Sturgeon Recovery Project update
January 14, 2006
(Reprinted from the Columbia River Basin Bulletin Weekly Fish & Wildlife News, January 13, 2006: http://www.cbbulletin.com/Free/128181.aspx)
KOOTENAI TRIBE, IDFG, FEDS WORK ON STURGEON RECOVERY PROJECT
The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and federal agencies start a new chapter their efforts to conserve and recover Kootenai River white sturgeon.
During the next few weeks, northern Idaho workers contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be placing large rocks in the Kootenai River near Shorty's Island to improve egg and larval survival.
Numbers of sturgeon produced naturally in the Kootenai River have plummeted over the last several decades. Ongoing investigations indicate that the sturgeon are spawning over sand and silt, which are substrates not conducive to successful egg hatching and larval development.
So a cooperating group of agencies, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Bonneville Power Administration, and U. S. Army Corps of Engineers – under the approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Kootenai River White Sturgeon Recovery Team -- is testing the feasibility of placing rock on top the sand and silt where the sturgeon are currently spawning in order to improve egg and larval survival.
The rocks are being added to provide refuge for incubating eggs and newly hatched sturgeon fry from smothering sand and silt, as well as from predators.
This is a pilot project on a relatively small scale intended to test the sustainability of rock substrate on the bottom of this reach of the Kootenai River.
Large amounts of sand move in dune-like formations along the river bottom in about 40 feet of water in this reach of the Kootenai. The rock structure could also serve as a test bed to evaluate the success of the habitat conditions necessary for egg and larval releases from the nearby sturgeon hatchery operated by the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho.
Electronic fish tracking devices will be used to monitor sturgeon response to this pilot project, although this is not the primary intent of this phase of the project.
The estimated $250,000 cost of this pilot project is funded by a grant from the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and the Bonneville Power Administration as part of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. Construction is expected to be completed by early February.
For more information on this project, contact Libby Dam's fisheries biologist Greg Hoffman at 406-293-7751, ext. 255, or email Gregory.C.Hoffman@usace.army.mil.
The Columbia Basin Bulletin
US Army Corps of Engineers Libby Dam website