Endangered and Threatened Species; Recovery Plans, 55045-55052 [E8-21600]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 186 / Wednesday, September 24, 2008 / Notices with 19 CFR 351.305. Timely notification of return/destruction of APO materials or conversion to judicial protective order is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and the terms of an APO is a sanctionable violation. This determination is issued and published pursuant to sections 735(d) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(c). Dated: September 17, 2008. Stephen J. Claeys, Acting Assistant Secretary for Import Administration. Appendix Issues Comment 1: Whether Polyplex Understated the Cost of Polymer Chips for PET Film Production Comment 2: Whether Polyplex Understated Labor Costs associated with PET Film Production Comment 3: Whether Polyplex Correctly Reported the Cost of Sales Denominator for the General and Administrative Expense Ratio Comment 4: Whether Polyplex Understated Warehousing Expenses and Misclassified Warehousing Expenses as Indirect Selling Expenses Comment 5: Whether Polyplex Understated the Indirect Selling Expenses Incurred by Polyplex America, Inc. Comment 6: Whether the Department Should Apply the Dumping Margin Calculated on Sales of Identical Merchandise to the Further Manufactured Sales Comment 7: Whether to Accept Petitioners’ Targeted Dumping Allegation Comment 8: Clerical Error [FR Doc. E8–22472 Filed 9–23–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DS–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Feedback Survey for Annual Tsunami Warning Communications Tests National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). ACTION: Notice. jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES AGENCY: SUMMARY: The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on VerDate Aug<31>2005 19:36 Sep 23, 2008 Jkt 214001 proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. DATES: Written comments must be submitted on or before November 24, 2008. Direct all written comments to Diana Hynek, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6625, 14th and Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at dHynek@doc.gov). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Jeff Lorens, 801–524–4000 ext. 265 or Jeffrey.Lorens@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: ADDRESSES: I. Abstract To assess the effectiveness of NOAA/ National Weather Service’s (NWS) Tsunami Warning System, this survey is needed to gather specific feedback following testing of the associated NWS communications systems. The tests are planned annually, March/April and September. Post-test feedback will be requested from emergency managers, the media, law enforcement officials, local government agencies/officials, and the general public. The responses will be solicited for a limited period immediately following completion of the tests, not to exceed seven days. This will be a Web-based survey and will allow for efficient collection of information regarding the effectiveness of the Tsunami Warning System. II. Method of Collection A Web-based survey will be used for electronic submission. III. Data OMB Number: 0648–0539. Form Number: None. Type of Review: Regular submission. Affected Public: Individuals or households, Federal Government, and State, local or tribal government. Estimated Number of Respondents: 1,100. Estimated Time per Response: 5 minutes. Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 92. Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $0. IV. Request for Comments Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 55045 practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record. Dated: September 19, 2008. Gwellnar Banks, Management Analyst, Office of the Chief Information Officer. [FR Doc. E8–22413 Filed 9–23–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–KE–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XK45 Endangered and Threatened Species; Recovery Plans National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Commerce. ACTION: Notice of Availability; request for comments. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces the availability of the Proposed Middle Columbia River Steelhead Recovery Plan (Plan) for public review and comment. The Plan addresses the Middle Columbia River Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) Distinct Population Segment (DPS), which spawns and rears in tributaries to the Columbia River in central and eastern Washington and Oregon. NMFS is soliciting review and comment from the public and all interested parties on the Proposed Plan. DATES: NMFS will consider and address all substantive comments received during the comment period. Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m. Pacific daylight time on December 23, 2008. Please send written comments and materials to Lynn Hatcher, National Marine Fisheries Service, 304 S. Water Street, Suite # ADDRESSES: E:\FR\FM\24SEN1.SGM 24SEN1 55046 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 186 / Wednesday, September 24, 2008 / Notices 201, Ellensburg, WA 98926. Comments may also be submitted by e mail to: MiddleColumbiaPlan.nwr@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line of the e mail comment the following identifier: Comments on Middle Columbia Steelhead Recovery Plan. Comments may be submitted via facsimile (fax) to 503–872–2737. Persons wishing to review the Plan can obtain an electronic copy (i.e., CD ROM) from Sharon Houghton by calling 503–230–5418 or by emailing a request to sharon.houghton@noaa.gov with the subject line ‘‘CD ROM Request for Middle Columbia River Steelhead Plan.’’ Electronic copies of the Plan are also available on line on the NMFS website, www.nwr.noaa.gov/Salmon Recovery Planning/ESA Recovery Plans/ Draft Plans.cfm FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lynn Hatcher, NMFS Middle Columbia Steelhead Salmon Recovery Coordinator, at 509–962–8911, or Elizabeth Gaar, NMFS Salmon Recovery Division, at 503 230 5434. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES Background Recovery plans describe actions beneficial to the conservation and recovery of species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The ESA requires that recovery plans incorporate: (1) objective, measurable criteria which, when met, would result in a determination that the species is no longer threatened or endangered; (2) site-specific management actions necessary to achieve the plan’s goals; and (3) estimates of the time required and costs to implement recovery actions. The ESA requires the development of recovery plans for each listed species unless such a plan would not promote its recovery. NMFS is responsible for developing and implementing ESA recovery plans for listed salmon and steelhead. In so doing, NMFS’ goal is to restore endangered and threatened Pacific salmonids to the point that they are again self-sustaining members of their ecosystems and no longer need the protections of the ESA. Local support of recovery plans by those whose activities directly affect the listed species, and whose actions will be most affected by recovery efforts, is essential. NMFS therefore supports and participates in locally led collaborative efforts to develop recovery plans that involve local communities, state, tribal, and Federal entities, and other stakeholders. NMFS recognizes that to achieve recovery of ESA-listed salmon and VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:26 Sep 23, 2008 Jkt 214001 steelhead in the Columbia River Basin, site-specific actions addressing all limiting factors and threats (habitat, hydropower, hatcheries, harvest, and ecological interactions including predation and competition) are necessary. This recovery plan identifies and evaluates the relative impacts of this full range of limiting factors and threats and recognizes that some sectors have the potential to make more immediate and significant contributions to recovery than do others. This plan contains recovery actions addressing all identified limiting factors and threats. At this time, however, site-specific management actions are more fully developed for tributary habitat and mainstem hydropower than for hatcheries and harvest. The relative contribution of limiting factors and threats that impede recovery may differ among species. This recovery plan contains actions that address all threat categories and estimates their contribution to recovery. Given that habitat restoration actions generally take extended time frames to yield ecosystem responses and improvements in fish populations, it is important to implement actions with more immediate benefits, as well as habitat actions whose benefits will accrue in the future. In summary, although site-specific actions in this plan may appear to be more fully developed for tributary habitat and mainstem hydropower, recovery will also be dependent on hatchery and harvest actions developed in other management processes. For example, mainstem fisheries in the Columbia River will be implemented consistent with the recently completed U.S v. Oregon Agreement, which extends through 2017. In other areas, management requirements for hatchery and harvest actions will be developed through Hatchery and Genetics Management Plan and Fishery Management and Evaluation Plan processes, many of which are now under review or scheduled for completion in the near future. Such plans have been and will be developed to be consistent with recovery plans, section 7(a)(2), and other ESA requirements. NMFS will continue to monitor these plans, using adaptive management, to assess implementation progress and consistency with recovery plans. The Plan This Plan is the product of a collaborative process initiated by NMFS with assistance from the Middle Columbia Recovery Forum, a bi-state group convened by NMFS to provide PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 input on the development of the DPS recovery plan. Participants include representatives of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the Yakama Nation, Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Washington Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office, Oregon Governor’s Natural Resources Office, Snake River Salmon Recovery Board, Yakima Basin Fish and Wildlife Recovery Board, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE), U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Klickitat County, and NMFS Northwest Region. The goal was to produce a plan that meets ESA requirements for recovery plans as well as the State of Washington’s recovery planning outline and guidance (www.governor.wa.gov/gsro/) and the State of Oregon’s Native Fish Conservation Policy guidance (http:// ftp.dfw.state.or.us/fish/nfcp/nfcp.pdf). Recovery Domains and Technical Recovery Teams For the purpose of recovery planning for the 18 ESA-listed species of Pacific salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest, NMFS Northwest Region designated five geographically based ‘‘recovery domains.’’ The Middle Columbia steelhead DPS spawning range is in the Interior Columbia domain. For each domain, NMFS appointed a team of scientists, nominated for their geographic and species expertise, to provide a solid scientific foundation for recovery plans. The Interior Columbia Technical Recovery Team (ICTRT) includes biologists from NMFS, states, and academic institutions. All the TRTs used the same biological principles for developing their recommendations for ESU/DPS and population viability criteria. These principles are described in a NMFS technical memorandum, Viable Salmonid Populations and the Recovery of Evolutionarily Significant Units (McElhany et al., 2000). Viable salmonid populations (VSP) are defined in terms of four parameters: abundance, productivity or growth rate, spatial structure, and diversity. A viable ESU/ DPS is naturally self-sustaining, with a high probability of persistence over a 100–year time period. Management Units In each domain, NMFS worked with state, tribal, local, and other Federal E:\FR\FM\24SEN1.SGM 24SEN1 jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 186 / Wednesday, September 24, 2008 / Notices entities to develop planning forums that build to the extent possible on ongoing, locally led recovery efforts. NMFS defined ‘‘management units’’ based on jurisdictional boundaries as well as areas where local planning efforts were underway. The Middle Columbia management units are the following: (1) Oregon; (2) Washington Gorge, which, in turn, is subdivided into three planning areas (White Salmon, Klickitat, and Rock Creek); (3) Yakima subbasin; and (4) Southeast Washington. A recovery plan was developed for each management unit; for the Washington Gorge management unit, however, there are three plans, one for each planning area. The management unit plans, Appendices A-F, are the work of local groups and county, state, Federal, and tribal entities within the Middle Columbia River region. The management unit plans are as follows: (1) Oregon. Conservation and Recovery Plan for Oregon Steelhead Populations in the Middle Columbia River Steelhead Distinct Population Segment (Appendix A). (2) Washington Gorge: Recovery Plan for the Klickitat Population of the Middle Columbia River Steelhead (Appendix B); Recovery Plan for the Rock Creek Population of the Middle Columbia River Steelhead (Appendix C); Recovery Plan for the White Salmon Population of the