Category: Fund Project

Trafton Floodplain Restoration – Final Design and Permitting

The Stillaguamish Tribe acquired the 158 acre Trafton Floodplain parcel with grant funds for permanent conservation.  The expected outcomes of this project are to have a completed design for the eventual restoration of instream and floodplain habitat in a roughly two-mile reach of the North Fork Stillaguamish.
Restoration actions will include: bank armoring removal, channel re-connection, log jam installation and riparian planting. These efforts will benefit both juvenile and adult ESA listed species, Chinook, Steelhead and Bull Trout along with Coho, Chum, and Pink salmon. Juvenile salmonids will benefit by  increased rearing area in off channel areas and more complex instream habitats created by natural and constructed log jams. As bank armoring is removed, flood energy will be reduced, improving egg-to-migrant survival for salmonids. Increased log jam frequency will also increase holding habitat, cooler water and protection from poachers for adults waiting
to spawn.

Skagit River Riparian Restoration Project

This proposal includes restoring native vegetation on 14 acres and controlling invasive species for one year on 42 acres of riparian buffer along the mainstem Skagit River. This proposal would create a 300-foot riparian buffer along the Skagit River and a 150-foot buffer along a winter-wetted swale within a conservation easement in the Skagit River floodplain. It is part of a larger project with additional secured funding that aims to restore native vegetation on 55 acres, control invasive species on 60 acres in three different sites along the Skagit River and Illabot Creek (within the Skagit River floodplain), and maintain the sites for at least three years.

Similk Tidal Marsh Restoration Preliminary Design

The Similk Tidal Marsh Restoration Project is located at the northern end of Similk Bay along the southern shoreline of Fidalgo Island, Skagit County, Washington State, USA. This project will develop a preliminary design for a construction action that will breach a dike and roadway on Similk Beach to restore tidal flow and fish access to a 17-acre pocket estuary. Pocket estuaries are small tidal marshes in the nearshore environment that are not directly associated with a river or large stream, and they provide critical rearing habitats for juvenile Chinook salmon transitioning from freshwater to marine conditions. The potentially restored pocket estuary in Similk Bay is one of twelve pocket estuaries available to juvenile Chinook salmon within a one-day migration from the Skagit River delta, so this is a rare opportunity to restore an important habitat type. In addition to Chinook, this project will also likely benefit chum, coho, and salmon prey species including Pacific herring, surf smelt, and sand lance.

Improving CTC efficiency by coordinating reports and facilitating meetings and communications, pilot study

In 2020, the Commissioners at the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) approved a one-year pilot to hire a Chinook Technical Committee (CTC) Coordinator staffed by the Secretariat to provide this support. This position is a pilot project to assess the capacity of the PSC Secretariat to improve CTC related communication and help the CTC achieve their annual work plan as well as achieve additional tasks as required.

This proposal seeks funding for a second year of the pilot project in order to fully evaluate the long-term need for a Coordinator to support the work of the CTC. If the project is successful, the Commission recognizes that long-term funding of PSC Secretariat personnel would be its responsibility.

Genetic tools to inform sustainable fisheries and rebuild at-risk coho, chum and Chinook populations

In the Central Coast of BC, coho, chum and Chinook salmon populations have declined in recent decades, likely due to ongoing climate change, freshwater habitat degradation, and overharvest in mixed-stock fisheries. The spawning abundance of many populations is poorly monitored, harvest rate estimates are lacking for Central Coast coho stocks, stock composition in commercial chum fisheries is unquantified, and harvest rate information is only available for two hatchery-enhanced Chinook stocks (i.e., Atnarko, Wannock). These issues raise concerns about the long-term sustainability of fisheries as well as the feasibility of recovery and conservation efforts. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop and apply genetic tools that can inform the management of mixed-stock fisheries in British Columbia and Southeast Alaska under the Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST) and improve the effectiveness of recovery efforts.

This project will align with First Nations-led DNA collections to build baselines for coho, chum, and Chinook and the application of GSI to mixed-stock samples collected in on-going catch monitoring programs administered by CCIRA and Central Coast First Nations (CCFN) by providing additional opportunities for collections of mixed-stock samples to quantify catch composition in Central Coast fisheries. Expanded DNA baselines for Central Coast coho, chum, and Chinook will enable estimates of harvest for Central Coast stocks in Alaskan and BC fisheries and improve data on catch composition and total harvest in Central Coast fisheries. These data will lead to improved salmon management under the PST by allowing managers to direct fishing activity (commercial, recreational and First Nations Food, Social, and Ceremonial, FSC) towards abundant populations, thereby reducing impacts on at-risk stocks.

Slamgeesh Salmon Project – Fence Sill Rebuild

Slamgeesh Salmon project, which enumerates sockeye and coho adults and smolts, has been in continuous operation by Gitksan Watershed Authorities from 2000 to 2019. The fence was washed out on August 23, 2020 by an extreme precipitation event in conjunction with upstream beaver dam failures, which released relatively massive amounts of stored water and the resulting peak flow collapsed the counting fence. The fence abutments remained solid, fence trusses and panels were subsequently recovered; however, the foundation was altered and the sill disappeared.
This project concept proposes to re-install a functional counting fence foundation and sill (58’ X 12’) utilizing small pipe piles, a structural steel framework capable of supporting the aluminum sill plate and fence superstructure components including the panels and smolt trap accessories.

