Upper Columbia Regional Bulletin: News for Salmon Recovery Partners

The purpose of this quarterly newsletter is to communicate relevant and timely information that facilitates recovery efforts in the Upper Columbia. Staff welcomes your input as we strive to communicate timely and relevant information about the region and projects. Please let us know if you have any questions or wish to communicate any information.

2019 SRFB Grant Round  

The Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board grant round kicked off in March with Abstracts being due and draft proposals due in mid-April. This year’s round is another robust year with 21 draft proposals submitted across Wenatchee (13), Entiat (1), Methow (5), and Okanogan (1). The annual grant round seeks to allocate approximately $1.85 million in funding toward habitat restoration projects. In addition, it has also often used the Tributary Committee as a mechanism to award funding in accordance with their process. The annual regional SRFB round consists of draft application, project site visits, presentations to reviewers, and final scoring by the Upper Columbia Regional Technical Team and ranking by the Chelan and Okanogan Citizens Advisory Committees. After the regional process is complete the State Review Panel reviews proposals and the Salmon Recovery Funding Board makes the final funding determination at their December meeting. For more information about this year’s grant round or anything else SRFB related, please contact Pete Teigen at Pete.Teigen@ucsrb.org.

Implementation Update

The UCSRB has been using a bit of time at each quarterly Implementation Team meeting to reaffirm membership and the role of this important regional advisory group. The UCSRB’s work with the IT is being used to set the group up for leadership on Step 3 of the ongoing prioritization process. Step 3 calls for the development and application of project feasibility criteria to support scheduling and out-year planning for high priority activities and areas. The RTT is charged with completing the biological evaluation and ranking (Steps 1 and 2) of prioritization, which will also serve as an update to the region’s Biological Strategy. Ultimately, application of this strategic 3-step approach will benefit partners who wish to seek funding through the regional UCSRB-BPA Programmatic, and possibly other funding sources. For more information about the IT or proposed agenda topics, please contact Sarah Walker at sarah.walker@ucsrb.org.

Science Update

The State of the Salmon in Watersheds 2018 Report – located at https://stateofsalmon.wa.gov/ is a comprehensive report on the indicators about the status of fish populations, watershed health, and implementation of recovery and sustainability plans, statewide with specific information on salmon populations throughout the state by region.

Predator Report Released. The Northwest Power and Planning Council’s (NWPCC) Independent Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB) released a report on predation impacts and management effectiveness in the Columbia River Basin May 3, 2019 (click here for full report). The report addresses biological and economic impacts of native and non-native predators, the effectiveness of predator management control efforts currently implemented, and the potential impacts on the Columbia River Basin (Basin) from the introduction and spread of northern pike, an aggressive, invasive species with the potential to spread downstream from Lake Roosevelt. The questions address 1. What information is needed to develop a common metric of impact across all predator species? 2. What type and level of effort are needed? 3. Would additional predator management be effective in improving focal species survival? 4. Can we rank predator impacts and then rank which current management activities would be most effective in reducing impacts? 5. Do we know what level of suppression (exploitation) is needed to reduce the northern pike population in Lake Roosevelt to a level sufficient to reduce risk of emigration? And 6. What are the likely ecological impacts of northern pike should they enter the Basin’s anadromous waters?

Pike are highly invasive and through predation are likely to drastically reduce salmonid abundance, especially in low-gradient river segments with wide floodplains. Pike prefer salmonids and are capable of driving preferred prey species to very low levels or extinction, and all sizes and ages of pike (yearling and older) can eat salmon fry, parr, and smolts. If salmonids have no refuges from predation (i.e., habitats that are unsuitable for pike), pike are likely to reduce the salmonid numbers and can cause salmonid populations to collapse. Salmonids that migrate in open water near the surface may be less vulnerable than others that forage or overwinter in habitats occupied by pike. In the worst case, if salmon and steelhead “have no refuges from predation (i.e., habitats that are unsuitable for pike), pike are likely to reduce salmonid numbers and cause salmonid populations to collapse,” the report says. The Council will follow-up the ISAB’s report with a companion report that addresses the economic questions related to predation.