Middle Columbia River Steelhead (Appendix D). (3) Yakima Basin. Yakima Steelhead Recovery Plan (Appendix E). (4) Southeast Washington. The Snake River Salmon Recovery Plan for Southeast Washington (Appendix F). The proposed Plan, including the management unit plans, is now available for public review and comment. Two ICTRT reports (McClure et al., 2003; ICTRT, 2007), which provide the scientific basis for the Plan, are also available for public review and comment. With approval of the final Plan, NMFS will commit itself to implement the actions in the Plan for which it has authority and funding, to work cooperatively on implementation of other actions, and to encourage other Federal agencies and tribal governments to implement Plan actions for which they have responsibility and authority. NMFS expects the Plan to guide NMFS and other Federal agencies in evaluating Federal actions under ESA section 7 and other ESA decisions. For example, the Plan will provide greater biological context for evaluating the effects that a proposed action may have on a species. This context will be enhanced by using recovery plan information in section 7 consultations VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:26 Sep 23, 2008 Jkt 214001 as well as ESA section 10 habitat conservation plans and other ESA decisions. Such information includes viability criteria for the DPS, better understanding of and information on limiting factors and threats facing the DPS, better information on priority areas for addressing specific limiting factors, and better geographic context for where the DPS can tolerate varying levels of risk. At the time of a delisting decision for the Middle Columbia steelhead, NMFS will examine whether the section 4(a)(1) listing factors have been addressed. To assist in this examination, NMFS will use the listing factors (or threats) criteria described in Section 3.3 of the Plan, in addition to evaluation of biological recovery criteria and other relevant data and policy considerations. The threats should be addressed to the point that delisting is not likely to result in their re-emergence. It is possible that currently perceived threats will become insignificant in the future because of changes in the natural environment or changes in the way threats affect the entire life cycle of salmon. Consequently, NMFS expects that the relative priority of threats will change over time and that new threats may be identified. During the status reviews, NMFS will evaluate and review the listing factor criteria as they apply at that time. NMFS expects that if the proposed actions described in the Plan are implemented, they will make substantial progress toward meeting the listing factor (threats) criteria for the Middle Columbia steelhead. DPS Addressed and Planning Area ‘‘Steelhead’’ is the name commonly applied to the anadromous (migratory) form of the biological species Oncorhynchus mykiss. The common name of the non-anadromous, or resident, form is rainbow trout. When NMFS originally listed the Middle Columbia River steelhead as threatened on March 25, 1999 (64 FR 14517), it was classified as an ‘‘evolutionarily significant unit’’ (ESU) of salmonids that included both the anadromous and resident forms. Recently, NMFS revised its species determinations for West Coast steelhead under the ESA, delineating anadromous, steelhead-only ‘‘distinct population segments’’ (DPS). NMFS listed the Middle Columbia River steelhead DPS as threatened on January 5, 2006 (71 FR 834). Rainbow trout are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). This recovery plan addresses steelhead and not rainbow trout, consistent with the 2006 ESA listing decision. PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 55047 Middle Columbia River steelhead spawn and rear in tributaries to the Columbia River in the Columbia plateau of central and eastern Washington and Oregon. The DPS includes all naturally spawned populations of steelhead in streams from above (exclusive of) the Wind River, Washington, and the Hood River, Oregon, upstream to, and including, the Yakima River, Washington, excluding steelhead from the Snake River Basin (64 FR 14517; 71 FR 849). Most of these populations are summer run; however, the Middle Columbia River steelhead DPS also includes populations of inland winter steelhead in the Klickitat River, White Salmon River, Fifteenmile Creek, and possibly Rock Creek. Four artificial propagation programs are considered part of the DPS: the Touchet River Endemic Summer Steelhead Program, the Yakima River Kelt Reconditioning Program, and the Umatilla River and Deschutes River steelhead hatchery programs. The ICTRT (McClure et al., 2003) identified 20 historical populations of Middle Columbia steelhead based on genetic information, geography, life history traits, morphological traits, and population dynamics. Seventeen of these populations are extant, and three extirpated (White Salmon River, Crooked River, and Willow Creek). Reintroduction of native steelhead or natural recolonization is planned for blocked areas of the Upper Deschutes and Crooked Rivers and the White Salmon River, respectively. The ICTRT stratified the Middle Columbia River steelhead populations into major population groups (MPGs) based on ecoregion characteristics, life history types, and other geographic and genetic considerations. It identified four MPGs: Cascades Eastern Slope Tributaries, Yakima River, John Day River, and Umatilla/Walla Walla. The Plan’s Recovery Goals and Recovery Criteria To meet the ESA requirement for objective, measurable criteria for delisting, the Plan provides biological recovery criteria based on the ICTRT viability criteria for Middle Columbia steelhead, as well as ‘‘threats’’ criteria based on the listing factors defined in ESA section 4(a)(1). Biological Viability Criteria Biological viability criteria describe DPS characteristics associated with a low risk of extinction for the foreseeable future. These criteria are expressed in terms of the VSP parameters of abundance, productivity, spatial structure, and diversity (McElhany et E:\FR\FM\24SEN1.SGM 24SEN1 55048 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 186 / Wednesday, September 24, 2008 / Notices jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES al., 2000; ICTRT, 2007a). The ICTRT calculated varying levels of risk of extinction and related the risk levels to their criteria. The Plan shows the minimum abundance and productivity thresholds required for the Middle Columbia steelhead populations to have a 95 percent probability of persistence for the next 100 years. Since MPGs are geographically and genetically cohesive groups of populations, they are critical components of ESU or DPS spatial structure and diversity. NMFS’ criterion for long-term DPS viability, based on the ICTRT recommendations, is that all extant MPGs and any extirpated MPGs critical for proper functioning of the ESU/DPS should be at low risk (ICTRT, 2007a). MPG viability depends on the abundance, productivity, spatial structure, and diversity associated with its component populations. The risk levels of the populations within the DPS collectively determine MPG viability and, in turn, the likely persistence of the DPS. The ICTRT recommended that all MPGs in a DPS should be viable; however, it may not be necessary for all of the populations to attain the lowest risk level. There may be more than one way for a DPS to meet the viability criteria. Combinations of viability status for individual populations that will meet the ICTRT criteria for overall DPS viability are called recovery scenarios. The ICTRT cautioned against closing off the options for any population prematurely, however, because of the many uncertainties in predicting the biological response to recovery actions (ICTRT, 2007a). Threats Criteria Listing factors (or threats) are those features that are evaluated under section 4(a)(1) when initial determinations are made whether to list species for protection under the ESA. They are as follows: A. Present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of [the species’] habitat or range; B. Over-utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; C. Disease or predation; D. Inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or E. Other natural or human-made factors affecting [the species’] continued existence. At the time of a delisting decision for Middle Columbia steelhead, NMFS will examine whether the section 4(a)(1) listing factors have been addressed. To assist in this examination, NMFS will use the listing factors (or threats) criteria VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:26 Sep 23, 2008 Jkt 214001 described in the Plan, in addition to evaluation of biological recovery criteria and other relevant data and policy considerations. The threats need to have been addressed to the point that delisting is not likely to result in their re-emergence. It is possible that currently perceived threats will become insignificant in the future due to changes in the natural environment or changes in the way threats affect the entire life cycle of salmon. Consequently, NMFS expects that the relative priority of threats will change over time and that new threats may be identified. During the status reviews, NMFS will evaluate and review the listing factor criteria as they apply at that time. Current DPS Status According to the ICTRT viability criteria, the majority of natural Middle Columbia steelhead populations are rated at moderate risk for abundance and productivity, but low to moderate risk for spatial structure and diversity. Currently, one population is ‘‘highly viable’’ (North Fork John Day) and two populations are viable (Deschutes Eastside and Fifteenmile); eleven are at moderate risk, with good prospects for improving. However, the three populations at high risk (Deschutes Westside, Naches, and Upper Yakima), are important to DPS viability. As a minimum, for the Cascades Eastern Slope Tributaries and the Yakima River MPG to meet viability criteria, the Deschutes Westside population and one of the two large Yakima populations should reach viable status, with the other large Yakima population at no more than moderate risk. None of the MPGs meets the low risk criteria. Thus, the Middle Columbia steelhead DPS does not currently meet viability criteria based on the determination that the four component MPGs are not at low risk. Limiting Factors and Threats Based on information from the ICTRT, the four management unit plans, and the Estuary and Hydro modules, the major factors limiting the viability of Middle Columbia steelhead populations are degraded tributary habitat, impaired mainstem and tributary fish passage, hatchery-related effects, and predation/ competition/disease. The management unit plans contain detailed descriptions of tributary habitat limiting factors and threats, while the modules provide detailed examination of conditions in mainstem Columbia River and estuary. PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Recovery Strategy The recovery strategy for the Middle Columbia steelhead DPS is made up of the following elements: • Address the limiting factors for each major population group and population, following the recommendations in the 2006 listing decision, making use of the strategies and actions developed in the management unit plans, in concert with the strategies and actions provided in the NMFS 2008 FCRPS Biological Opinion, NMFS Estuary Module, Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs) and Artificial Production for Pacific Salmon (Appendix C of Supplemental Comprehensive Analysis, NMFS 2008), and fishery management planning through U.S. v. Oregon for mainstem fisheries and Fisheries Management Evaluation Plans for tributary fisheries. • Address and coordinate DPS-wide and basin-wide issues through the Middle Columbia Forum (a bi-state, tritribe group convened by NMFS to provide input on the development of the DPS recovery plan). • Coordinate research, monitoring, and evaluation throughout the range of the DPS. • Conduct periodic comprehensive reviews of new information generated through the research, monitoring, and evaluation program. Adapt management actions as appropriate to achieve the recovery goals. If, as we believe, the decline of the Middle Columbia River steelhead DPS is caused by widespread tributary habitat degradation, impaired mainstem and tributary passage, hatchery effects, and predation/ competition/ disease, then actions taken to improve, change, mitigate, reduce those factors will result in increased survival and improvements in abundance, survival, spatial structure, and diversity. Regional coordination, research, monitoring, evaluation, and adaptive management are essential. The results of these actions must be monitored, evaluated, and communicated to managers to enable them to make informed decisions to continue or change their strategy. Following are summaries of the recovery strategies for each MPG. In the next section, recovery strategies are summarized for DPS-level conditions affecting all MPGs (mainstem passage, hatchery effects, predation in mainstem and estuary). E:\FR\FM\24SEN1.SGM 24SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 186 / Wednesday, September 24, 2008 / Notices Cascades Eastern Slope Tributaries MPG Status Viable - Fifteenmile Creek and Deschutes Eastside Moderate risk - Klickitat (a provisional rating, based on insufficient