NMFS to Army Corps of Engineers: Study Deep Drawdowns
 NMFS Barging Studies Stay on Course
 Archeologist Takes Long Look at Salmon Recovery
 Fish Managers Call for Belt Tightening
 Council Finally Approves Fish Passage Center Funding
 PATH Researchers Deliver Preliminary Conclusions
 Hatchery Impacts Still Unclear from Latest Study
 Oregon's Watershed Restoration Efforts Tested by Last Year's Flood
 Canadian Fishermen Use WWW to Rally Against Fleet Reduction Plan
 Science Board Gives PIT-Tag Study Provisional OK
 NMFS TO ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: STUDY DEEP DRAWDOWNS :: In a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, NMFS has outlined the justification for more feasibility studies of drawing down John Day Reservoir. Before any more funding is approved for Corps drawdown work, Congress wants scientific reasons for going down that road. It was up to NMFS to provide those answers, but now the fisheries agency isn't talking about a measly five-foot drop in the reservoir. It wants the region to study drawing the pool all the way down to spillway crest, and the natural river option as well.
The agricultural community collectively shuddered when NMFS' letter to the Corps went public just before Christmas. Two weeks later, the Snake River Irrigators Association responded with their own memo that spelled out the impacts of "going natural" on power generation, flood control, irrigation, wildlife, recreation and navigation.
In the seventh draft of the NMFS letter to the Corps, dated Aug. 29, 1996, agency policy makers took the Minimum Operating Pool (MOP ) option, a drawdown of five feet, out of the picture. However, the final version of the letter included the MOP option.
The Aug. 29 draft said the MOP option was no longer feasible because it was unlikely "to have survival benefits comparable to other proposed long-term actions. New information suggests that the benefits of drawing down John Day to MOP may have been smaller than those anticipated in the FCRPS Biological Opinion."
The draft cited the National Research Council's study Upstream, which concluded that any benefits of drawdowns above natural river level have not been demonstrated. The draft also pointed out that the Power Council's ISG panel held that the biggest benefit of a drawdown would not come from a decrease in smolt travel time but "from an increase in riverine spawning and rearing habitat."
The draft further stated the MOP drawdown requirement of the BiOP would be eliminated by an amendment.
NMFS policy analyst Donna Darm said the MOP option stayed in the final letter because the unwieldy process required to remove it would have taken so long. She pointed out that the states' and tribes' representatives to the Systems Configuration Team did not feel a drawdown to MOP was very beneficial either.
Studies of the value of the MOP option have generally concluded the few hours smolts might save in their trip through the reservoir would result in survival improvement that would be too small to measure. But the MOP requirement in the BiOP remains a major part of environmentalists' argument in their lawsuit (American Rivers et al v. NMFS et al) over the failure of federal agencies to implement all elements of the 1995 Opinion. It was reported that environmental groups may continue to support MOP because of their growing awareness that a deep drawdown of John Day may not be a strategy the Northwest will likely accept for salmon mitigation.
The final version of the letter from regional NMFS director Will Stelle to Brig. Gen. Robert Griffin calls for more study of the feasibility of a drawdown to spillway crest at John Day, and it points out such study was called for in the Council's 1994 fish and wildlife program and the Tribal restoration plan.
NMFS also cites what it calls "new information that is relevant," which includes the ISG study conclusions that recommend evaluating permanent drawdown of John Day and McNary Pools to restore spawning and rearing habitat. A rough estimate by biologists in 1968 pegged the area as home to around 35,000 fall chinook in the late 1950's. In those days, the Hanford Reach was estimated to be the spawning habitat for only 15,000 fall chinook. Scientists have speculated that when John Day Pool was inundated in 1968, returning fish colonized the Hanford area.
The NRC salmon study is cited as well for conclusions "which do not explicitly address drawdown studies but do call for application of unspecified measures to improve reach survival if indicated by ongoing reach survival studies."
NMFS also points to survival studies of its own from 1995 and 1996. The agency stretched analysis of its PIT-tag detections past the limit of much confidence when it pegged 1996 smolt survival from the tailrace of McNary to the tailrace of John Day at 90 percent, plus or minus 14 percent. But the number jibes with observed survivals in much smaller reservoirs on the lower Snake, which points to most smolt mortality at the dams, with little in the reservoirs.