Low Returns – Upper Columbia Salmon Runs are extremely low for a third consecutive year. The effects of the “Blob” continue to take their toll on returns of salmon to the Upper Columbia and the Columbia Basin as a whole. The poor river and ocean conditions between 2015-2017 take years to register in the adult fish that return. The impact varies by species, the complexity of their life cycle, and time spent in freshwater versus saltwater. A huge mass of warm water persisted off the coast from 2015-2017 and only 1 in 4 Chinook expected to return to the Upper Columbia survived the Blob. Ocean conditions improved slightly in 2018 but are still not favorable for survival. As of May 23rd, just 3,292 spring Chinook had passed Priest Rapids Dam into the Upper Columbia. This number is higher than 2018 but represents just 30% of the YTD 10-year average. On Monday, May 20 the U.S. v. Oregon Technical Advisory Committee, which sets most preseason forecasts of fish runs into the Columbia River basin, adjusted its preseason forecast of 99,300 spring chinook down to 75,000 fish. The preseason forecast of over 99,000 fish is a drop from last year’s actual return of 115,081 and half the 10-year average of 198,200 fish. WDFW said that returns of upriver spring chinook to several hatchery facilities in the Columbia and Snake River basins are projected to fall below levels needed to meet broodstock collection goals. Summer Chinook runs which start in June are also projected to be low this year. WDFW has already cancelled summer salmon fishing on the mainstem Columbia River.

The effects of the Blob are expected to persist through at least 2022 as we continue to register returns of Chinook that migrated to the ocean 4-5 years previously. Coho, sockeye, and steelhead on the other hand are likely to improve over the next several years because they spend less time in the ocean and runs recover more quickly from these types of events.

For more information contact greer.maier@ucsrb.org

Forest Health Update

The North Central Washington Forest Health Collaborative Celebrated its Six-Year Anniversary May 1, 2019. The (NCWFHC) and its partners celebrated six years of work to accelerate terrestrial and aquatic restoration on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. The NCWFHC held a full day meeting on May 1, 2019 at Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop, WA, an evening celebration, and then toured nearby forest health and salmon recovery projects on May 2nd.

George Geissler Provides Keynote Address to the NCWFHC. The State Forester & Deputy Supervisor for Wildfire & Forest Health George Geissler, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), provided a keynote address at the May 1 NCWFHC meeting and celebration in Winthrop and focused on the DNR Wildfire Plan and 20-year Forest Health Plan, and alignment with the NCWFHC’s efforts. He also discussed prescribed fire and smoke management priorities, shared stewardship with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Forest Service, and legislative priorities related to forest health and wildfire budgets. The State Forester also reviewed other priorities for 2019 including increasing capacity for forest health treatments and wildland fire suppression at DNR with a new forest health division. State Forester Geissler said, “We have a large focus on forest health and we see collaboratives as extremely relevant in the forest health process.” He added, “I believe in allowing people to do what they do best and providing support for our employees and partners is a high priority. I am invested in forest health and my career is truly a career of passion.

Lloyd McGee Honored. NCWFHC Co-CHair Lloyd McGee was recently honored at the Pacific Northwest Collaborative Conference for his long time forest work in Eastern Washington. Lloyd currently serves at the Co-Chair for the North Central Washington Forest Health Collaborative and was integral in the creation of the Collaborative in 2013. Lloyd maintains a network of forest collaboratives in the region that develop pathways to forest restoration planning and implementation.

Shared Stewardship MOU. On May 8, WDFW, WDNR, and the USFS signed a “Shared Stewardship” Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a framework for the State and the USFS to work collaboratively and effectively to advance shared priorities, coordinate investments, and implement forest health restoration projects on a landscape-scale across Washington. Because improving forest health is a cornerstone of clean water and abundant wildlife habitat, agencies will focus on forest and watershed restoration projects that improve ecosystem health, reduce wildfire risks, and benefit fish and wildlife habitat, among other priorities. The “Shared Stewardship” MOU is just the second of its kind in the nation, serving as a model for other states. Idaho was the first state to sign such an agreement in December 2018. See the full WDNR Press Release here.

For more information on Forest Health meetings or events please contact Sarah at sarah.walker@ucsrb.org or barb.carrillo@ucsrb.org

Science on the Street

Check out several recent blogs entitled Science On The Street relating to salmon and salmon recovery efforts located on our blog page at https://www.ucsrb.org/science-on-the-street-march-april-2019/. New articles are added monthly. For a full copy of an article, contact Greer Maier at Greer.Maier@ucsrb.org.

Upcoming UCSRB/NCWFHC Meetings:

Regional Events:

  • Sept. 25 – Save the DateUCSRB 20th Anniversary Celebration Reception. Wenatchee Hilton Garden Inn. Wenatchee. 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Topics include celebrating 20 years of recovery with partners in the region.
  • January 22-23, 2019 – Save the DateUpper Columbia Science Conference. Wenatchee Convention Center, Wenatchee. 10 am – 4 pm. Topics include 20 years of salmon recovery science in the region and networking with other partners and practitioners.

Have a project or announcement to share?

If you have an announcement or a project that you would like to share please email Barb Carrillo at barb.carrillo@ucsrb.org.