Monitoring Federally Listed Bull Trout (_Salvelinus confluentus_) Movements and Habitat Preferences in Proximate to Reclamation's Facilities in Order to Reduce Potential Litigation Actions That Would Effect Delivery of Water
* Are Reclamation project structures or operations in this basin contributing to the decline of bull trout due to habitat destruction or exclusion, flow alteration, or direct physical impact?
* With the knowledge of operational effects on bull trout, what are the potential changes that could be made that will continue water delivery to stakeholders?
The Yakima River Basin supports essential habitat for the federally listed bull trout, though very little is known about the bull trout's seasonal movements, habitat needs, and detrimental effects caused by altered hydrology regimes. We plan to provide information to end users that would identify project operations that maximize water delivery while minimizing impacts to federally listed bull trout.
Need and Benefit
The presence of the federally listed bull trout at several Reclamation dams requires increased monitoring to determine if a change in Reclamation's operations is needed. Bull trout along Western United States basins have been negatively impacted by the obtrusion of once free-flowing streams and rivers. Results of these obtrusions include loss of habitat and subsequent Federal listing of the bull trout. Telemetry techniques will primarily be used to determine the seasonal movements of bull trout and if their movements are impacted by Reclamation facilities and operations. With this information, if adverse effects are deemed significant, Reclamation managers may consider the alteration of Reclamation structures or operations to improve habitat quality. Providing scientifically sound data would allow managers to maximize water delivery while minimizing impacts to bull trout and avoiding costly litigation. The development of scientifically sound and cost effective conservation and recovery measures for listed species would facilitate Reclamation's mission to meet water deliveries in the Western United States while achieving compliance with environmental regulations.
Reclamation's ability to meet water deliveries is determined by the quantity of water available to meet contractual agreements and the efficient use of project water. Research that is focused on developing and improving the understanding of the life requisites and habitat requirements of listed fish species will allow water managers to make informed decisions. Informed and scientifically sound decisions are critical to insure that project water is used in the most cost effective and environmentally sound manner which avoids direct and indirect adverse impacts and achieves compliance with mitigation and conservation measures associated with federally listed species of the Western United States. Mitigation and conservation measures which maximize resource benefits and minimize water use will aid managers in their ability to meet water obligations for all stakeholders.
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