Irrigators were quick to react to the NMFS letter, hiring consultant Russell George, former manager of the Corps of Engineers Reservoir Control Center, to analyze major impacts of a natural river level drawdown of John Day Pool. His memo was distributed to regional legislators and the governors of Oregon and Washington.
George figured that BPA would lose $255 million a year in revenue, flood control for the Portland area would be reduced, as would regional and inter-regional power system reliability, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. Barge traffic would be eliminated, which would increase transportation costs of grain and petroleum by $25 million to $30 million a year. Irrigators would face major construction costs to continue watering 150,000 acres of crops.
The Corps' Witt Anderson said Brigadier General Griffin has sent a response to Stelle, advising him that the Corps is requesting approval from their headquarters office to proceed with drawdown evaluation activities in 1997, and has forwarded the NMFS scientific justification as supporting documentation. Anderson said he "expected headquarters to talk to Army, who may want to discuss it with OMB" before the two subcommittees are notified. "We have to make sure that things are consistent with the fish cap," Anderson said.
Stelle's letter points to the "potential" benefits of deeper drawdown. Whether this is scientific enough for congressional budgeteers remains to be seen. Last year, the conference committee for the 1996 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill stated, "Considering the extraordinary cost of completing this project, if the Administration does not find significant benefits, the proposal should be abandoned altogether" [Bill Rudolph].
 NMFS FISH BARGING STUDIES STAY ON COURSE :: NMFS researcher Doug Marsh gave his fellow troops a brief overview of the history of fish transportation last week at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. He may have been preaching to the choir, but Marsh said four independent studies have looked at fish transportation, with two in support of the strategy (the Bevan Plan, National Research Council), one pretty much neutral (Mundy et. al.) and one "that vilified it" (1992 ad hoc report on transportation).
Marsh said in 1995, NMFS PIT-tagged 246,000 spring smolts out of 3.7 million fish collected at the dams. After tagging, they routed 130,000 back to the river and barged the rest past Bonneville Dam.
Marsh reported that preliminary in-river survival showed 86 percent survival of both hatchery and wild fish from Lower Granite to Little Goose, the next dam on the Snake, with 70 percent survival to McNary Dam on the Columbia.
He said 1997 will be the first year that adults from the 1995 tagging program will show up, but they have some indication where things are headed. Spring jacks (precocious males from last year's outmigration that returned a year early), showed a ratio of transported fish to inriver controls (called T/C) of .4 for fish tagged before May 1, 1995 and 3.6 for fish tagged after May 1. That means less than half the earlier returning jacks had been barged, while more than three and a half times as many of the later returning jacks were among those barged downstream the previous spring.
Marsh outlined the hard lessons learned by the fish agency over the years as it struggled to gather data on the transportation program and develop the expertise necessary to make these studies valid. Marsh said that transportation studies are simple in theory, but the logistics are very complicated. Fish were marked as transports or inriver controls, and then recovered two or three years later as adults in special traps.
In the early years, transported fish were hauled past the dams in 3,500-gallon tanker trucks, a method that is now used only early or late in the season when few smolts are present.
Transportation of smolts improved considerably when barges were introduced in 1977. Fish survival improved since fresh water was continually pumped aboard. And the strategy became much more effective since more fish could be moved at one time.
Marsh said early results with steelhead were very positive. All studies had more transported fish return than controls. Spring chinook was a different story. Return rates went down through the 1970's, and there was insufficient data for proper analysis.
But Marsh said conditions at the dams improved in the early 1980's, and improvements in fish handling techniques reduced the physical trauma of smolts before tagging. A boom was installed at Lower Granite Dam to keep debris out of the area, and use of a pre-anesthetic on smolts reduced post-handling mortality from 12 percent (1976-1980) to .8 percent (1986-1989).
By 1986, more studies were underway for chinook and steelhead that always revealed benefits from transport. For example, spring chinook in 1986 had a T/C ratio of 1.6 (60 percent more transported fish returned to Lower Granite than inriver controls). Fall chinook transported from McNary Dam to below Bonneville showed a T/C of 2.8 in 1986, 3.5 in 1987, and 3.3 in 1988.
For steelhead, there was never any question about the effectiveness of barging. T/C ratios in 1986 and 1989 were 2.0, and 2.2, respectively.
