower Cooper River, and 7.2 miles of the lower Waptus River.

The Bureau has studied the feasibility of installing fish passage at Cle Elum and Bumping dams and is now preparing a combined NEPA/SEPA EIS with Ecology on fish passage and fish reintroduction at Cle Elum Dam.

The final environmental impact statement of the Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Alternative may be viewed on-line at the following link:

In 1979, Congress directed the Bureau to conduct a feasibility study of the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project. The congressional objectives of the YRBWEP study were to develop a plan that would provide supplemental water for presently irrigated lands, water for new lands within the Yakama Indian Reservation, water for increased in-stream flows for aquatic life, and a comprehensive plan for efficient management of basin water supplies.

Early in the YRBWEP study process, fish passage problems were identified as needing immediate early attention and congressional legislation in 1984 authorized YRBWEP Phase 1, which primarily involved rebuilding fish ladders and constructing fish screens on river diversions.

The YRBWEP study proceeded through the 1980s but was not fully completed primarily due to issues and uncertainties associated with the adjudication of the basin surface waters that began in 1978.

Consequently, Congress passed legislation in 1994 for what is generally referred to as "YRBWEP Phase 2. It provided for significant water conservation and acquisition activities, studies to define the long-term water needs of fish and current irrigators, improvements to the Wapato Irrigation Project, and development of an interim plan for management of basin water supplies.

The Bureau first began investigations in 1903 to develop a more dependable water supply for irrigation.


* Summer Chinook Fishing Off To Good Start, Tribes Urge Caution On Run Forecasting

Treaty tribes plan to execute their third lower Columbia River mainstem commercial fishery of the summer season next week, but the effort will be scaled back as compared to previous outings due to concerns that the 2009 summer chinook salmon run may not be as strong as anticipated.

Recent declines in the chinook counts at Bonneville Dam have led tribal officials to believe that the summer chinook may be smaller than the preseason forecast, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission's Mike Matylewich told the Columbia River Compact Thursday.

The Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama tribes requested, and were granted, a commercial fishery from 6 a.m. Tuesday through 6 p.m. Thursday in Columbia River reservoirs above Bonneville Dam. The Compact, made up of representatives of the Oregon and Washington department of fish and wildlife directors, approves mainstem commercial fisheries.

The fishery is a day shorter than fisheries carried out in each of the past two weeks. In a statement read to the Compact by Matylewich the tribes urged the state officials to also use a conservative approach in managing non-Indian fisheries to assure that allowable impacts on the salmon runs aren't exceeded.

Under a fishery management agreement developed by the states, tribes and federal government those impact are allocated between tribal and non-tribal and upriver (above central Washington's Priest Rapids Dam) and downriver interests based on the anticipated size of the run. Generally, the larger the run size the higher the overall allowable impacts.

The 2009 preseason forecast is for a return of 70,700 adult summer chinook to the Columbia River mouth. That would be 27 percent greater than the 2008 actual return of 55,500 adults. The 2009 sockeye forecast of 183,800 fish is slightly lower than the actual return a year ago -- 214,500 sockeye -- but would be greater than the 10-year average. With runs of the forecast size, the four treaty tribes would be allowed to harvest 18,263 summer chinook and 12,866 sockeye this season.

The tribes estimate that they have caught in 3 �-day fisheries last week and this week a total of 7,802 chinook and 6,006 sockeye. The catch so far is somewhat higher than projected. Before launching the fisheries they had estimated they would catch between 3,500 and 6,200 chinook and 3,000 sockeye.

The projected catch for next week is 4,000 chinook and 4,000 sockeye.

The tribes can catch and sell, or retain for subsistence, chinook, coho, steelhead, sockeye, walleye, carp, yellow perch, catfish, bass and shad.

Chinook passing over Bonneville's fish ladders are counted by the states as "summer" chinook from June 16 through July 31. Through Wednesday 19,701 summer chinook had been counted. That's behind 2008's pace when 21,976 summer chinook had been counted through June 24.

The daily count rose to 2,661 summer chinook on June 19 but has steadily shrunk ever since. Wednesday's total was 1,581. The high summer chinook counts last year were 2,937 on June 20 and 2,987 on June 21.

The daily sockeye counts zoomed up to 9,323, 9,936 and 10,078 this past Saturday, Sunday and Monday before dipping to 7,968 and 6,818 Tuesday and Wednesday. The total count through Wednesday is 86,323.

Meanwhile, the fishery for adult summer chinook salmon got off to a good start June 22 on the lower Columbia River, where boat anglers fishing around Kalama, Wash., were averaging one fish for every two boats. Bank anglers were also doing well below Bonneville Dam, according to opening-day creel surveys.

The chance to catch summer chinook -- known as "June hogs" due to their size -- is expected to draw a strong turnout in the days ahead, said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist.

"We just got a report of an angler catching a 45-pounder," Hymer said. "These are big, chrome-bright fish, so it's hardly surprising that this is such a popular fishery."

Anglers fishing below Bonneville Dam may retain any adult summer chinook -- not just those with a clipped adipose fin -- as part of their daily catch limit through July 5. Above Bonneville Dam, summer chinook may be retained upriver to the Hwy. 395 bridge at Pasco from July 1-31. In both areas, the salmonid daily limit is six fish, no more than two of which may be adult salmon or hatchery steelhead, or one of each. Sockeye salmon also count as part of the adult limit.

Fishery managers anticipate a run of 70,700 summer chinook to the Columbia River this year, up from 55,500 a year ago. While those fish are the big draw, anglers continue to reel in sockeye salmon and hatchery steelhead moving up the river.

"One of the great things about this fishery is that if you don't catch a summer chinook, you can always target sockeye salmon or hatchery steelhead," Hymer said.

In the week prior to the summer chinook opening, 1,200 anglers fishing below Bonneville Dam reported catching 85 steelhead, 41 sockeye and 27 chinook jacks, while releasing 40 adults. Hymer said some of the best catch rates for hatchery steelhead and sockeye were posted around the sandbars between Cathlamet and Longview.

Hymer noted that catching a spring hog requires a somewhat different approach than the one used for the other species.

"While sockeye and steelhead generally stay close to the bank, summer chinook run in fairly deep water -- at least 20 feet," he said. "Plunking works best for sockeye and steelhead, but you need to let out some line to find summer chinook," he said.

The summer steelhead run is still building and sockeye returns are peaking, but shad may be on the downhill side, Hymer said. Anglers looking for shad would do well to head upriver, where catch rates for boat anglers in the John Day Pool averaged nearly eight fish per rod during the week ending June 21. By comparison, catch rates ranged from 0.5 to 2.0 fish per rod that week among anglers fishing from Bonneville Dam downriver to Camas/Washougal.


* Kootenai River White Sturgeon: Recovery Focuses On Understanding, Increasing Spawning

Pete Rust lifts a rod attached to a buoy from the waters of the Kootenai River, showing off what is used to monitor movements of white sturgeon fitted with sonic transmitters.

Rust, a biologist with Idaho Fish and Game, says there is a network of 60 sonic receivers from Kootenay Lake in British Columbia to the Montana border.

"These tell us who has been by here," Rust says of the receiver. "Instead of chasing the fish around, we chase these things around."

Data downloaded from the receiver identifies the particular sturgeon that passes by, along with dates and times, which can be cross-referenced with river flow and temperature records.

The tracking system is just part of the effort to solve the fundamental problem of why the river's wild sturgeon population has been dwindling for years.

There are many allies in the sturgeon recovery effort, including the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bonneville Power Administration, Idaho Fish and Game, the British Columbia provincial government, the U.S. Geological Survey and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

There is consensus that Libby Dam has had a significant impact on sturgeon since it was finished in 1972, altering temperatures and flows in a way that has hampered spawning success.

There have been other manmade impacts. The Kootenai River used to meander through a broad flood plain downstream from Bonners Ferry, but over time the river has been hemmed in by extensive levees.

What has complicated efforts to improve spawning success is simply the mysterious nature of the white sturgeon.

"I think what really strikes me is that this is such an ancient fish and we don't know a lot about them," said Brian Marotz, a Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist who represents the state on the multi-agency White Sturgeon Recovery Team. "And what makes it mysterious is it cruises through deep, turbid waters so we don't have a lot of information about what this fish did before the dam."

The spawning behavior of a species such as bull trout can be easily observed: Bull trout gather on spawning beds called redds in clear water.

But sturgeon spawning is much more complicated. The main problem on the Kootenai appears to be the failure of sturgeon to move beyond a silt- and sand-bottomed stretch of river below Bonners Ferry into a cobble-and-gravel riverbed, known as the Braided Reach, upstream from Bonners Ferry.

Eggs that are deposited in silt and sand "gum up" and do not survive, Marotz said.
So there have been efforts to get adult sturgeon to move upriver into the Braided Reach, starting with adjusted temperatures and flows from Libby Dam.

For years, the dam released high spring flows for sturgeon, but they were suddenly dropped off. Last year, the spring releases were gradually tapered off into the spawning season -- mimicking a natural runoff -- with a strong emphasis on gradually increasing river temperatures.

A sonar-tagged sturgeon was tracked nearly 35 miles upstream from Bonners Ferry.
"That's the farthest upriver we've seen a tagged adult go," Rust said.

Water releases that got under way from the dam last week are being managed similar to last year's flows.

"If you asked anybody on the recovery team, they would say that temperature is a big driver" in triggering spawning behavior and a likely influence on how far upriver the adults will go, Marotz said.

Rust's monitoring work on the river has turned up evidence that when temperatures drop, it actually sends sturgeon downriver.

"It doesn't take very much of a drop in temperatures to send them back downstream," he said.

But even with the selective withdrawal temperature control system at Libby Dam, it is difficult to completely regulate river temperatures because of influences such as cloud cover and tributaries far below the dam.

There are other possibilities for the lack of spawning success.

Marotz suspects that sturgeon may becoming "stock limited" as the number of adult spawners has dropped from about 4,000 in 1990 to the current estimate of about 1,000.

This has to do with the basic biology of sturgeon and the deep, turbid waters they spawn in. "Sturgeon just start dropping eggs in the water column and the males have to be in close proximity to release their milt, which is only active four to eight minutes." Marotz said. "It leads us to believe you have to have many males."

When the overall population drops below a certain threshold, Marotz said, there may not be enough males.

The U.S. Geological Survey is spearheading a program aimed at clearly defining the Kootenai's canyon-like sturgeon habitat, this year deploying a boat on the river with a highly sophisticated 480-channel echo-sounder.

"We're studying the physical habitat," Geological Survey hydrologist Gary Barton said. "We're mapping the elevation of the riverbed from bank to bank."

The mapping system will provide information that will be used to design river restoration projects aimed at improving spawning habitat, particularly in the Braided Reach.


* Kootenai River White Sturgeon: Species' Future Relies On Kootenai Tribe Hatchery Program

Genny Hoyle and Kevin James took the first shifts at gently and patiently stirring eggs and milt with feathers, the culmination of an annual, labor-intensive effort to save the endangered Kootenai River white sturgeon.

After being stirred for about an hour, the fertilized eggs will go into an incubator.

Thousands of tadpole-like sturgeon will hatch within a week, becoming the next generation of fish to sustain a population that has been on a steep decline for decades.

Wild sturgeon reproduction in the river has been hampered -- for reasons known and unknown. That leaves the future of a dinosaur-like species that has survived for millions of years to the fish that are produced at the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho hatchery in Bonners Ferry.

As Hoyle and James stir eggs, hatchery biologist Chris Lewandowski stands nearby over a 7-foot, 110-pound female sturgeon in a water-filled stretcher. With a firm massaging motion, he "strips" thousands of eggs from her belly.

It is a process that takes about three hours, with rest periods between "pushes" on the giant fish. As she is periodically rotated in the stretcher, tribal members and others come to see her, all of them unable to resist stroking her, touching the razor-like "scutes" on her spine and lateral lines. They are the only bones on the cartilage-framed sturgeon.

"I just love the patterns on her," says Sue Ireland, director of the tribal Fish and Wildlife Department, referring to the glittery mosaics on the sturgeon's body.

Ireland says there is a strong camaraderie among the hatchery crew and the volunteers who show up to help with the process of stripping eggs for incubation, which can happen any time, day or night, depending on when the females begin ovulating.

"Everyone comes together to save this fish," she said. "They show up here just because they care and they are interested."

It's fitting that the effort to save the white sturgeon is being spearheaded by the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, a band of survivors who refused to sign treaties with the U.S. government and be relocated to reservations elsewhere.

In 1974, the tiny tribe, then with just 67 members, declared war on the United States. It was a peaceful declaration that won national attention and eventually the creation of the tribe's 12.5-acre reservation just outside Bonners Ferry.

The tribe, which now has 110 members, started the white sturgeon program as part of what is referred to as "The Covenant," a commitment to be guardians of the region's natural resources forever. The hatchery program was started in 1988, well before the Kootenai River white sturgeon were listed in 1994 as a distinct endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

"The tribe's commitment to restoring their resources is showcased by this program," Ireland said. "When the tribe started this it was back when no one else was paying attention."

While there are commercial hatcheries that produce sturgeon steaks and caviar, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho's hatchery is far different in one major respect -- it relies on wild brood stock that must be caught and released every year during the narrow spawning season.

Doing that work will only get more difficult in coming years as the population of adult sturgeon dies off. The Kootenai River's adult population was 4,000 in 1990 and now is estimated to be just 1,000.

"Just based on attrition, we may not have any at all around 2030," said Brian Marotz, a Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist who represents the state on the multi-agency White Sturgeon Recovery Team.

The Kootenai River population faces a "blackout" period in the span of time when wild sturgeon disappear and the time when the river's hatchery sturgeon are mature enough to reproduce at the ripe young age of about 30 years.

The first crop of hatchery fish was put in the river in 1992, so they will not be reproducing until about 2022.

"The blackout will be some time when there's so few [adults] that we just have a hard time finding them," Marotz said.

It is an ironic position for such an ancient species. There are varying estimates on how long white sturgeon have glided through North American waters, ranging from 270 million to 400 million years.

"They made it through two mass extinctions," marvels Eric Wagner, a hatchery technician since 1991.

"When you deal with a species like this that's going to live into the next century, you have to have really long-term thinking," Wagner said, standing over tanks in the hatchery that hold thousands of fingerling sturgeon that were hatched last year. "Who knows how many wars these guys will live through. There's probably fish out there [in the river] that were little babies during the Spanish-American War."

Catching spawning sturgeon on rod and reel isn't easy, but the hatchery depends on it. And it's obviously a fun pursuit for the state and tribal crews that dedicate themselves to it for weeks from spring to early summer. On this particular day, two state crews and two tribal crews are plying the river below Bonners Ferry. It is illegal for the public to fish for Kootenai river sturgeon; the hatchery and state crews have a special federal permit to do so.

The crew uses heavy-action, 11-foot rods, with 50-pound test line, weights, a Dacron leader and bait fish on a hook.

Contrary to a common perception that sturgeon are bottom feeders, they are actually formidable piscivores, with a cartilage-ringed mouth that sucks in prey like a vacuum. They have highly honed food detection abilities, with whisker-like barbles and sensory pits on their snout much like those found on sharks.

After a long quiet period, and with the crew almost ready to move to a new spot on the river, Lewandowski hears telltale clicks on his reel. He jumps to his feet and reefs on the rod.

"It's a sturge!" he shouts. "Fish on!"

Wagner fires up the boat to help bring in the fish, which at one point breaches the surface of the river. Fights can last up to half an hour. But in this case, Lewandowki brings it alongside the boat in about 10 minutes.

Once in a stretcher, it is brought on board and identified as a male. Fish that have been previously caught have been tagged and the second, lateral bony scute from the head is removed as a brand of sorts. This fish does not have a tag or the brand.

"It's not that often that we see new fish," Siple observes.

And that says a lot about the dwindling population of adults and the tricky nature of catching spawners. Because females spawn only every four to eight years, and males spawn every three years, it can be difficult catching the right fish.

"Most of the time they are juvies or they're not what you are looking for," Lewandowski says. "We're just looking for spawners."

The biggest sturgeon that has been caught since the tribal program started was 12 feet long and 400 pounds, back in 1997.

The fish on board is a 6-footer that weighs in at nearly 70 pounds and it is a spawner.

After a plastic syringe is used to draw milt (seminal fluid) from the fish, it is slipped back into the river.

Back at the hatchery, the crew stops in to check on the female sturgeon that is closest to ripening for ovulation. After only a few minutes of watching her, she starts dropping eggs in her tank.

"Once we see eggs, it's time to go for it," Lewandowski says. The crew makes arrangements to call in help and start the stripping procedure, and within a couple of hours that operation gets under way, starting with the task of getting the sturgeon into a stretcher.

After a long fight against an angler, sturgeon tend to be docile in the stretcher, but that's not the case when they are well rested.

"When they get into these tanks they can get pretty wild because they're full of energy," Wagner says. "It's like a sturgeon rodeo."

In this case, the female is smoothly guided into the stretcher without much of a struggle. After three hours, Lewandowski has stripped about 134,000 eggs from the female and all of them have been properly fertilized, feather-stirred and transferred to the incubators.

The female is then carried down to the river in the dark. The stretcher is lowered into the water and the sturgeon slips back into the Kootenai's wild waters.

"I like that part the best," Lewandowski says.


* Groups Sue FEMA Over Floodplain Development Without Considering Impacts To Salmon

A lawsuit filed in federal court in Portland Thursday claims that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has violated federal law by enabling floodplain development in Oregon without considering impacts on threatened and endangered fish and wildlife species.

The complaint and injunction request asks the court to prohibit "FEMA's issuance and authorization of flood insurance policies for new development within the geographic range of the potentially impacted listed species in Oregon until FEMA completes consultation with the Secretary and ensures that continued implementation of the NFIP does not jeopardize listed species in Oregon."

The complaint was filed by the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center for the Audubon Society of Portland, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, National Wildlife Federation, Willamette Riverkeeper and Association of Northwest Steelheaders.

The Endangered Species Act requires that federal agencies, in consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service, ensure that federal agency actions do not jeopardize threatened and endangered species. FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program has from its beginnings failed to do that, the complaint says.

"Through the NFIP, FEMA facilitates, influences, and even promotes and encourages human development in Oregon floodplains, thereby impairing habitat functions essential to the continued survival and recovery of imperiled salmon and steelhead listed as threatened and endangered under the Endangered Species Act," the complaint says. NMFS has listed 15 species of salmon and steelhead that live in Oregon for part of their life cycle.

"The law requires FEMA to scrutinize its programs for impacts to species protected under the Endangered Species Act," said Dan Rohlf, director of the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center, who is representing the coalition of groups. "FEMA must be held accountable and ensure their actions do not undermine ongoing salmon recovery efforts. It is anticipated that this litigation will result in FEMA beginning the consultation process in Oregon."

"Oregon is investing tremendous resources in recovering listed salmon populations," said Bob Sallinger, Audubon Society of Portland conservation director. "Yet we continue to build in our floodplains without adequately considering how these decisions undermine salmon recovery. It does not make economic or environmental sense. "

In Oregon 259 local communities, the largest of which is Portland, participate in the NFIP. Most are found within the geographic boundaries of the range of the listed salmon and steelhead stocks. Within those communities, more than 32,000 individual insurance policies are held under the NFIP and these policies provide for a total of $6.8 billion in flood insurance coverage, the complaint says.

The complaint cites a lawsuit in Washington in which FEMA was ordered in 2004 to consult with NMFS regarding listed Puget Sound salmon stocks. The resulting NMFS "biological opinion" concluded NFIP as implemented in Washington State jeopardizes salmon populations in Puget Sound and required that the agencies engage in ESA consultation.

Despite the findings in Washington, FEMA has failed to consult with NMFS regarding similar impacts from floodplain development to listed salmon and steelhead in Oregon, according to the complaint filed this week in U.S. District Court.

Between Oct. 1, 2006, and Sept. 30, 2007, (the most recent period for which data is available), the number of policies in Oregon increased by 4 percent. Over the past 30 years there have been more than 4,700 claims statewide totaling more than $80 million, the groups say.

The groups say that during the past four years more development has encroached on 250 additional acres of floodplain in the Portland metropolitan region and the Port of Portland has announced plans to annex several hundred acres of floodplain into the city of Portland to allow for development on West Hayden Island.

"This issue is not just about salmon habitat. It's also about getting people out of harm's way, reducing taxpayer expenses due to flood damage, and preparing for increased stormwater due to climate change," said Dan Siemann, conservation director for National Wildlife Federation's Western Region. "Preventing development in floodplains benefits everybody."


* Biologists Hope To Avoid Invasive Small Predatory Fish Becoming Entrenched

Lower Columbia River biologists, particularly those conducting fish surveys, are encouraged to watch for a nonnative newcomer to the basin -- the Amur goby

The Amur goby, of Asian origin, was first discovered in 2004 in the East Fork Lewis River in western Washington in 2004 and may be reproducing there.

Oregon's Invasive Species Council in 2006 added the Amur goby to its list of 100 worst invaders it hopes to keep out of the state, saying the "small predatory fish was recently detected in neighboring Washington. The invasive fish is especially threatening to salmon eggs."

Since 2004, specimens have been collected from the Columbia River and its estuary and from the Sandy River and the Ramsey Wetland in Portland. The Ramsey Wetland is connected to Columbia Slough and the Willamette River.

Biologist want to avoid letting the goby population grow and become entrenched because it is unknown what effect they might have on native fishes. The small fish in great number could pose competition for juvenile salmon for food and habitat.

The invaders' normal range includes Japan, the Russian Far East, Taiwan, Korea, China and the Philippines.

The Amur goby (Rhinogobius brunneus), also known as the orange reed-clinging goby, has fused pelvic fins, which form a suction-cup structure on the chest of the fish. The pelvic fins of sculpin are separate.

Red or dark lines run from the anterior margin of eye to the tip of its snout on both sides of its head. They been misidentified as a native sculpin. But native sculpins do not have a line connected to the eye.

Breeding males are very distinctive -- fleshy mouths, colorful fins (white margins on anal, dorsal fin) and bodies (red and blue). Otherwise, this species has mottled, cryptic coloration.

Juveniles gobys look very similar to darters.

The goby's body length can be up to 10 centimeters, about 4 inches.

Some populations are amphidromous, spending several months in brackish/marine water before returning to freshwater to live as adults.

Anyone spotting Amur gobys are encouraged to write down where, when, etc., take photos if possible and collect/preserve a specimen (freezing is a good option).

The invasive species likely arrived in the Northwest aboard a ship in ballast water. It is also speculated it arrived via the aquarium trade.

Sightings can be reported to the U.S. Geologic Survey's Nonindigenous Aquatic Species program, 1-877-STOPANS. An e-mail reporting form can be found at:

For more information contact:

Tim Counihan, USGS
509-538-2299, ext. 281

Additional information and photographs of the goby species are available at:

* More Lake Trout Found In Montana's Swan River Drainage, Poses Threat To Bull Trout

Lake trout have turned up in the Montana's Lindbergh Lake, presenting a new threat to the Swan River drainage's population of native bull trout.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks recently conducted spring gill netting in Lindbergh Lake, catching four lake trout ranging from 16 to 19 inches long.

While there have been reports of anglers catching non-native lake trout, it was the first confirmation of the species in Lindbergh Lake.

"It's not totally unexpected but it's very disappointing," said Jim Vashro, the state's regional fisheries manager.

The fish are likely migrants from Swan Lake, which was invaded by lake trout about nine years ago about 40 miles downriver from Lindbergh Lake.