abundance and productivity data and an unknown degree of diversity risk from hatchery influence) High risk- Rock Creek (provisional, because of lack of data); and Deschutes Westside Functionally extirpated - White Salmon Extirpated - Crooked River Primary Limiting Factors and Threats • Degraded tributary habitat • Mainstem passage • Hatchery-related effects - evidence of hatchery fish from non-native broodstock straying and spawning in the Deschutes Basin • Blocked migration to historically accessible habitat • Predation, competition, disease - in mainstem and estuary; possibly also in Deschutes Westside as competition with resident rainbow trout. Recovery Scenario For the Eastern Cascades Slope Tributaries MPG to meet viability criteria based on the currently extant populations, the Klickitat, Fifteenmile, and both the Deschutes Eastside and Westside populations should reach viable status, with one highly viable. The Rock Creek population should reach ‘‘maintained’’ status (25 percent or less risk level). MPG viability could be further bolstered if reintroduction of steelhead into the Upper Deschutes and Crooked Rivers succeeds and if the White Salmon population is successfully reintroduced to its historical habitat. jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES Key Actions Proposed • Protect, improve, and increase freshwater habitat for steelhead production. Improvements to freshwater habitat should be targeted to address specific limiting factors in specific areas as described in the Oregon Recovery Plan and the Washington Gorge plans. • Improve survival in mainstem and estuary through actions detailed in NMFS Estuary Module (NMFS 2007) and FCRPS Biological Opinion (NMFS 2008). Reduce straying of out-of-DPS hatchery fish onto natural spawning grounds within the Deschutes subbasin. • Restore historical passage to Deschutes Westside tributaries to the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers above Pelton Round Butte dam complex and VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:26 Sep 23, 2008 Jkt 214001 the White Salmon River above Condit Dam. • Improve hatchery management to minimize impacts from hatchery releases on naturally produced steelhead within the Deschutes West and East and Klickitat subbbasins. • Coordinate between scientists, planners, and implementers of recovery actions on both sides of the river for sequencing of recovery actions and monitoring for adaptive management. • Fill data gaps for better assessment of Klickitat and Rock Creek steelhead populations. John Day River MPG Status Highly viable - North Fork John Day Moderate risk - John Day Upper Mainstem, John Day Lower Mainstem, Middle Fork John Day, South Fork John Day Main Limiting Factors and Threats • Degraded tributary habitat • Mainstem passage • Hatchery-related effects • Predation/ competition/disease in mainstem and estuary Recovery Scenario For the John Day River MPG to meet viability criteria, the Lower Mainstem John Day River, North Fork John Day River, and either the Middle Fork John Day River or Upper Mainstem John Day River populations should achieve viable status, with one highly viable. Key Actions Proposed • Protect and improve freshwater habitat conditions and connectivity for steelhead production. Improvements to freshwater habitat should be targeted to address specific factors in specific areas as described in the Oregon Recovery Plan. • Improve survival in mainstem and estuary through actions detailed in NMFS Estuary Module (NMFS 2007) and FCRPS Biological Opinion (NMFS 2008). • Improve hatchery management to reduce straying from out-of-DPS hatchery fish onto natural spawning grounds within the John Day subbasin. Yakima River MPG Status Moderate risk – Satus Creek , Toppenish Creek. High risk - Naches River, Upper Yakima River Main Limiting Factors and Threats • Tributary habitat: Influence of major irrigation system development. PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 55049 Altered hydrology; degraded habitat loss of habitat; impaired fish passage; reduced outmigrant survival in Yakima mainstem. • Mainstem passage (these fish must pass four dams) Recovery Scenario For the Yakima River MPG to meet viability criteria, two populations should be rated as viable, including at least one of the two classified as Large the Naches River and the Upper Yakima River and the other Large population meeting at least the ‘‘maintained’’ or moderate risk criteria. The remaining two populations should, at a minimum, meet the maintained criteria. Key Actions Proposed • Protect and enhance habitat in key tributary watersheds in the Yakima Basin. • Restore passage to blocked areas in the Naches and Upper Yakima population areas. • Alter irrigation delivery and storage operations in the Yakima Basin (a) to improve flow conditions for Middle Columbia steelhead and use managed high flows to maintain floodplain habitat. • Improve channel and floodplain function and reduce predation through the mainstem Yakima and Naches Rivers. • Improve survival in the mainstem Columbia and its estuary through actions detailed in NMFS Estuary Module (NMFS 2007) and FCRPS Biological Opinion (NMFS 2008). Umatilla/Walla Walla MPG Status Moderate risk - Umatilla, Walla Walla High risk - Touchet (a provisional rating because of insufficient data) Main Limiting Factors and Threats • Mainstem passage (Touchet and Walla Walla populations pass four major dams: the Umatilla population must pass three) • Tributary habitat • Hatchery related effects • Predation/competition/disease Recovery Scenario For the Umatilla/Walla Walla MPG to meet viability criteria, two populations should be viable, and one should be highly viable. The Umatilla River is the only large population, and therefore needs to be viable. Either the Walla Walla River or Touchet River population also need to be viable. Key Actions Proposed • Protect and improve freshwater habitat conditions and access for E:\FR\FM\24SEN1.SGM 24SEN1 55050 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 186 / Wednesday, September 24, 2008 / Notices steelhead production. Improvements to freshwater habitat should be targeted to address specific factors in specific areas as described in the Southeast Washington Plan and the Oregon Recovery Plan. • Improve hatchery management to reduce straying from out-of-DPS hatchery fish onto natural spawning grounds within the Umatilla/Walla Walla subbasins. • Improve survival in mainstem and estuary through actions detailed in NMFS Estuary Module (NMFS 2007) and FCRPS Biological Opinion (NMFS 2008) • Coordinate between planners, scientists and those implementing recovery actions in Washington and Oregon for sequencing, monitoring, and adaptive management DPS-wide and Basin-wide Issues DPS-wide issues include impaired fish passage on the mainstem Columbia River, hatchery-related effects, predation on steelhead in mainstem, estuary, and plume, and harvest. jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES Impaired Fish Passage – Mainstem Columbia River Passage for juvenile steelhead migrating to the ocean and adult steelhead returning to their natal streams is limited primarily by the four Federal dams on the Lower Columbia River mainstem Bonneville, John Day, The Dalles, and McNary Dams which are part of the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS). NMFS recently issued a new draft biological opinion on the effects of FCRPS operations on salmonids, including Middle Columbia River steelhead, and on the predicted results of current and planned improvements to the system that are intended to improve fish survival (NMFS 2008). The plan for current mainstem hydro operations, as summarized in the Hydro Module, and any further improvements for fish survival that may result from the ongoing FCRPS collaborative process, represent the hydropower recovery strategy for all listed salmonids that migrate through the mainstem Columbia River, including the Middle Columbia steelhead populations. These improvements are expected to increase the in-river survival of Middle Columbia River juvenile steelhead by 0.3 percent, 5.1 percent, 8.2 percent, and 10.2 percent, depending on the number of dams they must pass. The survival of steelhead adults through the four dams is thought to be relatively high at the present time (about 98.5 percent per project from Bonneville to VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:26 Sep 23, 2008 Jkt 214001 McNary), and is expected to be maintained or improved. Dissenting View of State of Oregon Regarding Mainstem Operations At the time this proposed recovery plan is being finalized, August 2008, it is the position of the State of Oregon that additional or alternative actions should be taken in mainstem operations of the FCRPS for ESA-listed salmon and steelhead. Some additional or alternative actions recommended by Oregon, while considered, were not included in NOAA’s FCRPS Biological Opinion. At this time, Oregon is a plaintiff in litigation against various Federal agencies, including NOAA, challenging the adequacy of the measures contained in the current FCRPS Biological Opinion. NOAA is not in agreement with Oregon regarding the need for, or efficacy of, Oregon’s additional or alternative actions. Hatchery-related Effects The hatchery programs in the Middle Columbia River are managed under the Mitchell Act and the U.S. v. Oregon process, involving the fisheries comanagers and regulated by NMFS. NMFS is working with the funding agencies and hatchery operators to update and complete Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs) for every hatchery program in the Middle Columbia region as a means of organizing hatchery review and reform. The HGMPs are the basis for NMFS’ biological opinions on hatchery programs under sections 7 and 10 and the 4(d) rule, which relate to incidental and direct take of listed species. The HGMPs describe each hatchery’s operations and the actions taken to support recovery and minimize ecological or genetic impacts, such as straying and other forms of competition with naturally produced fish. Artificial Propagation for Pacific Salmon Appendix C of the 2008 FCRPS Biological Opinion (NMFS 2008), is a review of key factors for assessing the benefits and risks of hatchery programs relative to the conservation of Pacific salmon and to U.S. treaty responsibilities and sustainable fisheries mandates. The paper recommends strategies and practices to support salmon and steelhead conservation. The new FCRPS Biological Opinion (NMFS 2008) requires the hatchery operators and the Action Agencies to submit to NMFS updated HGMPs describing sitespecific applications of the ‘‘best management practices’’ for the hatchery programs as described in Appendices C PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 and D of the Supplemental Comprehensive Analysis (SCA) of the Biological Opinion for those mitigation hatchery programs funded by the FCRPS Action Agencies. Evaluating the factors that influence interactions between hatchery fish and naturally produced fish under varying freshwater conditions and ocean conditions is an important area of future research. Predation, Competition, and Disease The Plan addresses major predation issues in the mainstem Columbia River and recommends research and monitoring to track trends in predator populations, understand their impacts on steelhead, and develop appropriate management techniques to reduce predation. Disease in salmonids is caused by multiple factors and probably cannot be directly addressed by recovery actions except in specific instances of known causal factors. It is more likely that nearly all of the recommended recovery actions that improve spawning, rearing, and passage conditions for steelhead and increase the survival, abundance, and productivity of naturally produced fish will result in decreasing incidence of disease. Harvest Although, in general, harvest is not considered a major threat for the Middle Columbia steelhead DPS, it is important to ensure that impacts from fisheries do not impede recovery, and to perform monitoring and evaluation to verify impacts and reduce existing uncertainties. Site-specific Management Actions The proposed site-specific management actions at the population level are described in detail in Appendices A through F of the Plan. Proposed site-specific actions for the mainstem Columbia River and estuary are described in detail in the FCRPS Biological Opinion (NMFS 2008), the Hydro Module (in preparation), the Estuary Module (NMFS 2007), and Artificial Propagation for Pacific Salmon, Appendix C of the Supplemental Comprehensive Analysis of the FCRPS Biological Opinion (NMFS 2008). Time Required and Cost Estimates There are unique challenges to estimating time and cost for salmon and steelhead recovery, given the complex relationship of these fish to the environment and to human activities on land. NMFS estimates that recovery of the Middle Columbia steelhead DPS, E:\FR\FM\24SEN1.SGM 24SEN1 jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 186 / Wednesday, September 24, 2008 / Notices like recovery for most of the ESA-listed Pacific Northwest salmon and steelhead, could take 50 to 100 years, although the optimistic view is that it could be much sooner. The management unit plans (Appendices A through F) contain extensive lists of actions to recover the Middle Columbia steelhead DPS populations. These projects were developed using the most up-to-date assessment