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Ecology and salmon related articles

Analysis Plots Fish Response to Habitat Change

by Barry Espenson
Columbia Basin Bulletin
- October 15, 1999

With computer and operators still trying to digest the input, the Northwest Power Planning Council must await the results of an analysis of seven far-ranging visions for managing the Columbia River Basin's fish and wildlife resources.

So a Wednesday presentation focused on the type of information that could potentially be gleaned from the Ecosystem Diagnosis and Treatment analytical model. The Council hopes to use that information as it builds its management framework.

The Multi-Species Framework process launched 1 1/2 years ago by the Council is expected to conclude Dec. 8 with the delivery of a final report to the Council. It will characterize the biological and economic causes-and-effects prompted by actions and management strategies described in the seven "alternatives" used for the analysis.

The EDT modeling attempts to describe how fish and wildlife populations, and the region's "signature" species chinook salmon, in particular, react to changes in their environment brought about by the management strategies.

Most of the alternatives would drastically change the status quo, through dam breaching, habitat improvements initiatives, harvest reductions, etc. The alternatives are a mix and match of 108 different actions or strategies, according to Chip McConnaha, the Council's liaison to the Framework process.

The ongoing, computer-driven analysis attempts to judge the biological effectiveness and consequences of the seven major alternatives in each of 10 identified ecological provinces (geographic groupings based on ecological similarities). It contemplates the effect of each alternative's assembled strategies on 157 different populations of chinook salmon as well as on bull trout, bear and beaver.

The analysis attempts to rate the biological effect of varying degrees of habitat improvement on chinook, bull trout, bear and beaver. It will also rate the strategies' impact on chinook productivity (return per spawner), carrying capacity and ability to survive over various stages of their life cycle.

"That's what we hope to provide you within a month," McConnaha told the Council. Preliminary results are expected within days with final results from the biological modeling exercise expected by mid-November.

The "Framework" process officially ends in December, but products are expected to live on. The information from this initial analysis and future, more tailored analyses will be used as the Council amends its direct fish and wildlife program over the coming year. Other entities could also use the EDT model to judge potential fish and wildlife strategies.

A companion report will try to outline the potential costs for implementing the various strategies and resulting benefits for and impacts on the Basin's human inhabitants.

Link information: Northwest Power Planning Council

Mike O'Bryant
Analysis Plots Fish Response to Habitat Change
Columbia Basin Bulletin, October 15, 1999

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