Because there were three reports of anglers catching lake trout in weeks leading up to the netting, that is an indicator that the species may be abundant in Lindbergh Lake.

The same netting turned up 10 bull trout, but the catch of four lake trout doesn't necessarily reflect the relative abundance of the two species, which are top-end, competing predators.

"We'll get back in there and do some more work to determine relative abundance and we'll be really be looking at where reproduction is occurring," said Vashro.

He added that a lake trout population that is reproducing in Lindbergh Lake "poses a lot more potential for harm."

One characteristic of the lake -- the absence of mysis shrimp -- will not help lake trout, which tend to have much better juvenile survival when the shrimp are present.

Vashro said there is concern that lake trout will continue to proliferate in the Swan River drainage. So far, lake trout have yet to be detected in other waters, such as Holland Lake.


* IDAM, Integrated Dam Assessment Modeling, Shows Costs, Benefits Of Building A Dam

Scientists have developed a new system to help policy makers better assess the costs and benefits of building dams -- the first system of its kind to use an interdisciplinary approach to simultaneously evaluate the distribution of biophysical, socio-economic and geopolitical impacts of dams, according to one of the study's co-authors.

"We as scientists tend to look at things through our own tiny little drinking straw, studying our one narrow field," said Bryan Tilt, an assistant professor of anthropology at Oregon State University and one of the study's authors. "When it comes to dams, we felt a broader perspective was needed. Because when you put up a dam, it affects whole ecosystems and whole communities."

The study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, is part of a special issue on dams featured in the summer edition of the Journal of Environmental Management. The entire special issue was edited by Tilt and Desiree Tullos, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological & Ecological Engineering at OSU. Tullos is another co-author on the study and the principal investigator on the National Science Foundation grant.

Each scientist was brought in for their piece of the dam puzzle. Lead author Philip H. Brown of Colby College is an economist who studies microeconomic issues in economic development. Tullos is an environmental engineer with expertise in ecohydraulics and hydraulic modeling. Tilt is an environmental anthropologist who studies the social and environmental impacts of rural development, with a special focus on China, where dam construction far outpaces any other nation. Darrin Magee of Hobart and William Smith Colleges is a geographer specializing in energy and water issues in China. And OSU's Aaron Wolf studies water resources policy and conflict resolution.

The scientists have developed what they call an Integrative Dam Assessment Modeling tool, or IDAM. The model was designed as a decision-support tool that policy makers can use to understand holistically the impacts, costs and benefits of building a dam in any area.

"It can be used anywhere, with some modifications," Tilt said, adding that the researchers have used the tool to study the impact of dams in China and are continuing that research through a new National Science Foundation grant this summer.

The dam assessment tool measures the costs associated with a proposed dam development project and also measures the possible benefits. Each of the diagrams in the tool consists of 27 individual indicators of the effects of dam construction, divided into socio-economic, geopolitical and biophysical themes.

In the published study, the authors illustrated the use of the IDAM tool by testing it on two hypothetical dams with different design characteristics.

This summer the research team travels to China again where it will put the IDAM tool into practice on real dams. Tilt said they will collect data on two rivers: one that has several dams on it already (the Upper Mekong River) and one that is slated for dam development in the near future (the Nu River, also called the Salween).


* Report Details West Coast Research Needs About Fisheries, Ocean Health

The West Coast critically needs more research about fisheries, ocean health, coastal hazards and climate change -- among other topics -- according to a new report on regional marine research and information needs.

The report was produced by Oregon Sea Grant under a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It is available online at:

Partnering with Oregon Sea Grant in developing the West Coast report were Washington, California and University of Southern California Sea Grant programs, as well as state, federal and tribal agencies. The Sea Grant effort is endorsed by all three West Coast governors, and the new reports aligns with the action plan of the West Coast Governors' Agreement on Ocean Health.

The document grew out of an extensive process of public workshops and surveys in all three states during 2007 and 2008. Nearly 1,000 ocean and coastal stakeholders -- representing interests ranging from coastal residents, businesses, community organizations and decision-makers to conservationists, fishing interests, researchers and resource managers -- took part in the effort to identify the region's needs.

The result is a 56-page document that sorts West Coast research needs into eight categories:

-- Vitality of coastal communities and marine operations;
-- Ocean and coastal governance and management of multiple uses;
-- Fisheries and aquaculture;
-- Marine ecosystem structure and function;
-- Ocean health and stressors;
-- Physical ocean processes, related climate change and physical coastal hazards;
-- Water quality and pollution;
-- Resilience and adaptability to hazards and climate change.

Cutting across all those categories, stakeholders said, are needs for a deeper understanding of climate change, attention to ocean education and literacy, and broader access to data and information. The report is seen as "an excellent guiding document," according to Stephen Brandt, director of Oregon Sea Grant, which coordinated the effort.

"This report is intended to spark regional-scale initiatives and investments in natural and social science research to provide the best possible science for wise policy and resource-management decisions," Brandt said.

The West Coast effort is one of 10 that NOAA is supporting across the country in response to recent studies and reports from groups such as the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative calling for a regional approach to coordinating, planning and setting priorities for ocean and coastal science.

Oregon Sea Grant, founded in 1968 and based at Oregon State University, supports an integrated program of research, education, and public outreach to help people understand, responsibly use, and conserve ocean and coastal resources.


* Colorado Attorney Confirmed As Assistant Secretary Of Interior For Water, Science

Anne Castle has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science.

Castle will oversee water and science policy and have responsibility for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey.

A partner in the Denver, Colo. office of Holland & Hart LLP since 1981, Castle has had an extensive practice, including litigation and multi-party negotiations involving water issues, water related transactions, and advice on water policy and strategy. Her clients have included a wide assortment of water users from small and large municipal water and wastewater treatment providers to farmers and ranchers, water and conservation districts and operators of commercial facilities. She was elected in 2001 to chair the firm's management committee and served in that position until 2004.

In 2007 Castle was appointed by the Colorado governor to the South Platte River Basin Task Force that examined the water crisis and its challenges for water users in the northeast Colorado basin, and provided recommendations for legislative changes that continue to be explored. She also was the chair and an elected member of the Board of Directors, Genesee Water and Sanitation District from 1989 to 2002. Castle was appointed a member of the Colorado Ground Water Commission from 1994 to 2002 by former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer.


* Feedback: The Science Of Supplementation

--- From Bill Bosch, Yakama Nation Fisheries, Yakima-Klickitat Fisheries Project Research Office

Re: June 12 CBB Story "Hood River Study Looks At Reproduction Fitness Of Wild-Born Offspring Of Hatchery Fish"

In response to the OSU research regarding the 'handicap' carried by offspring of hatchery-origin fish, it is important to recognize the growing body of scientific evidence (including some earlier work done by the authors of that same study) showing that carefully implemented hatchery supplementation programs can be effective and may not be nearly as harmful as the OSU research recently published in Biology Letters suggests.

The effectiveness of hatchery supplementation programs can be assessed by evaluating the effects of these programs on viable salmon population parameters: abundance, productivity, spatial structure, and diversity (McElhany et al. 2000). Empirical studies of hatchery supplementation programs that have documented increases in abundance or real or potential increases in production from natural-origin spawners include: Cle Elum Supplementation and Research Facility (CESRF) spring Chinook (May et al. 2007); Tucannon spring Chinook (Gallinat and Ross 2007); Yakima Basin coho (Bosch et al. 2007); mid-Columbia Basin coho (Yakama Nation 2005); N. Umpqua R. coho (Cramer et al. 2005); Snake River fall Chinook (Nez Perce Tribe, unpublished data); Araki et al. 2007; Baumsteiger et al. 2008; Berejikian et al. 2008; Bosch et al. 2008; Kassler et al. 2008; Phillips et al. 2000; and Sharma et al. 2006. Empirical studies of hatchery supplementation programs that have documented increases in
spatial structure of natural-origin spawners include: CESRF spring Chinook (May et al. 2007); Yakima Basin coho (Bosch et al. 2007); mid-Columbia Basin coho (Yakama Nation 2005); and Snake River fall Chinook (D. Johnson, Nez Perce Tribe, personal communication).

Empirical studies of hatchery supplementation programs that have documented minimal adverse (or in some cases positive) impacts to reproductive fitness parameters, genetic or ecological diversity include: Araki et al. 2007; Berejikian et al. 2008; Fraser 2008 (review of empirical studies); Hedrick et al. 2005; Heggenes et al. 2006; Kassler et al. 2008; Knudsen et al. 2008; Pearsons and Temple 2007; Schroder et al. 2006; Schroder et al. 2008; and Sharma et al. 2006.

Empirical studies of hatchery supplementation programs that have documented that any potential adverse phenotypic effects of domestication due to long-term hatchery influence can be reversed in relatively short order with re-introduced wild influence include: Bosch et al. 2007; Tymchuk et al. 2006; and Yakama Nation 2005. Conover et al. (2009) also recently documented that fish populations "have an intrinsic capacity to recover genetically" and can reverse potentially harmful evolutionary changes caused by external forces.

Aside from the science, it is important to remember that wild fish need wild rivers. The Columbia River system has not been wild since the days of Lewis and Clark. That is why we have extensive hatchery programs throughout the region. World renowned ecologist Wendell Berry once said, "The question we must ask is not whether the domestic and the wild are separate or can be separated. It is how, in the human economy, their indissoluble and necessary connections can be properly maintained."

In a world where the need for the economic benefits and relatively clean, green power provided by the Columbia River hydrosystem has never been more apparent, clearly it is the latter question posed by Mr. Berry that must now be the focus of regional research. That is why so many of the projects in the recent "Accords" agreements between BPA and the tribes are designed to address exactly this question.

Bill Bosch
Yakama Nation Fisheries, Yakima-Klickitat Fisheries Project Research Office


Araki, H., W. R. Ardren, E. Olsen, B. Cooper, and M. S. Blouin. 2007. Reproductive success of captive-bred steelhead trout in the wild: evaluation of three hatchery programs in the Hood River. Conservation Biology 21 (1), 181-190.

Baumsteiger, J., D. M. Hand, D. E. Olson, R. Spateholts, G. FitzGerald, and W. R. Ardren. 2008. Use of Parentage analysis to Determine Reproductive Success of Hatchery-Origin Spring Chinook Salmon Outplanted into Shitike Creek, Oregon. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 28:1472-1485.

Berejikian, B. A., T. Johnson, R. Endicott, and J. Lee. 2008. Increases in Steelhead Redd Abundance Resulting from Two Conservation Hatchery Strategies in the Hamma Hamma River, WA. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 65:754-764.

Bosch, W. J., T. H. Newsome, J. L. Dunnigan, J. D. Hubble, D. Neeley, D. T. Lind, D. E. Fast, L. L. Lamebull, and J. W. Blodgett. 2007. Evaluating the Feasibility of Reestablishing a Coho Salmon Population in the Yakima River, Washington. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 27:198-214.

Bosch, W. J., D. E. Fast, D. R. Hatch, J. W. Blodgett, R. Branstetter, T. H. Newsome, and M. V. Johnston. Reconditioning kelt steelhead: A novel management strategy for populations in low abundance. Presented as poster at Western Division American Fisheries Society meeting, May 4-8, 2008.

Conover, D. O., S. B. Munch, and S. A. Arnott. 2009. Reversal of evolutionary downsizing caused by selective harvest of large fish. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.0003.

Cramer, S. P., N. K. Ackerman, and J. B. Lando. 2005. Viability of Oregon Coastal Coho: Comments on Oregon�s 2005 Assessment. Report to Oregon Forest Industries Council and Douglas County. S.P. Cramer & Associates, Inc. Gresham, OR.

Fraser, D. J. 2008. How well can captive breeding programs conserve biodiversity? A review of salmonids. Evolutionary Applications, 1:535-586.

Gallinat, M. P., and L. A. Ross. 2007. Tucannon River Spring Chinook Salmon Hatchery Evaluation Program, 2006 Annual Report. WDFW, Olympia, WA.

Hedrick, P.W., V.K. Rashbrook, and D. Hedgecock. 2000. Effective population size of winter-run chinook salmon based on microsatellite analysis of returning spawners. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 57(12): 2368�2373.

Heggenes, J., M. Beere, P. Tamkee, and E. B. Taylor. 2006. Genetic diversity in steelhead before and after conservation hatchery operation in a coastal, boreal river. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 135:251-267.

Kassler, T. W., D. K. Hawkins, and J. M. Tipping. 2008. Summer-Run Hatchery Steelhead Have Naturalized in the South Fork Skykomish River, Washington. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 137:763-771.

Knudsen, C.M., S.L. Schroder, C. Busack, M.V. Johnston, T.N. Pearsons, and C.R. Strom. 2008. Comparison of Female Reproductive Traits and Progeny of First-Generation Hatchery and Wild Upper Yakima River Spring Chinook Salmon. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 137:1433-1445.

May, D., D. Larsen, M. Moser, D. Fast, M. Johnston, and A. Dittman. 2007. Spatial patterns of Yakima River spring Chinook spawning before and after supplementation. AFS poster presentation, national meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sept. 2007. NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, WA.

McElhany, P., M. H. Rucklelshaus, M. J. Ford, T. C. Wainwright, and E. P. Bjorkstedt. 2000. Viable Salmonid Populations and the Recovery of Evolutionarily Significant Units. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NWFSC-42. NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, WA.

Pearsons, T. N. and G. M. Temple. 2007. Impacts of Early Stages of Salmon Supplementation and Reintroduction Programs on Three Trout Species. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 27:1-20.

Phillips, J.L., J. Ory and A. Talbot. 2000. Anadromous salmonid recovery in the Umatilla River Basin, Oregon: A case study. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, Vol. 36, no. 6, pp. 1287-1308. Dec 2000.

Schroder, S. L., C. M. Knudsen, T. N. Pearsons, T. W. Kassler, S. F. Young, C. A. Busack, and D. E. Fast. 2008. Breeding Success of Wild and First-Generation Hatchery Female Spring Chinook Salmon Spawning in an Artificial Stream. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 137:1475-1489.

Schroder, S. L., C. M. Knudsen, T. N. Pearsons, S. F. Young, T. W. Kassler, D. E. Fast, and B. D. Watson. 2006. Comparing the Reproductive Success of Yakima River Hatchery- and Wild-Origin Spring Chinook. Yakima/Klickitat Fisheries Project Monitoring and Evaluation, Annual Report 2005. BPA Report DOE/BP-00022370-3.

Sharma, R, G. Morishima, S. Wang, A. Talbot, and L. Gilbertson. 2006. An evaluation of the Clearwater River supplementation program in western Washington. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Volume 63, Number 2, 1 February 2006, pp. 423-437(15).

Tymchuk, W. E., C. Biagi, R. Withler, and R. H. Devlin. 2006. Growth and behavioral consequences of introgression of a domesticated aquaculture genotype into a native strain of coho salmon. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 135:442-455.

Yakama Nation. 2005. Mid-Columbia Coho Restoration Master Plan. Yakama Nation Fisheries Resource Management. Toppenish, WA. Peer-reviewed by the Independent Scientific Review Panel, available at:


Message To Readers: The CBB will not be published next Friday, July 3, due to the Independence Day Holiday. We will return July 10.

For more information about the CBB contact:
-- BILL CRAMPTON, Editor/Writer,, phone:
541-312-8860 or
-- BARRY ESPENSON, Senior Writer,, phone: 360-696-4005; fax: 360-694-1530

The stories in this e-mail newsletter are posted on the Columbia Basin Bulletin website at If you would like access to the CBB archives, please consider becoming a Member of the CBB website for as little as $5 a month. Your membership will help support maintenance of the 10-year (1998-2008) news database and the production of trustworthy, timely news and information about Columbia Basin fish and wildlife issues.


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The Columbia Basin Bulletin e-mail newsletter is produced by Intermountain Communications of Bend, Oregon and supported with Bonneville Power Administration fish and wildlife funds through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.



Weekly Fish and Wildlife News
June 19, 2009
Issue No. 489

All stories below are posted on the CBB's website at
Also available is a free RSS news feed.

Table of Contents:

* Environment Analysis Completed For Additional Lake Roosevelt Water Releases

* Dworshak Dam Turbine Gets Temporary Repair Allowing Cool Water For Fish

* Council Moves Forward On Wildlife Project Recommendations Under F&W Program

* Reservoir Elevations Held Steady For Tribal Fishing; Sockeye Run Building Steam

* Federal Judge Issues Order On John Day Grazing To Protect Mid-Columbia Steelhead

* WDFW Seeks Members For New Advisory Board On Salmon, Steelhead Fishing

* Study Looks At Differences Between Zebra Mussels And Quagga Mussels

* Council Approves 'Findings' On Recommendations For Fish And Wildlife Program

* NOAA-Led Report Assesses National, Regional Impacts Of Global Climate Change

* CBB Shorts: Marbled Murrelet; New License For Spokane River Project; New Forest Service Service

* Clarification on Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station


* Environment Analysis Completed For Additional Lake Roosevelt Water Releases

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation last week completed the environmental analysis it feels necessary to release additional water from central Washington's Lake Roosevelt in summer and early fall for cities, farms and fish.

The agency on June 12 released its final environmental assessment and "Finding of No Significant Impact" for implementation of the Lake Roosevelt Incremental Storage Releases project. The document prepared by the bureau concludes that the drawing down of the reservoir by an additional 12 to 18 inches each year would not significantly impact the quality of the human environment or the natural resources in the affected area.

"This completes the environmental work," said Bill Gray, the Bureau's assistant area manager and Ephrata Field Office manager. The agency is now working with the state and the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District to develop contracts for allocating the water.

The purpose of the project is to improve water management in the Columbia River Basin by releasing additional water from Lake Roosevelt to meet objectives established by the state Legislature's Columbia River Water Management Act of 2006. The lake is a reservoir created by the Bureau's Grand Coulee Dam on the mid-Columbia.

The EA and FONSI can be found at:

The EA analyzes the withdrawal of additional water beyond current operations from Lake Roosevelt to provide drought relief, boost municipal and industrial supply, provide a replacement for some of the groundwater used by irrigators in the Odessa Subarea and to improve in-stream flows below Grand Coulee Dam for fish.

The goals are to provide more water in an area where the demand is much greater than the supply; provide a benefit for, particularly, migrating salmon and steelhead and take the pressure off a severely depleted Odessa aquifer. The plan was vetted by both the state Department of Ecology and the bureau.

Under the proposed action 25,000 acre-feet would be available annually for additional municipal and industrial use, 30,000 acre-feet would be annually available to individuals in the Odessa Subarea who currently irrigate with a valid state groundwater right and 27,500 acre-feet would be available annually to augment in-stream flows.

In total 82,500 acre-feet would be released in a non-drought year with 27,500 acre-feet of that water remaining in the river for fish flows. In drought years an additional 33,000 acre-feet would be released and available for diversion by existing water right holders whose water rights are interruptible in drought years and another 17,000 acre-feet would be available for in-stream flow augmentation. In a drought year releases would total 132,500 acre-feet.

The federal agency will develop at least one contract with the state for the release of 37.5 kaf -- 25 kaf for downstream municipal and industrial uses and 12.5 kaf for flow augmentation for fish. Another contract with the irrigation district would be for the designated release of 45 kaf -- 30 kaf to replace underground water sources in a depleted Odessa aquifer and 15 kaf to augment flows.

"It's entirely possible we could release the 25 kaf of M&I water" as well as designated in-stream flows yet this year, Gray said.

The NEPA document, and SEPA documents completed earlier by the state, "protect the fish water all the way down to the ocean," meaning it can't be withdrawn downstream for other uses, Gray said.

"Flow releases for fish and municipal and industrial users would be timed to maximize the benefits for fish in the Columbia River," the EA says. "A panel of fisheries and water managers would determine the release schedule each year that best achieves the fisheries benefits within the constraints of the water budget." Water would be distributed to the Odessa Subarea in mid-March through October.

"The incremental storage releases would increase flows in the Columbia River by a minor amount in most months. Although the flow increases will be small, they are expected to help meet stream flow objectives in the Columbia River and provide benefits to fish," the EA says. Those flow objectives are described in NOAA Fisheries Service's May 2008 biological opinion for the Federal Columbia River Power System.

"Columbia River flows will decrease in September when Lake Roosevelt refills with the biggest decreases in drought years in years when water for Odessa is diverted from Lake Roosevelt in September," the EA says. "The decreases are small relative to Columbia River flows and are not expected to negatively impact fish. Flow objectives under the 2008 FCRPS Biological Opinion will not be negatively impacted during the juvenile fish migration period from April to August." The BiOp judges whether dam operations jeopardize the survival of salmon and steelhead stocks that are ESA listed.

Also in the works is the contracting process for the construction of $50 million worth of improvements to Weber Siphon Complex, which will eliminate an Odessa water delivery bottleneck at the East Low Canal and Interstate 90 near Moses Lake, Wash. Funding for the project was allocated this spring as part of the Bureau's "stimulus" package granted through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The project involves stringing reinforced concrete pipes or "siphons" along two existing pipelines, one 3,200 feet long and the other nearly 6,200 feet long. The pipes' outside diameter will be 18 feet.

Gray said the siphon project could be put out for bid by the end of June with a contract award expected in September. It is anticipated the project can be completed by December 2010.

The chosen Lake Roosevelt Incremental Storage Release Alternative was developed in consultation with the Columbia River Water Management Policy Advisory Group, made of representatives of city, county, state, federal and tribal governments; public utility districts; irrigation districts; public interest groups, and environmental groups.

A draft EA was sent out for public comment March 19 with an April 17 deadline. Nine comments were received.

"The major issues addressed in the comments dealt with the timing of NEPA compliance, the range of alternatives, contaminants in Lake Roosevelt, climate change, and the cumulative impacts associated with the proposal," according to a final EA summary. 'Other issues raised, including groundwater and endangered species impacts, are addressed throughout the final EA."

The summary says that implementing the proposal will:

-- improve municipal and industrial water supply in the Columbia River Basin by providing water to fulfill pending municipal and industrial water rights applications;

--improve water management in the Odessa Subarea by providing water to replace some groundwater withdrawals;

-- enhance stream flows in the Columbia River downstream of Grand Coulee Dam to benefit fish; and

-- provide water to the State of Washington to issue to holders of interruptible water rights during drought years would result in an additional 0.8 foot drawdown in drought years.

The final EA says that "the final EA that the incremental impacts of the additional releases of water from Lake Roosevelt would have only minimal and insignificant impacts on the resources of concern, including fisheries, possible contaminants, and climate change, among others."

Not all favor the plan. On Dec. 1, 2008, Center for Environmental Law & Policy and Columbia Riverkeepers filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging the Bureau's proposal to allocate additional water from the Columbia River without first completing adequate environmental analysis as required by NEPA. They say the environmental assessment released last week is inadequate.

"The Bureau dismissed the need for careful analysis in its rush to divert more water from the Columbia River," said Rachael Paschal Osborn, director of the CELP. "With water scarce and a changing climate, this is not change we can believe in."

The groups say the EA fails to adequately address the effect of climate change on depleting Columbia River flows, the public health and, environmental effects of lowering water levels in the reservoir and exposing mining slag, the impacts of water diversions on river flows needed by migrating salmon; the cumulative effects of the drawdown when combined with other proposals for new dams and water projects that propose to divert water from the Columbia River (e.g., Lower Crab Creek, Odessa Subarea); and the costs to taxpayers and ratepayers associated with expansion of the Columbia Basin Project.