of Middle Columbia steelhead recovery needs. The management unit plans focus, for the most part, on actions within the next 5 to 15 years. There are many uncertainties involved in predicting the course of recovery and in estimating total costs. Such uncertainties include biological and ecosystem responses to recovery actions as well as long-term and future funding. Cost estimates for recovery projects were provided by the management unit entities where available information was sufficient to do so, using the methods described in each management unit plan. All applied guidance provided by NMFS and used similar cost calculation methodologies. However, the approaches vary to some degree given the local and independent nature of the planning groups. There are differences in the timeframes for cost estimates, whether administrative costs were included or not, and whether research, monitoring, and evaluation costs were calculated. No cost estimates are provided for (1) baseline actions (programs that are already in existence and would occur regardless of this recovery plan), which are listed as Not Applicable (N/A); or (2) actions that need costs to be developed, need unit costs, and/or need project scale estimates these are listed as To Be Determined (TBD). Each management unit will work with regional experts to identify costs, scale, or unit costs for actions that require more information during the public comment period. Individual management unit costs will be updated with this new information for the final steelhead DPS recovery plan. The total estimated cost of restoring habitat for the Middle Columbia steelhead DPS is approximately $235 million over the initial 5–year period, and approximately $970 million over 20 to 50 years for all DPS-wide recovery actions for which sufficient information exists upon which to base an estimate. This estimate includes expenditures by local, tribal, state, and Federal governments, private business, and individuals in implementing both capital projects and non-capital work. In most cases, administrative costs are embedded in the total management unit VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:26 Sep 23, 2008 Jkt 214001 cost estimates. Preliminary research, monitoring and evaluation costs have, in some cases, been estimated at the management unit level; however, these costs are not included at this time, pending completion of research and monitoring plans and further development of each project. Potential Effects of Proposed Recovery Actions A quantitative analysis of the potential effects of all the proposed recovery actions on the abundance and productivity of Middle Columbia River steelhead was performed using two models, the Ecosystem Diagnosis and Treatment model and the All-HAnalyzer model. The analysis indicates, based on the suites of proposed actions in all the sectors, that all Middle Columbia River steelhead populations for which there are adequate data are expected to achieve 95 percent probability of survival (less than 5 percent risk of extinction within 100 years) for abundance/productivity if the most intensive (major) restoration scenarios are implemented and the projected habitat changes are realized. Under minimum restoration scenarios, three populations (Deschutes Westside, Satus, and Upper Yakima) may not achieve less than 5 percent risk for abundance/productivity. However, even under poor ocean conditions and minimum restoration actions, the abundance and productivity of these three populations are expected to increase considerably over the baseline. Coordination/Governance Coordination of actions and information-sharing among fisheries biologists, Tribes, local governments, citizen groups, and state and Federal agencies based in both Oregon and Washington is a key component of recovery for this DPS. Benefits of coordination include: • Dealing with shared migration areas consistently • Developing coherent MPG-level strategies where populations are in two states (Cascades Eastern Slope MPG; Umatilla/Walla Walla MPG), or the same population is in both states (Walla Walla population) • Promoting consistent methods for setting recovery objectives, evaluating strategies, and monitoring progress across populations, MPGs, and the DPS This coordination is under development. The recent creation of the Middle Columbia Recovery Forum, to be convened regularly by NMFS, is intended to facilitate such collaboration between scientists and recovery planners on both sides of the Columbia PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 55051 River. Chapter 11 of this plan describes in more detail the proposed roles and responsibilities. Research, Monitoring, and Adaptive Management The Plan identifies the many knowledge gaps and uncertainties involved in designing recovery actions for Middle Columbia steelhead. Because the proposed recovery actions are based on hypotheses about the relationships between fish, limiting factors, human activities, and the environment, the Plan recommends research and monitoring to determine progress in recovery. Monitoring is the basis for adaptive management the process of adjusting management actions and/or directions based on new information. Research, monitoring, and adaptive management will be built into the implementation plans for each management unit plan, after this Plan is approved. Conclusion NMFS concludes that the Plan meets the requirements of ESA section 4(f) and thus is proposing it as an ESA recovery plan. Public Comments Solicited NMFS is soliciting written comments on the Proposed Plan. All comments received by the date specified above will be considered prior to NMFS’ decision whether to approve the Plan. Additionally, NMFS will provide a summary of the comments and responses through its Northwest Region web site and provide a news release for the public announcing the availability of the response to comments. NMFS seeks comments particularly in the following areas: (1) the analysis of, and hypotheses concerning, limiting factors and threats; (2) the recovery objectives, strategies, and actions; (3) the criteria for removing the DPS from the Federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; and (4) estimates of time and cost to implement recovery actions, including the intent to be even more specific by soliciting an implementation schedule. Literature Cited ICTRT (Interior Columbia Technical Recovery Team). 2007. Viability Criteria for Application to Interior Columbia Basin Salmonid ESUs. Review draft March 2007. Available at: www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/trt/ trtlviability.cfm ICTRT (Interior Columbia Technical Recovery Team). 2008. Current Status Reviews: Interior Columbia Basin Salmon and Steelhead ESUs. Volume III: Middle Columbia River Steelhead E:\FR\FM\24SEN1.SGM 24SEN1 55052 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 186 / Wednesday, September 24, 2008 / Notices Distinct Population Segment (DPS). Draft, May 9, 2008. McClure, M.M., E.E. Holmes, B.L. Sanderson, and C.E. Jordan. 2003. A large-scale, multispecies status assessment: Anadromous salmonids in the Columbia River basin. Ecological Applications 13(4):964–989. McElhany, P., M.H. Ruckelshaus, M.J. Ford, T.C. Wainwright, and E.P. Bjorkstedt. 2000. Viable salmon populations and the recovery of evolutionarily significant units. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA Tech. Memo., NMFS NWFSC 42, 156p. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 2006. Draft Recovery Plan Module for Mainstem Columbia River Hydropower Projects (‘‘Hydro Module’’). NMFS Northwest Region. Portland, Oregon. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 2007. Columbia River Estuary ESA Recovery Plan Module for Salmon and Steelhead. November 5, 2007. Available at www.nwr.noaa.gov/ Salmon-Recovery-Planning/ESARecovery-Plans/Estuary-Module.cfm National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 2008. Endangered Species Act - Section 7 Consultation Biological Opinion and Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Consultation: consultation on remand for operation of the Columbia River Power System and 19 Bureau of Reclamation Projects in the Columbia Basin (‘‘FCRPS BiOp’’). NMFS, Portland, Oregon. Dated: September 10, 2008. Therese Conant, Acting Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E8–21600 Filed 9–23–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–AS67 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gulf Red Snapper Individual Fishing Quota Program National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of determination of catastrophic conditions. jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES AGENCY: VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:26 Sep 23, 2008 Jkt 214001 SUMMARY: In accordance with the regulations implementing the individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for the commercial red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico, the Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS (RA) has determined that catastrophic conditions exist in those parts of Texas and Louisiana from the mouth of the Mississippi River west to Freeport, Texas as a result of recent hurricanes. Consistent with those regulations, the RA has authorized IFQ participants within this affected area to use paperbased forms, if necessary, for basic required IFQ administrative functions, e.g., landing transactions, until October 24, 2008. This determination of catastrophic conditions and allowance of alternative methods for completing required IFQ administrative functions is intended to facilitate continuation of IFQ operations during the period of catastrophic conditions. DATES: The RA is authorizing IFQ participants within this affected area to use paper-based forms until October 24, 2008. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Britni Tokotch, telephone 727–824– 5305, fax 727–824–5308, e-mail Britni.Tokotch@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implementing the IFQ program for the commercial red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico (50 CFR 622.16) require that IFQ participants have access to a computer and Internet access and that they conduct administrative functions associated with the IFQ program, e.g., landing transactions, online. However, these regulations also specify that during catastrophic conditions, as determined by the RA, the RA can authorize IFQ participants in the affected area who are unable to submit information electronically to use paper-based forms to complete IFQ administrative functions for the duration of the catastrophic conditions. The RA must determine that catastrophic conditions exist, specify the duration of the catastrophic conditions, and specify which participants or geographic areas are deemed affected by the catastrophic conditions. Hurricane Gustav made landfall near Cocodrie, Louisiana as a strong Category 2 hurricane on September 1, 2008. Twelve days later Hurricane Ike made landfall near Galveston, Texas as a Category 2 hurricane. Strong winds and flooding from these two hurricanes impacted coastal communities throughout Texas and Louisiana, resulting in power outages and loss of homes, businesses, and other PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 infrastructure. As a result the RA has determined that catastrophic conditions exist in those areas of the states of Louisiana and Texas from the mouth of the Mississippi River west to Freeport, Texas. The RA is authorizing IFQ participants within this affected area to use paper-based forms until October 24, 2008. NMFS will provide additional notification to affected participants via NOAA weather radio, fishery bulletins, and other appropriate means. NMFS previously provided each IFQ dealer the necessary paper forms (sequentially coded) and instructions in the event catastrophic conditions exist. Paper forms are also available from the RA upon request. The electronic system for submitting information to NMFS will continue to be available to all participants, and participants in the affected area are encouraged to continue using this system, if accessible. The administrative program functions available to participants in the area affected by catastrophic conditions will be limited under the paper-based system. There will be no mechanism for transfers of IFQ shares or allocation under the paper-based system in effect during catastrophic conditions. Assistance in complying with the requirements of the paper-based system will be available via IFQ Customer Service 1–866–425–7627 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. eastern time. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: September 19, 2008. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E8–22406 Filed 9–23–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S COMMITTEE FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF TEXTILE AGREEMENTS Limitations of Duty- and Quota-Free Imports of Apparel Articles Assembled in Beneficiary Sub-Saharan African Countries from Regional and ThirdCountry Fabric September 19, 2008. Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA). ACTION: Publishing the New 12-Month Cap on Duty- and Quota-Free Benefits AGENCY: EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2008. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Niewiaroski, International Trade Specialist, Office of Textiles and E:\FR\FM\24SEN1.SGM 24SEN1 Don