Marsh said collection facilities added to dams below Lower Granite have significantly increased the complexity of the studies, but the advent of the PIT-tag improved things a great deal. The 12 mm tags embedded in a fish's abdomen give researchers an identifying signal for each fish that passes through a detector at one of the dams. Once PIT-tagged, control fish can activate gates that bypass collection facilities to avoid being picked up by barges loading smolts downriver from Lower Granite.
NMFS researchers are cautiously optimistic that last spring's large jack return is a signal that plenty of adult fish will show up in the next two years, enabling the agency to complete a transportation study with very robust data, with the hope of settling a long standing dispute among fish managers about the value of the transportation strategy [Bill Rudolph].
 ARCHEOLOGIST TAKES LONG LOOK AT SALMON RECOVERY :: Regional fish biologists may be seriously deluding themselves about just how many salmon they can expect to bring back to the Columbia Basin, archeologist James Chatters told a Seattle audience Jan. 14. Using the late 19th century salmon population as a baseline for recovery goals could be shortsighted he said, because that era was about the best thing that happened to salmon since the glaciers retreated, and is "unrepresentative of the region's long-term productivity."
By "long term," Chatters means up to 14,000 years ago, when the Fraser River drainage and most of the Columbia basin were closed off by glaciation. Chatters has examined archeological deposits from Alaska to the Sacramento River and has come up with some fascinating speculations.
He says fresh water mussel shells have been carbon-dated to establish the time when middens were used, and growth rings in their shells were examined to look at changes in temperature associated with changes in hydrology. Pollen samples in sediment cores show when forests closed in (about 2,000 years ago), which gave the region an increased capacity to store moisture--30 percent more than now--creating optimum conditions for salmon. But there was another control factor that made its mark on salmon numbers--people.
"Celilo Falls was a fish factory for the last three thousand years," Chatters said, adding that evidence points to a maximum aboriginal population living in the region about a thousand years ago.
He said a severe drought raged from about 500 to 1100 years ago, followed by the "Little Ice Age" from 500 to 100 years ago which depressed temperatures, reduced the human population and improved fish habitat.
Chatters pointed out that European diseases showed up about 300 years ago, which decreased the native population even further, and reduced salmon fishing activity until Euro-American fishing regimes took hold about a hundred years ago.
Chatters told the group that the dams in the basin have created conditions similar to the Middle Holocene Period 7000 years ago, a period associated with dry climate, slack water and low salmon productivity.
In the Middle Holocene, nearly 100 percent of the fish bones unearthed at a site near the Dalles were salmon bones. But up in Hells Canyon, salmon bones made up only 7 percent to 8 percent of the fish fragments; the rest were from various suckers and other warm water varieties [Bill Rudolph].
 CBFWA CALLS FOR BELT TIGHTENING :: The Anadromous Fish Managers of the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority started the new year with a sober message for all BPA fish and wildlife contractors: a $3.6 million cut is needed in FY '97 funding to balance the budget. The message, from Fred Olney of USFWS, the group's chair, suggests a 3.5 percent budget cut for each project to make up the shortfall.
The message didn't say the budget problem was due to construction cost overruns in CBFWA's own backyard, at two tribal hatcheries. But NWPPC staff analyst Doug Marker said cost increases at the new Yakama tribal hatchery at Cle Elum, WA, and the Umatilla Satellite Hatchery were responsible for the budget problem. He said construction costs have increased since the original funding was proposed several years ago.
Marker said in the past, several million dollars was always available in BPA's budget to make up such shortfalls from projects that were budgeted but never saw the light of day. BPA has tightened up accountability and insisted on a balanced budget, said Marker, and there is no extra money to pay for the overruns.
But other fish and wildlife contractors feel that it's unfair for them to pay the cost. Since some projects have been running on FY '97 money since last October, the cut from now till the end of the fiscal year would amount to more like a 7 percent decrease in funding.
CBFWA will make its recommendation to the Power Council, which will make the final decision on how to spread the pain.
(As a matter of disclosure, NewsData Corp. receives some BPA fish and wildlife funds) [Bill Rudolph].
 POWER COUNCIL APPROVES FUNDING FOR FISH PASSAGE CENTER :: After changes in the management structure of the Fish Passage Center, the agency's million dollar budget was approved by the Power Council at its Jan.7 meeting in Kelso, WA. The Council had flagged the agency's funding after complaints over data access and advocacy had surfaced. The council okayed two months of interim funding while concerns were addressed.