"Columbia Riverkeeper regularly comments on federal agency decisions, but the Bureau's short-sighted review of the science here is striking," said Columbia Riverkeeper Executive Director Brett VandenHeuvel. "Given the size and scope of the Lake Roosevelt Drawdown Project, the public deserves meaningful environmental review that discloses the serious environmental impacts posed by the Bureau's decision."


* Dworshak Dam Turbine Gets Temporary Repair Allowing Cool Water For Fish

Dworshak Dam's unit 3 stirred to life Wednesday afternoon, providing hydro operators and hydro managers assurance that the turbine can generate power and deliver cool water downstream for fish during the fast approaching hot season.

The turbine is the largest at the west-central Idaho dam operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It controls more than half of the powerhouse flows -- 5,500 cubic feet per second of the 10.5 kcfs total when Unit 3 and two smaller turbines are operating at capacity.

Unit 3 was idled nearly four weeks ago when Corps personnel discovered a leak in the turbine pit. At the time Corps said they couldn't be certain whether or not the problem posed the risk of some sort of catastrophic failure. They said stemming the leak could be a relatively quick fix or it could require a year or more depending on what the problem was.

Luckily the diagnosis indicated the leak could be patched with a concerted effort in the short term. A continued outage would have limited the amount of power that could be generated and the amount of water that could be released to augment flows downstream in the tepid Snake River.

Dworshak is on the North Fork of the Clearwater, which ultimately feeds into the Snake. The deep reservoir's cool waters are used in late summer to cool flows for migrating salmon and steelhead.

Dworshak crews have been "working weekends and nights doing everything they can to get that unit working," the Corps' Steve Hall told the Technical Management Team Wednesday. The TMT's federal, state and tribal members help guide operations, such as the Dworshak flow augmentation, that are intended to benefit salmon and steelhead stocks that are listed under the Endangered Species Act.

After getting the proper equipment in place to dewater the unit and conduct an inspection, the Corps found the unit was "leaking through the head cover seal in about the same area that had been repaired several times before" dating back to the 1980s, Hall said.

The temporary repairs consisted of drilling into the seam between the head cover and stay ring and then pressure-injecting an adhesive/sealant into that seam to reduce the leakage.

"We are hopeful that the temporary repairs will last until that time (mid-September), but cannot make that guarantee," said David Tucker, Dworshak's acting operations project manager.

A more permanent fix would likely happen whenever the powerhouse is scheduled for a major overhaul.

Unit 3 resumed its operation at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

With all units running the dam's outflowcan be lifted to as much about 14 kcfs before "total dissolved gas" levels approach legal legal limits. That maximum flow includes full powerhouse generation with additional water released through spill gates and/or the dam's "regulating outlets." The powerhouse flows create little gas, but the spilled water and RO releases stir up TDG quickly in the dam's tailwater. Elevated gas levels can be harmful to fish and other aquatic organisms.

Without unit 3operating, outflows would likely be limited to about 7-8 kcfs before reaching the TDG cap.

The flow augmentations typically begin following the July 4 weekend and stretch into September.


* Council Moves Forward On Wildlife Project Recommendations Under F&W Program

The stage is set for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council to complete next month the first, relatively small, leg of its newly devised process for evaluating which projects should be funded through its Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.

The Council's Fish and Wildlife Committee on Wednesday voted unanimously (3-0 with one member absent) to endorse staff recommendations that 34 of 36 submitted wildlife projects be funded for the next five fiscal years. The full Council will consider adoption of the recommendations when it meets July 14-16 in Portland.

The average annual budget for those projects would be $13.9 million, $1.8 million more that $12.1 million fiscal 2010 start-of-year budget suggested by the Bonneville Power Administration. The federal power marketing agency makes final funding decisions and develops contracts for the work. Revenues from wholesale power customers fund the program as mitigation for impacts on fish and wildlife from the construction and operation of the Columbia-Snake river power system.

The committee also moved forward a recommended capital budget, primarily for habitat acquisitions, of as much as $60.1 million over the next three years. BPA's 2010 start of year capital budget for the projects is $17.4 million.

The wildlife category would be the first completed under a review structure that lumps together projects that are similar in nature and intent and others by geographic area. In the planning stage are reviews of research, monitoring and evaluation projects and of anadromous fish artificial production.

The Independent Scientific Review Panel review of the wildlife project review was completed last month. The NPCC this week invited comments on the ISRP report as well as on a staff memorandum that outlines both project-specific recommendations and programmatic issues for the wildlife category.

Comments on the ISRP's "Wildlife Category Review: Final Review of 2009 Proposals are due by July 10. The report, dated May 19, has been posted on the Council's website at

The comments will help the Council decide how to use and consider the ISRP's advice as it develops its wildlife funding recommendations for Bonneville.

Public comment on the staff memo regarding wildlife categorical review are also due by July 10. The memo can be found at:

The ISRP, which reviews project proposals for scientific merit, said 23 proposals fully meet scientific review criteria, 11 meet criteria with some qualifications, and two did not meet scientific review criteria.

"Overall, after reviewing proposals, visiting wildlife areas, and meeting with wildlife managers, the ISRP was impressed with the dedication and responsiveness of all of the wildlife program managers," the ISRP report says. "The wildlife program has made progress in many areas since the ISRP began its reviews in 1997. Consistent with its charge, the ISRP hopes that its reviews and comments move the program forward especially in the area of adaptive management."

The ISRP report and staff memo identify programmatic issues that will require further attention.

The two projects that did not meet science criteria were allowed earmarks in the Bonneville start-of-year and NPCC budget proposals and are included in the bottom lines. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is refining and upgrading the Southern Idaho Wildlife Mitigation projects and will come back for a second science review.

An NPCC-produced spreadsheet also lists "possible programmatic cost savings" that could shrink the annual budget by $0 to $1.4 million. The cost savings are potential adjustments made as a result of programmatic issues posed by projects.

BPA's fish and wildlife director, Bill Maslen, that he was concerned about expectations that the NPCC staff budget would produce since it is higher than the amount that will likely be available. He said he preferred that the Council pare back now with the possibility that more wildlife funding is freed up later as a result of cost savings in other parts of the program.

He said the Council "needs to work within the budget that's established."


* Reservoir Elevations Held Steady For Tribal Fishing; Sockeye Run Building Steam

Dam operators agreed to hold lower Columbia River reservoir elevations relatively steady this week and next week to avoid raising havoc with tribal nets deployed to sweep in returning summer chinook and sockeye salmon, steelhead and other fish.

A "system operations request" submitted by four Columbia River treaty tribes asks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to hold the Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day dam pool elevations within a 1-foot band during the two scheduled commercial fisheries. The first fishery began at 6 a.m. Tuesday and runs through 6 tonight. The second starts Monday at 6 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. June 25.

The Corps' Jim Adams told the TMT that dam operators had been instructed as a "soft constraint" that a 1-foot band of elevation change be maintained at Bonneville with a "hard constraint" of 1.5 feet. John Day is being operated within a 1.5-foot elevation band and The Dalles pool will try stay within 1.5-foot range but have a 3-foot range as a hard constraint.

Flow conditions sometimes require that reservoir levels fluctuate by more than 1 or 1.5 feet but operators will target the tighter ranges, Adams said.

The SOR stresses that large fluctuations can cause a variety of problems. Rapid drops in water level can lead to the tangling of nets, boat access problems and nets being torn from their anchors.

The nets cost from $500 to $800 dollars to replace, Kyle Dittmer of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission told the TMT. CRITFC represents four treaty tribes -- the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama.

Any delays or disruptions to tribal fishing operations caused by excessive pool fluctuations negatively impacts tribal incomes, food resources and cultural practices, the SOR says. Much of the tribal fishers' annual income and food is generated during the brief treaty fishing season.

This summer season is expected to be better than most.

The preseason forecast is for a return of 70,700 upriver summer chinook, which would be 27 percent greater than the 2008 return of 55,500.

The sockeye run is also expected to be strong with a preseason forecast return to the mouth of the river of 183,800 fish. The bulk of those sockeye are headed to Washington's Okanogan and Wenatchee river basins. The Snake River sockeye run, which is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, is expected to total 600, which would be the second highest on a record dating back to 1980.

The 2009 sockeye run is beginning to build steam. The daily counts at Bonneville began the month at fewer than 100 fish but have slowly risen. The counts were 5,440 and 5,106 on Tuesday and Wednesday and then jumped to 7,120 Thursday. The total sockeye count through Thursday was 33,974.

One sockeye has made its way up through eight Columbia and Snake River hydro projects on its way to central Idaho's Stanley Basin. The fish was counted Tuesday crossing up and over a Lower Granite Dam fish ladder.

Management agreements would allow the tribes to harvest 18,263 chinook on a run of the predicted size. The treaty tribes can also harvest up to 7 percent of the sockeye run. The sockeye harvest cap is intended to limit impacts on the ESA-listed fish.

The treaty and non-treaty fisheries will see some adjustments throughout the season as both are managed on actual run size and not simply pre-season forecasts. Those forecasts are updated regularly as the run proceeds based in large part on the number of fish passing over the dams.

Much of treaty catch will be sold to commercial buyers, and used to restock tribal members' stores. Sales of local, fresh summer chinook (historically called "June Hogs" because of their size), steelhead, sockeye and incidentally caught walleye, shad and carp can also be purchased "over the bank" at various sites up and down the river.

"The tribal commercial fishery is fundamental to the tribal community and local economy," said Rob Lothrop, interim executive director for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. "It allows tribal fishers to support their families, continue their traditions and rebuild their communities by putting resources back into the local economies."

An aerial surveyed showed that, as of Wednesday morning, a total of 396 tribal nets (172 Oregon shore and 224 Washington shore) had been deployed in the reservoirs above Bonneville. They included 147 (37 percent of the total) in the Bonneville pool, 92 (23 percent) in The Dalles pool and 157 (40 percent) in the John Day pool.

Tribal fishers and the local river economies, stymied by the lower-then-predicted spring chinook run, are eager to kick the fishery into gear. The preseason forecast was for a return of 398,900 adult salmon to the mouth of the river. The preliminary estimate of the actual return is 170,000.

CRITFC estimates that for every $10 generated by fish sales, as much as $7 is placed back into local economies.

Tribal fishers may be found selling fish at a number of locations along the river: Marine Park at Cascade Locks, Lone Pine at The Dalles and the boat launch near Roosevelt, Washington. Commercial sales will not occur on Corps of Engineers property at Bonneville Dam.

To find out where the day's catch is being sold, call CRITFC's salmon marketing program at (888) 289-1855 or visit the website Price is determined at the point of sale and sales are cash only.

The tribal fishery is protected under 1855 treaties with the federal government which reserve the right to fish at all usual and accustomed fishing places in the Columbia River basin; a treaty right that reserves ceremonial, subsistence and commercial uses.


* Federal Judge Issues Order On John Day Grazing To Protect Mid-Columbia Steelhead

A federal court this week put the U.S. Forest Service on trial, saying the agency must follow through on its plans for assuring grazing operations in Oregon's John Day River basin don't jeopardize the survival of protected steelhead or face the legal consequences.

"Plaintiffs have shown that they are likely to succeed on the merits of multiple claims against the Forest Service and National Marine Fisheries Service and that irreparable harm to Middle Columbia River (MCR) steelhead is likely to occur if this court does not partially enjoin grazing on the allotments at issue," U.S. District Court Judge Ancer L. Haggarty wrote in an order issued Monday. "Because Congress has determined that listed species are to be afforded the highest of priorities, this court finds that plaintiffs have also shown that the balance of equities tips in their favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest."

But instead of shutting down grazing on the two "allotments" totaling nearly 121,000 acres as he did last year, the judge's order requires implementation of a scaled back grazing plan, and monitoring of the results.

He also denied a request by the plaintiffs, led by the Oregon High Desert Association, that grazing be prohibited on another 200,000 acres this year in the Malheur National Forest. The allotments are used by 17 Grant County ranches that are aligned with the Forest Service in the lawsuit.

"The Forest Service has proposed limited grazing be resumed on the Murderers Creek and Lower Middle Fork Allotments for the 2009 season. Additionally, the Forest Service has proposed reduced grazing on some of the other litigated allotments and the total resting of the Long Creek Allotment," Haggarty's order says. "For all allotments to be grazed in 2009, the forest service has increased monitoring, fencing, and active herd management.

"The evidence submitted indicates that the grazing proposals are likely to adequately protect riparian health if fully implemented. While the court does not doubt the Forest Service's intent to carry out adequate mitigation and monitoring measures, the court issues this Order to insure the full implementation of the Forest Service's proposals for 2009," according to the judge.

The ruling covers about 330,000 acres and 235 miles of streams on the forest.

"The Forest Service and permittees are required to utilize all mitigation measures contemplated by the 2007-2011 Biological Opinion and all those proposed for the 2009 season in representations to this court," Haggarty wrote, referencing the strategy developed by NOAA's Fisheries Service to make sure that livestock grazing regulated by the Forest Service does not jeopardize the steelhead stock, which is listed under the Endangered Species Act. Those measures include building fences to shield streambanks from cattle's hooves.

"Where the Forest Service has indicated that fencing will be built, and that cattle will not be turned out until it is built, such fencing is required," the judge said. "If the Forest Service determines that it cannot comply with applicable environmental laws and construct the proposed fencing for a particular pasture, then no cattle shall be grazed on that pasture absent the express permission of this court.

"If adequate mitigation and monitoring do not occur, the court may end the grazing season early with a full injunction," Haggarty concluded. "The time has come for the Forest Service to adaptively manage these allotments in response to conditions on the ground rather than in reaction to this court's rulings."

The Malheur National Forest is located in eastern Oregon's Blue Mountains. It includes portions of the Upper John Day, Middle Fork John Day, North Fork John Day, and Malheur rivers. The 281-mile long John Day River is one of the longest undammed rivers in the continental United States.


* WDFW Seeks Members For New Advisory Board On Salmon, Steelhead Fishing

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking nominations for a new citizen advisory board responsible for reviewing plans to improve sport fishing opportunities for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River basin.

Individuals may nominate themselves or others to the board, which will be composed of six to 10 people affiliated with recreational fishing organizations in the region.

The board's primary role will be to advise WDFW on implementation of the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Pilot Endorsement Program, approved by state lawmakers during the 2009 legislative session.

The bill "Establishing the upper Columbia river recreational salmon and steelhead pilot stamp program," became law with the signature of Gov. Chris Gregoire on May 8. It will require the purchase a $7.50 stamp or endorsement by anyone planning to fish recreationally for salmon and steelhead on the Columbia River and its tributaries. A person must obtain a stamp or endorsement in addition to a fishing license. The new law goes into effect Jan. 1.

The final bill report says the stated purpose of the program is to supplement the resources available to WDFW to carry out activities necessary to provide recreational salmon and steelhead fishing opportunities on the Columbia River and its tributaries.

The funds collected would be used to supplement "the resources available to the department to carry out the scientific monitoring and evaluation, data collection, permitting, reporting, enforcement, and other activities necessary to provide such opportunities," the law says.

The management of fisheries "is getting more and more complicated because of ESA," said Heather Bartlett, WDFW salmon and steelhead division manager. Endangered Species Act permitting requires considerable WDFW staff time, as does the monitoring of fisheries to assure ESA impact limits aren't breached.

"The cost of implementing fisheries has increased exponentially," Bartlett said.

The new law says the state agency must administer the program in consultation with an advisory body representing the geographic areas and established recreational fishing organizations of the Columbia River.

The advisory body will make annual recommendations regarding program expenditures, and "WDFW must provide an explanation for any expenditures that substantially differ from such recommendations," the final bill report says.

The WDFW is charged with developing by Sept. 1 a list of tributaries where stamps will be is required.

The agency and advisory panel must recommend to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2014, whether the program should be continued.

Board members will also serve as an important communication link with the fishing public, Bartlett said.

"People seeking appointment to the board should have a solid background in Columbia River fishery management, along with the ability to communicate effectively with anglers and anglers' organizations," Bartlett said.

The board will meet at least three times per year to review and evaluate program implementation, program expenditures and provide recommendations consistent with the intent of the pilot endorsement program, she said.

Board members will serve two-year terms, effective 2010, and can be reappointed. WDFW will provide financial assistance with meeting-related travel costs.

Nominations must be mailed no later than July 15 to: Heather Bartlett, Salmon and Steelhead Division Manager, at 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA, 98501-1091. More information is available by contacting Bartlett at (360) 902-2662.

Nominations must include the following information:

-- the name of the advisory group the nominee is applying for.
-- the nominee's name, physical and e-mail address and telephone number.
-- the nominee's affiliations.
-- the name, address and telephone number of any organization submitting a nomination.
-- experience, including the amount and type of experience, and any species or areas of interest, and references.


* Study Looks At Differences Between Zebra Mussels And Quagga Mussels

The zebra mussels that have wreaked ecological havoc on the Great Lakes are harder to find these days -- not because they are dying off, but because they are being replaced by a cousin, the quagga mussel. But zebra mussels still dominate in fast-moving streams and rivers.

Research conducted by Suzanne Peyer, a doctoral candidate in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Zoology, shows that physiological differences between the two species might determine which mollusk dominates in either calm or fast-moving waters.

"Zebra mussels quite rapidly colonized rivers close to the Great Lakes right after their introduction, within a year or two," Peyer explains. "Quagga mussels were introduced in the Great Lakes around 20 years ago, but they are still not found in the rivers or tend to be present in low numbers."

The mussels are similar in many ways. Their habitats overlap, and both are suspension feeders that filter water to extract their food. But the cousin species are different in many ways, too. Zebra mussels prefer to attach to a hard surface, while quagga mussels can live on soft bottoms, such as sand or silt. Zebra mussels also prefer warmer water temperatures and do not grow as big as quagga mussels.

Peyer's research focused on the ability of the mussels to attach to underlying material. Both species attach to rocks, sand, silt or each other by producing tiny but strong "byssal" threads, string-like strands of protein. These threads act as an adhesive that enable the mussels to attach to surfaces, regardless of how slippery the surface is. Byssal threads are the reason mussels are so difficult to remove from boats or water intake pipes.

Peyer collected both mussel species from Lake Michigan. In the lab, she subjected the mussels to different water velocities that simulated river flow conditions. Her research results supported her hypothesis that zebra mussels are able to produce more byssal threads than quagga mussels, enabling them to attach more securely to underlying material. They are also better able to hang on where water is flowing, such as in a river or stream.

"The results were that zebra mussels produced byssal threads at about twice the rate of quagga mussels," Peyer says. "Zebra mussels can ramp up their byssal thread production under different flows."

A statistical model Peyer developed also predicted that, with increasing velocity, zebra mussels produce more threads than quagga mussels.

According to this model, the zebra mussels show high plasticity, or the ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Plasticity can be an adaptive characteristic that allows an organism to survive under new conditions. In this case, the new condition is increased flow.

Zebra mussels are also able to stay attached better. At the highest velocity, only 10 percent of the zebra mussels detached, but 60-70 percent of the quagga mussels detached.

Results from her research, funded by the UW-Madison Sea Grant Institute, is published in the July 1 issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology.

According to Peyer's research adviser, Carol Eunmi Lee at the UW-Madison Center of Rapid Evolution, no one has previously looked at differences in attachment between these species as an explanation for their distribution patterns in North America.

"It's the first time somebody actually went and systematically looked at functional differences between the two species that would explain the different kinds of substrate that they could invade," she says. "In that sense, Suzanne has produced a really elegant and clever study. It has very concrete hypotheses and results."

Zebra mussels were first introduced in the Great Lakes in the late 1980s, hitchhiking their way into North America in the ballast water of ships from the Caspian and Black seas. Within a few years, zebra mussels had colonized shallow water, beaches, and water intake pipes in layers up to eight inches thick. Although quagga mussels came onto the scene a few years later, they have recently become the dominant species in calm waters of the Great Lakes.

These mussels have permanently changed the ecosystem. Before the mussels invaded, Lake Michigan water was mostly cloudy and millions of tiny microorganisms provided a food base for fish. Because the mussels filter the microorganisms, the waters today are surprisingly clear, allowing light to penetrate to greater depths, which in turn promotes prolific, nuisance algae blooms.

Quagga mussels may be the reason Diporea, a small shrimp-like species that serves as a food source for larger fish, is no longer abundant. The whitefish that feed on Diporea are growing to less than half of their expected size.

Both Peyer and Lee hope that understanding the biological differences between the two mussel species will help those who manage the Great Lakes.

"We need to be aware of the distinct differences between the two species," Peyer says. "If we understand the differences in their biology, we might help to make management more efficient and more effective in the end."


* Council Approves 'Findings' On Recommendations For Fish And Wildlife Program

In updating its fish and wildlife "program," the Northwest Power and Conservation Council contemplated thousands of pages of recommendations, comments on those recommendations and comments on draft amendments.

The goals and strategies that make up the program were approved in February. The rationale for the Council's choices are explained in a 240-page findings document approved last week by the Council and posted on its web site Thursday. They can be found at:

The findings explain why the Council did, or did not, follow the recommendations of federal, state and tribal fish and wildlife management entities, and others. It attempts to address "hundreds if not thousands of individual recommendations."

The document also lists 11 "general" findings that discuss groupings of recommendations and/or comments that focus on the same topics.

Those categories included recommendations and/or comments:
-- regarding the Council's program framework first introduced in the 2000 program amendments;
-- suggesting that specific measures be adopted as part of the program;
-- relating to the biological opinions and Columbia Basin Fish Accords;
-- that would have amended or supplemented the subbasin plans;
-- relating to objectives in the program above the subbasin and mainstem levels.
-- relating to emerging issues of non-native species, toxic contaminants, and climate change, especially as they relate to the habitat strategies of the program;
-- regarding the artificial production strategy and the work of the Hatchery Scientific Review Group;
-- relating to strategies regarding resident fish mitigation and resident fish substitution;
-- relating to the wildlife element of the program;
-- relating to the program's strategies for research, monitoring and evaluation, reporting, and data management;
-- relating to the Fish Passage Center.

The Council in November 2007 requested in writing that fish and wildlife agencies, Indian tribes, and others submit recommendations for amendments to fish and wildlife program. More than 3,000 pages of recommendations and supporting information were received from 65 entities. The Council then received extensive written public comment on the program amendment recommendations.

In September 2008, the Council released for public review a draft revised fish and wildlife Program. The Council received more than 1,000 pages of substantial written comments on the draft.

The Council also took oral testimony at a dozen public hearings around the region and held a number of consultations on the recommendations and draft amendments with representatives of state and federal fish and wildlife agencies, tribes, federal hydrosystem agencies and customers of the Bonneville Power Administration, which markets power generated in the system and funds the Council program.

The Council based its decisions on the recommendations, supporting documents, and the views and information obtained through public comment and consultations with the agencies, tribes, and customers. The program also includes detailed plans for nearly 60 subbasins and mainstem reaches of the Columbia River basin.


* NOAA-Led Report Assesses National, Regional Impacts Of Global Climate Change

Climate change is already having visible impacts in the United States, and choices made now will determine the severity of its impacts in the future, according to a new federal study assessing the current and anticipated domestic impacts of climate change.

The report, "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States," compiles years of scientific research and takes into account new data not available during the preparation of previous large national and global assessments.

It was produced by a consortium of experts from13 U.S. government science agencies and from several major universities and research institutes. The authors say with its production and review spanning Republican and Democratic administrations, it offers an objective scientific consensus on how climate change is affecting -- and may further affect -- the United States.

