At the Council’s September 24, 2009 request, the ISRP reviewed the Yakama Nation’s Mid-Columbia Coho Restoration Master Plan (23 September 2009 revised version) and response documents, as part of Step One of the Council’s Three-Step Review process.
The ISRP has participated in numerous reviews of the coho restoration Master Plan and feasibility study including annual reviews of proposals for funding through the Fish and Wildlife Program for fiscal years 1998, 1999, and 2000; a partial step review in 2000 (ISRP 2000-5); a provincial review for fiscal years 2003-2005 funding; a concurrent Step-One master plan review and FY 2007-09 proposal review in 2006 (ISRP 2006-5); a March 2009 Step-One review (ISRP 2009-6) of a revised master plan that was updated in response to the ISRP’s 2006 review. In the March 2009 review, the ISRP found the revised Master Plan did not meet scientific review criteria. The ISRP and Yakama Nation met in May 2009 to discuss a path for responding to ISRP’s March 2009 review. An excerpt from the March 2009 review follows:
The Yakama Nation has been involved with coho reintroduction into the Wenatchee and Methow subbasins since the mid 1990s, and has succeeded in establishing a naturalized hatchery stock that returns primarily to the middle reaches of the Wenatchee River (between Dryden Diversion Dam and Tumwater Dam). The project sponsors now want to initiate phased steps to increase the numbers of coho migrating above Tumwater with the goal of establishing a self-sustaining population of 1500 natural-origin fish.
The primary goals of interest are whether a self-sustaining population can be established, whether production can be moved to river reaches above Tumwater, and whether the associated numerical abundance can be achieved.
Coho reintroductions in the Yakima River (Yakama Tribe project), Clearwater River (Nez Perce Tribe project), and Umatilla River (Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation project) have similarly succeeded in establishing hatchery supported runs to the tributaries but have not achieved natural-spawning populations that are self-sustaining. In each of these subbasins (including the Wenatchee and Methow) if the hatchery program were to cease, coho would most likely become extirpated again. Given this observation, the ISRP concludes that the likelihood of success in achieving a self-sustaining population of any size in either of these subbasins is not large. Therefore, the effort is best undertaken as a carefully designed adaptive management experiment. The basis for an adaptive management program is that information drives decisions.
The Mid-Columbia Coho Master Plan is deficient because:
- The performance metrics at each stage of the project are insufficient;
- The reporting of the feasibility studies does not provide explicit status of the appropriate metrics at this time;
- The rationale for the design of Broodstock Development Phase 2, Natural Production Implementation Phase, and Natural Production Support Phase I and II are not scientifically supported by the results from the feasibility studies or modeling.
In the Yakama Nation’s September 21, 2009 cover letter, they identify three questions raised at the May 2009 meeting with the ISRP:
Question 1: Can we successfully complete BDP2 as described in the Master Plan, or will collecting fish at both Tumwater Dam (TWD) and Dryden Dam delay or prevent the process of developing a population of coho that can successfully migrate through Tumwater Canyon? The ISRP suggested we consider the alternative of collecting coho at TWD, rearing their progeny separately, and releasing only these coho upstream of TWD so that local adaptation may be accelerated.
Question 2: What are the appropriate programmatic changes that should be implemented if we are not meeting our phased PNI goals? (PNI goals for the Natural Production phases are in tables 5-17 through 5-22 in Section 5.4 of the Master Plan.)
Question 3: Could we incorporate Peter Galbreath’s Reproductive Success Study for reintroduced populations into our proposed program? Does the study represent a means to measure "local adaptation"?
The Yakama Nation’s September 2009 submittal is intended to address those concerns and discussions.
ISRP Recommendation: Response Requested - the Master Plan does not currently meet scientific review criteria.
The ISRP raised three primary concerns in its March 2009 review of the Master Plan and concludes that at this time the concerns have not been sufficiently addressed in the revision. In addition to these three, the updated contingency plan and decision process (section 4.3.5, page 91) need a clearer description of the performance objectives for each phase that will trigger contingency actions and especially the analysis of monitoring data that will be used to decide on the causes of not achieving production objectives (see Issue 4 below).