In response to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s December 13, 2021 request, the ISRP provides a follow-up Step review regarding the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation’s (CTUIR) project, Freshwater Mussel Research and Restoration (#2002-037-00). To complete this review, the ISRP evaluated the CTUIR’s Master Plan:Freshwater Mussel Conservation, Supplementation, Aquaculture, Restoration, and Research (final version) and Response document to the ISRP’s 2021 review (ISRP 2021-1).
For the past 20 years, this CTUIR project has studied the status, biology, and ecology of freshwater mussels, with the goal of using the knowledge gained to restore self-sustaining populations of freshwater mussels to CTUIR ceded area subbasins in order to reestablish cultural and ecological connections. The Master Plan outlines a strategic, phased approach, emphasizing adaptive management, with the goal of supporting the development of a restoration plan to guide freshwater mussel conservation, supplementation, artificial propagation, restoration, and research in the CTUIR ceded area.
This ISRP report represents another review step for this Mussel Project stemming from the 2019 Mainstem and Program Support Project Review and subsequent master plan reviews (see ISRP 2021-1, ISRP 2020-5, ISRP 2019-2, and ISRP 2018-8). The ISRP’s most recent review from 2021 highlighted numerous positive aspects of the project and found the DRAFT Master Plan to be a major step forward for the Mussel Project, displaying careful thinking about how and why mussels should be propagated to support their restoration in CTUIR ceded lands. However, the ISRP requested a response and Master Plan revision concerning three fundamental project components needed for conservation of existing mussel populations and restoration of populations that have severely declined or been extirpated: 1) monitoring the distribution and abundance of mussels, 2) salvage and translocation of mussels, and 3) artificial propagation and augmentation/reintroduction of mussels.
The ISRP commends the CTUIR for preparing a response to our 2021 concerns and a revised Master Plan, which is significantly improved over the previous version. The ISRP continues to emphasize the importance of this CTUIR project as it is among a very few in the western U.S. aimed at conserving and restoring populations of freshwater mussels, which are important to the CTUIR to reestablish cultural and ecological connections, in addition to being an important component of North American aquatic biodiversity. Although significant progress has been made since our 2021 review, the ISRP recommends the project meets scientific review criteria (conditional). Additional work is needed to fully address the three fundamental project components highlighted in the ISRP’s 2021 review. The ISRP requests that the proponents address 10 conditions, detailed in the full ISRP review (ISRP 2022-2), in a separate document to be submitted for ISRP review by April 2023.