"This new report integrates the most up-to-date scientific findings into a comprehensive picture of the ongoing as well as expected future impacts of heat-trapping pollution on the climate experienced by Americans, region by region and sector by sector," said John P. Holdren, assistant to the president for Science and Technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

"It tells us why remedial action is needed sooner rather than later, as well as showing why that action must include both global emissions reductions to reduce the extent of climate change and local adaptation measures to reduce the damage from the changes that are no longer avoidable."

The report, which confirms previous evidence that global temperature increases in recent decades have been primarily human-induced, incorporates the latest information on rising temperatures and sea levels; increases in extreme weather events; and other climate-related phenomena.

It is the first such report in almost a decade to break out those impacts by U.S. region and economic sector, and the first to do so in such great detail.
"This report stresses that climate change has immediate and local impacts -- it literally affects people in their backyards," said Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "In keeping with our goals, the information in it is accessible and useful to everyone from city planners and national legislators to citizens who want to better understand what climate change means to them. This is an issue that clearly affects everyone."

A product of the interagency U.S. Global Change Research Program, the 190-page report, produced under NOAA's guidance, is written in plain language to better inform members of the public and policymakers. It underwent review by scientists inside and outside of government and includes information more recent than that incorporated into the last major report on global climate change released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"Implementing sizable and sustained reductions in carbon dioxide emissions as soon as possible would significantly reduce the pace and the overall amount of climate change," the report states, "and would be more effective than reductions of the same size initiated later."

The study finds that Americans are already being affected by climate change through extreme weather, drought and wildfire trends and details how the nation's transportation, agriculture, health, water and energy sectors will be affected in the future. The study also finds that the current trend in the emission of greenhouse gas pollution is significantly above the worst-case scenario that this and other reports have considered.

Among the main findings are:

--- Heat waves will become more frequent and intense, increasing threats to human health and quality of life. Extreme heat will also affect transportation and energy systems, and crop and livestock production.
--- Increased heavy downpours will lead to more flooding, waterborne diseases, negative effects on agriculture, and disruptions to energy, water, and transportation systems.
--- Reduced summer runoff and increasing water demands will create greater competition for water supplies in some regions, especially in the West.
--- Rising water temperatures and ocean acidification threaten coral reefs and the rich ecosystems they support. These and other climate-related impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems will have major implications for tourism and fisheries.
--- Insect infestations and wildfires are already increasing and are projected to increase further in a warming climate.
--- Local sea-level rise of over three feet on top of storm surges will increasingly threaten homes and other coastal infrastructure. Coastal flooding will become more frequent and severe, and coastal land will increasingly be lost to the rising seas.

By breaking out results in terms of region and economic sector the report provides a valuable tool not just for policymakers but for all Americans who will be affected by these trends. Its information can help:

--- Farmers making crop and livestock decisions, as growing seasons lengthen, insect management becomes more difficult and droughts become more severe;
--- Local officials thinking about zoning decisions, especially along coastal areas;
-- Public health officials developing ways to lessen the impacts of heat waves throughout the country;
-- Water resource officials considering development plans; and,
-- Business owners as they consider business and investment decisions.

Responses to climate change fall into two categories. The first involves "mitigation" measures to limit climate change by reducing emissions of heat-trapping pollution or increasing their removal from the atmosphere. The second involves "adaptation" measures to improve our ability to cope with or avoid harmful impacts, and take advantage of beneficial ones.

"Both of these are necessary elements of an effective response strategy," said Jerry Melillo of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. Mellilo is a report co-chair.

"By comparing impacts that are projected to result from higher versus lower emissions of heat-trapping gasses, our report underscores the importance and real economic value of reducing those emissions," said Tom Karl, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. and one of the co-chairs of the report. "It shows that the choices made now will have far-reaching consequences."

The report draws from a large body of scientific information, including the set of 21 Synthesis and Assessment reports from the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The government agencies affiliated with the program include the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Interior, State, and Transportation; the Environmental Protection Agency; NASA; National Science Foundation; Smithsonian Institution; and the United States Agency for International Development.

The report is available for download online at


* CBB Shorts: Marbled Murrelet; New License For Spokane River Project; New Forest Service Service

--- USFWS Review Says Marbled Murrelet Still Threatened

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week announced the completion of a 5-year status review of the marbled murrelet, a rare seabird native to the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

"After a thorough review of the best available scientific and commercial information, the status of marbled murrelets in Washington, Oregon and California has not changed and the recovery criteria for removing the species from the federal list of threatened and endangered species have not been met," said Ken Berg, supervisor of the agency's Washington state Fish and Wildlife Office. "Our review concludes that the tri-state population of marbled murrelets is a valid Distinct Population Segment under the Endangered Species Act, in accordance with Service policy, and should remain protected as a threatened species."

In conducting the review, biologists considered more than 100 studies completed since the agency's last 5-year review in 2004. These documents, and other information, revealed that the marbled murrelet population in Washington, Oregon and California continues to decline and faces a broad range of threats, such as nesting habitat loss and fragmentation and predation.

Although some threats, such as gillnet bycatch and lack of regulatory mechanisms, have been reduced since listing, most continue and the species faces new threats, such as abandoned fishing gear at sea, harmful algal blooms and observed changes in the quality of the bird's marine food supply.

For the first time, direct data are available to evaluate population trends for the marbled murrelet in the three-state area. For the area from Monterey Bay to the Canadian border, 2001 to 2008 data document an annual decline of 4.3 percent and a total drop of 34 percent. South of Monterey Bay the decline is steeper: 75 percent from 2003 to 2008. The total 2008 population estimate is 18,000 birds.

"Our review shows this remarkable bird remains in trouble," Berg said. "The Service is committed to working with our partners to stop this downward population trend and get this species on the road to recovery."

The 5-year review was conducted internally within the Service through a multi-office team effort. The Service considered information that has become available since the analysis for the 2004 5-year review of the marbled murrelet, such as: population and demographic trend data; genetics; species competition; habitat condition and loss; the amount, distribution and quality of the murrelet's food supply; the effects of climate change; proposals for energy development projects and energy production; adequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and management and conservation planning information.

The review assessed whether new information indicates that the species' population is increasing, declining or stable; whether existing threats are increasing, stable, reduced or eliminated; if there are any new threats; and if new information or analysis calls into question any of the conclusions in the original listing determination as to the species' status.

The 2004 5-year review concluded that the currently listed population was not a valid DPS. However, the Service now finds that the California, Oregon and Washington population is discrete at the international border due to the following reasons: 1) the coterminous United States has a substantially smaller population of murrelets (approximately 18,000) than does Canada (approximately 66,000); 2) breeding success of the murrelet in Washington, Oregon and California is considerably lower than in British Columbia; and 3) there are differences in the amount of habitat, the rate of habitat loss and regulatory mechanisms between the countries.

The 5-year status review and other related information can be found at:

The Service will use the 5-year review to inform its consideration of a 2008 petition to delist the marbled murrelet population in Washington, Oregon and California. A decision on the delisting petition is expected in the coming months.

The marbled murrelet is a small robin-sized, diving seabird of the Alcidae family. Murrelets spend most of their lives in the marine environment, where they forage in near-shore areas and consume a diversity of prey species, including small fish and invertebrates.

--- FERC Grants Avista New 50-Year Operating License For Spokane River Hydro Project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this week granted Avista a new 50-year operating license for the five hydroelectric developments that make up its Spokane River Project.

The five hydroelectric developments include Post Falls, located in Idaho, and the Upper Falls, Monroe Street, Nine Mile and Long Lake developments, which are located in Washington. The new license includes a variety of measures designed to protect, mitigate and enhance natural resources connected with the river.

Avista began the relicensing process in 2002.

The conditions in the new license also reflect settlement agreements with various parties, including the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, federal, state and local natural resource and recreation management agencies, the Sierra Club and other interested groups and organizations.

"We are pleased to complete the relicensing process and look forward to continuing work with stakeholders as we begin implementing conditions of the license," said Scott Morris, Avista chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer.

Some of the new conditions that will be implemented include aesthetic flows in the downtown Spokane area, increased minimum flows from Post Falls Dam and recreation water levels on Coeur d'Alene Lake. Other conditions, such as water quality improvements in the Spokane River and Lake Spokane, enhancements to the fishery resource, wetlands mitigation and improvements to recreation facilities will occur on a timeline that is set out in the license.

Avista officials say they plan to review the license carefully to ensure that it is consistent with the various agreements that have been signed, and with FERC's Final Environmental Impact Statement. The Company has 30 days to request a rehearing with FERC should there be significant discrepancies.

Avista Corp. is an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses. Avista Utilities is the operating division that provides service to 355,000 electric and 315,000 natural gas customers in three Western states.


--- Tidwell Name New U.S. Forest Service Chief

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week announced that Tom Tidwell will serve as the new chief for the U.S. Forest Service.

"Tom Tidwell's 32 years of experience in our forests and impressive track record of collaboration and problem-solving will help us tackle the great challenges ahead," said Vilsack.

Tidwell has spent 32 years with the Forest Service in a variety of positions. He began his Forest Service career on the Boise National Forest, and has since worked in eight different national forests, across three regions. He has worked at all levels of the agency in a variety of positions, including District Ranger, Forest Supervisor, and Legislative Affairs Specialist in the Washington Office.

Tidwell's field experience includes working from the rural areas of Nevada and Idaho all the way to the urban forests in California and the Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah, where he served as forest supervisor during the 2002 Winter Olympics. He also has extensive fire experience, beginning as a firefighter, and accumulating 19 years as an agency administrator responsible for fire suppression decisions.

Tidwell currently leads Region One of the U.S. Forest Service from Missoula.


* Clarification on Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station

In last week's e-mail version of the story "Hood River Study Looks At Reproduction Fitness Of Wild-Born Offspring Of Hatchery Fish" Shawn Narum was identified as manager of the Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station. That was incorrect. The Station and all its personnel are overseen by the Aquaculture Research Institute of the University of Idaho which is directed by Dr. Ronald Hardy. Dr. Narum is the manager of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission genetic program personnel assigned to the Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station. The station is wholly a UI facility in which CRITFC employees conduct genetic analyses using UI and CRITFC equipment. All facilities are owned and operated by the UI. CRITFC is a guest collaborating partner along with USDA-ARS scientists also assigned there. CRITFC, the USDA and the UI all collaborate on some studies, but each agency also conduct studies independently of each other. The correction was made in the web-posted story at


For more information about the CBB contact:
-- BILL CRAMPTON, Editor/Writer,, phone:
541-312-8860 or
-- BARRY ESPENSON, Senior Writer,, phone: 360-696-4005; fax: 360-694-1530

The stories in this e-mail newsletter are posted on the Columbia Basin Bulletin website at If you would like access to the CBB archives, please consider becoming a Member of the CBB website for as little as $5 a month. Your membership will help support maintenance of the 10-year (1998-2008) news database and the production of trustworthy, timely news and information about Columbia Basin fish and wildlife issues.


Feedback comments should be sent by e-mail to the Editor at Please put "feedback"in the subject line. We encourage comments about particular stories, complaints about inaccuracies or omissions; additional information; general views about the topic covered; or opinions that counterbalance statements reported.

The Columbia Basin Bulletin e-mail newsletter is produced by Intermountain Communications of Bend, Oregon and supported with Bonneville Power Administration fish and wildlife funds through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.






Weekly Fish and Wildlife News
June 12, 2009
Issue No. 488

All stories below are posted on the CBB's website at
Also available is a free RSS news feed.

Table of Contents:

* Council Report Details BPA Fish, Wildlife Mitigation Spending: $941 Million In 2008

* Redden Adopts Proposed Summer Ops; Plaintiffs Say Issues Should Be Addressed Comprehensively

* Harvest Managers Open Steelhead, Sockeye Sport Fishery; Predict Return Of 600 Snake River Sockeye

* Council OKs Accord Projects Aimed At Supplementation, Okanagan/Wenatchee Sockeye Productivity

* Hood River Study Looks At Reproduction Fitness Of Wild-Born Offspring Of Hatchery Fish

* Improved NE Oregon Hatchery Runs Allow Only Second Chinook Fishing Season Since 1970s

* Sam Hamilton Named Nominee For New Fish And Wildlife Service Director

* Obama To Nominate Abbey As New Bureau Of Land Management Director

* Search Begins For New Washington Fish and Wildlife Director

* CBB Shorts: Testing Water Travel Time; Powder River Spring Chinook; WDFW Ballast Rules For Invasive Species; McNary- John Day Transmission Line


* Council Report Details BPA Fish, Wildlife Mitigation Spending: $941 Million In 2008

The total amount of ratepayer revenues expended by the Bonneville Power Administration to boost Columbia River basin fish and wildlife has risen to nearly $12 billion, according to a draft report released this week by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

The "Draft Eighth Annual Report to the Northwest Governors On Expenditures of the Bonneville Power Administration to Implement the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, 1978-2008" can be found at

That total includes $941 million in fiscal year 2008, the report says.

"Of that amount, $174 million was for the Council's Fish and Wildlife Program ($148 million in direct expenses and $26 million in capital expenses)," according to the report.

Other 2008 spending categories include:

-- capital funded by Bonneville's borrowing from the U.S. Treasury and Bonneville's participation in projects funded by the Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation ($64.1 million);
-- reimbursements to the Corps and Bureau for investments in fish passage and fish production ($62.2 million);
-- interest, amortization, and depreciation (these are called "fixed expenses") on capital investments in facilities such as hatcheries and fish-passage facilities at dams ($116.2 million);
-- forgone hydropower revenue that results from dam operations that benefit fish but reduce hydropower generation ($273.5 million); and
-- power purchases during periods when required dam operations to protect migrating fish reduce hydropower generation ($274.9 million).

Fish and wildlife spending accounted for 34.8 percent of Bonneville's total 2008 operating expenses and obligations of $2.7 billion, according to the report prepared by the Council and staff in consultation with BPA.

"Financial information was provided by Bonneville in response to requests from the Council and was not independently verified by the Council or its staff. Information about salmon and steelhead was compiled from reports by the Fish Passage Center, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA Fisheries, the states of Washington and Oregon through the Columbia River Compact, and the University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Oceans."

Expenditures 1978 through 2008 now total $11.9 billion. That includes:

"-- $3.30 billion for power purchases to meet electricity-demand requirements in response to required river operations that reduce hydropower generation.

"-- $2.33 billion in forgone revenue. Bonneville calculates the value of hydropower that could not be generated (revenue that is forgone) because of required river operations to assist fish passage and improve fish survival, such as water spills at the dams when salmon and steelhead are migrating to or from the ocean.

"-- $1.99 billion for the Council's direct program. This amount does not include annual expenditures from the separate capital-investment budget for projects in the direct program.... With capital expenditures added, the total for the direct program for the period 1978-2008 is $3.63 billion.

"-- $1.64 billion for capital investments, discussed above, such as the construction costs of facilities like fish hatcheries and fish-passage facilities at the dams.

"-- $1.60 billion in fixed expenses for interest, amortization, and depreciation on the capital investments.

"-- $984.7 million to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for the power-generation share of other federal agency expenditures to mitigate the impacts of hydropower hydro power on fish and wildlife. Primarily these reimbursements are paid to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for efforts to improve fish and wildlife survival apart from the Council's program, such as operation and maintenance of fish passage facilities and federal fish hatcheries."

The annual report (and seven previous reports) responds to a July 1999 request by the governors of Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Washington -- the four states represented on the Council -- to report annually on Bonneville's expenditures for fish and wildlife mitigation.

The Council was created by the 1980 Northwest Power Act develop a program to protect, mitigate and enhance fish and wildlife affected by construction of the Columbia-Snake river hydro system and to help assure the Pacific Northwest an adequate, efficient, economical, and reliable power supply.

The Act directed BPA, which markets power generated in the hydro system, to fund the program. Bonneville also has obligations stemming from tribal treaties and other federal laws to fund mitigation for hydro system impacts on fish and wildlife.

The Council will accept comments on the draft report through the close of business on Friday, July 10. Comments should be directed to Mark Walker, director of Public Affairs, Northwest Power and Conservation Council, 851 S.W. Sixth Avenue, Suite 1100, Portland, OR, 97204, or submitted by e-mail to


* Redden Adopts Proposed Summer Ops; Plaintiffs Say Issues Should Be Addressed Comprehensively

A legal attempt to force the spilling of more water at federal Columbia and Snake river dams and to enhance river flows to ease salmon migrations has run out of time, at least for the 2009 season, according to a brief filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court by a coalition of fishing and conservation groups.

The court filing explains why the groups chose to speak neither for nor against a proposed order and "fish operations plan" for the 2009 summer season that was submitted to the court June 2 by the U.S. Department of Justice. Judge James A. Redden, also on Wednesday, adopted that proposed order.

"The decision not to take a position on federal defendants' motion is not an endorsement of it," according to the brief filed Wednesday by Earthjustice, which represents the coalition. "Instead, it reflects the reality that time is very short before the start of the summer migration season and that issues regarding river flows should be addressed both comprehensively and earlier in the planning process.

"These and other issues should be addressed in finding a comprehensive solution to the flaws in the 2008 Biological Opinion rather than by narrow and expedited injunction proceedings aimed only at 2009 summer operations," the document says. "Nonetheless, the proposed summer operations, and the manner in which they were developed, raise several significant concerns that warrant discussion."

The May 2008 Federal Columbia River Power System BiOp is now under review by the Obama Administration and Judge Redden.

The coalition and the state of Oregon, supported by the Nez Perce Tribe, early last summer challenged the BiOp issued by NOAA's Fisheries Service, saying it did not provide adequate protections for 13 listed Columbia River basin salmonid stocks. Oral arguments in the lawsuit were heard March 6.

Redden has since been mulling legal arguments filed over the past year about the legal and biological merits of the strategy for assuring that salmon and steelhead stocks aren't jeopardized by the federal hydro system. Meanwhile he has also suggested to the involved federal agencies that they shore up the BiOp with a more certain plan for funding and implementing mitigation actions, by targeting measures to increase flows and by maintaining, at least for now, levels of spill that he has ordered in the past.

The judge has twice before declared FCRPS BiOps illegal under the Endangered Species Act. The 2008 strategy replaces a 2004 version that Redden struck down in 2005.

Earthjustice this winter also filed a request for a preliminary or permanent court injunction requiring that spill and flow levels be greatly increased over the new BiOp's prescriptions, as well as over those in this week's order, to improve conditions for migrating steelhead and salmon.

The proposed order filed June 2 for defendants in the lawsuit -- the Fisheries Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation -- promises that summertime spill operations this year to facilitate juvenile salmon passage will mirror as closely as possible those of 2008. The Corps and Bureau operate the dams.

The previous court orders, including one issued last year, required that spill at four dams on the lower Snake River be continued through Aug. 31 to aid "subyearling" Snake River fall chinook that are migrating toward the Pacific Ocean.

The BiOp offers the flexibility to end spill much earlier at the lower Snake dams. It says spill at the four dams can be ended when subyearling counts at the dams fall below 300 fish per day for three consecutive days.

The federal agencies insist that the 2008 BiOp is a better strategy.

"? we continue to believe that the operation called for in the BiOp and thoroughly vetted in the collaboration process is appropriate and the submission of the draft proposed order represents a significant compromise on the part of the Federal government," according to the motion filed by federal attorneys.

The Earthjustice brief accuses the federal agencies of being in denial.

"While that may be the federal defendants' view, what they fail to acknowledge is that the measures of the 2008 BiOp, if implemented, would have modified 2009 summer spill operations significantly as compared to past court-ordered spill," the June 10 filing says. "Any compromise then is with respect to what federal defendants would like to be able to do, not with respect to what they have been doing under Court order."

"? the most significant change in operations from those implemented in 2008 would result from the order's effect on flow augmentation," Earthjustice says. "Yet nowhere does the proposed order or the accompanying 2009 Fish Operations Plan discuss or even mention changes to flow augmentation between 2008 and 2009."

Not mentioned in the proposed order is a plan to implement the so-called "Montana Operation" ? a reduction in the drawdown of northwest Montana's Hungry Horse and Libby reservoirs to augment flows for salmon far downstream.

"Under these circumstances, the plan to implement the Montana Operation without finding at least an offset for the decreases in flow caused by that operation undercuts the objective of enhancing flow," the Earthjustice filing says.

For more information and documents related to BiOP litigation go to


* Harvest Managers Open Steelhead, Sockeye Sport Fishery; Predict Return Of 600 Snake River Sockeye

An improving upriver spring chinook forecast translates to fewer Endangered Species Act "impacts" and thus allowed the opening this morning of a Columbia River mainstem sport fishery for steelhead and sockeye from Portland's Interstate 5 bridge down to Tongue Point-Rocky Point near the river mouth.

Also scheduled during a Wednesday meeting were non-Indian commercial summer chinook fisheries in the lower river and tribal fisheries in reservoirs above Bonneville Dam beginning next week. Bonneville is about 146 river miles from the Pacific Ocean.

The steelhead fishery was scheduled to open May 16 but Oregon and Washington officials decided at that point in time to leave the mainstem -- from Bonneville Dam down to the river mouth -- closed to salmon and steelhead fishing. Fishery officials feared the incidental catch of chinook during a steelhead fishery would serve to push impacts further above established limits.

At the time, the upriver spring chinook return was forecast to number between 120,000 and 150,000 adult fish, as measured at the mouth of the river. The catch in hand already represented a 1.96 percent impact on a return of 150,000. The non-tribal impact cap is 1.9 percent of the upriver run. It is intended hold down impacts on Snake River and Upper Columbia stocks that are ESA listed.

But with a relatively steady stream of upriver spring chinook passing up and over Bonneville Dam that run forecast has risen to 165,000. The sport and commercial harvest to-date now represents about 98 percent of the allowed non-tribal impact limit of 1.9 percent. Sport fisheries have accounted for about 70 percent of those impacts and commercial fisheries about 30 percent. The upriver spring chinook salmon are stocks that originated in hatchery and tributaries above Bonneville in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Oregon and Washington department of fish and wildlife staffs estimated that opening the steelhead-sockeye fishery four days earlier than the June 16 start of the summer season would result in three chinook mortalities, a 0.002 percent impact.

The WDFW's Bill Tweit said that it is unlikely that non-tribal impacts will exceed the 1.9 percent given the counts so far at Bonneville and the lateness of the season. Through Wednesday, June 10, a total of 135,783 adult upriver spring chinook had climbed Bonneville's fish ladders and the lower river harvest, including release mortalities, is estimated to be 22,200 for a total of 158,000 fish.

"We would have liked to give anglers more of a spring fishery," Tweit said. "But only now, when most spring chinook salmon have passed Bonneville Dam, are fishery managers feeling confident that we can meet state and federal conservation goals."

The sport fishing rules adopted by both states will allow anglers to catch and retain hatchery steelhead, along with sockeye salmon and hatchery jack chinook salmon, upriver from Rocky Point to the Interstate 5 bridge. Hatchery-reared steelhead and chinook salmon are marked with a clipped adipose fin.

Those rules will effectively give anglers four days of fishing in that stretch of the river before summer seasons begin June 16. Starting June 16, anglers may retain any jack chinook -- marked or unmarked -- but must release any adult chinook salmon they catch until June 22, when the Columbia River opens for summer chinook fishing below Bonneville Dam.

In recent days counts at the dam have been over 2,000 and the chinook will be counted as part of the "spring" run through June 15. Beginning June 16 chinook passing Bonneville are counted by the states as part of the summer run.