The Fish Passage Center is responsible for the Columbia and Snake river salmon and steelhead smolt monitoring program, collection and analysis of smolt migration and river operation data, and also serves as technical advisor to the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority (CBFWA), the inter-agency group of tribal, state and federal fish managers.
In an effort to clarify the chain of command, Fish Passage Center manager Michele DeHart will now report to the executive director of CBFWA, Brian Allee. According to Council chair John Etchart, this will improve policy oversight of the Center.
A board of directors has been established to oversee the operation of the agency. It will be composed of three anadromous fish managers and three resident fish managers to better balance the needs of salmon, steelhead and resident fish populations in the basin.
The Board will be responsible for working with the fish caucuses and CBFWA members to develop FPC policy direction. Along with other duties, the board will establish procedures for the preparation and signing of System Operation Requests for flow and spill augmentation during the salmon migration season, develop a statement of work with the FPC manager that will contain much of the fundamental policy guidance for FPC operations, and be responsible for contract negotiations with BPA. The board will also undertake an audit of the FPC data system to ensure accurate reporting procedures.
Tim Stearns of the environmental coalition Save Our Wild Salmon told the Council that no changes in the FPC's governance or procedures were necessary because the agency had been doing an outstanding job. He suggested the Council focus on federal hydro agencies for non-compliance with its fish and wildlife program. But Montana Council member Stan Grace said the Fish Passage Center was created by the Council and therefore it was the Council's responsibility to respond to complaints about its operation.
Council chair Etchart said he was pleased with the resolution. "These changes will make the Center more accountable to the public, whose electricity dollars finance the Center" [Bill Rudolph].
 PATH RESEARCHERS REPORT PRELIMINARY CONCLUSIONS :: "You can't know anything if you haven't measured it," Canadian biologist David Marmorek told the Power Council at the Jan. 7 meeting in Kelso, WA. Marmorek, of the Vancouver, BC-based consulting firm ESSA Technologies, is leading regional scientists down the BPA-funded PATH process, the Plan for Analyzing and Testing Hypotheses, which is taking a reportedly rational and methodical look at assumptions about salmon survival, mitigation strategies, and recovery options. The group is made up of scientists from Idaho, Oregon, Washington, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, National Marine Fisheries Service, Bonneville Power Administration and the Corps of Engineers.
Marmorek told Council members about objectives and preliminary conclusions the group had agreed on after the past year's deliberations. He said PATH objectives are twofold. First, to determine the level of support for key hypotheses to help guide government agencies and propose other hypotheses and/or model improvements more consistent with the data. Secondly, to assess the effects of alternative future management actions on salmon stocks.
The group's conclusions will eventually fuel the salmon recovery plan being developed by the National Marine Fisheries Service. So far, they have focused on naturally spawning spring and summer chinook.
PATH scientists have concluded "with reasonable confidence" that Snake River and upper Columbia salmon stocks have shown a steeper pattern of decline than stocks originating from the lower Columbia Basin, and they state with high confidence that differences in productivity and survival rates between upstream Snake and downstream Columbia stocks occurred while the hydro system was being developed. But they have low confidence that upper Columbia stock declines have been coincident with the increase in the total number of dams those fish must pass.
They are "reasonably confident" that aggregate effects of the hydro system have contributed to reduced survival rates after 1974, as compared to the pre-1970 period, and that the hydro system has contributed to lower juvenile survival in the downstream corridor after 1974. Changes in quantity and quality of spawning and rearing habitat does not appear to alone explain the post-1974 declines.
The PATH group also said "preliminary results suggest that artificial propagation of spring/summer chinook has not significantly contributed to declines in wild populations of spring/summer chinook in upstream areas (Snake and upper Columbia River) between pre-1970 and post-1974 periods." These results are "highly tentative," but Marmorek pointed out that the limited amount of data analysis to date implies that hatchery programs have not been a major cause of the continued decline of endangered fish. He cited evidence that productivity declines of listed Snake River chinook preceded the initiation of most Snake River hatcheries.
An interim conclusion found that harvest is not viewed as a significant contributor to declines in upstream stocks, since freshwater harvest rates have been less than 8 percent for the past 20 years and ocean harvest has been less than 5 percent and possibly even less than 1 percent for the same period.
The group also found that climatic conditions have contributed to differences in stock indicators between the pre-1970 and post-1974 periods. They cite evidence of an abrupt shift in ocean conditions in the North Pacific Ocean in 1976 that negatively affected southern salmon populations.