Production capacity and habitat status of Meziadin Lake

Historically, Meziadin Lake has been the largest producer of sockeye salmon in the Nass River watershed. Between 1982 and 2016, the overall average annual escapement of Meziadin Lake sockeye salmon declined, with an especially notable downward trend in annual escapement since 2010. Similarly, since 1982 the proportion of Meziadin Lake sockeye salmon as a proportion of the total Nass River aggregate population has decreased an average of 3-13% per decade, with the largest decrease occurring in the last ten years. A variety of factors can contribute to declining stocks, including biological or habitat constraints to freshwater productivity. Biological limitations to the production of sockeye salmon in Meziadin Lake have been the subject of fisheries management discussions for decades, and historically the limnology of Meziadin Lake was relatively well-studied compared to other systems in the region. In 2002, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) recommended that in years of low spawner abundance (<100,000), Meziadin Lake limnology should be assessed throughout the growing season and fall-fry abundance and age composition obtained to further explain factors affecting fry growth and survival (Bocking et al. 2002). However, despite recommendations in 2006 by DFO Core Stock Assessment Program to establish a comprehensive sockeye lakes research program throughout the BC north coast, many of these programs were discontinued. As a result, comprehensive seasonally-resolved limnology surveys in conjunction with an evaluation of production capacity have not been conducted on Meziadin Lake since 2001. The ongoing decline in sockeye salmon escapement to Meziadin Lake warrants updated information on potential limiting factors to freshwater productivity.

The objectives of our proposal are to identify potential limitations to freshwater productivity within Meziadin Lake by providing updated estimates of sockeye salmon production capacity and habitat status. To achieve these objectives, we will collect limnological, hydroacoustic, zooplankton population and limnetic fish data throughout the growing season and use a bioenergetics model to estimate net juvenile  sockeye productivity and habitat carrying capacity. Results will also provide updated information on the evolution of limnological conditions throughout the growing season and how those patterns may influence short and long-term freshwater productivity, as well as inform future development of habitat benchmarks for Meziadin Lake.

Snettisham Central Incubation Facility Water Chiller Upgrade for Transboundary River Sockeye Enhancement Program

Snettisham Central Incubation Facility (CIF) raises sockeye salmon fry for the Transboundary River (TBR) enhancement program, domestic smolt for the United States fishing fleet, and fry for a small lake stocking program for a personal use fishery at Sweetheart Creek. Chilled water is necessary for all programs on site to rear healthy, viable fry and to thermally mark fish such that hatchery fish can be distinguished from their wild-origin cousins. At this time, the two water chillers at Snettisham CIF are in need of replacement. The existing chillers were used units prior to being installed at Snettisham CIF over 30 years ago, and replacement parts are becoming more difficult to locate and will soon be obsolete. With the recent warming climate, the Snettisham CIF chiller system has been put under increasing stress to keep up with the various aspects of the sockeye enhancement programs on site.
For the TBR program, eggs are collected in Canada, fertilized and transported to Snettisham CIF for overwinter incubation and otolith marking. As the lakes in Canada typically do not reach ice-out until May or early June, having an efficient chilling system is an integral part of the operation to make sure the
fry do not emerge from their incubators with much time before the lakes are ready to accept them. In recent years, fry have emerged early due to warmer water conditions and old, inefficient chiller units, and the fry must be fed to survive until ice out on the lakes. As the Snettisham CIF is not set up well for long
term rearing of TBR fry, new chillers are necessary to make certain the TBR sockeye enhancement program that Treaty obligations for sockeye enhancement are met, and to ensure healthy fry are delivered back to the Canadian lakes in a timely fashion for the best possible freshwater survival.

Chinook Baseline Expansion with Genome-Wide SNPs

In previous years, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission  has been funded to expand the genetic baseline for Chinook salmon with microsatellite markers and more recently single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) markers. While this has provided moderate improvement to baselines used for genetic stock identification (GSI), new technology is available that allows for vastly increasing the number of SNPs that can be added to baseline populations. This new technology uses an approach called Restriction-site Associated DNA (RAD) tags to genotype thousands of SNPs in baseline samples. This should provide a nearly unlimited number of powerful markers for GSI purposes and greatly improve the resolution and accuracy of mixed stock analyses.

S12-I14 Chinook Baseline Expansion with Genome-Wide SNPs. Year 4

S10-I10 Chinook Baseline Expansion with SNP Markers. Year 3

S08-I17 SNP Development and Lab Infrastructure Support for Genetic Stock ID

S07-I33 Chinook Baseline Expansion with Additional Genetic Markers. Year 3.

S06-I02 Extension of the Chinook Salmon Microsatellite Baseline

S05-I11 Extension of the Chinook Salmon Microsatellite Baseline

Proposal to assess the feasibility of a new approach to estimating wild coho status

Many Canadian Coho Management Units (MUs) have been “data limited” since the reduction in assessment priority for coho which started about the same time as the Southern Coho Plan was finalized in 2002. The implementation plan for the 2020 Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST)  brings an opportunity to improve coho assessment and management. The PST Chapter 5 Southern Coho management framework is based on assessment of Canadian and US management units into one of 3 status zones (Low, Moderate, and Abundant), which have commensurate total exploitation rate (ER) caps and sharing of this ER between the US and Canada. This proposed approach could address the current inability to assess status in several Canadian MUs.
Tools such as DNA can accurately identify wild coho to the Conservation Unit (CU), MU, or even river of origin and can accurately identify hatchery of origin through a combination of parental based tagging (PBT) and regular genetic stock identification (GSI) (see Beacham et al. 2019). We propose that these assessment tools can be the basis for estimating wild coho escapement.
The proposed approach uses September fishery information, combined with representative DNA information from the fishery and escapement results from key hatchery indicators, to form the basis for estimating aggregate escapement of wild coho, especially in the GST management unit, but also Lower Fraser, Southwest Vancouver Island (SWVI), and other stock aggregates. The objective is to track catch of wild coho catch and escapement by management unit. These tools will also be used to estimate exploitation rate.