A total of 41,594 spring chinook had been counted through Wednesday at Lower Granite Dam in southeast Washington. The lower Snake River dam is the eighth hydro project the fish pass on their way home.

Tweit and the ODFW's Steve Williams noted that upcoming fisheries, and dam counts, will be monitored very closely to assure that harvests are held within desired limits. Management was tripped up this spring when only about half of the anticipated upriver chinook materialized. The preseason forecast was for an upriver return of 298,900 adult fish.

When managers realized the run was going to come in short, mainstem sport fisheries were shut down. But considerable impacts had already been incurred. The last of three spring commercial outings was April 13. Sport fishing was ended April 23 below the dam and May 1 above.

Tweit and Williams on Wednesday represented their respective department directors on the Columbia River Compact, which sets mainstem commercial fisheries, and at a joint state sport fishing hearing.

The outlook is relatively bright for the summer season. The preseason forecast is for a return of 70,700 adult summer chinook, which would be 27 percent greater than 2008's actual return of 55,500.

The Upper Columbia summer chinook, bound for hatcheries and spawning grounds above the mid-Columbia's Priest Rapids Dam, are not ESA-listed. But fisheries are managed to assure an escapement of at least 29,000 hatchery and natural origin fish, as measured at the mouth of the Columbia.

This year, based on that preseason forecast, there are more than 36,000 available for harvest --18,263 for treaty harvests and 18,253 for non-treaty harvest. An allocation agreement reserves 10,263 summer chinook for non-treaty harvest above Priest Rapids and 8,000 for non-treaty harvest below Priest Rapids. That 8,000-fish total is split in half with 4,000 for commercial and 4,000 for anglers. Those totals could change in-season, depending on the strength of the dam counts.

The sockeye salmon counts in recent weeks have shown a steady, increasing trend. The first was seen passing Bonneville on May 25 and two more followed the next day and three more passed on May 27. The daily counts have slowly risen with more than 1,000 sockeye ? 1,114 ? charted for the first time Wednesday.

Sockeye retention would be allowed through July 31 unless monitoring, and updated dam counts, indicates that the harvest is approaching a 1 percent impact on the Snake River run.

The total count at Bonneville through Wednesday was 4,283 sockeye and at least nine of them turned into the Snake River to be counted at Ice Harbor Dam.

Fisheries officials expect a large sockeye run for the second year in a row. The preseason forecasts is for a return of 183,800 fish to the Columbia River mouth, including 18,300 headed for Washington's Wenatchee River basin and 164,900 to the nearby Okanogan basin.

Last year's run of 214,599 adults was the largest since 1959.

Tweit said that ebbing returns to the Wenatchee basin also posed "a major conservation concern to Washington." Although every year is different, the two basins' sockeye once returned, roughly, in similar numbers but in recent years the Okanogan stock has had an increasing share of the overall mid-Columbia sockeye run.

The preseason forecast includes an estimated return of 600 Snake River sockeye, fish that are listed as endangered. That would be the second highest total, by far, return on a record dating back to 1980, according to the Jan. 26 ODFW-WDFW joint staff report. The record ? set last year ? is 1,007. Next best is 352 in 2000.

The summer steelhead run is also expected to be strong -- 351,800 upriver adults are expected to pass Bonneville Dam this year. Last year's total was 355,100. Since 1984 the upriver steelhead count has been as high as 630,200 in 2001 and as low as 160,800 in 1994.

The states have scheduled a summer chinook recreational fishery from Monday, June 22 through Sunday, July 5 from Bonneville down to the Tongue Point-Rocky Point Line. The recreation fishery from Bonneville up to Priest Rapids is set for July 1-31 and the season above Priest Rapids also begins July 1.

The Compact approved three overnight non-tribal commercial fisheries that start on June 19, 24 and 30. The first 12-hour fishery confines the gill-net fleet to the mainstem from the Longview, Wash., bridge down to the river mouth. The next two 10-hour fisheries are from just below Bonneville Dam to the river mouth. The ODFW and WDFW staffs estimate that as many as 2,200 chinook could be caught during the first outing, up to 1,000 in the second outing and fewer than 500 chinook during the last fishery.

Due to a large gill-net mesh size -- 8 inches -- the commercial fisheries are not expected to entangle many sockeye or steelhead, are much smaller on average than chinook.

Gill-netters can sell chinook, sockeye and coho salmon, white sturgeon and shad.

The Compact also approved two treaty fisheries, one starting at 6 a.m. June 16 and the other at 6 a.m. June 22. Each is scheduled for 3 ? days.

The tribes -- the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama -- estimated that they will catch from 3,500 to 6,200 chinook, as well as 3,000 sockeye, during the two fisheries. The tribes can sell chinook, coho and sockeye salmon, steelhead, walleye, carp, yellow perch, catfish, bass and shad.


* Council OKs Accord Projects Aimed At Supplementation, Okanagan/Wenatchee Sockeye Productivity

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council on Wednesday gave conditional approval to a pair of "accord" research projects that together will claim more than $10.5 million in fish and wildlife funding over the next nine years.

One of the projects, budgeted for $8.1 million between now and 2017, aims to help resolve a question long debated in the Columbia River basin: how does hatchery supplementation affect the productivity of naturally spawning anadromous salmonid populations?
The other project, with an overall budget of nearly $2.5 million, will explore factors limiting production of Okanagan and Wenatchee sockeye salmon stocks.

Both projects were proposed for funding by the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and required by the Council under the terms of the so-called fish accords to pass muster with the Independent Scientific Review Panel. The ISRP was created to assess the scientific merit of fish and wildlife projects proposed for funding through the Council's Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.

The program is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, which makes final decisions on the projects and conducts contracting. Bonneville markets power generated in the Columbia-Snake river power system and provides funding for projects that mitigate for the dams' effects on fish and wildlife.

Bonneville, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation last year signed agreements with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and CRITFC that promise more than $51 million per year for tribal fish and wildlife projects, and $132 million for capital projects during the 2008-2017 period.

The supplementation evaluation will have budgets ranging from $726,901 to $975,000 per year. The ISRP said three of the four project objectives met scientific criteria, with qualifications, and asked for more information about the fourth objective.

The Council recommended that the project be allowed to proceed with the requirement that the ISRP's questions be answered and its qualifications be addressed as part of contracting and be reflected in future reviews of the project.

Supplementation has been defined as the use of artificial production in an attempt to maintain or increase natural production, while maintaining the long-term fitness of the target salmon or steelhead population and keeping the ecological and genetic impacts on non-target populations within specified biological limits.

It is in use throughout the basin to help rebuild salmon and steelhead stocks, including 13 that are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Fisheries scientists and managers have differing views regarding the use of hatchery supplementation to rebuild depressed populations -- whether supplementation can indeed provide the intended short term demographic benefits, and whether these benefits might be outweighed by longer term decreases in natural fitness of the affected population.

The CRITFC project will

-- use a pair of Dual-Frequency Identification Sonars (DIDSONs) to obtain an estimate of the 2009 natural spawning escapement of the supplemented spring chinook population upstream of the Castile Falls complex in the upper basin of the Klickitat River in south-central Washington;
-- complete development of a mark-recapture likelihood model which incorporates tag loss, including the uncertainty of the tag loss estimate, into the inference for population abundance;
-- perform a relative reproductive success (RRS) study of natural origin versus hatchery origin salmon in a population associated with an ongoing supplementation monitoring and evaluation program for which tissue samples have been collected but for which genetic analysis and estimation of RRS remains unfunded, and
-- perform RRS studies of natural origin versus hatchery origin salmon in four to five different populations which have been reintroduced (following extirpation of the native population) and supported through hatchery supplementation.

The ISRP wants additional information be provided that clearly describes the linkage of the DIDSON escapement monitoring to the approved Klickitat River Anadromous Fisheries Master Plan and that the suitability of the monitoring tool be fully justified for future ISRP and Council review.

"The ISRP qualified its review for additional clarification, detail and summary and sequencing the information associated with the different components of this objective," according to analysis provided by Mark Fritsch, the NPCC's project implementation manager. "It seems that these additional needs are intended to strengthen the objective and ensure findings are linked to implementation that is occurring."

The ISRP also provided a qualified endorsement for "Studies into Factors Limiting the Abundance of Okanagan and Wenatchee Sockeye Salmon." It added to the list of questions CRITFC researchers should investigate during implementation of the project.

The project's annual budgets will range from $203,226 to $274,141. The Wenatchee and Okanagan river basins are in central Washington. The Okanagan originates in British Columbia.

"A primary factor affecting the Okanagan stock is believed to be survival upstream of Wells Dam," according to a Fritsch memo to the Council. "To quantify this mortality, this project will fund PIT tag detection antennas in the Okanagan River as well as a Vertical Diversion Structure upstream of Osoyoos Lake (through which runs the border between the United States and Canada).

"This project will be phased in over three years. Initially the project will focus on the Okanagan stock as there are a number of projects that can be immediately implemented that will build on present supplementation, habitat restoration, and water-management programs. A plan for Wenatchee sockeye research will be developed in the first two years of this project, after which the focus of this project is expected to shift more to this stock."


* Hood River Study Looks At Reproduction Fitness Of Wild-Born Offspring Of Hatchery Fish

Steelhead trout that are originally bred in hatcheries are so genetically impaired that, even if they survive and reproduce in the wild, their offspring will also be significantly less successful at reproducing, according to a new study published this week by researchers from Oregon State University.

The poor reproductive fitness -- the ability to survive and reproduce -- of the wild-born offspring of hatchery fish means that adding hatchery fish to wild populations may ultimately be hurting efforts to sustain those wild runs, the OSU scientists said.

But the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and its four member tribes (Umatilla, Warm Springs, Yakama, and Nez Perce) expressed concern today over the scientific study.

"Deficient methods and limited presentation of results are followed by sweeping conclusions that are not well supported. The scientific data presented in this study is insufficient to reach broad conclusions regarding the reproductive success of hatchery reared fish," said Shawn Narum, manager of the Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station, a joint project of the University of Idaho and CRITFC.

The study found that a fish born in the wild as the offspring of two hatchery-reared steelhead averaged only 37 percent the reproductive fitness of a fish with two wild parents, and 87 percent the fitness if one parent was wild and one was from a hatchery. Most importantly, these differences were still detectable after a full generation of natural selection in the wild.

The effect of hatcheries on reproductive fitness in succeeding generations had been predicted in theory, experts say, but until now had never been demonstrated in actual field experiments.

"If anyone ever had any doubts about the genetic differences between hatchery and wild fish, the data are now pretty clear," said Michael Blouin, an OSU professor of zoology. "The effect is so strong that it carries over into the first wild-born generation. Even if fish are born in the wild and survive to reproduce, those adults that had hatchery parents still produce substantially fewer surviving offspring than those with wild parents. That's pretty remarkable."

An earlier report, published in 2007 in the journal Science, had already shown that hatchery fish that migrate to the ocean and return to spawn leave far fewer offspring than their wild relatives. The authors of these newest findings suggest the problem does not end there, but carries over into their wild-born descendants.

The implication, Blouin said, is that hatchery salmonids ? many of which do survive to reproduce in the wild -- could be gradually reducing the fitness of the wild populations with which they interbreed. Those hatchery fish provide one more hurdle to overcome in the goal of sustaining wild runs, along with problems caused by dams, loss or degradation of habitat, pollution, overfishing and other causes.

Aside from weakening the wild gene pool, the release of captive-bred fish also raises the risk of introducing diseases and increasing competition for limited resources, the report says.

This research, which was just published in Biology Letters, was supported by funding from the Bonneville Power Administration and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. It was based on years of genetic analysis of thousands of steelhead trout in Oregon's Hood River, in field work dating back to 1991. Scientists have been able to genetically "fingerprint" three generations of returning fish to determine who their parents were, and whether or not they were wild or hatchery fish.

The underlying problem, experts say, is Darwinian natural selection.

Fish that do well in the safe, quiet world of the hatcheries are selected to be different than those that do well in a much more hostile and predatory real-world environment. Using wild fish as brood stock each year should lessen the problem, but it was just that type of hatchery fish that were used in the Hood River study. This demonstrates that even a single generation of hatchery culture can still have strong effects.

Although this study was done with steelhead trout, it would be reasonable to extrapolate its results to other salmonids, researchers said. It's less clear what the findings mean to the many other species that are now being bred in captivity in efforts to help wild populations recover, Blouin said, but it's possible that similar effects could be found.

Captive breeding is now a cornerstone of recovery efforts by conservation programs for many threatened or endangered species, the researchers noted in their report. Thousands of species may require captive breeding to prevent their extinction in the next 200 years -- which makes it particularly important to find out if such programs will ultimately work. The researchers say their study raises doubts.

"The message should be clear," the researchers wrote in their report's conclusion. "Captive breeding for reintroduction or supplementation can have a serious, long-term downside in some taxa, and so should not be considered as a panacea for the recovery of all endangered populations."

Tribal programs in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho utilize artificial propagation at hatcheries along with habitat improvements as the primary means of restoring naturally spawning salmon populations throughout the Columbia Basin.

"Supplementation of native populations to increase spawning numbers is a cornerstone to the tribes' recovery efforts," said N. Kathryn Brigham, chair of CRITFC. "Our success at restoring Umatilla River Chinook, coho and steelhead are examples of where these techniques have worked. We pride ourselves in creating hatchery programs that are designed to minimize impacts to wild populations while increasing their abundance in areas that were devastated by destruction of rearing and migration habitat."

The tribes have been on the cutting edge of hatchery supplementation for years. In the 1980s and 1990s spring chinook in the Yakima River numbered around 2000 fish. After the Yakama Nation began its supplementation program, this run peaked in 2001 at 21,000 fish. Since then, over 5,000 spring chinook return a year as a result of the Yakama Nation's supplementation. In the Clearwater River, the Nez Perce Tribe has restored a healthy run of coho that was declared extinct in 1984.

"These science reports seem to be simply a new mask for an old policy that said upriver salmon restoration was impossible and too expensive. Our science and culture says salmon recovery is possible and we are proving it," said Brigham.


* Improved NE Oregon Hatchery Runs Allow Only Second Chinook Fishing Season Since 1970s

Things are looking up in northeast Oregon where the anticipated strength of both wild-born and hatchery produced fish will allow a spring chinook fishing season in a section of the Wallowa River for only the second time since the 1970s.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife this week announced that the Wallowa and Imnaha rivers will open to fishing for hatchery spring chinook fishing on Saturday.

Recent improvements in runs of hatchery chinook allowed opening of sport salmon fisheries in the Imnaha River in 2001-2005 and the Imnaha and Wallowa rivers in 2008. Prior to these recent fisheries, the Imnaha River had been closed to salmon fishing since 1978 and the Wallowa since 1973.

ODFW biologists estimate more than 5,000 adult spring chinook will return to the Imnaha River, a tributary of the Snake. Of those, approximately 80 percent will be adipose fin-clipped hatchery fish.

On the Wallowa River, a tributary of the Grande Ronde, the adult run is expected to exceed 2,500 fish of which approximately 50 percent will be marked hatchery fish.

From June 13 through July 12, anglers may fish for spring chinook from the mouth of the Imnaha River upstream 45 miles to Summit Creek Bridge.

The Wallowa River will be open from the deadline at the lower end of Minam State Park upstream to the mouth of the Lostine River.

Although ODFW biologists do not expect early closure, they caution the season could be curtailed for conservation reasons.

Consistent with the statewide spring chinook bag limit, anglers may retain two adipose fin-clipped spring chinook adults and five adipose fin-clipped jacks per day, with two daily limits in possession. It is illegal to continue fishing for jack chinook once the adult bag limit is met.

Unmarked fish must be released carefully and unharmed, but a certain portion of them do die as a result of the stress and trauma.

Unclipped fish are presumed to be naturally produced salmon that are protected under the Endangered Species Act. They are a part of Snake River spring-summer chinook "evolutionarily significant unit." Their return from the Pacific Ocean involves swimming up the Columbia and the lower Snake River and climbing up and over eight dams before swimming into the Grande Ronde and the Imnaha.

No fishing is allowed in the Grande Ronde for spring chinook because wild populations native to the upper part of the river and to Catherine Creek remain at relative low levels.

"The run is low enough that we don't even want hook-and-release impacts" to the upper Grande Ronde and Catherine Creek population," said ODFW biologist Brad Smith.

Wild populations in the Imnaha and Lostine (a Wallowa tributary) rivers are stronger, so anglers will get a chance to catch their hatchery produced cousins.

"The Imnaha looks like it's going to have a real strong run of hatchery fish," Smith said.

The Lostine is starting to look like a stronghold with an expected return of nearly 1,300 naturally produced fish.

The ODFW's Lookingglass Fish Hatchery on Lookingglass Creek produces spring chinook programs for the Grande Ronde and Imnaha systems.

Lookingglass was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1982 as part of the Lower Snake River Compensation Program to mitigate for wild fish production lost as a result of construction and operation of four lower Snake River dams.

Subsequent program management has been coordinated between ODFW, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and the Nez Perce Tribe with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administering the Endangered Species Act.

Goals are recovery, delisting and the restoration of tribal and sport fisheries by producing harvestable surpluses of salmon. The hatchery uses captive broodstock technology and conventional supplementation to prevent the extinction of three wild chinook populations -- the Upper Grande River, Catherine Creek and Lostine stocks.

The Wallowa-Lostine return includes fewer hatchery returns than the Imnaha return because nearly twice the number of hatchery smolts are outplanted in the Imnaha. Another tributary to the Wallowa, the Minam River, is "entirely wild, it's unsupplemented," Smith said.

All other rules remain unchanged from the 2009 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations. Anglers are reminded that in addition to a valid 2009 Oregon fishing license, they must possess a Combined Angling Tag to fish for spring chinook.

Because private lands border much of the area open to sport angling, anglers are reminded to ask permission before entering private property to fish, and to pick up litter prior to leaving.


* Sam Hamilton Named Nominee For New Fish And Wildlife Service Director

President Obama announced this week that he intends to nominate Sam D. Hamilton to be the next director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hamilton, a career senior biologist and manager with the agency, is director of its Southeast Region. The nomination requires Senate confirmation.

Hamilton, who has been with the Service for 30 years, was appointed Southeast Regional director in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1997, serving as senior operating executive with full strategic planning and management responsibility for a $484 million budget and a 1,500-person workforce that operates in 10 states and the Caribbean.

As regional director, Hamilton has been responsible for the oversight and management of more than 350 federally listed threatened and endangered species and 128 national wildlife refuges. He has provided leadership and oversight to the department's restoration work in the Everglades, the largest ecosystem restoration project in the country, and oversaw recovery and restoration work following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which devastated coastal wetlands, wildlife refuges, and other wildlife habitat along the Gulf of Mexico.

Hamilton's leadership fostered the establishment of a carbon sequestration program that has helped biologists in the Southeast restore roughly 80,000 acres of wildlife habitat. His emphasis on partnership bolstered the Service's fisheries program and helped establish the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership to restore vital aquatic habitats across the region. This partnership is a key piece of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.

Prior to becoming regional director, Hamilton served as assistant regional director of the ecological services in Atlanta and the Service's Texas state administrator in Austin.

Hamilton graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 1977.


* Obama To Nominate Abbey As New Bureau Of Land Management Director

President Obama said this week he intends to nominate Bob Abbey, a veteran public land policy leader and chief architect of the Great Basin Restoration Initiative, as director of the Bureau of Land Management.

Abbey has more than 32 years in public service, working with state and federal land management agencies before retiring from the federal government in July 2005.

He served eight years as the Nevada state director for the U. S. Bureau of Land Management, providing direction and oversight for 48 million acres of public land managed by the bureau in the state. He oversaw a staff of 700 employees in eight field offices and the state office and managed an annual operating budget of $51 million.

From 1999 through 2005, Abbey was the chairman of the Executive Committee for the implementation of the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act and oversaw the allocation of more than $1.5 billion in funds for resource management and environmental projects within the state.

During his federal career, Abbey was the principal Bureau of Land Management proponent for the Great Basin Restoration Initiative, testifying before congressional committees and working with both the BLM director and the Secretary of the Interior to elevate the status and funding levels for restoration activities in the Great Basin.

Most recently, Abbey was a partner in a private consultant firm called Abbey, Stubbs, & Ford, LLC with offices in Las Vegas and Reno Nevada. He also continued his advocacy within the private sector as a member of the University of Nevada College of Agriculture Dean's Advisory Committee and as a board member on several statewide and national non-profit organizations.

Abbey earned numerous performance awards during his career, including the prestigious Secretary of the Interior's Executive Leadership Award in 2004. That same year he was recognized by the U.S. Senate with a certificate of commendation for his work on behalf of the Great Basin.

Abbey is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree. He and his wife Linda have been married for 32 years and currently reside in Reno, Nev. They have one daughter, Leigh.


* Search Begins For New Washington Fish and Wildlife Director

The search is officially under way for a new director to lead the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The new director will be chosen by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, composed of nine citizen members appointed by the governor.

The Washington Department of Personnel, which is managing the recruitment process, has posted the job announcement and application directions on its website at .

The job announcement also is posted on the WDFW website at .

No closing date has been set for the recruitment period, although an initial review of applications is scheduled to begin June 24. The new director is expected to begin work in October.

The director search process and job description were developed by the Fish and Wildlife Commission during public discussions in May and at the commission's June 5-6 meeting. The commission encourages public comment throughout the director selection process.

Former WDFW Director Jeff Koenings resigned last December, after heading the department for 10 years. The commission appointed the department's deputy director for resource policy, Phil Anderson, as interim director.

The WDFW director oversees a 1,500-person staff and a biennial department budget of more than $350 million. The position pays up to $151,705 annually.
WDFW is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state's fish and wildlife resources, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting and wildlife-viewing opportunities.


* CBB Shorts: Testing Water Travel Time; Powder River Spring Chinook; WDFW Ballast Rules For Invasive Species; McNary- John Day Transmission Line

--- Scientists Plan to Turn Hangman Creek Red To Test Water Travel Time

Scientists from the Washington Department of Ecology will use a harmless fluorescent dye to track how fast water travels through Hangman Creek as part of a larger effort to study oxygen and pH in the creek's water this summer.

The creek flows north-northwest out of central Idaho, across Washington's southeast corner and through Spokane.

"If residents see a reddish fluorescent tint in the creek during the week of June 15th or July 13th, they needn't worry," said Joe Joy, an environmental scientist for the state agency. "Using dye for this type of study is very common, and research has long shown that the dye does not affect human health or aquatic life in any way at the low concentrations we use."

Researchers will track the plume of the dye with an instrument that is able to detect the small amount of dye in the river.

"This dye study is part of Ecology's efforts to understand the causes of low dissolved oxygen and pH impairments in the stream" said Elaine Snouwaert, who is coordinating the agency's water quality improvement plans for the Hangman Creek watershed.

Data collected from the flow test will reveal how low flows in the summer affect oxygen and water pH in a given stretch of the creek. The information will be used in computer models to help scientists understand the creek's water quality problems.

In the week following the dye studies, teams of researchers will be collect water quality monitoring data during an intensive study throughout the watershed.

Parts of Hangman Creek and several of its tributaries violate water quality standards for dissolved oxygen and pH, endangering fish and other aquatic life. Nutrients and sunlight contribute to conditions creating excessive weeds and algae growth that cause oxygen and pH impairments. Low stream flow makes these problems worse.

Hangman Creek and its tributaries also fail water quality standards for bacteria, temperature and turbidity. The agency published a draft plan to address these problems in April 2009. This will be finalized and submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval later this month.