The scientists said available information was insufficient to decide whether barging fish past the dams could compensate for the effect of the hydro system on juvenile Snake River fish. They said there is uncertainty regarding the magnitude of delayed effects, pointing out that adult returns from 1983 through 1990 transport experiments indicated an average survival of wild spring chinook of 1.32 percent, with only one year (1990) when survival exceeded the lower bound of the interim 2 percent to 6 percent goal that is based on mid-1960's Snake survivals.
The group noted that transport survival experiments were not designed to estimate smolt-to-adult survival rates, but just to compare relative survival of experimental groups. "The only transport study that actually estimated SAR (smolt-to-adult return) of wild transported fish and attempted to collect fish in proportion to the run at large (1990)," says the PATH document, "indicated that survival was greater than 2 percent and higher than that of the Warm Springs (lower river) stock." The document also noted that 1990 was also the year of highest survival for mixed wild/hatchery transported fish, "suggesting that high transport survival is a relatively infrequent occurrence."
The PATH group also concluded that drawdown of three to four Snake River dams to natural river should compensate for hydro effects through that reach, but they have not yet evaluated whether adult returns would reach the interim goals.
Snake River spillway crest drawdown was not analyzed by PATH participants because, according to the document, "it no longer appears to be a management option." The group said it appeared to be too risky a venture because it would require major structural reconfiguration of both juvenile and adult passage facilities.
An area of disagreement was the concept of spillway crest drawdown at John Day. Some members felt that potential survival improvements from increased reservoir velocity and rearing habitat would not outweigh the risks associated with the possibility of increased dam passage mortality of both juveniles and adults. The group did not have time to do a thorough analysis of this option, which is similar to a recommendation from the Council's Independent Scientific Group (ISG).
Marmorek told the Council that the PATH process and the ISG findings are "quite complementary." He pointed out that the ISG report was qualitative and PATH more quantitative in nature. He said the PATH process would develop recommendations for future research, so that it dovetails with the Council's fish and wildlife program.
This coming year PATH participants will focus on issues relating to fall chinook and develop prospective analyses for salmon mitigation. But Marmorek cautioned the Council about uncertainty in all the data, a subject he said that needs more examination in the coming year. He got a laugh from observers when he mentioned that one of the greatest needs "is more historical data."
In that vein, some observers both within and outside the PATH process, point to problems inherent in the comparison of upriver and downriver stocks. Genetically, Snake River spring chinook are significantly different from lower Columbia spring stocks, many of which show more traits of fall chinook. Another significant unknown is whether the compared stocks mix in the ocean well enough to experience similar climatic and harvest regimes.
PIT-tag researcher Dr. John Skalski of the University of Washington recently told ISG members what he had learned from an upriver-downriver analysis of Priest Rapids Hatchery returns. Though he was dealing with fall chinook, Skalski found that the upriver-downriver paired design was barely adequate for a preliminary investigation and should not be used as a "consummate study." He cited the crucial selection of reference stocks and the dramatic effect such a choice had on results, and he demonstrated this by showing that five different downriver reference stocks he compared to the Priest Rapids fish each produced a different answer when it came to describing the biggest factor contributing to in-river survival [Bill Rudolph].
 OVERALL HATCHERY IMPACTS STILL UNCLEAR FROM LATEST STUDY :: In December, the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority, the coordinating body for the fish agencies and tribes in the Columbia Basin, published a programmatic draft environmental impact statement (PDEIS) on the Columbia River hatchery system for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Bonneville Power Administration. This document was six years in the making and cost about $1.5 million.
The study began as an analysis of the impact hatcheries have on wild salmon in the Columbia Basin, as outlined in the power planning council's 1994 salmon plan. The council called upon the Bonneville Power Administration to fund a study to determine stock boundaries in the basin, identify wild salmonid populations in the basin, evaluate the cumulative and system-wide impacts of existing and proposed hatcheries on Columbia Basin salmon, and develop a means to assess system-wide and cumulative impacts of hatcheries in the basin.
However, since the programmatic hatchery draft environmental impact statement departed from the power council's program council staffer, said the Council advised BPA that they did not support funding of the PDEIS since it would not be addressing fish and wildlife program measures. Consequently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service picked up the funding under its Lower Snake River Compensation Plan program, a federal hatchery program.