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 186 (Wednesday, September 24, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 55045-55052]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-21600]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XK45


Endangered and Threatened Species; Recovery Plans

AGENCY:  National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration, Commerce.

ACTION:  Notice of Availability; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY:  The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces the 
availability of the Proposed Middle Columbia River Steelhead Recovery 
Plan (Plan) for public review and comment. The Plan addresses the 
Middle Columbia River Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) Distinct 
Population Segment (DPS), which spawns and rears in tributaries to the 
Columbia River in central and eastern Washington and Oregon. NMFS is 
soliciting review and comment from the public and all interested 
parties on the Proposed Plan.

DATES:  NMFS will consider and address all substantive comments 
received during the comment period. Comments must be received no later 
than 5 p.m. Pacific daylight time on December 23, 2008.

ADDRESSES:  Please send written comments and materials to Lynn Hatcher, 
National Marine Fisheries Service, 304 S. Water Street, Suite 

[[Page 55046]]

201, Ellensburg, WA 98926. Comments may also be submitted by e mail to: 
MiddleColumbiaPlan.nwr@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line of the e 
mail comment the following identifier: Comments on Middle Columbia 
Steelhead Recovery Plan. Comments may be submitted via facsimile (fax) 
to 503-872-2737.
    Persons wishing to review the Plan can obtain an electronic copy 
(i.e., CD ROM) from Sharon Houghton by calling 503-230-5418 or by 
emailing a request to sharon.houghton@noaa.gov with the subject line 
``CD ROM Request for Middle Columbia River Steelhead Plan.'' Electronic 
copies of the Plan are also available on line on the NMFS website, 
www.nwr.noaa.gov/Salmon Recovery Planning/ESA Recovery Plans/Draft 
Plans.cfm

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lynn Hatcher, NMFS Middle Columbia 
Steelhead Salmon Recovery Coordinator, at 509-962-8911, or Elizabeth 
Gaar, NMFS Salmon Recovery Division, at 503 230 5434.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Recovery plans describe actions beneficial to the conservation and 
recovery of species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 
(ESA), as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The ESA requires that 
recovery plans incorporate: (1) objective, measurable criteria which, 
when met, would result in a determination that the species is no longer 
threatened or endangered; (2) site-specific management actions 
necessary to achieve the plan's goals; and (3) estimates of the time 
required and costs to implement recovery actions. The ESA requires the 
development of recovery plans for each listed species unless such a 
plan would not promote its recovery.
    NMFS is responsible for developing and implementing ESA recovery 
plans for listed salmon and steelhead. In so doing, NMFS' goal is to 
restore endangered and threatened Pacific salmonids to the point that 
they are again self-sustaining members of their ecosystems and no 
longer need the protections of the ESA. Local support of recovery plans 
by those whose activities directly affect the listed species, and whose 
actions will be most affected by recovery efforts, is essential. NMFS 
therefore supports and participates in locally led collaborative 
efforts to develop recovery plans that involve local communities, 
state, tribal, and Federal entities, and other stakeholders.
    NMFS recognizes that to achieve recovery of ESA-listed salmon and 
steelhead in the Columbia River Basin, site-specific actions addressing 
all limiting factors and threats (habitat, hydropower, hatcheries, 
harvest, and ecological interactions including predation and 
competition) are necessary. This recovery plan identifies and evaluates 
the relative impacts of this full range of limiting factors and threats 
and recognizes that some sectors have the potential to make more 
immediate and significant contributions to recovery than do others. 
This plan contains recovery actions addressing all identified limiting 
factors and threats. At this time, however, site-specific management 
actions are more fully developed for tributary habitat and mainstem 
hydropower than for hatcheries and harvest.
    The relative contribution of limiting factors and threats that 
impede recovery may differ among species. This recovery plan contains 
actions that address all threat categories and estimates their 
contribution to recovery. Given that habitat restoration actions 
generally take extended time frames to yield ecosystem responses and 
improvements in fish populations, it is important to implement actions 
with more immediate benefits, as well as habitat actions whose benefits 
will accrue in the future.
    In summary, although site-specific actions in this plan may appear 
to be more fully developed for tributary habitat and mainstem 
hydropower, recovery will also be dependent on hatchery and harvest 
actions developed in other management processes. For example, mainstem 
fisheries in the Columbia River will be implemented consistent with the 
recently completed U.S v. Oregon Agreement, which extends through 2017. 
In other areas, management requirements for hatchery and harvest 
actions will be developed through Hatchery and Genetics Management Plan 
and Fishery Management and Evaluation Plan processes, many of which are 
now under review or scheduled for completion in the near future. Such 
plans have been and will be developed to be consistent with recovery 
plans, section 7(a)(2), and other ESA requirements. NMFS will continue 
to monitor these plans, using adaptive management, to assess 
implementation progress and consistency with recovery plans.

The Plan

    This Plan is the product of a collaborative process initiated by 
NMFS with assistance from the Middle Columbia Recovery Forum, a bi-
state group convened by NMFS to provide input on the development of the 
DPS recovery plan. Participants include representatives of the Oregon 
Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), Washington Department of Fish 
and Wildlife (WDFW), the Yakama Nation, Confederated Tribes of the Warm 
Springs Indian Reservation, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian 
Reservation, Washington Governor's Salmon Recovery Office, Oregon 
Governor's Natural Resources Office, Snake River Salmon Recovery Board, 
Yakima Basin Fish and Wildlife Recovery Board, U.S. Bureau of 
Reclamation (BOR), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Forest 
Service (USFS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE), U.S. Bureau of Land 
Management (BLM), Klickitat County, and NMFS Northwest Region. The goal 
was to produce a plan that meets ESA requirements for recovery plans as 
well as the State of Washington's recovery planning outline and 
guidance (www.governor.wa.gov/gsro/) and the State of Oregon's Native 
Fish Conservation Policy guidance (http://ftp.dfw.state.or.us/fish/
nfcp/nfcp.pdf).

Recovery Domains and Technical Recovery Teams

    For the purpose of recovery planning for the 18 ESA-listed species 
of Pacific salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest, NMFS 
Northwest Region designated five geographically based ``recovery 
domains.'' The Middle Columbia steelhead DPS spawning range is in the 
Interior Columbia domain. For each domain, NMFS appointed a team of 
scientists, nominated for their geographic and species expertise, to 
provide a solid scientific foundation for recovery plans. The Interior 
Columbia Technical Recovery Team (ICTRT) includes biologists from NMFS, 
states, and academic institutions.
    All the TRTs used the same biological principles for developing 
their recommendations for ESU/DPS and population viability criteria. 
These principles are described in a NMFS technical memorandum, Viable 
Salmonid Populations and the Recovery of Evolutionarily Significant 
Units (McElhany et al., 2000). Viable salmonid populations (VSP) are 
defined in terms of four parameters: abundance, productivity or growth 
rate, spatial structure, and diversity. A viable ESU/DPS is naturally 
self-sustaining, with a high probability of persistence over a 100-year 
time period.

