On January 21, 2009, the ISRP requested that the Colville Confederated Tribes provide additional information and analysis regarding four of six conditions required by the Council before completing Step Two of the Three-Step Review of the Chief Joseph Dam Hatchery Master Plan. These were technical issues raised by the ISRP in the 2005 Step-One review that remained unresolved after initial reviews of Step-Two submissions in March and November of 2008. The Colville Tribes and consultants met with the ISRP on March 2, 2009 and presented their response to the comments made by the ISRP on the four unresolved conditions. The Colville Tribes provided a written explanation March 11, 2009. The attached memo serves as the ISRP’s analysis of the Colville Tribe’s response and the ISRP’s recommendation for project 2003-023-00.
The four unresolved issues were:
- A specific time-frame process (decision tree) that outlines the expected range of production scenarios;
- Additional discussion of the master plan as it relates to alternative forms of mitigation;
- Providing basic information regarding the in-basin and out-of-basin assumptions concerning (salmon) survival; and
- Specifics on methods, designs (including controls), and hypotheses need to be incorporated in the monitoring plan.
The issues raised by the ISRP in the Step-One review were intended to provide a sufficient understanding of the subbasin and program to evaluate its potential for success and consistency with the Council’s program and best management practices. There were at least three specific themes. The first was whether the quantity and quality of the current environment in the Okanogan River (and Columbia River between Chief Joseph and Wells Dam) were sufficient to support increasing hatchery production beyond the Public Utility District supported releases from the Similkameen Ponds. Second, given the state of mainstem Columbia River, estuary, and ocean salmon survival and harvest, would the yield from the hatchery production provide a reasonable terminal fishery benefit for the Colville Tribes? Third, how would the additional hatchery production be managed to be consistent with conservation principles for maintaining the viability the natural population of summer Chinook salmon in the Okanogan River?
The ISRP finds that the Colville Tribes’ submittals and responses meet scientific review criteria for Step Two of the Council’s Three-Step Process. The Colville Tribes have made serious efforts to address the issues raised by the ISRP. More empirical data on the abundance and productivity of the existing natural salmon population and hatchery program have been provided. A decision framework was developed with the assistance of the All-H Hatchery Analyzer (AHA) model. Some consideration of alternative mitigation options was provided. And the outline for a monitoring plan continues to be refined. Simulation modeling via AHA has allowed examination of options and uncertainties resulting in significant positive adjustments to the plan while maintaining best practices of the Fish and Wildlife Program and the Hatchery Scientific Review Group (HSRG).
The ISRP emphasizes that while the master plan has incorporated best management practices into the decision framework, performed simulation modeling, and developed operating rules, there remains much uncertainty as to whether the salmon harvest and conservation goals can be reached. Careful implementation of the program, with adequate monitoring and evaluation, should provide the answer to that uncertainty. The March meeting and written response received by ISRP demonstrated that the Colville Tribes have the capability to address this monitoring and uncertainty. The model results indicate that there is a probability of achieving the fishery resources and harvest that were guaranteed over a century ago, if the assumptions are correct.