--- ODFW Plans To Haul Spring Chinook To Powder River for Anglers

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to release approximately 200 spring chinook salmon into the Powder River to create a unique fishing opportunity. A May 30 to Sept. 1 angling season has been established to harvest these fish. The open area is from Hughes Lane Bridge near Baker City to Mason Dam. The daily bag limit is 2 spring chinook salmon.

Although the season officially opened on May 30, no fish were available until Thursday, June 4, when approximately 75 fish were released. ODFW planned to release the remainder of the fish over the next two weeks. The salmon are being released immediately below Mason Dam.

This opportunity has been made possible due to an anticipated surplus of spring chinook returning to Hells Canyon Dam on the Snake River. Salmon smolts are released at Hells Canyon Dam for the express purpose of providing fisheries in the Snake River. When salmon numbers are determined by the fishery co-managers to be in excess of this need, some salmon are trapped at Hells Canyon Dam and transported to tributaries to provide unique fishing opportunities.

Anglers are reminded to "ask first" before entering private lands and to check the 2009 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for gear restrictions, legal angling times and other sport fishing regulations.

For more information contact the ODFW Northeast Region Office in La Grande at (541) 963-2138


--- WDFW Commission Adopts Ballast Water Rules To Fight Invasive Species

New ballast-water management rules aimed at preventing the spread of invasive species in state waters were adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission during a meeting here June 5-6.

The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, approved updates to state regulations governing the discharge of ballast water from ships coming into Washington ports, an activity that potentially can introduce harmful, non-native species into state waters.

Adopted changes were developed to help fulfill legislative directives passed in 2007 and provide clarity to the diverse state, national and international cargo shipping and cruise ship industries that call on Washington ports. The rules cover all aspects of WDFW's ballast-water management program, including arrival and discharge reporting, vessel inspections, open-sea exchange requirements and sediment management. They also provide the penalty structure for non-compliance, with fines up to $27,500 per day of violation.

The new rules, available online at,
were developed in consultation with the department's Ballast Water Work Group, which includes shipping organizations, environmental groups, state and federal agencies, tribal governments, and the public.


--- BPA Selects Contractor For New McNary-John Day Transmission Line

The Bonneville Power Administration has selected Wilson Construction, headquartered in Canby, Ore., to construct part of its McNary-John Day 500-kilovolt high-voltage transmission line. When energized in late 2012, the line will allow BPA to provide transmission service to more than 870 megawatts of energy, including service for more than 700 megawatts of new wind energy.

"This contract means green jobs and green energy for the Northwest," said Larry Bekkedahl, vice president, BPA Engineering and Technical Services. "BPA is poised to meet the region's environmental needs as well as its economic and energy needs."

Earlier this year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act increased the amount of money it can borrow from the U.S. Treasury by $3.25 billion. While BPA must repay the money to the U.S. Treasury with interest, the increased access to capital removed a major uncertainty for BPA, and led to the decision to proceed with this project.

The line will run from BPA's McNary Substation in Oregon, cross the Columbia River into Washington and run parallel to the Columbia River for 75 miles, mostly within existing rights-of-way, then cross the Columbia River back into Oregon and end at BPA's John Day Substation. This contract secures Wilson Construction's services to construct the approximate 70 mile portion of the line on the Washington side of the Columbia River. BPA will select a contractor or contractors to construct the remaining work on the line at a later date.

McNary-John Day is one of four high-voltage transmission lines BPA has proposed to meet the region's transmission needs. The four projects would add more than 225 miles of lines to the Northwest transmission grid improving reliability and, together with a smaller upgrade, allowing BPA to provide transmission service to about 3,700 megawatts of requests received in the Network Open Season, including service for 2,790 megawatts of additional green energy.


For more information about the CBB contact:
-- BILL CRAMPTON, Editor/Writer,, phone:
541-312-8860 or
-- BARRY ESPENSON, Senior Writer,, phone: 360-696-4005; fax: 360-694-1530

The stories in this e-mail newsletter are posted on the Columbia Basin Bulletin website at If you would like access to the CBB archives, please consider becoming a Member of the CBB website for as little as $5 a month. Your membership will help support maintenance of the 10-year (1998-2008) news database and the production of trustworthy, timely news and information about Columbia Basin fish and wildlife issues.


Feedback comments should be sent by e-mail to the Editor at Please put "feedback"in the subject line. We encourage comments about particular stories, complaints about inaccuracies or omissions; additional information; general views about the topic covered; or opinions that counterbalance statements reported.

The Columbia Basin Bulletin e-mail newsletter is produced by Intermountain Communications of Bend, Oregon and supported with Bonneville Power Administration fish and wildlife funds through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.



* Redden Letter To Parties Urges Changes To �Make This BiOp Work�

A federal judge says more funding commitments, higher guaranteed river flows, additional scientific analysis and another look at the breaching of four dams on the lower Snake River may be needed to shore up, and make legal, the federal government's Columbia River basin salmon protection plan.

"I still have serious reservations about whether the 'trending toward recovery' standard complies with the Endangered Species Act, its implementing regulations, and the case law," U.S. District Court Judge James A. Redden says in a letter sent Monday to participants in long-running litigation over the NOAA Fisheries Service's Federal Columbia River Power System biological opinion.

ESA BiOps judge whether federal actions jeopardize the survival of protected fish and wildlife species. In an FCRPS BiOp issued in May 2008, NOAA Fisheries says the existence and planned operation of Columbia-Snake river basin dams do not jeopardize 13 listed basin salmon and steelhead stocks because planned mitigation actions, such as the protection and restoration of fish habitat and more fish friendly dam operations, more than counter the harm caused by the dams. The agency says those 13 species' population trajectories are "trending toward recovery," i.e., they are, or will be by the end of the 10-year BiOp period, showing growth.

A coalition of fishing and conservation groups and the state of Oregon challenged the new BiOp, saying it was built on a faulty scientific foundation and did not do enough to bolster salmon populations. The coalition, in particular, has long lobbied for dam removal.

"Even if 'trending toward recovery' is a permissible interpretation of the jeopardy regulation, the conclusion that all 13 species are, in fact, on a 'trend toward recovery' is arbitrary and capricious because:"

-- the defendants � NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation "improperly rely on speculative, uncertain, and unidentified tributary and estuary habitat improvement actions to find that threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead are, in fact, trending toward recovery;"

-- the federal agencies' "own scientists have concluded that many of the proposed estuary mitigation measures (and the assumed benefits) are unsupported by scientific literature," and they "assign implausible and arbitrary numerical survival improvements to tributary habitat actions, even though they have not identified specific habitat actions beyond 2009, and there is no scientific data to support those predictions;

-- "the BiOp does not identify any performance standards to measure whether the proposed habitat improvements actually result in the predicted survival improvements' which are necessary to ensure that the species avoid jeopardy (i.e., 'trending toward recovery');

-- "the BiOp does not articulate a rational contingency plan for threatened and endangered species in the event that the proposed habitat improvements and other remedial actions fail to achieve the survival benefits necessary to avoid jeopardy; and

--"federal defendants do not provide a rational explanation, based on the best available science, for their decision to curtail both spring and summer spill."

Later in the letter the judge urged the development of a contingency plan "to study specific, alternative hydro actions, such as flow augmentation and/or reservoir drawdowns, as well as what it will take to breach the lower Snake River dams if all other measures fail (i. e., independent scientific evaluation, permitting, funding, and congressional approval."

Redden's letter said the ESA document has the flexibility to correct the flaws he had noted and "make this BiOp work and achieve what the previous BiOps have not." The judge struck down 2000 and 2004 FCRPS BiOps because of implementation uncertainties, flawed biological analyses and other factors.

The 2004 BiOp was replaced with a 2008 version that built in first-time-ever collaboration by the federal agencies with basin states and tribes. Stemming from that collaboration of more than 2 years are so-called "fish accords" with Idaho, Montana and Washington and five basin tribes that call for an additional $1 billion to be spent over the 10-year life of the 2008 BiOp for ESA and non-ESA fish and wildlife work.

The fishing and conservation groups were not allowed a seat at the table during the court-ordered collaboration.

The Bonneville Power Administration estimates that its average fish and wildlife costs from 2006-2008 was more than $800 million per year. More than half of those "costs" are foregone power generating revenues and power purchases required because of operations designed to improve fish survivals. BPA markets power generated in the federal Columbia-Snake hydro system and funds fish and wildlife projects as mitigation for hydro system impacts.

Federal agencies estimate that together basinwide salmon funding ranged from $453 million to $640 million per year from 2001 through 2007.

The judge says the accords and other recent developments are a good start, but urged a shoring up of the habitat elements of the plan, and development of a contingency plan.

"With a commitment to these additional and specific mitigation actions, independent scientific review, and the development of a contingency plan, the parties and the entire region may be able to avoid the additional costs and uncertainty of yet another round of consultation and litigation. Federal Defendants have spent the better part of the last decade treading water, and avoiding their obligations under the Endangered Species Act.

"Only recently, have they begun to commit the kind of financial and political capital necessary to save these threatened and endangered species, some of which are on the brink of extinction. We simply cannot afford to waste another decade," the judge said.

Federal agencies have only just begun their review of the letter.

"I'm not in a position to comment on the substance of what our comments will be," NOAA Fisheries' Brian Gorman said of potential federal responses to the letter.

Redden early this month granted parties to the litigation an extra 30 to 60 days to "explore whether further discussions regarding the BiOp might be productive." Redden heard oral arguments in the case March 6 and has since been mulling his potential order on summary judgment to either throw out the BiOp or throw out the legal challenges.

The U.S. Department of Justice requested the forestalling of a legal opinion so that President Barack Obama's new administration could review the FCRPS strategy and "more fully understand all aspects of the BiOp."

Gorman said that White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco would be flying west next week to, among other things, meet with representatives of sovereigns � the states and tribes � regarding the BiOp.

"Obviously this is going to focus her attention more tightly on the hydro litigation," Gorman said of Lubchenco, who heads the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under which the Fisheries Service operates.

The governors of the states of Montana and Washington in April 20 letters asked Sutley to support the BiOp -- as is.

"The BiOp, and the processes used in its development, is far superior to prior versions," wrote Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire. "It is time to move beyond the cycle of litigation and planning so we can focus our efforts on real actions devoted to salmon protection and recovery. The 2008 BiOp provides a strong, positive, and enforceable path to move forward on an issue of considerable importance to Washington State and the region as a whole."

"From Montana�s perspective this BiOp, while similar in structure and approach to the 2000 BiOp developed under the Clinton Administration, is far superior to all previous opinions," wrote Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer. "Montana believes this to be the case not only because of the science behind the BiOp, but because the 2008 BiOp enjoys the broadest base of regional support of any previous attempt. It is supported by the states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, along with many tribes in the region including the Yakima Tribe, Warm Springs Tribe, Umatilla Tribe, Colville Tribe, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe, and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission."

"Many of these sovereigns were opposed to, and litigated against, previous BiOps," Schweitzer said.

The fishing and conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, see Redden's letter as a positive sign.

"I do think the letter presents an opportunity for the new administration to change the biological opinion and move from a failed approach to an approach that can be successful," said Earthjustice's Todd True.

He said there is a need for an objective assessment of what the fish need and of the tools available to meet those needs. More than likely dam breaching "will be high on the list" of tools needed to realize salmon recovery, he said.

In response to the letter one member of the Northwest's congressional delegation, Rep. Doc Hastings, R-WA, lashed out at the judge and the notion that dam breaching should even be considered. He and groups such as the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association and Northwest RiverPartners say eliminating environmentally "clean" hydro generation would damage the economy and hinder efforts to reduce "greenhouse" gas emissions.

Hastings said late Monday that the judge "has threatened to reject the latest salmon recovery BiOp if it does not make several extreme changes, including having federal agencies create contingency plans to tear out the Snake River dams. Only Congress can provide dam removal authority, Hastings said.

"Federal law doesn't allow dam removal and no Democrat-politician-turned-activist-Judge can rewrite the law. � as the top Republican on the committee of jurisdiction, you can be certain I'll do everything in my power to stop any such extreme action," Hastings said.

"His letter today (Monday) guarantees that the BiOp will once again be treated as a political hot potato. If the door to dam removal is opened even a crack, I fear it�s certain we�ll see an unraveling of progress and disintegration into a pitched dispute that will last years.�

PNWA in its Tuesday newsletter said the organization continues to support the BiOp. The organization is a collaboration of ports, businesses, public agencies and individuals who combine their economic and political strength in support of navigation, trade and economic development throughout the Pacific Northwest.

"We urge the Administration to give it a thorough review and to engage all of the sovereigns in that review," the newsletter says. "It was the product of an unprecedented collaboration among the scientists and fish managers from the federal government, Northwest tribes and the Northwest states. We believe the BiOp will stand up under rigorous scientific scrutiny."

"The accords will address tens of thousands of acres of riverfront," the PNWA said. "We do not believe the science supports the assertion that additional flows or reservoir drawdowns will provide additional biological benefit. In fact, drawdowns and dam breaching may do more harm than good."

A statement issued by RiverPartners' executive director, Terry Flores, echoed that sentiment.

"This BiOp enjoys the broadest support and largest investment ever seen in the Northwest in salmon recovery," Flores said. "It is unprecedented legally and in the use of best science. This development could fracture the region and set it back decades."

Considering dam removal is "nonsensical especially at a time of critical concern over climate change," she said. "Removing four lower Snake River dams would add 5.4 million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere annually � not counting the emissions from thousands of trucks that would be required to move agricultural and other products now shipped by barge down the rivers." The hydro generation lost would likely replaced by gas spewing power plants, she said.

"Moving forward with implementation of the salmon plan and the state and tribal accords that provide hundreds of millions of dollars in habitat and hatchery improvements could create a lasting legacy of collaboration and actions to help these iconic fish.

"In these difficult economic times, Northwest families and businesses are already paying about 20 percent of their electric bills to foster salmon recovery; this latest plan adds to that," Flores said of the additional actions lined out in Redden's letter.

Northwest River Partners is an alliance of farmers, utilities, ports and businesses that promote the economic and environmental benefits of the Columbia and Snake Rivers and salmon recovery policies based on sound science.

For more information and documents related to BiOp litigation go to


For more information about the CBB contact:
-- BILL CRAMPTON, Editor/Writer,, phone:
541-312-8860 or
-- BARRY ESPENSON, Senior Writer,, phone: 360-696-4005; fax: 360-694-1530


Weekly Fish and Wildlife News
May 8, 2009
Issue No. 484

All stories below are posted on the CBB's website at
Also available is a free RSS news feed.

Table of Contents:

* Redden Grants Administration's Request For More Time To Review Salmon BiOp

* Treaty Tribes Say This Year's Harvest Management Put Tribal Fishery At Risk

* Sea Lions Avoid Traps In Favor Of Dam's Concrete Pad; Stellers Taking More Salmon

* New Water Supply Forecast Has Columbia Basin Dropping To 87 Percent Of Normal

* Bureau Expects To Deliver 487 KAF In Upper Snake Flow Augmentation This Year

* Tribes, States, Federal Agencies Celebrate First Year of New Era Of Cooperation

* Proposed NOAA Budget Calls For Increased Pacific Salmon Spending, But Ending Salmon Fund

* Locke Extends West Coast Salmon Disaster Declaration; Releases $53 Million

* Babtist (Paul) Lumley Named New Executive Director For CRITFC

* Corps Says Willamette Valley Reservoirs Reaching Full Conservation Pools

* Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program Now In Full Swing Until September

* Tom Strickland Confirmed As Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks

* USGS Study Shows How Mercury Gets Into North Pacific, Contaminates Marine Life

* CBB Shorts: Wildlife Grants; Do Fish Feel Pain?; American Pika ESA Review; Radio Collaring Oregon Wolf; Wind Energy/Wildlife Guidelines; Award For John W. Keys Program


* Redden Grants Administration's Request For More Time To Review Salmon BiOp

Parties to long-running litigation over the federal government's Columbia River hydro system biological opinion now have an extra 30 to 60 days to "explore whether further discussions regarding the BiOp might be productive."

U.S. District Court Judge James A. Redden on Monday granted a U.S. Department of Justice request for a deadline extension so that talks between the parties can continue and President Barack Obama's new administration can review the Endangered Species Act strategy. BiOps are required by the ESA to judge whether federal actions jeopardize listed species.

NOAA Fisheries Service's Federal Columbia River Power System BiOp, completed in May 2008, describes the planned operations of Columbia-Snake river dams by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation. Those operations include measures specifically designed to improve the survival of the 13 Columbia basin salmon and steelhead stocks that are ESA listed.

The strategy also includes action to restore and protect habitat and make harvest and hatchery management more wild fish friendly. The BiOP concludes that, with the mitigation measures, the hydro system does not jeopardize the survival of any of the listed stocks.

The FCRPS BiOp was immediately challenged by a coalition of fishing and conservation groups and by the state of Oregon. They claim the strategy is legally inadequate and based on faulty biological analysis.

Legal briefing in the lawsuit concluded late last year and oral arguments were heard March 6 by Redden, who has previously declared 2000 and 2004 FCRPS BiOps legally invalid.

The federal agencies spent 2 ? years building the 2008 plan in collaboration with states and tribes that are party to the lawsuit. Their attorneys say the BiOp is built on a solid scientific foundation ? the best available science as the law requires ? and that salmon restoration efforts have a new and stronger momentum because of new partnerships formed through the unique collaboration.

More than $1 billion in additional fish and wildlife project funding has been promised over a 10-year period by the Corps, Bureau and Bonneville Power Administration in agreements signed with states and tribes. BPA, which markets power generated in the federal hydro system, also has pledged additional funding for BiOp projects.

At the end of oral arguments the judge said he thought the new BiOp was "very close" to being a legal strategy.

"I may end up saying this is a fine one as it is," Redden said March. He wondered aloud whether habitat actions were indeed certain to occur and whether they would bring the targeted biological benefits. Redden said he found parts of the strategy worrisome and indicated he needed more information and commitment before making a determination.

He stressed that it is advisable to have a contingency plan in place, as the 2000 plan did, in case the habitat-dependent strategy failed to produce the anticipated benefits for salmon. The 2000 BiOp said the agencies should be prepared -- if all else was failing to help listed Snake River stocks -- to seek congressional authorization to breach lower Snake River dams.

The 2000 document said "we'll take a look at the dams" if other measures did not buoy listed stocks, the judge said.

"I don't know that the breaching of the dams is the solution. I don't know," Redden said during the hearing. But if another seven years or so passed and the BiOp was not producing needed results, "you can't say let's go do some more habitat work."

"I think it's going to work," Redden said of the 2008 BiOp RPA. "But if the money runs out?."

The judge called the litigants together again on April 2 behind closed doors to discuss the BiOp. At that meeting "the Court indicated that it would like to give the new administration leadership an opportunity to become fully engaged in this litigation," according to a May 1 e-mail from the Justice Department to Redden. The note says the judge also asked the federal parties to meet with the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and report back by May 1.

"The administration leadership is asking for an additional 30 to 60 days to more fully understand all aspects of the BiOp," the federal e-mail request says.

New presidential appointees now heading the federal agencies "want to take a look at this opinion," said Witt Anderson, program director for the Corps' Northwestern Division. "They are very pleased with the work that's been done; they are very pleased with the collaboration and the partnerships that have been forged."

Briefings have been undertaken but administration officials say they need more time.

"They want to understand and take a long look at the science on this," Anderson said. They also want achieve broader insight on issues that affect salmon.

"They want to look across the 4 Hs ? the hydro system, habitat, harvest and hatcheries ? and the other activities in the basin such as jobs, the fish run, energy, tribal trust and tribal treaty obligations, environmental aspects," Anderson said.

Earthjustice responded with a same-day e-mail that said they favored the federal request. Earthjustice attorneys represent the coalition of fishing and conservation groups.

"We believe such an effort could lead to important and necessary changes to the BiOp," according to the May 1 message. "We also believe such an effort would need to encompass the full scope of matters that go to the heart of the legal and scientific validity of the 2008 BiOp as well as those necessary to comprehensively resolve this case. Our clients look forward to the opportunity to meet with agency leaders in the near future to assist them in their review."

The Earthjustice letter, written on behalf of the coalition, Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe, said that they had "begun to discuss summer spill and flow operations with the federal defendants and hope to reach an agreement regarding those as well. However, if we are unable to do so in the reasonably near future, we may need to take up these issues with the Court. We will endeavor to do so in a timely fashion that avoids last minute filings.

"Finally, while we welcome the opportunity to discuss the 2008 BiOp with the leadership of the new administration, as we explained in separate letters to the Court in late March, we continue to believe that it may be necessary for the Court to provide the parties with its guidance regarding the 2008 BiOp, such as would be provided in a formal opinion, before the parties will be able to fully engage in effective efforts to resolve their differences."

The judge approved the request via a Monday e-mail.

"The court is encouraged that the parties have already conducted initial discussions, and believes that an additional 30 to 60 days is both appropriate and reasonable in order to allow the new administration to better understand the complex issues presented by this case. I am sure that the additional time will be productive," Redden wrote.

"The court will soon provide the parties with guidance to assist them in effectively resolving the issues that go to the heart of the 2008 Biological Opinion."

For more information on BiOp litigation go to


* Treaty Tribes Say This Year's Harvest Management Put Tribal Fishery At Risk

An under-performing upriver spring chinook salmon run has exposed a flaw in a 10-year catch sharing agreement that tilts benefits heavily in favor of non-Indian sport fishers, according to four Columbia River basin treaty tribes.

The result has been a shortage of fish this year for important tribal ceremonies.

For the fifth year in a row the return of upriver spring chinook salmon is, at the very least, late. The run size is also likely much smaller than anticipated in preseason.

Last year the run arrived in-river much later than the historic average and was also much smaller than expected. An upriver run of 269,300 was predicted but only 178,600 spawners actually arrived in-river.

By the time state and tribal fishery managers realized the preseason forecast error, sport and treaty fisheries had exceeded "impact" limits spelled out in the 2008 10-year U.S. v. Oregon management agreement.

The caps are set to limit impacts on wild Snake River and Upper Columbia spring chinook that are listed under the Endangered Species Act. The agreement allocates the allowable spring chinook catch between tribal and state fisheries based on a sliding scale ? the bigger the return the bigger the allowable harvest.

Unfortunately the run forecast cannot be updated until approximately 50 percent of the upriver run has climbed up and over Bonneville's fish ladders on their way to hatcheries and tributary spawning grounds upstream in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

This year the tribes say they are being cautious, having proposed no commercial fisheries to-date in the reservoirs above Bonneville Dam on the Columbia mainstem. But state fishery managers have failed to bear their share of the conservation burden, according to the tribes.

"It is clear to us, that the states were so single-minded about achieving a successful recreational fishery that the needs of the tribal fishery and the needs of the resource were deliberately put at risk," according to an April 28 letter from N. Kathryn Brigham to the directors of the Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife. Representatives of the directors set Columbia mainstem fisheries. Brigham is chairman of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, which represents the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama tribes.

Tribal representatives at fishery-setting hearings throughout the spring have urged state officials to be conservative early in the season ? to limit the catch. And state officials say they have been more conservative in an attempt to avoid a repeat of last year's overharvest.

In 2008, non-tribal sport and commercial fisheries were only allowed to harvest 90 percent of their allocation, which initially is based on the preseason forecast, before the run forecast could be updated in late April or early May.