Management Units

    In each domain, NMFS worked with state, tribal, local, and other 
Federal

[[Page 55047]]

entities to develop planning forums that build to the extent possible 
on ongoing, locally led recovery efforts. NMFS defined ``management 
units'' based on jurisdictional boundaries as well as areas where local 
planning efforts were underway. The Middle Columbia management units 
are the following: (1) Oregon; (2) Washington Gorge, which, in turn, is 
subdivided into three planning areas (White Salmon, Klickitat, and Rock 
Creek); (3) Yakima subbasin; and (4) Southeast Washington. A recovery 
plan was developed for each management unit; for the Washington Gorge 
management unit, however, there are three plans, one for each planning 
area.
    The management unit plans, Appendices A-F, are the work of local 
groups and county, state, Federal, and tribal entities within the 
Middle Columbia River region. The management unit plans are as follows:
    (1) Oregon. Conservation and Recovery Plan for Oregon Steelhead 
Populations in the Middle Columbia River Steelhead Distinct Population 
Segment (Appendix A).
    (2) Washington Gorge: Recovery Plan for the Klickitat Population of 
the Middle Columbia River Steelhead (Appendix B); Recovery Plan for the 
Rock Creek Population of the Middle Columbia River Steelhead (Appendix 
C); Recovery Plan for the White Salmon Population of the Middle 
Columbia River Steelhead (Appendix D).
    (3) Yakima Basin. Yakima Steelhead Recovery Plan (Appendix E).
    (4) Southeast Washington. The Snake River Salmon Recovery Plan for 
Southeast Washington (Appendix F).
    The proposed Plan, including the management unit plans, is now 
available for public review and comment. Two ICTRT reports (McClure et 
al., 2003; ICTRT, 2007), which provide the scientific basis for the 
Plan, are also available for public review and comment. With approval 
of the final Plan, NMFS will commit itself to implement the actions in 
the Plan for which it has authority and funding, to work cooperatively 
on implementation of other actions, and to encourage other Federal 
agencies and tribal governments to implement Plan actions for which 
they have responsibility and authority.
    NMFS expects the Plan to guide NMFS and other Federal agencies in 
evaluating Federal actions under ESA section 7 and other ESA decisions. 
For example, the Plan will provide greater biological context for 
evaluating the effects that a proposed action may have on a species. 
This context will be enhanced by using recovery plan information in 
section 7 consultations as well as ESA section 10 habitat conservation 
plans and other ESA decisions. Such information includes viability 
criteria for the DPS, better understanding of and information on 
limiting factors and threats facing the DPS, better information on 
priority areas for addressing specific limiting factors, and better 
geographic context for where the DPS can tolerate varying levels of 
risk.
    At the time of a delisting decision for the Middle Columbia 
steelhead, NMFS will examine whether the section 4(a)(1) listing 
factors have been addressed. To assist in this examination, NMFS will 
use the listing factors (or threats) criteria described in Section 3.3 
of the Plan, in addition to evaluation of biological recovery criteria 
and other relevant data and policy considerations. The threats should 
be addressed to the point that delisting is not likely to result in 
their re-emergence. It is possible that currently perceived threats 
will become insignificant in the future because of changes in the 
natural environment or changes in the way threats affect the entire 
life cycle of salmon. Consequently, NMFS expects that the relative 
priority of threats will change over time and that new threats may be 
identified. During the status reviews, NMFS will evaluate and review 
the listing factor criteria as they apply at that time. NMFS expects 
that if the proposed actions described in the Plan are implemented, 
they will make substantial progress toward meeting the listing factor 
(threats) criteria for the Middle Columbia steelhead.

DPS Addressed and Planning Area

    ``Steelhead'' is the name commonly applied to the anadromous 
(migratory) form of the biological species Oncorhynchus mykiss. The 
common name of the non-anadromous, or resident, form is rainbow trout. 
When NMFS originally listed the Middle Columbia River steelhead as 
threatened on March 25, 1999 (64 FR 14517), it was classified as an 
``evolutionarily significant unit'' (ESU) of salmonids that included 
both the anadromous and resident forms. Recently, NMFS revised its 
species determinations for West Coast steelhead under the ESA, 
delineating anadromous, steelhead-only ``distinct population segments'' 
(DPS). NMFS listed the Middle Columbia River steelhead DPS as 
threatened on January 5, 2006 (71 FR 834). Rainbow trout are under the 
jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). This 
recovery plan addresses steelhead and not rainbow trout, consistent 
with the 2006 ESA listing decision.
    Middle Columbia River steelhead spawn and rear in tributaries to 
the Columbia River in the Columbia plateau of central and eastern 
Washington and Oregon. The DPS includes all naturally spawned 
populations of steelhead in streams from above (exclusive of) the Wind 
River, Washington, and the Hood River, Oregon, upstream to, and 
including, the Yakima River, Washington, excluding steelhead from the 
Snake River Basin (64 FR 14517; 71 FR 849). Most of these populations 
are summer run; however, the Middle Columbia River steelhead DPS also 
includes populations of inland winter steelhead in the Klickitat River, 
White Salmon River, Fifteenmile Creek, and possibly Rock Creek.
    Four artificial propagation programs are considered part of the 
DPS: the Touchet River Endemic Summer Steelhead Program, the Yakima 
River Kelt Reconditioning Program, and the Umatilla River and Deschutes 
River steelhead hatchery programs.
    The ICTRT (McClure et al., 2003) identified 20 historical 
populations of Middle Columbia steelhead based on genetic information, 
geography, life history traits, morphological traits, and population 
dynamics. Seventeen of these populations are extant, and three 
extirpated (White Salmon River, Crooked River, and Willow Creek). 
Reintroduction of native steelhead or natural recolonization is planned 
for blocked areas of the Upper Deschutes and Crooked Rivers and the 
White Salmon River, respectively.
    The ICTRT stratified the Middle Columbia River steelhead 
populations into major population groups (MPGs) based on ecoregion 
characteristics, life history types, and other geographic and genetic 
considerations. It identified four MPGs: Cascades Eastern Slope 
Tributaries, Yakima River, John Day River, and Umatilla/Walla Walla.

The Plan's Recovery Goals and Recovery Criteria

    To meet the ESA requirement for objective, measurable criteria for 
delisting, the Plan provides biological recovery criteria based on the 
ICTRT viability criteria for Middle Columbia steelhead, as well as 
``threats'' criteria based on the listing factors defined in ESA 
section 4(a)(1).

Biological Viability Criteria

    Biological viability criteria describe DPS characteristics 
associated with a low risk of extinction for the foreseeable future. 
These criteria are expressed in terms of the VSP parameters of 
abundance, productivity, spatial structure, and diversity (McElhany et

[[Page 55048]]

al., 2000; ICTRT, 2007a). The ICTRT calculated varying levels of risk 
of extinction and related the risk levels to their criteria. The Plan 
shows the minimum abundance and productivity thresholds required for 
the Middle Columbia steelhead populations to have a 95 percent 
probability of persistence for the next 100 years.
    Since MPGs are geographically and genetically cohesive groups of 
populations, they are critical components of ESU or DPS spatial 
structure and diversity. NMFS' criterion for long-term DPS viability, 
based on the ICTRT recommendations, is that all extant MPGs and any 
extirpated MPGs critical for proper functioning of the ESU/DPS should 
be at low risk (ICTRT, 2007a). MPG viability depends on the abundance, 
productivity, spatial structure, and diversity associated with its 
component populations.
    The risk levels of the populations within the DPS collectively 
determine MPG viability and, in turn, the likely persistence of the 
DPS. The ICTRT recommended that all MPGs in a DPS should be viable; 
however, it may not be necessary for all of the populations to attain 
the lowest risk level. There may be more than one way for a DPS to meet 
the viability criteria. Combinations of viability status for individual 
populations that will meet the ICTRT criteria for overall DPS viability 
are called recovery scenarios. The ICTRT cautioned against closing off 
the options for any population prematurely, however, because of the 
many uncertainties in predicting the biological response to recovery 
actions (ICTRT, 2007a).

Threats Criteria

    Listing factors (or threats) are those features that are evaluated 
under section 4(a)(1) when initial determinations are made whether to 
list species for protection under the ESA. They are as follows:
    A. Present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment 
of [the species'] habitat or range;
    B. Over-utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    C. Disease or predation;
    D. Inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    E. Other natural or human-made factors affecting [the species'] 
continued existence.
    At the time of a delisting decision for Middle Columbia steelhead, 
NMFS will examine whether the section 4(a)(1) listing factors have been 
addressed. To assist in this examination, NMFS will use the listing 
factors (or threats) criteria described in the Plan, in addition to 
evaluation of biological recovery criteria and other relevant data and 
policy considerations. The threats need to have been addressed to the 
point that delisting is not likely to result in their re-emergence. It 
is possible that currently perceived threats will become insignificant 
in the future due to changes in the natural environment or changes in 
the way threats affect the entire life cycle of salmon. Consequently, 
NMFS expects that the relative priority of threats will change over 
time and that new threats may be identified. During the status reviews, 
NMFS will evaluate and review the listing factor criteria as they apply 
at that time.

Current DPS Status

    According to the ICTRT viability criteria, the majority of natural 
Middle Columbia steelhead populations are rated at moderate risk for 
abundance and productivity, but low to moderate risk for spatial 
structure and diversity. Currently, one population is ``highly viable'' 
(North Fork John Day) and two populations are viable (Deschutes 
Eastside and Fifteenmile); eleven are at moderate risk, with good 
prospects for improving. However, the three populations at high risk 
(Deschutes Westside, Naches, and Upper Yakima), are important to DPS 
viability. As a minimum, for the Cascades Eastern Slope Tributaries and 
the Yakima River MPG to meet viability criteria, the Deschutes Westside 
population and one of the two large Yakima populations should reach 
viable status, with the other large Yakima population at no more than 
moderate risk.
    None of the MPGs meets the low risk criteria. Thus, the Middle 
Columbia steelhead DPS does not currently meet viability criteria based 
on the determination that the four component MPGs are not at low risk.

Limiting Factors and Threats

    Based on information from the ICTRT, the four management unit 
plans, and the Estuary and Hydro modules, the major factors limiting 
the viability of Middle Columbia steelhead populations are degraded 
tributary habitat, impaired mainstem and tributary fish passage, 
hatchery-related effects, and predation/competition/disease. The 
management unit plans contain detailed descriptions of tributary 
habitat limiting factors and threats, while the modules provide 
detailed examination of conditions in mainstem Columbia River and 
estuary.