The PDEIS evaluates impacts of hatchery salmon on wild salmon in the Columbia River, but only addresses impacts in the mainstem. There is no analysis of hatchery impacts to wild salmon in the tributaries of the Columbia River. The impact analysis looked at competition in the mainstem reservoirs, at mainstem dams, in the estuary, and in the ocean. Also, the effects of disease transfer, predation and straying were evaluated.
The alternatives reviewed were Alternative 1: no action (continue with existing hatchery program), Alternative 2: Hatchery augmented natural production, Alternative 3: Natural production without artificial production (retaining a release of 12 million smolt in the basin), and Alternative 6, the preferred alternative that would redirect the hatchery program into supplement natural production and increase hatchery releases from 7 million to 78 million in the many tributaries of the basin.
According to the impact analysis, the natural production alternative decreased impacts to wild stocks in five out of seven categories with one not rated and another undetermined.
Out of the seven categories, the hatchery-based alternatives showed an impact in six of the seven categories. In other words, the non-hatchery alternative had the lowest impact of all alternatives listed, including the preferred alternative. This impact analysis was unclear because in some categories for some alternatives, the impact was either not rated or was left ambiguous.
The alternatives were also rated according to cultural impacts with regard to federal trust responsibilities to Native American tribal harvest and the US/Canada salmon treaty. The impact analysis of the federal trust responsibility to Native Americans showed only the preferred alternative (similar to the tribal salmon recovery plan) would benefit tribal fisheries.
The impact on the US/Canada salmon treaty was not rated for the preferred alternative, but clearly showed that the no-hatchery alternative had a negative impact. So, with regard to social and cultural impacts, the no hatchery alternative clearly created negative impacts while in the biological impact analysis, the no-hatchery alternative caused the least impact to native, wild populations of salmonids [Bill Bakke].
 OREGON'S WATERSHED RESTORATION EFFORTS TESTED BY LAST YEAR'S FLOOD :: The February, 1996 storm and resulting flood put Oregon's watershed restoration program to a severe test, said James R. Furnish of the Siuslaw National Forest. He said there were 1,786 slides detected in the forest following the flood. About 40% of the slides were associated with roads and 36% were associated with clear cuts. Slides not associated with these development features, called "in-forest slides," amounted to 23% of the total. According to the Furnish, these findings are similar to results found over the last 20 years.
Twenty-one percent of the landslides associated with roads and clear-cut harvest were on national forest lands while 79% were on lands under other ownership. According to Furnish, this difference showed that Forest Service restoration efforts, especially road stabilization, are paying off. He said it also reflects a reduced level of road construction and timber harvest in the 1990's.
Roads have long been known to be a key source of landslides. But road stabilization experiments were tested in the February storm. Untreated roads had more serious problems, including more landslides, which deposited sediment in streams. Of 111 problem sites, the report said 13 landslides reached streams, but 62% of those were from untreated roads. Of the nine largest slides (greater than 2,000 cubic yards), 78% were from untreated roads. The report said untreated roads represent an important source of degradation on water quality and fish.
Impacts of forest harvest and roads on fish habitat structures were also evaluated. Since the 1980's there have been 55 miles of salmon and steelhead streams treated with in-stream structures. This represents about 5% of the Siuslaw National Forest salmon steams.
The report said that 80% of all structures survived the flood, and are providing some habitat improvement. Of the large log jams placed in the rivers, two-thirds are still in place. Ninety percent of the log and boulder complexes survived the flood, and most of these structures trapped flood debris, sediment, and formed side channels, diversifying fish habitat.
However, evaluation showed that fish habitat improvement structures work best in small to medium-size streams (watersheds less than 10 square miles). The report stated that the cost of installing structures and the risk of failure increased with the size of the stream.
For more information about the findings, contact soils scientist George Bush (541-750-7052) who completed the landslide surveys [Bill Bakke].
 CANADIAN FISHERMEN USE WWW TO RALLY AGAINST FLEET REDUCTION PLAN :: British Columbia may be the scene of another fish war, but this summer they may fighting each other rather than the US, as they did in 1994. And growing opposition to a federal fleet reduction plan has BC salmon fishermen experimenting with a new kind of net-the Internet-to get their message out.