Unfortunately the actual return was only 66 percent of the preseason forecast. Because of the smaller run, the allowable impacts were also smaller for both tribal and non-tribal fisheries. The combination meant that early season harvests had exceeded the allowable impacts.

This year the states imposed bigger buffers ? allowing anglers to take only 80 percent of their estimated allowable harvest in the early season and the non-tribal commercial fishery accumulate only 60 percent of its estimated allowable impacts before the run-size update.

The tribes say those buffers may not been enough and that a heavy downstream sport catch left few fish for Indian fishers upstream.

"The highest cultural priority for the tribes is the spring ceremonial fishing and due to the current set of circumstances we can not fill the need for ceremonial fishing," Brigham wrote. "We appreciate the efforts to provide the tribes with a few fish from the lower river commercial test fishery, but it is not enough.

"Many of the most sacred tribal feasts have had to make due with little or no fresh fish. In the meantime our people watched the non-Indian fishery catch 19,000 upriver fish with the recreational fishery setting record boat counts with more than100,000 angler trips."

The tribes, meanwhile, have caught only about 1,000 fish for ceremonies and for subsistence purposes, she said.

"The current situation of late timed runs coupled with increased recreational fishing is unacceptable and is not what the 2008-2017 U.S. v. Oregon Management Agreement was based on," Brigham said of the pact forged by the tribes, the states of Idaho, Oregon and Washington and the federal government. "The tribes believed that the parties negotiated, in good faith, a fair sharing agreement for spring Chinook in the Management Agreement.

"Based upon two years of data, it is now apparent that the assumptions underlying the spring Chinook management and the catch sharing agreement were incorrect.

"The tribes plan to inform the Court of this situation at the May 19 U.S. v. Oregon status conference," Brigham said. "If we cannot agree upon mutually satisfactory amendments to remedy this terrible situation, the tribes will, well before the 2010 spring season, take the necessary steps under the Agreement to insure that this does not happen for a third year in a row."

It appears that the 2009 return is late timed, as were the four years previous as compared to historic averages. Fishery managers estimated that in the past, roughly 50 percent of a year's run will have passed Bonneville by the last week in April on average. The average for the past four years has been May 9 with the latest date being May 12.

The preseason forecast this year is for a return of 298,900 adult upriver spring chinook to the mouth of the Columbia.

Counts at Bonneville had been pretty feeble until this past week. The overall count on May 1 was 25,043. That total has more than doubled over the past six days to 56,598 with daily counts rising to 7,036 on Saturday and 6,317 before sinking to 4,000-5,00 daily this week.

"I'm hoping for another spike" in the daily counts over the weekend that would re-inflate expectations, the WDFW's Cindy LeFleur said. The U.S. v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee meets Monday to, potentially, update the run-size forecast.

TAC chairman Stuart Ellis said he believes the run is tracking at a rate that would end up with a Bonneville count of 115,000 to 120,000, but a spike in the counts over the weekend could push it higher.

The actual run size would be calculated by adding the final Bonneville count with the lower river harvest. The sport fishing season on the mainstem from Bonneville down to the river mouth ended by April 22. State officials estimate that anglers caught and kept 16,573 spring chinook and caught and released 3,109 unmarked fish. Fish without a clipped fin are likely wild fish as opposed to being of hatchery origin.

The non-tribal commercial fleet caught 4,372 chinook in the lower river.

Fishing has picked up in recent days above Bonneville for tribal fishers, Ellis said. The tribes expect to have caught about 7,000 to 8,000 by the end of next week for ceremonial purposes, he said.


* Sea Lions Avoid Traps In Favor Of Dam's Concrete Pad; Stellers Taking More Salmon

There have been 11 California sea lions trapped and removed from the area below Bonneville Dam on the lower Columbia River so far this spring but in recent weeks state biologists' trapping efficiency has dropped to zero.

The Oregon-Washington effort began March 10 and produced success in three of the first four weeks by capturing specific animals that were targeted for removal. But lately none of the big pinnipeds has lingered aboard any of the three floating cages long enough for the trap doors to be triggered.

The last animals captured, on April 16, were two California sea lions that were not eligible for removal. They were branded and released.

The California sea lions, and Steller sea lions, had often used the traps early in the season to "haul out" and rest between forays to prey on salmon and other fish below the dam. But nowadays they seldom frequent the cage platforms, and are instead plopping down on a concrete pad along the dam's corner collector or "rafting" -- forming their own multi-mammal flotation device -- nearby.

"I think it's a combination of things," the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Charlie Corrarino said of the sea lions' sudden lack of interest in the traps, and the lack of trapping success.

"We've got the trap-happy animals -- the ones that said 'hey, that's a cool place,'" Corrarino said. In all 22 California sea lions have been removed from the area since the states received authority in March 2008 to lethally remove individually identifiable animals preying on salmon and steelhead stocks listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Last year seven sea lions were trapped intentionally and six were shipped off to zoos and aquariums. One died while under anesthesia during a post-trapping medical examination. Four others died of heat exhaustion when trap doors inadvertently, and inexplicably, were tripped and the animals were caged together overnight.

The 22 animals represent roughly 20 percent of the California sea lions that are known to have made repeat visits to the dam in the late winter and spring.

Corrarino said that consistent cold, blustery weather this spring may be causing the animals to seek shelter in the water instead of exposing themselves to the elements aboard the traps, which float along the north shore of Cascades Island. It juts straight downriver from the dam. The corner collector is a passage channel for juvenile fish migrating toward the ocean. Its long flume runs down the island.

Some of the animals also may have exited the area because the salmon run has been very late to arrive. The sea lion population's peak at the dam coincides generally with the peak of chinook salmon passage. The pinnipeds prey on salmon that mill below the dam in search of its fish ladders.

Or they could have figured out boarding the rafts is not a wise decision. The sea lions are clever creatures, "but I think that's probably giving them too much credit," Corrarino said.

Despite the poor recent success, state crews will continue the trapping, probably until about the end of May. By then most of the animals will have begun their journey to the Channel Island breeding grounds off the coast of Southern California. The crews have been manning the traps two to three days per week.

Little can be done this year, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is mulling options for preventing sea lion access to the concrete pads next year.

The dynamics of the visiting sea lion populations are a bit different than in years past.

"California sea lions numbers have been relatively steady, and much lower than previous years, likely due to the removal of 11 animals this year and 11 last year, while Steller sea lion numbers are higher than previous years," according to the May 1 weekly update from Corps researchers at the dam. The research, ongoing since 2002, aims to evaluate the impact the sea lions are having on salmon and steelhead.

In years past California sea lions have greatly outnumbered Steller sea lions. The record California count was 106 individually identifiable sea lions in 2003. That number has ranged to as low as 69. This year only 47 California sea lions have been spotted.

On the other hand, 10 or fewer Stellers visited the dam each year until that number jumped to 17 last year. This year that total is 26.

In the past the California sea lions have focused almost exclusively on salmon and other smaller fishes while the Stellers concentrated on white sturgeon. The trend is generally the same this year although the Steller sea lions have for the past month or so been taking more salmon, according to Robert Stansell, who leads the Corps research.

Last year Stellers were seen taking 162 salmon over the entire season. Observers atop the dam tally, if possible, prey species being taken by the marine mammals. This year already 175 chinook have been taken.

A shift that sees more Stellers taking more salmon is "somewhat alarming," Stansell said.

"So far this year, salmonids have made up about 16.1 percent of the diet for Steller sea lions (excluding all the additional ones they steal from California sea lions), compared to 3.8 percent last year and lower for previous years," the weekly update says.

Another trend is unchanged, and that could be a good sign, Stansell said Thursday.

"Up to 13 of the California sea lions appear to be new visitors to Bonneville Dam, with the remainder repeats from previous years," according to the May 1 update. That means that roughly one-third of the sea lions seen this year are making their first visit. That ratio is similar to that of past years, meaning fewer new and repeat visitors made the 146-mile trip from the ocean to the dam this year.

The take of chinook salmon is also down this year. The sea lions have been observed taking 1,875 through the end of April this year; last year the total through April 28 was 2,416.


* New Water Supply Forecast Has Columbia Basin Dropping To 87 Percent Of Normal

With precipitation below average across much of the Columbia River basin in April, expectations for spring-summer water supply were dampened a bit.

The May "final forecast" issued Thursday by NOAA's Northwest River Forecast Center predicts that 86.3 million acre feet of water will course past The Dalles Dam from April through September. That would be 87 percent of the 1971-2000 annual average ? 93.65 maf. Last month's April 7 final forecast estimated runoff would be 89 percent of normal.

The anticipated volume past The Dalles from January through July would be only the 34th best total in the past 48 years. The Dalles Dam on the lower Columbia River passes water from as far away the river's headwaters in British Columbia and the upper Snake River's mountain origins in Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada.

The Snake River basin is expected to have one of its best outpourings in years ? 23.2 maf from April through September past Lower Granite Dam on the lower Snake in southeast Washington. That would be 96 percent of average for the period and up from a 95 percent forecast a month ago.

The January-July forecast 26.9 maf -- would be the 22nd highest total out of 48 years and second best in the decade. Except for 2006, the water volumes past Lower Granite have been below average throughout the new millennium.

The Lower Granite forecast is bolstered by expected flows from lower Snake tributaries. The Grande Ronde River flow as measured at Troy, Ore., is expected to be 105 percent of normal from April-September; as is the Clearwater at Spalding, Idaho. The Salmon River volume as measured at Whitebird, Idaho, is expected to be 100 percent of average for the April-January period.

The North Fork of the Clearwater, which fills Dworshak Reservoir, is expected to produce 99 percent of its normal volume, according to the NWRFC forecast. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' May 1 forecast is for North Fork runoff at 98 percent of normal for the April-July period.

The upper and middle Snake River forecasts range from 114 percent of normal for the Grey's River above Palisades reservoir in Idaho to 51 percent of average for Oregon's Malheur River.

On the upper Columbia, the forecast is for runoff at 90 percent of average from April-September at central Washington's Grand Coulee Dam ? 57.3 maf.

The Bureau of Reclamation predicts "slightly above normal water supply" in the Yakima River, which feeds into the Columbia in central Washington. As of May 1, the Bureau's system of reservoirs for water storage was 87 percent full and 118 percent of average, which means irrigators can expect a full share of water this summer.

"The reservoir system storage is above average and the snowpack has held up very nicely in April with near normal precipitation," said Chuck Garner, Yakima Project River operations supervisor. "Spring temperatures have been below average so snowmelt runoff has been slow in coming. This leaves more runoff to meet late spring and summer needs."

Further upriver the NWRFC predicts the Flathead River runoff volume, as measured at Columbia Falls, Mont., would be 80 percent of average. The Kootenai River runoff, as measured entering Libby Dam's reservoir is expected to be 84 percent of average.

May 1 Columbia River "snow pillow" readings at sites above the border all register below average. According to British Columbia's Ministry of Environment River Forecast Centre, the snow-water equivalent in snowpack in the province's upper and lower Columbia regions were 79 and 93 percent of average respectively. The Kootenay, which becomes the Kootenai, was at 87 percent of average.

Further east, the Okanagan River snowpack was 92 percent of normal with the Similkameen was at 77 percent.


* Bureau Expects To Deliver 487 KAF In Upper Snake Flow Augmentation This Year

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will likely be able to provide desired flow augmentation volumes for salmon this spring and summer, according to agency officials.

"We're highly confident that we'll be able to provide 487,000" acre feet of water, the Bureau's Ted Day told the Technical Management Team Wednesday. The TMT's federal, state and tribal membership consider federal Columbia-Snake hydro system operational strategies that aim to improve conditions for migrating salmon and steelhead.

NOAA Fisheries Service's Upper Snake River biological opinion calls for the Bureau to provide up to 487 kaf from its storage reservoirs in the upper Snake. Most of those reservoirs are in Idaho.

"Flow augmentation" water is released from system storage at targeted times and places to increase streamflows to benefit migrating salmon and steelhead. There are 13 salmonid stocks that are listed under the Endangered Species Act, including four that originate in the Snake River basin. NOAA BiOps judge whether federal actions, such as the operation of dams, jeopardize the survival of listed species.

Day said that as of this week the Bureau had "firm" commitments for 449 kaf or roughly 95 percent of the target.

"We're confident that we'll find the sources" to hit the target, Day told the TMT. The Bureau distributes the water that fills its reservoirs to natural flow water rights holders. To provide the flow augmentation the agency acquires, or "rents," water volumes from willing sellers. The Bureau can also contribute water rights it holds.

The Bureau has provided flow augmentation annually since 1991 in volumes ranging from 90 to 487 kaf. That was the year that the first of those 13 stocks, the Snake River sockeye salmon, gained ESA protections.

As much as 427 kaf has been provided provided annually from 1993 through 2000 but drought years followed. The 427 kaf target was missed from 2001 through 2004.

The goal was upped by 60 kaf in the 2005 Upper Snake BiOp but the Bureau only could provide 427 kaf that year and in 2007. The reservoirs have delivered 487 kaf in 2006 and last year.

The upper Snake River basin has enjoyed a strong water accumulation season. Snowpacks in the mountains that feed the upper Snake have, for the most part, are above average snow-water equivalent. The SWE represents the depth of water in the snowpack, if the snowpack were melted, expressed in inches.

The relative wealth in water has been rare in recent years. The upper Snake snowpack has been below average from 2000 through 2008 with the exception of 2006. Last year's upper Snake water supply was just slightly below average.

SNO-TEL automatic measuring sites in the Snake basin above the Bureau's Palisades reservoir had a SWE on May 6 that was 117 percent of the 1971-2000 average. The Henrys Fork, Teton, Willow, Blackfoot and Portneuf drainages were at 111 percent of average and the Raft, Goose, Salmon Falls and Bruneau SNO-TEL readings showed SWE at 106 percent of average.

Subpar are the Big and Little Lost basins (98 percent), the Big and Little Wood basins (90 percent) and the Weiser, Payette and Boise river drainages (94 percent).

The Bureau's Upper Snake River system (Jackson Lake, Palisades, Grassy Lake, Island Park, Ririe, American Falls, LakeWalcott) is at 77 percent of capacity as of Wednesday with snowpack runoff just starting to build toward the spring freshet.

The Boise River system (Anderson Ranch, Arrowrock, Lucky Peak) is at 78 percent of capacity and the Payette River system (Cascade, Deadwood) is at 74 percent.


* Tribes,States, Federal Agencies Celebrate First Year of New Era Of Cooperation

Nearly 400 tribal, federal, state and local leaders returned today (May 8) to a historic fishing village on the banks of the Columbia River to celebrate the "Columbia Basin Fish Accords" signed a year ago.

The gathering was held this morning at Columbia Hills State Park, just east of Dallesport, Wash.

The accords include nearly $1 billion in fish and wildlife project funding over a 10-year period pledged by the Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration in agreements signed with states and tribes.

For specific details of the Accords and the types of projects involved, go to and

The accords are intended to supplement biological opinions for salmon and steelhead listed as endangered and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's fish and wildlife program through commitments to improvements in the hydro system, habitat and hatcheries.

"It was a year ago that the tribes, as sovereign nations, and the federal action agencies reached an agreement to restore habitat for the Columbia Basin's salmon populations," said N. Kathryn Brigham, chair of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. "Today we are working together -- combining our experience and expertise and solving problems."

"For the first time, we have a widely supported, scientifically sound approach that seeks to move us out of the courtroom and to the rivers and streams that the region's fish depend on," Steve Wright, BPA administrator, said. "Tribal and non-tribal people are seeking to alter the status quo because humans can be swamped by litigation and fish can't swim in it.

"One year into this 10-year effort we have made real on-the-ground progress that helps fish. We have also strengthened the bonds in the Pacific Northwest beyond our wildest expectations, realizing the dream that historical antagonists can put down the swords and work together for the common good," Wright said. "We believe that the best chance for salmon recovery lies in us humans working together in harmony."

Tribal, state and federal partners say they have launched new projects and expanded existing projects throughout the Columbia River basin during the first year of the accords.

Projects cited as under way through the accords include: improvements in passage and assurance of sufficient water for the Walla Walla River's salmon populations, restoration of sockeye runs in Redfish Lake, installation of lamprey passage systems at Bonneville Dam, and numerous other projects designed to restore critical habitat from the estuary to the tributaries.

Tribal and federal leaders signed the Accords on May 2, 2008, at Columbia Hills State Park, a historic village and fishing site under the watchful eye of "Tsagaglalal," or "She Who Watches." Tribal legend explains that Tsagaglalal was turned into stone so she could remain at her village to watch over the river and its people for eternity.

"The next ten years hold a promise of opportunity to work together, supporting the efforts of our partners, building on each other's success, and remaining flexible to conditions on the ground," said Alonzo A. Coby, chairman of the Fort Hall Business Council, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. "One of our sacred traditions is hunting salmon, it's what we learned from our grandparents and will pass on to our grandchildren. This agreement is a commitment to preserve our traditions, promote our recovery efforts and leave this world a better place for tomorrow."

The accords are the result of two years of extensive negotiations between tribes, states and federal action agencies that have responsibilities for operating and maintaining the Federal Columbia River Power System. The FCRPS action agencies (BPA, Corps, Bureau) have agreements with:

-- The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation;
-- The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon;
-- The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation;
-- The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission;
-- The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation;
-- The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes
-- State of Idaho
-- State of Montana

The accords not only address the needs of salmon and steelhead, but also include projects aimed at non-listed, culturally significant species such as Pacific lamprey and sturgeon.

"The Colville Tribes are very pleased with its fish accord with the federal government," said Michael Finley, Business Council vice chairman and Natural Resources Committee chair for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation. "The accord is providing the funding needed to finally help restore salmon and steelhead from the upper Columbia River that have been largely ignored for too long. We are also looking forward again to the day when we can have meaningful ceremonial and subsistence salmon fisheries as a result of our accord."

"We have surmounted many obstacles to arrive at this moment where we can look back at a year that clearly demonstrates the benefits of anticipation, collaboration, communication, and innovation," Brig. Gen. William E. Rapp, commander of the Corps' Northwestern Division, said. "As competition for water in the river system intensifies over time and the gap between demand and availability grows, our way ahead will be all the more important, and it is my sincere hope that mutual willingness to share responsibility and act in the best interests of the region, as symbolized by these accords, continues to be the hallmark of our work."


* Proposed NOAA Budget Calls For Increased Pacific Salmon Spending, But Ending Salmon Fund

President Barack Obama's proposed Fiscal Year 2010 budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under the Department of Commerce, calls for the elimination of the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, which has ranged from $90 million to $100 million in recent years.

But a NOAA spokesman stressed that overall, the proposed budget increases spending for Pacific salmon recovery.

The proposed budget says the "Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund was established in FY 2000 to fund State, Tribal and local conservation initiatives to help recover threatened and endangered Pacific salmon populations in the states of California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. NOAA proposes to terminate this fund in FY 2010."

However, " in keeping with the Obama Administration's commitment to protecting America's natural resources, the 2010 budget funds $800 million for Pacific salmon, which is an overall increase of 11 percent above last year's enacted level across Federal agencies," David Miller, NOAA's senior public affairs officer, said this morning.

The budget was released Thursday afternoon.

Miller said that within the Commerce Department, funding is being provided through NOAA to implement the Pacific Salmon Treaty ($24.4 million -- more than double last year's enacted level), develop advanced tools for managing salmon ($7 million), and support a $61 million program that includes salmon recovery efforts.

"Secretary (Gary) Locke understands the importance of salmon in the Pacific Northwest, and it remains a top priority for the Department of Commerce. The secretary has directed NOAA Administrator Dr. (Jane) Lubchenco to work with congressional members and key staff to develop a plan to ensure adequate funding for the recovery and restoration of Pacific Salmon stocks," Miller said.

The proposed budget can be found at Go To Page 71 for details on NOAA.


* Locke Extends West Coast Salmon Disaster Declaration; Releases $53 Million

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke says he is extending the 2008 West Coast salmon disaster declaration for California and Oregon in response to expected poor salmon returns to the Sacramento River.

That poor chinook forecast has forced fishery managers to forego nearly all commercial salmon fishing this spring and summer off southern Oregon and California. Locke also announced that he would release $53.1 million in disaster funds to aid fishing communities.

"Salmon returns are expected to be near record lows again this year," Locke said. "The extension of the disaster declaration will ensure that aid will be available to affected fisherman and their families to help offset the economic impact of the closure of the commercial fisheries. These funds can also aid fishing-related businesses, such as ice and bait suppliers, who may struggle with the financial effects of the closure."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will formally adopt the Pacific Fishery Management Council's full fishing season recommendations, made on April 8. The management strategy includes little commercial salmon harvest off the West Coast south of Cape Falcon, Ore. A recreational coho fishery and a limited commercial fishery will be allowed off Oregon. The salmon season formally began May 1.

Locke declared a commercial fishery failure under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and a resource disaster under the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act. The declaration came in response to a request from Kulongoski and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"The collapse of the Sacramento River fall chinook has once again required sweeping closures of Oregon's ocean to commercial salmon fishing," Kulongoski said. "The decision by the secretary of Commerce comes at an important time for Oregon's fishing communities and I appreciate the quick response to this critical request."

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service will work with the states and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to distribute the $53 million in remaining salmon aid from last year's $170 million congressional appropriation to help fishing communities affected by the poor returns. Based on the economic impact, of the remaining $53 million, Locke has allocated approximately $46.4 million to California and $6.7 million to Oregon.

Sacramento River fall-run chinook have long been the foundation of the West Coast's commercial salmon fishery. In the past, returns averaged from 400,000 to 600,000 chinook salmon spawners. Under current federally approved rules for managing the ocean salmon fishery, a minimum of 122,000 Sacramento River fall chinook must be predicted to return to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River system before any harvest can take place.

Last year, barely 66,000 returned to their spawning grounds in the system. This year, a greater number of chinook are expected, but only marginally more than the 122,000 needed to maintain the health of the fishery.

Ex-vessel values for the South of Cape Falcon fisheries are projected to experience an 83 percent decline this year compared with the 2004-2008 average, and a 99 percent decline from the 2003-2007 average," according to a letter from Locke notifying the governors of the disaster declaration.

"Some of the communities supporting these fisheries will experience economic hardship even more severe than the losses they endured after restrictions were imposed in 2006 on west coast ocean salmon fisheries because of the low abundance of Klamath River fall chinook salmon, and again in 2008 in response to critically low abundance of SRFC," the governors said in their request for a disaster declaration.

Agency biologists said the 2008 collapse was triggered primarily by climatic conditions that produced little food in the ocean, compounded by degraded habitat and by too much reliance on fish produced in hatcheries instead of in the wild.

"NOAA will continue to work with the states and our partners in the region on habitat and hatchery issues that may be contributing to the difficult fishery management problems that the Sacramento River system has been experiencing," said Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

Kulongoski has issued Executive Order 09-08 declaring a state of emergency in Tillamook, Lincoln, Coos, Clatsop and Curry counties and coastal portions of Lane and Douglas counties in response to the decline in ocean fishing opportunity for commercial fishermen.

To read Secretary Locke's response to Gov. Kulongoski, go to

To read a copy of the governors' letter request, go to

A synopsis of the final regulations is available online at:


* Babtist (Paul) Lumley Named New Executive Director For CRITFC

Babtist (Paul) Lumley, a member of the Yakama Indian Nation and 23-year veteran of American Indian policy, is returning to the Columbia Basin after a five-year absence to serve as the executive director for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

Lumley, 45, has been serving as the executive director of the National American Indian Housing Council in Washington, D.C., for the past 2 ? years.