Recovery Strategy

    The recovery strategy for the Middle Columbia steelhead DPS is made 
up of the following elements:
     Address the limiting factors for each major population 
group and population, following the recommendations in the 2006 listing 
decision, making use of the strategies and actions developed in the 
management unit plans, in concert with the strategies and actions 
provided in the NMFS 2008 FCRPS Biological Opinion, NMFS Estuary 
Module, Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs) and Artificial 
Production for Pacific Salmon (Appendix C of Supplemental Comprehensive 
Analysis, NMFS 2008), and fishery management planning through U.S. v. 
Oregon for mainstem fisheries and Fisheries Management Evaluation Plans 
for tributary fisheries.
     Address and coordinate DPS-wide and basin-wide issues 
through the Middle Columbia Forum (a bi-state, tri-tribe group convened 
by NMFS to provide input on the development of the DPS recovery plan).
     Coordinate research, monitoring, and evaluation throughout 
the range of the DPS.
     Conduct periodic comprehensive reviews of new information 
generated through the research, monitoring, and evaluation program. 
Adapt management actions as appropriate to achieve the recovery goals.
    If, as we believe, the decline of the Middle Columbia River 
steelhead DPS is caused by widespread tributary habitat degradation, 
impaired mainstem and tributary passage, hatchery effects, and 
predation/ competition/ disease, then actions taken to improve, change, 
mitigate, reduce those factors will result in increased survival and 
improvements in abundance, survival, spatial structure, and diversity. 
Regional coordination, research, monitoring, evaluation, and adaptive 
management are essential. The results of these actions must be 
monitored, evaluated, and communicated to managers to enable them to 
make informed decisions to continue or change their strategy.
    Following are summaries of the recovery strategies for each MPG. In 
the next section, recovery strategies are summarized for DPS-level 
conditions affecting all MPGs (mainstem passage, hatchery effects, 
predation in mainstem and estuary).

[[Page 55049]]

Cascades Eastern Slope Tributaries MPG

Status

Viable - Fifteenmile Creek and Deschutes Eastside
    Moderate risk - Klickitat (a provisional rating, based on 
insufficient abundance and productivity data and an unknown degree of 
diversity risk from hatchery influence)
    High risk- Rock Creek (provisional, because of lack of data); and 
Deschutes Westside
Functionally extirpated - White Salmon
Extirpated - Crooked River

Primary Limiting Factors and Threats

     Degraded tributary habitat
     Mainstem passage
     Hatchery-related effects - evidence of hatchery fish from 
non-native broodstock straying and spawning in the Deschutes Basin
     Blocked migration to historically accessible habitat
     Predation, competition, disease - in mainstem and estuary; 
possibly also in Deschutes Westside as competition with resident 
rainbow trout.

Recovery Scenario

    For the Eastern Cascades Slope Tributaries MPG to meet viability 
criteria based on the currently extant populations, the Klickitat, 
Fifteenmile, and both the Deschutes Eastside and Westside populations 
should reach viable status, with one highly viable. The Rock Creek 
population should reach ``maintained'' status (25 percent or less risk 
level). MPG viability could be further bolstered if reintroduction of 
steelhead into the Upper Deschutes and Crooked Rivers succeeds and if 
the White Salmon population is successfully reintroduced to its 
historical habitat.

Key Actions Proposed

     Protect, improve, and increase freshwater habitat for 
steelhead production. Improvements to freshwater habitat should be 
targeted to address specific limiting factors in specific areas as 
described in the Oregon Recovery Plan and the Washington Gorge plans.
     Improve survival in mainstem and estuary through actions 
detailed in NMFS Estuary Module (NMFS 2007) and FCRPS Biological 
Opinion (NMFS 2008).
     Reduce straying of out-of-DPS hatchery fish onto natural spawning 
grounds within the Deschutes subbasin.
     Restore historical passage to Deschutes Westside 
tributaries to the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers above Pelton Round 
Butte dam complex and the White Salmon River above Condit Dam.
     Improve hatchery management to minimize impacts from 
hatchery releases on naturally produced steelhead within the Deschutes 
West and East and Klickitat subbbasins.
     Coordinate between scientists, planners, and implementers 
of recovery actions on both sides of the river for sequencing of 
recovery actions and monitoring for adaptive management.
     Fill data gaps for better assessment of Klickitat and Rock 
Creek steelhead populations.

John Day River MPG

Status

Highly viable - North Fork John Day
Moderate risk - John Day Upper Mainstem, John Day Lower Mainstem, 
Middle Fork John Day, South Fork John Day

Main Limiting Factors and Threats

     Degraded tributary habitat
     Mainstem passage
     Hatchery-related effects
     Predation/ competition/disease in mainstem and estuary

Recovery Scenario

    For the John Day River MPG to meet viability criteria, the Lower 
Mainstem John Day River, North Fork John Day River, and either the 
Middle Fork John Day River or Upper Mainstem John Day River populations 
should achieve viable status, with one highly viable.

Key Actions Proposed

     Protect and improve freshwater habitat conditions and 
connectivity for steelhead production. Improvements to freshwater 
habitat should be targeted to address specific factors in specific 
areas as described in the Oregon Recovery Plan.
     Improve survival in mainstem and estuary through actions 
detailed in NMFS Estuary Module (NMFS 2007) and FCRPS Biological 
Opinion (NMFS 2008).
     Improve hatchery management to reduce straying from out-
of-DPS hatchery fish onto natural spawning grounds within the John Day 
subbasin.

Yakima River MPG

Status

Moderate risk - Satus Creek , Toppenish Creek.
High risk - Naches River, Upper Yakima River

Main Limiting Factors and Threats

     Tributary habitat: Influence of major irrigation system 
development. Altered hydrology; degraded habitat loss of habitat; 
impaired fish passage; reduced outmigrant survival in Yakima mainstem.
     Mainstem passage (these fish must pass four dams)

Recovery Scenario

    For the Yakima River MPG to meet viability criteria, two 
populations should be rated as viable, including at least one of the 
two classified as Large the Naches River and the Upper Yakima River and 
the other Large population meeting at least the ``maintained'' or 
moderate risk criteria. The remaining two populations should, at a 
minimum, meet the maintained criteria.

Key Actions Proposed

     Protect and enhance habitat in key tributary watersheds in 
the Yakima Basin.
     Restore passage to blocked areas in the Naches and Upper 
Yakima population areas.
     Alter irrigation delivery and storage operations in the 
Yakima Basin (a) to improve flow conditions for Middle Columbia 
steelhead and use managed high flows to maintain floodplain habitat.
     Improve channel and floodplain function and reduce 
predation through the mainstem Yakima and Naches Rivers.
     Improve survival in the mainstem Columbia and its estuary 
through actions detailed in NMFS Estuary Module (NMFS 2007) and FCRPS 
Biological Opinion (NMFS 2008).

Umatilla/Walla Walla MPG

Status

Moderate risk - Umatilla, Walla Walla
High risk - Touchet (a provisional rating because of insufficient data)

Main Limiting Factors and Threats

     Mainstem passage (Touchet and Walla Walla populations pass 
four major dams: the Umatilla population must pass three)
     Tributary habitat
     Hatchery related effects
     Predation/competition/disease

Recovery Scenario

    For the Umatilla/Walla Walla MPG to meet viability criteria, two 
populations should be viable, and one should be highly viable. The 
Umatilla River is the only large population, and therefore needs to be 
viable. Either the Walla Walla River or Touchet River population also 
need to be viable.

Key Actions Proposed

     Protect and improve freshwater habitat conditions and 
access for

[[Page 55050]]

steelhead production. Improvements to freshwater habitat should be 
targeted to address specific factors in specific areas as described in 
the Southeast Washington Plan and the Oregon Recovery Plan.
     Improve hatchery management to reduce straying from out-
of-DPS hatchery fish onto natural spawning grounds within the Umatilla/
Walla Walla subbasins.
     Improve survival in mainstem and estuary through actions 
detailed in NMFS Estuary Module (NMFS 2007) and FCRPS Biological 
Opinion (NMFS 2008)
     Coordinate between planners, scientists and those 
implementing recovery actions in Washington and Oregon for sequencing, 
monitoring, and adaptive management

DPS-wide and Basin-wide Issues

    DPS-wide issues include impaired fish passage on the mainstem 
Columbia River, hatchery-related effects, predation on steelhead in 
mainstem, estuary, and plume, and harvest.

Impaired Fish Passage - Mainstem Columbia River

    Passage for juvenile steelhead migrating to the ocean and adult 
steelhead returning to their natal streams is limited primarily by the 
four Federal dams on the Lower Columbia River mainstem Bonneville, John 
Day, The Dalles, and McNary Dams which are part of the Federal Columbia 
River Power System (FCRPS). NMFS recently issued a new draft biological 
opinion on the effects of FCRPS operations on salmonids, including 
Middle Columbia River steelhead, and on the predicted results of 
current and planned improvements to the system that are intended to 
improve fish survival (NMFS 2008).
    The plan for current mainstem hydro operations, as summarized in 
the Hydro Module, and any further improvements for fish survival that 
may result from the ongoing FCRPS collaborative process, represent the 
hydropower recovery strategy for all listed salmonids that migrate 
through the mainstem Columbia River, including the Middle Columbia 
steelhead populations.
    These improvements are expected to increase the in-river survival 
of Middle Columbia River juvenile steelhead by 0.3 percent, 5.1 
percent, 8.2 percent, and 10.2 percent, depending on the number of dams 
they must pass. The survival of steelhead adults through the four dams 
is thought to be relatively high at the present time (about 98.5 
percent per project from Bonneville to McNary), and is expected to be 
maintained or improved.
Dissenting View of State of Oregon Regarding Mainstem Operations
    At the time this proposed recovery plan is being finalized, August 
2008, it is the position of the State of Oregon that additional or 
alternative actions should be taken in mainstem operations of the FCRPS 
for ESA-listed salmon and steelhead. Some additional or alternative 
actions recommended by Oregon, while considered, were not included in 
NOAA's FCRPS Biological Opinion. At this time, Oregon is a plaintiff in 
litigation against various Federal agencies, including NOAA, 
challenging the adequacy of the measures contained in the current FCRPS 
Biological Opinion. NOAA is not in agreement with Oregon regarding the 
need for, or efficacy of, Oregon's additional or alternative actions.

Hatchery-related Effects

    The hatchery programs in the Middle Columbia River are managed 
under the Mitchell Act and the U.S. v. Oregon process, involving the 
fisheries co-managers and regulated by NMFS. NMFS is working with the 
funding agencies and hatchery operators to update and complete Hatchery 
and Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs) for every hatchery program in the 
Middle Columbia region as a means of organizing hatchery review and 
reform. The HGMPs are the basis for NMFS' biological opinions on 
hatchery programs under sections 7 and 10 and the 4(d) rule, which 
relate to incidental and direct take of listed species. The HGMPs 
describe each hatchery's operations and the actions taken to support 
recovery and minimize ecological or genetic impacts, such as straying 
and other forms of competition with naturally produced fish.