The Pacific Salmon Alliance is a group of fishermen's organizations, tribal entities, industry representatives, and environmental groups that have joined to fight the federal proposal, called the Mifflin Plan, named for Canadian fisheries minister, Fred Mifflin. Key elements of the plan include an $80 million license buyback plan, and the separation of fishing areas that would require fishermen to buy more licenses to fish areas traditionally open to everyone in the fishery, a provision called license stacking.
The BC government demanded an immediate industry-wide vote on license stacking, but the vote has been put off until next November.
Roy Alexander of the Pacific Seafood Council said the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans rammed through the plan under the guise of saving fish. "The conservation purpose behind the plan is a hoax," said Alexander, who pointed out that it has nothing to do with conserving runs, but reallocates the salmon resource to those who can best afford to pay for more licenses-the big seine fleet that works mainly for the five largest companies in the BC fishing industry. With improved returns predicted for sockeye runs in the Fraser River, trollers and gillnetters faced with staying in one area may not have the capacity to harvest their traditional share of the catch. As a result, Alexander said more fish may be turned over to the seine fleet.
Troller Kathy Scarfo of the Pacific Trollers Association asked where is a small-time fishermen going to come up with $100,000 to fish another area of the province? Even though the federal government has promised low interest loans for fishermen to tap for stacking a license, "Who would buy one now, with a good chance fishermen will vote it out next fall? Scarfo said.
Alexander said the Fraser run is predicted to come in between 11 million and 73 million fish, that's how much the DFO has hedged its bets with risk-averse forecasting, with a 50-percent chance that the run will come in at around 29 million sockeye. With that much fish at stake, Alexander said he is sure that next summer will see many unhappy fishermen practicing civil disobedience on the water to display their disgust with the Mifflin Plan [Bill Rudolph].
 SCIENCE BOARD GIVES PIT-TAG STUDY PROVISIONAL OK :: The power council's scientific peer review group has given a lukewarm thumbs up for a controversial PIT-tag study proposal from the Fish Passage Center.
The Independent Scientific Advisory Board sent its recommendation to the power council to fund the PIT-tagging of hundreds of thousands of Idaho hatchery salmon this year because it will generate "new information of relevance to the evaluation of the mainstem hypotheses of the Fish and Wildlife Program and the NMFS biological Opinion." But the ISAB told the council that the proposal needs "substantial revision" before it can achieve enough scientific rigor for the scientists to endorse it as the basis for a long-term study.
The ISAB has serious concerns relating to the number of fish needed to be tagged, using downriver stocks as control groups, and the amount of error tolerance allowable for conclusions. They said error tolerances of policy makers "determines the bulk of the expense of the PIT tagging study by determining the number of tags sufficient to answer a given question. As the error tolerance of administrators change, so change the costs of implementing research."
A NMFS memo that looked at the proposal said marking the fish at the hatcheries in Idaho meant that 40 percent of them would expire before they reached Lower Granite Dam, the first detection site on the Snake River, at a cost of $350,000. The federal agency figured that more than 300,000 fish would have to be tagged to make for a statistically valid study.
The big problem is that Idaho hatcheries may not even produce that many spring chinook smolts this year.
The ISAB recommended the balance of the project funding should be deferred until a new operational plan is completed. They also recommended that increasing detection rates at sites below McNary Dam should be a high priority, at Bonneville Dam and downriver from there.
The ISAB clearly stated that the responsibility for development of the study lay with the proposers, not the reviewers, "to develop a scientifically credible study"[Bill Rudolph].
LINKS/DOCUMENTS FROM NW FISHLETTER 026 :: Below are listed links and documents referred to in the text of NW Fishletter issue 026.
- Upstream: Salmon and Society in the Pacific Northwest, National Research Council, 1995.
- Return to the River: Restoration of Salmonid Fishes in the Columbia River Ecosystem, the Independent Scientific Group, Northwest Power Planning Council, 1996.
- Preliminary Conclusions: Plan for Analyzing Hypotheses
- Pacific Salmon Alliance
- Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans
THE ARCHIVE :: Previous NW Fishletter issues and supporting documents.
NW Fishletter is produced by Energy NewsData with grants from the Montana and Idaho offices of the Northwest Power Planning Council, the Council itself, the Bonneville Power Administration, the National Marine Fisheries Service, Chelan County PUD, Douglas County PUD,
Grant County PUD and Direct Service Industries, Inc.
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Last modified: January 21, 1997