Leaders of CRITFC's member tribes -- the Warm Springs and Umatilla tribes, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, and the Nez Perce Tribe --selected Lumley to become the ninth executive director in the Commission's 32-year history after assessing a field of candidates. He will take the reins at CRITFC on July 1.

"Returning to CRITFC as the executive director is an enormous honor," said Lumley. "I appreciate the trust placed in me by the tribes to protect our treaty Indian fishing rights. I come from a long family history of tribal fishermen and fished the Columbia River regularly with my father. I know the management forums and the legal forums. I plan on bringing all that experience to bear in this position.

Lumley returns to CRITFC with substantial Columbia Basin experience coupled with strong national Indian policy credentials. Prior to his tenure with the NAIHC, he spent three years at the Pentagon preceded by 17 years with the Portland, Oregon-based CRITFC. Lumley's CRITFC career began in 1987 as a fisheries biology intern eventually rising to a managerial position. Lumley took an inter-governmental personnel option in
2004 to become the senior tribal liaison with the U.S. Department of Defense's Installations and Environment Program.

"We're glad to see Paul coming home to the Columbia," said N. Kathryn "Kat" Brigham, CRITFC Chair. "He'll make a good addition to our family. His knowledge on the commission, the four tribes and the issues will enable him to hit the ground running."

Lumley succeeds Olney Patt, Jr., who served for five years in the position before returning to the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation last August. Rob Lothrop, interim executive director since Patt's departure, will continue to in that capacity until Lumley's arrival.

Portland-based CRITFC is the technical support and coordinating agency for fishery management policies for the tribes.


* Corps Says Willamette Valley Reservoirs Reaching Full Conservation Pools

With significant spring rains this week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers anticipates its Willamette Valley reservoirs will reach full conservation pools with adequate water for the recreation season.

"We are balancing the need to store water to reduce flooding downstream and hold enough water for summer recreation while making enough room for additional inflows," said Dustin Bengtson, operations manager for the Willamette Valley Project.

Managing reservoir levels and downstream flows is a key responsibility of the Corps. As of Thursday morning, system-wide inflow to the 11 flood damage reduction reservoirs is 34,200 cubic feet per second and outflow is 26,600 cfs.

Visitors to the Detroit Lake recreation area will encounter limited access or temporary closures of some facilities due to high water levels in the reservoir. The U.S. Forest Service expects closures of some facilities to remain in effect until Friday and potentially through the weekend. Additional areas may close if water levels rise. For updated information on Forest Service sites on Detroit Lake, contact the Detroit Ranger District at (503) 854-3366, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or visit

In the Detroit Lake State Recreation Area, the G Loop boat ramp located within the campground is open. The Mongold day-use area boat ramp and dock and the F Loop boat mooring dock at the campground are open. The parks' day-use facilities and the campground remain open. For updated information on Detroit Lake State Park facilities, call (503) 854-3406.

The Corps will begin refilling Foster Reservoir in mid-May for a full reservoir by Memorial Day.

The Corps is advising boaters to be aware of floating debris both on and just below the water surface while recreating in reservoirs this spring. The high water collected debris and set it afloat.

The public is encouraged to check current reservoir elevations at Check the Northwest River Forecast Center's Web site for forecast river levels at The report on
provides current reservoir elevations and elevations for the more commonly used boat ramps.

The Corps operates 13 dam and reservoir projects in the Willamette River drainage system and controls 27 percent of the total basin runoff. Each dam contributes to a water resource plan designed to provide flood damage reduction, power generation, irrigation, water quality improvement, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation and navigation on the Willamette River and many of its tributaries. Since the dams were built, they have provided significant flood damage reduction value to the Willamette Valley, cumulatively preventing over $20 billion in flood damages.


* Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program Now In Full Swing Until September

Anglers can earn cash and help save salmon by participating in the Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program, which kicked off May 1 in the lower Columbia and Snake rivers. The program continues until Sept. 27.

This was the first year the season will start on a weekend. In years past, the season started on a Monday. Program officials hoped the weekend start would attract more anglers.

"Many people like to fish on Saturdays and Sundays," said Russell Porter, senior program manager, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. "We hope the weekend start will encourage new anglers to give pikeminnow fishing a try."

Anglers are paid $4 to $8 for northern pikeminnow nine inches and larger caught in the lower Columbia (mouth to Priest Rapids Dam) and Snake (mouth to Hells Canyon Dam) rivers. The more northern pikeminnow an angler catches, the more the fish are worth. The first 100 are worth $4 each; the next 300 are worth $5 each, and, after 400 fish are caught and turned in, they are worth $8 each. As an added incentive, specially tagged fish are worth $500.

Since 1990, more than three million northern pikeminnow have been removed from the Snake and Columbia rivers through the sport reward program. Last year, anglers caught approximately 155,000 northern pikeminnow. As a result of these efforts, program managers say northern pikeminnow predation on juvenile salmonids is estimated to have been cut by 38 percent.

The Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program is designed to reduce the number of northern pikeminnow, a large member of the minnow family that eats millions of young salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake rivers each year. Researchers believe reducing the number of these predators can greatly help salmon and steelhead survival.

The program is administered by the PSMFC and is funded by Bonneville, which is directed by the 1980 Northwest Power Act to fund work to improve salmon runs harmed by federal hydroelectric dams.

Additional information about the Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program, including information on registration stations, how and where to catch northern pikeminnow and details about angler clinics, is available by calling (800) 858-9015 or visiting


* Tom Strickland Confirmed As Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Thomas Strickland for Department of Interior's assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. President Obama nominated Strickland for the position on Feb. 20.

"Tom Strickland is a dedicated public servant and a resourceful and effective leader who has the vision and management experience we need at this critical time for the treasured landscapes of America," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. "I have worked closely with Tom for many years on natural resource initiatives and know that his vision, his experience, and his wisdom will be invaluable in the years ahead."

The assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks oversees and coordinates policy decisions for the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Strickland, who is currently serving as chief of staff for the Department of the Interior, would serve concurrently in that role.

Strickland served as U.S. attorney for the District of Colorado from 1999 through 2001. As U.S. attorney, he represented the federal government on a broad range of public land and environmental issues. Together with Salazar, Strickland was a founder and board member of Great Outdoors Colorado, the lottery-funded endowment for Colorado's public parks system that was created in 1992.

He twice earned the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate. Prior to his appointment as U.S. attorney for Colorado, he spent 15 years with another law firm where he was a senior partner in charge of the regulatory, administrative, and public law practice.

From May 2007 to when he joined Interior, Strickland was executive vice president and chief legal officer of UnitedHealth Group. Before that, he was a partner of the Hogan & Hartson law firm, serving as Managing Partner for the firm's Colorado offices. He was also a member of Hogan & Hartson's executive committee and worked closely with UnitedHealth Group as outside legal counsel on a variety of issues.

From 1982 to 1984 Strickland served as director of policy for Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm, advising the governor on all policy and intergovernmental issues. He went on to serve and chair the Colorado Transportation Commission from 1985 to 1989. Strickland also served as legal counsel to the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and was a founder and board member of Great Outdoors Colorado, the lottery-funded endowment for Colorado's public parks system.

Strickland received his bachelor's degree in English literature, with honors, from Louisiana State University, where he was an All-SEC Academic Team Football Selection. He received his J.D., with honors, from the University of Texas School of Law. He is a member of the Colorado, Minnesota and Texas bars.


* USGS Study Shows How Mercury Gets Into North Pacific, Contaminates Marine Life

A new U.S. Geological Survey study published this week documents for the first time the process in which increased mercury emissions from human sources across the globe, and in particular from Asia, make their way into the North Pacific Ocean and as a result contaminate tuna and other seafood.

Because much of the mercury that enters the North Pacific comes from the atmosphere, scientists have predicted an additional 50 percent increase in mercury in the Pacific by 2050 if mercury emission rates continue as projected.

"This unprecedented USGS study is critically important to the health and safety of the American people and our wildlife because it helps us understand the relationship between atmospheric emissions of mercury and concentrations of mercury in marine fish," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. "We have always known that mercury can pose a risk, now we need to reduce the mercury emissions so that we can reduce the ocean mercury levels."

"This study gives us a better understanding of how dangerous levels of mercury move into our air, our water, and the food we eat, and shines new light on a major health threat to Americans and people all across the world," said Lisa P. Jackson, EPA administrator. "With this information in hand, plus our own mercury efforts, we have an even greater opportunity to continue working with our international partners to significantly cut mercury pollution in the years ahead and protect the health of millions of people."

Water sampling cited in the study shows that mercury levels in 2006 were approximately 30 percent higher than those measured in the mid-1990s.

This study documents for the first time the formation of methylmercury in the North Pacific Ocean. It shows that methylmercury is produced in mid-depth ocean waters by processes linked to the "ocean rain."

Algae, which are produced in sunlit waters near the surface, die quickly and "rain" downward to greater water depths. At depth, the settling algae are decomposed by bacteria and the interaction of this decomposition process in the presence of mercury results in the formation of methylmercury.

Many steps up the food chain later, predators like tuna receive methylmercury from the fish they consume.

One unexpected finding from this study is the significance of long-range transport of mercury within the ocean that originates in the western Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Asia.

"Mercury researchers typically look skyward to find a mercury source from the atmosphere due to emissions from land-based combustion facilities. In this study, however, the pathway of the mercury was a little different. Instead, it appears the recent mercury enrichment of the sampled Pacific Ocean waters is caused by emissions originating from fallout near the Asian coasts. The mercury-enriched waters then enter a long-range eastward transport by large ocean circulation currents," said David Krabbenhoft, a USGS scientist and co-author of the study.

Scientists sampled Pacific Ocean water from 16 different sites between Honolulu, Hawaii and Kodiak, Alaska. In addition, the scientists constructed a computer simulation that links atmospheric emissions, transport and deposition of mercury, and an ocean circulation model.

In the United States, about 40 percent of all human exposure to mercury is from tuna harvested in the Pacific Ocean, according to Elsie Sunderland, a coauthor of the study.

Methylmercury is a highly toxic form of mercury that rapidly accumulates in the food chain to levels that can cause serious health concerns for those who consume the seafood. Pregnant women who consume mercury can pass on life-long developmental effects to their children. That is why in 2004 EPA and FDA issued the landmark Joint Guidance on the Consumption of Fish specifically targeted towards pregnant women and nursing mothers. Previous studies show that 75 percent of human exposure worldwide to mercury is from the consumption of marine fish and shell fish.

Scientists have known for some time that mercury deposited from the atmosphere to freshwater ecosystems can be transformed (methylated) into methylmercury, but identifying the analogous cycles in marine systems has remained elusive. As a result of this study we now know more about how the process which leads to the transformation of mercury into methylmercury.

The paper, "Mercury sources, distribution and bioavailability in the North Pacific Ocean--Insights from data and models and information on other USGS mercury research, is available online at

The study appeared this week in Global Biogeochemical Cycles, which is published by the American Geophysical Union.


* CBB Shorts: Wildlife Grants; Do Fish Feel Pain?; American Pika ESA Review; Radio Collaring Oregon Wolf; Wind Energy/Wildlife Guidelines; Award For John W. Keys Program

--- USFWS Seeks Applications For Tribal Wildlife Grants

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a request for grant proposals from federally recognized tribes for projects that will conserve fish and wildlife resources on tribal lands.

The Tribal Wildlife Grants program funds projects on a competitive basis that benefit habitat, fish and wildlife, including species that are not hunted or fished. This grant request is for fiscal year 2010. Proposals and grant applications must be postmarked by Sept. 1.

The maximum award for any one project under this program is $200,000. For more information and to obtain a copy of the grant application kit, or to find a regional Tribal grants contact, please visit Additional information about this and other grant programs is available at

In FY 2009, the Tribal Wildlife Grant program awarded nearly $7 million to 41 tribes for projects ranging from comprehensive surveys of plants, fish and wildlife, to habitat and fish restoration, to development of new resource management plans and techniques.

The Tribal Wildlife Grants program began in 2003 and has provided a total of more than $50 million to hundreds of tribes across the nation, enabling them to develop increased management capacity, improve and enhance relationships with partners, address cultural and environmental priorities and heighten interest of tribal students in fisheries, wildlife and related fields of study. A comprehensive report on projects awarded between 2003 and 2006 is available at


--- Fish May Actually Feel Pain And React Like Humans

Fish don't make noises or contort their faces to show that it hurts when hooks are pulled from their mouths, but a Purdue University researcher believes they feel that pain all the same.

Joseph Garner, an assistant professor of animal sciences, helped develop a test that found goldfish do feel pain, and their reactions to it are much like that of humans. A paper detailing the finding has been published in the early online version of the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

"There has been an effort by some to argue that a fish's response to a noxious stimuli is merely a reflexive action, but that it didn't really feel pain," Garner said. "We wanted to see if fish responded to potentially painful stimuli in a reflexive way or a more clever way."

Garner and Janicke Nordgreen, a doctoral student in the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, attached small foil heaters to the goldfish and slowly increased the temperature. The heaters were designed with sensors and safeguards that shut off the heaters to prevent any physical damage to a fish's tissue.

Half of the fish were injected with morphine, and the others received saline. The researchers believed that those with the morphine would be able to withstand higher temperatures before reacting if they actually felt the pain. However, both groups of fish showed a response at about the same temperature.

Because both groups of fish wriggled at about the same temperature, the researchers thought the responses might be more like a reflex than a cognitive reaction to experiencing pain. The reflexive response is similar to a person involuntarily moving a hand off a hot stove with which they had come into contact. The reaction happens before a person actually experiences pain or understands that they have been hurt.

Upon later observation in their home tanks, however, the researchers noticed that the fish from each group were exhibiting different behaviors.

"The fish given the morphine acted like they always had: swimming and being fish," Garner said. "The fish that had gotten saline -- even though they responded the same in the test -- later acted different, though. They acted with defensive behaviors, indicating wariness, or fear and anxiety."

Nordgreen said those behavioral differences showed that fish can feel both reflexive and cognitive pain.

"The experiment shows that fish do not only respond to painful stimuli with reflexes, but change their behavior also after the event," Nordgreen said. "Together with what we know from experiments carried out by other groups, this indicates that the fish consciously perceive the test situation as painful and switch to behaviors indicative of having been through an aversive experience."

Garner believes that the morphine blocked the experience of pain, but not behavioral responses to the heat stimulus itself - either because the responses were reflexive or because the morphine blocked the experience of pain, but not the experience of an unusual stimulus.

"If you think back to when you have had a headache and taken a painkiller, the pain may go away, but you can still feel the presence or discomfort of the headache," Garner said.

Those with saline both experienced pain in the test, as well as responding to it, and were able to cognitively process that pain, thus causing the later fear and anxiety.

"The goldfish that did not get morphine experienced this painful, stressful event. Then two hours later, they turned that pain into fear like we do," Garner said. "To me, it sounds an awful lot like how we experience pain."

The findings could raise questions about slaughter methods and how fish are handled in research. Garner said standards of care could be revisited to ensure fish are being treated humanely.


--- USFWS To Review American Pika To Determine If Should Be ESA-Listed

Following an initial review of a petition under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday that the American pika may warrant federal protection as a threatened or endangered species.

The agency will undertake an in-depth, scientific review of the American pika to determine whether to propose adding the species to the federal list of threatened and endangered wildlife and plants.

The petition provides information suggesting that climate change may have effects resulting in individual mortality, population extirpations, and reduced species range for the pika.

This week's decision, commonly known as a 90-day finding, is based on scientific information about the American pika provided in the petition requesting that the species be placed on the federal list of threatened and endangered wildlife and plants protected under the ESA. The initial petition finding does not mean that the USFWS has decided it is appropriate to give the American pika federal protection under the ESA. Rather, this finding is the first step in a process that triggers a more thorough review of all the biological information available.

To ensure this review is comprehensive, the agency is soliciting information from state and federal natural resource agencies and all interested parties regarding the American pika and its habitat.

The American pika is a small mammal that inhabits fields fringed by suitable vegetation in alpine and subalpine mountain areas extending south from central British Columbia and Alberta into the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico and the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The historical range of the species includes California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico.

A key characteristic of the American pika is its temperature sensitivity; death can occur after brief exposures to ambient temperatures greater than 77.9 degrees F. Therefore, the range of the species progressively increases with elevation in the southern extents of its distribution. In Canada, populations occur from sea level to 9,842 feet, but in New Mexico, Nevada and Southern California, populations rarely exist below 8,202 feet.

In October 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the USFWS to list the American pika and conduct a status review of each of the 36 recognized subspecies of American pika. The agency advised CBD that the petition could not be addressed at that time because existing court orders and settlement agreements for other listing actions required nearly all of the listing funding.

Subsequently, the CBD filed a notice of intent to sue over the federal agency's failure to publish a petition finding, and the Service entered into a settlement agreement requiring it to submit a petition finding to the Federal Register by May 1 and to submit a status review finding to the Federal Register by Febr. 1, 2010.

The petitioners assert that American pika populations are threatened by climate change, livestock practices, fire suppression and invasive species, changes in disease and predator relationships, inadequate regulatory mechanisms, off-highway vehicle usage, and roads.

For more information regarding the American pika, please visit our web site at


--- ODFW, USFWS Do First Radio-Collaring Of Wolf In Oregon

A joint effort by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife specialists resulted in the capture, radio-collaring, and release of a male wolf on Sunday morning, May 3.

The event marks the first radio-collaring of a wolf in Oregon.

The wolf captured and radio-collared was an 87-pound male estimated to be about 2 years old. The track size and a second, smaller wolf seen at the capture site indicate that the wolf is one of two involved in several livestock depredations in the Keating Valley area of Baker County over the past few weeks.

The male wolf was trapped about 2.5 miles from the ranch house where this pair of wolves attacked a calf on April 17. Tissue samples were taken from the wolf for genetic analysis.

USFWS and ODFW had been attempting to trap these wolves since mid-April, after confirming the first known livestock depredation by wolves since they began their return to Oregon in the late 1990s.

The radio collar will be used as a tool to help prevent further livestock losses. ODFW staff will be monitoring the radio collar to determine the wolves' movement patterns and alert ranchers to wolf activity in the area. They can also be used with RAG (radio activated guard) boxes, which emit loud noises when a radio-collared wolf approaches.

As of May 4, wolves in the eastern portion of Oregon (east of highways 395, 78 and 95) are "de-listed," or removed from protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. Wolves in this area remain protected by Oregon's ESA, while wolves west of the boundary remain protected by both the federal and state ESA.


--- WDFW Issues Guidelines On Wind Energy To Reduce Impacts On Wildlife

Updated statewide guidelines that provide direction on minimizing the impact of wind energy development and operations on wildlife and habitats are now available from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

WDFW's 2009 Wind Power Guidelines, published this April, are a result of an intensive nine-month stakeholder review process, which included environmental representatives, county planners, wind energy developers, state and federal natural resource managers, biologists, and the public. The guidelines were finalized following a State Environmental Policy Act review.

Originally issued in 2003, the guidelines serve as a comprehensive planning tool, providing long-term opportunities for partnerships between wind power developers and WDFW in the interest of wildlife habitat protection and management, said Greg Hueckel, assistant director for the WDFW habitat program.

"Since they were first published, the guidelines have provided information to permitting agencies and wind-project developers on how to avoid and mitigate species and habitat impacts when siting, building and operating land-based, wind-power facilities," Hueckel said.

All wind power projects constructed to date in Washington were built following WDFW's Wind Power Guidelines. The updated version with additional information should be helpful as more projects come on line, Hueckel said.

"Washington state is currently fifth in the nation for wind power production with a total of 999 turbines capable of producing 1,500 megawatts of energy," he said. To meet the 15 percent renewable energy standard established by voter-approved Initiative 937, the construction of an additional 1,000 megawatts of wind power facilities can be anticipated, Hueckel said.

The guidelines include:

-- Updated, statewide information.
-- Updated mitigation alternatives, including a reference table.
-- Recommendations on habitat mapping and mitigation.
-- Recommendations on conducting baseline and monitoring studies.
-- Steps to take on minimizing impact to habitat and wildlife.
-- Facility reporting and appropriate monitoring protocols.
-- Descriptions of Washington's nine ecoregions and habitat types.

While WDFW currently has no regulatory authority over the construction of wind-energy facilities, the department serves as Washington's principal agency on species protection and conservation, Hueckel said. "Our job is to plan ahead and find alternatives that minimize the risk to wildlife and their natural habitat," he said. "That's what these guidelines are all about."

More information is available on WDFW's website at


-- Salazar Presents The John W. Keys, III Partnership Training Program With Award

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar this week presented a Partners in Conservation Award to the John W. Keys III Partnership Program for cultivating a more efficient working relationship among the Bureau of Reclamation in the Pacific Northwest, the Oregon Water Resource Congress and several Oregon and Idaho irrigation districts.

The Keys program fosters a good working relationship communications on an interagency basis with the shared goal of delivering water more efficiently.

It was one of 26 national awards to individuals and organizations presented at a ceremony at Interior headquarters in Washington, D.C. to honor "those who achieve natural resource goals in collaboration and partnership with others."

The 26 Partners in Conservation Awards recognize conservation achievements resulting from the cooperation and participation of a total of 600 individuals and organizations including landowners; citizens' groups; private sector and nongovernmental organizations; and federal, state, local, and/or tribal governments.

"The Partners in Conservation Awards demonstrate that our greatest conservation legacies often emerge when stakeholders, agencies, and citizens from a wide range of backgrounds come together to address shared challenges," the Secretary said. "The John W. Keys III Partnership Training Program is a superb example of an interagency partnership. Through the vision and collaborative efforts of the Bureau of Reclamation and its partners, this program breaks down barriers to foster improved working relationships while allowing for more efficient service to the population they serve."

Spearheaded by Reclamation employee Susan Tholen, within the Pacific Northwest Region in cooperation with Reclamation's Lower Columbia Area Office and the Snake River Area Office and Regional Office and through the encouragement of the late John W. Keys, former Bureau of Reclamation commissioner, the program's objective is to allow for new Reclamation employees and the participating Oregon and Idaho irrigation districts to understand, discuss, and resolve water issues.

"These 26 awards recognize the dedicated efforts of thousands of people from all walks of life, from across our nation? and from across our borders with Canada and Mexico," Salazar noted. "They celebrate partnerships that conserve and restore our nation's treasured landscapes and watersheds, partnerships that engage Native American communities, and partnerships that engage youth."


For more information about the CBB contact:
-- BILL CRAMPTON, Editor/Writer,, phone:
541-312-8860 or
-- BARRY ESPENSON, Senior Writer,, phone: 360-696-4005; fax: 360-694-1530

The stories in this e-mail newsletter are posted on the Columbia Basin Bulletin website at If you would like access to the CBB archives, please consider becoming a Member of the CBB website for as little as $5 a month. Your membership will help support maintenance of the 10-year (1998-2008) news database and the production of trustworthy, timely news and information about Columbia Basin fish and wildlife issues.


Feedback comments should be sent by e-mail to the Editor at Please put "feedback"in the subject line. We encourage comments about particular stories, complaints about inaccuracies or omissions; additional information; general views about the topic covered; or opinions that counterbalance statements reported.

The Columbia Basin Bulletin e-mail newsletter is produced by Intermountain Communications of Bend, Oregon and supported with Bonneville Power Administration fish and wildlife funds through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.






Shepherd, H. (2009). Columbia Basin Bulletin . Retrieved from


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