Artificial Propagation for Pacific Salmon

    Appendix C of the 2008 FCRPS Biological Opinion (NMFS 2008), is a 
review of key factors for assessing the benefits and risks of hatchery 
programs relative to the conservation of Pacific salmon and to U.S. 
treaty responsibilities and sustainable fisheries mandates. The paper 
recommends strategies and practices to support salmon and steelhead 
conservation. The new FCRPS Biological Opinion (NMFS 2008) requires the 
hatchery operators and the Action Agencies to submit to NMFS updated 
HGMPs describing site-specific applications of the ``best management 
practices'' for the hatchery programs as described in Appendices C and 
D of the Supplemental Comprehensive Analysis (SCA) of the Biological 
Opinion for those mitigation hatchery programs funded by the FCRPS 
Action Agencies.
    Evaluating the factors that influence interactions between hatchery 
fish and naturally produced fish under varying freshwater conditions 
and ocean conditions is an important area of future research.

Predation, Competition, and Disease

    The Plan addresses major predation issues in the mainstem Columbia 
River and recommends research and monitoring to track trends in 
predator populations, understand their impacts on steelhead, and 
develop appropriate management techniques to reduce predation. Disease 
in salmonids is caused by multiple factors and probably cannot be 
directly addressed by recovery actions except in specific instances of 
known causal factors. It is more likely that nearly all of the 
recommended recovery actions that improve spawning, rearing, and 
passage conditions for steelhead and increase the survival, abundance, 
and productivity of naturally produced fish will result in decreasing 
incidence of disease.

Harvest

    Although, in general, harvest is not considered a major threat for 
the Middle Columbia steelhead DPS, it is important to ensure that 
impacts from fisheries do not impede recovery, and to perform 
monitoring and evaluation to verify impacts and reduce existing 
uncertainties.

Site-specific Management Actions

    The proposed site-specific management actions at the population 
level are described in detail in Appendices A through F of the Plan. 
Proposed site-specific actions for the mainstem Columbia River and 
estuary are described in detail in the FCRPS Biological Opinion (NMFS 
2008), the Hydro Module (in preparation), the Estuary Module (NMFS 
2007), and Artificial Propagation for Pacific Salmon, Appendix C of the 
Supplemental Comprehensive Analysis of the FCRPS Biological Opinion 
(NMFS 2008).

Time Required and Cost Estimates

    There are unique challenges to estimating time and cost for salmon 
and steelhead recovery, given the complex relationship of these fish to 
the environment and to human activities on land. NMFS estimates that 
recovery of the Middle Columbia steelhead DPS,

[[Page 55051]]

like recovery for most of the ESA-listed Pacific Northwest salmon and 
steelhead, could take 50 to 100 years, although the optimistic view is 
that it could be much sooner. The management unit plans (Appendices A 
through F) contain extensive lists of actions to recover the Middle 
Columbia steelhead DPS populations. These projects were developed using 
the most up-to-date assessment of Middle Columbia steelhead recovery 
needs. The management unit plans focus, for the most part, on actions 
within the next 5 to 15 years. There are many uncertainties involved in 
predicting the course of recovery and in estimating total costs. Such 
uncertainties include biological and ecosystem responses to recovery 
actions as well as long-term and future funding.
    Cost estimates for recovery projects were provided by the 
management unit entities where available information was sufficient to 
do so, using the methods described in each management unit plan. All 
applied guidance provided by NMFS and used similar cost calculation 
methodologies. However, the approaches vary to some degree given the 
local and independent nature of the planning groups. There are 
differences in the timeframes for cost estimates, whether 
administrative costs were included or not, and whether research, 
monitoring, and evaluation costs were calculated.
    No cost estimates are provided for (1) baseline actions (programs 
that are already in existence and would occur regardless of this 
recovery plan), which are listed as Not Applicable (N/A); or (2) 
actions that need costs to be developed, need unit costs, and/or need 
project scale estimates these are listed as To Be Determined (TBD). 
Each management unit will work with regional experts to identify costs, 
scale, or unit costs for actions that require more information during 
the public comment period. Individual management unit costs will be 
updated with this new information for the final steelhead DPS recovery 
plan.
    The total estimated cost of restoring habitat for the Middle 
Columbia steelhead DPS is approximately $235 million over the initial 
5-year period, and approximately $970 million over 20 to 50 years for 
all DPS-wide recovery actions for which sufficient information exists 
upon which to base an estimate. This estimate includes expenditures by 
local, tribal, state, and Federal governments, private business, and 
individuals in implementing both capital projects and non-capital work. 
In most cases, administrative costs are embedded in the total 
management unit cost estimates. Preliminary research, monitoring and 
evaluation costs have, in some cases, been estimated at the management 
unit level; however, these costs are not included at this time, pending 
completion of research and monitoring plans and further development of 
each project.

Potential Effects of Proposed Recovery Actions

    A quantitative analysis of the potential effects of all the 
proposed recovery actions on the abundance and productivity of Middle 
Columbia River steelhead was performed using two models, the Ecosystem 
Diagnosis and Treatment model and the All-H-Analyzer model. The 
analysis indicates, based on the suites of proposed actions in all the 
sectors, that all Middle Columbia River steelhead populations for which 
there are adequate data are expected to achieve 95 percent probability 
of survival (less than 5 percent risk of extinction within 100 years) 
for abundance/productivity if the most intensive (major) restoration 
scenarios are implemented and the projected habitat changes are 
realized. Under minimum restoration scenarios, three populations 
(Deschutes Westside, Satus, and Upper Yakima) may not achieve less than 
5 percent risk for abundance/productivity. However, even under poor 
ocean conditions and minimum restoration actions, the abundance and 
productivity of these three populations are expected to increase 
considerably over the baseline.

Coordination/Governance

    Coordination of actions and information-sharing among fisheries 
biologists, Tribes, local governments, citizen groups, and state and 
Federal agencies based in both Oregon and Washington is a key component 
of recovery for this DPS. Benefits of coordination include:
     Dealing with shared migration areas consistently
     Developing coherent MPG-level strategies where populations 
are in two states (Cascades Eastern Slope MPG; Umatilla/Walla Walla 
MPG), or the same population is in both states (Walla Walla population)
     Promoting consistent methods for setting recovery 
objectives, evaluating strategies, and monitoring progress across 
populations, MPGs, and the DPS
    This coordination is under development. The recent creation of the 
Middle Columbia Recovery Forum, to be convened regularly by NMFS, is 
intended to facilitate such collaboration between scientists and 
recovery planners on both sides of the Columbia River. Chapter 11 of 
this plan describes in more detail the proposed roles and 
responsibilities.

Research, Monitoring, and Adaptive Management

    The Plan identifies the many knowledge gaps and uncertainties 
involved in designing recovery actions for Middle Columbia steelhead. 
Because the proposed recovery actions are based on hypotheses about the 
relationships between fish, limiting factors, human activities, and the 
environment, the Plan recommends research and monitoring to determine 
progress in recovery. Monitoring is the basis for adaptive management 
the process of adjusting management actions and/or directions based on 
new information. Research, monitoring, and adaptive management will be 
built into the implementation plans for each management unit plan, 
after this Plan is approved.

Conclusion

    NMFS concludes that the Plan meets the requirements of ESA section 
4(f) and thus is proposing it as an ESA recovery plan.

Public Comments Solicited

    NMFS is soliciting written comments on the Proposed Plan. All 
comments received by the date specified above will be considered prior 
to NMFS' decision whether to approve the Plan. Additionally, NMFS will 
provide a summary of the comments and responses through its Northwest 
Region web site and provide a news release for the public announcing 
the availability of the response to comments. NMFS seeks comments 
particularly in the following areas: (1) the analysis of, and 
hypotheses concerning, limiting factors and threats; (2) the recovery 
objectives, strategies, and actions; (3) the criteria for removing the 
DPS from the Federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife and 
plants; and (4) estimates of time and cost to implement recovery 
actions, including the intent to be even more specific by soliciting an 
implementation schedule.

Literature Cited

    ICTRT (Interior Columbia Technical Recovery Team). 2007. Viability 
Criteria for Application to Interior Columbia Basin Salmonid ESUs. 
Review draft March 2007. Available at: www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/trt/trt_
viability.cfm
ICTRT (Interior Columbia Technical Recovery Team). 2008. Current Status 
Reviews: Interior Columbia Basin Salmon and Steelhead ESUs. Volume III: 
Middle Columbia River Steelhead

[[Page 55052]]

Distinct Population Segment (DPS). Draft, May 9, 2008.
McClure, M.M., E.E. Holmes, B.L. Sanderson, and C.E. Jordan. 2003. A 
large-scale, multispecies status assessment: Anadromous salmonids in 
the Columbia River basin. Ecological Applications 13(4):964-989.
McElhany, P., M.H. Ruckelshaus, M.J. Ford, T.C. Wainwright, and E.P. 
Bjorkstedt. 2000. Viable salmon populations and the recovery of 
evolutionarily significant units. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA Tech. 
Memo., NMFS NWFSC 42, 156p. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 2006. Draft Recovery Plan 
Module for Mainstem Columbia River Hydropower Projects (``Hydro 
Module''). NMFS Northwest Region. Portland, Oregon.
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 2007. Columbia River Estuary 
ESA Recovery Plan Module for Salmon and Steelhead. November 5, 2007. 
Available at www.nwr.noaa.gov/Salmon-Recovery-Planning/ESA-Recovery-
Plans/Estuary-Module.cfm
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 2008. Endangered Species Act 
- Section 7 Consultation Biological Opinion and Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act Consultation: consultation on 
remand for operation of the Columbia River Power System and 19 Bureau 
of Reclamation Projects in the Columbia Basin (``FCRPS BiOp''). NMFS, 
Portland, Oregon.

    Dated: September 10, 2008.
Therese Conant,
Acting Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E8-21600 Filed 9-23-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S