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NPPC OKs $640,844 for
Idaho's Sockeye Broodstock Program

by Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin, August 17, 2007

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council on Tuesday approved a $640,844 infusion to keep on track the remodeling of Idaho's Eagle Fish Hatchery, and expansion of its sockeye salmon captive broodstock program.

Cost estimates for the expansion have ballooned from an initial $1.5 million projection to a $2.5 million estimate provided by a private engineering firm early in 2006. The budget was set accordingly.

This year, with final plans in hand, the estimate was revised upward to $2.9 million. The low bid received in July, however, totaled $3,439,092. The scope of the project has not changed, but the cost of building materials has risen, and initial estimates were off the mark.

The proposal was brought to the Council during its meeting in Spokane as an "urgent" budget request to allow the state of Idaho to meet bid and construction timelines.

Normally "within-year" budget adjustments are addressed on a quarterly basis by the Budget Oversight Group, but the Idaho Department of Fish and Game request came in just after end of the most recent quarter, according to Mark Fritsch, the Council's project implementation manager. BOG is made up of NPPC, Bonneville Power Administration and Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority staff members.

The Eagle expansion and related improvements at the Oxbow Hatchery are driven by the 2004 NOAA Fisheries biological opinion on Federal Columbia River Power System and the federal dam operators' current "updated proposed action."

The BiOp and UPA are aimed at assuring that the hydro system doesn't jeopardize the survival of salmon and steelhead stocks listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Snake River sockeye are listed as endangered and maintained through the captive broodstock program. No wild spawners have returned to central Idaho since 1998.

The goal is to double the program's smolt production capabilities, and ultimately boost the number of fish that return to the Stanley Basin from the ocean as adults. Increased adult returns would allow the program managers to infuse the captive broodstock program to help slow the loss of genetic fitness and reduce risks associated with domestication.

In recent years a portion of the returning adults have also been released into Redfish Lake and allowed to spawn naturally.

The Council also on Monday approved a separate but related urgent funding request, up to $50,000 for the repair of the Manchester Spring Chinook Captive Broodstock program's main rearing building. It was damaged in July when a tree toppled across its roof. The facility provides saltwater rearing for ESA-listed Snake River spring chinook as well as sockeye.

The Council additionally approved seven within-year funding requests received in fiscal year 2007's third quarter totaling $566,485, Fritsch told the Council Tuesday.

The largest share, $464,580, will be used to fund the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's "Natural Reproductive Success & Demographic Effects of Hatchery- Origin Steelhead in Abernathy Creek, Washington" project. The work is intended to address gaps in the biological opinion that Bonneville is now implementing by addressing the reproductive success of hatchery and natural origin steelhead in Abernathy Creek.

NPCC staff did not support continuation of the project, based on concerns expressed by the Independent Scientific Review Panel and the lack of a "strong tie" to the proposed FCRPS action now being developed to replace the existing plan.

BPA, which funds the program, recommended 2007 funding.

"During the remainder of the current contract period, BPA will review the project scope/budget to refocus it on the current needs for evaluating hatchery effectiveness, the original scope of the RFS under which BPA funded this project, including addressing issues identified in the recent ISRP review," according to a letter to the Council from Bill Maslen, BPA fish and wildlife director.

BPA feels it can "salvage something from the investment we've made in the project," Maslen told the NPCC. So far $1.2 million has been spent on the research.

Related Pages:
Scientific Panel: Sockeye Recovery Should End by Greg Stahl, Idaho Mountain Express, 6/16/6
Presidential Panel: Let Idaho Sockeye Run Go Extinct Associated Press, The Columbian, 6/15/6
More Money Approved to Help Endangered Sockeye Salmon Associated Press, KGW, 6/15/6
Sockeye Salmon Program to Expand by Robbie Johnson, Columbia Basin Bulletin, 6/14/6
Risch says Save the Sockeye by Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman, 6/15/6

NPPC OKs $640,844 for Idaho's Sockeye Broodstock Program
Columbia Basin Bulletin, August 17, 2007

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