Conference Call

August 25, 2021 Slides

By phone:

Bernard Aguilar, Denise Barnard, Michael Beakes, Thad Bettner, Erica Bishop, Tricia Bratcher, Matt Brown, Erin Cain, Felipe Carrillo, Heather Casillas, Charles Chamberlain, Megan Cook, Ammon Danielson, Logan Day, Matthew Dekar, Lauren Diaz, Adam Duarte, James Earley, Brian Ellrott, Rebekah Funes, Sadie Gill, Chris Hammersmark, John Hannon, Brett Harvey, Rene Henery, Cyril Michel, Morgan Kilgour, Priscilla Liang, Duane Linander, Erin Lunda, Keith Marine, Bryan Matthias, Erica Meyers, Kirk Nelson, Jim Peterson, Corey Phillis, Mike Prowatzke, Emanuel Rodriguez, Derek Rupert, Alicia Seesholtz, Kate Spear, Cory Starr, Erin Strange, Susan Strachan, Mark Tompkins, Mike Urkov, Bill Vanderwaal, JD Wikert, Rod Wittler

Meeting Summary

The August 25, 2021 SIT call covered a review of the development of the priorities for the Near-term Restoration Strategy, summary of the most recent suite of Chinook salmon model changes reviewed and accepted by the SIT, and presentation of the results of the model updates and running the previous candidate restoration strategies through the model. The SIT began discussing whether the updated model results change our understanding of the system and the potential implications for adjusting Chinook salmon priorities. A few follow-up analyses were identified during the meeting that will be presented during the September 15 SIT call.

SIT members are asked to please review the updated model results (see materials below) and identify any questions, comments, or observations to bring to the September SIT call and continue the discussion on the model results, overall strategy, and priorities (and feel free to email to megan_cook@fws.gov as well).

Materials Available

Slides from August 25 Call – PDF includes bookmarks for easy navigation. Slides include review of the development of the Near-term Restoration Strategy priorities, summary of the new model changes, and the results from the new model (including calibration, sensitivity analysis, and summary metrics from running original candidate strategies through the new model).

Model Results Workbooks that contain the full results for fall, winter, and spring-run Chinook salmon using the updated decision support models in August 2021. The model results include natural production estimates, juvenile biomass estimates, viability estimates, utility scores, and relative loss scores.

New ShinyApp describing the SIT Candidate Restoration Strategies
Updated ShinyApp of Model Inputs

Note: if you missed the August 18 SIT Background Workshop, there are slides and notes posted.

Summary of Action Items:

(1) All SIT members: In preparation for the September 15 SIT call (10am-12pm), please review the updated model results presented during the Aug 25 call (see list of materials above). Please note any questions, comments, or observations you have and bring to Sept call (and feel free to email to megan_cook@fws.gov ahead of time as well).

(2) Jim/Adam will conduct additional exploration into updated DSM results to present during Sept SIT call:

  • Explore Strategies 4 and 10 and look at size distribution and timing to see fish leaving in the old version compared to the new version.
  • Look at prespawn mortality of spring-run in Butte and other tributaries.
  • Pull up response profile plots for days cross channel closed and see where these are changing and switching between different actions.

(3) Jim/Adam will update winter-run population seeding and calibration to 1000 fish.

(4) Megan will look into past SIT notes to see if there is better specificity on “Butte Creek downstream areas” for the NTRS priority on improving survival in Butte Creek.

(5) Brian Ellrott to provide updated info on Diversity Groups that NMFS is working on. Once adopted by NMFS, we will incorporate.

(6) Megan will pull together a group to discuss how to propose incorporating climate change into the DSMs (initial list: Rod Wittler, Brian Ellrott, Mark Tompkins, Jim Peterson, Kirk Nelson, Adam Duarte, Tricia Bratcher). Please contact megan_cook@fws.gov if you would like to join this group.

(7) Schedule future agency briefing/discussion for the SIT on the LTO and Biological Opinion implementation.

Detailed Meeting Notes

Below is an outline of the content presented during the workshop, along with key discussion points and questions/answers during the meeting. Please refer to the meeting slides for accompanying details, diagrams, and graphs.

Review of where we are in SIT Process

  • Completion of CVPIA Near-term Restoration Strategy FY21-FY25 (NTRS)
  • Strategy Schedule Summary
    • Alternating between model development and making recommendations
    • Year 1 has been model development and we are seeing results of that today
  • Today we are reviewing updated model results and beginning discussion about whether the updates indicate change ot our understanding of system, ultimately so we can affirm our existing priorities. Note: the threshold for change is high and priorities are informed by DSM output, not defined by DSM output.

Review of the Development of Near-term Restoration Strategy

Review Candidate Restoration Strategies

See slides for diagrams for each strategy, illustrating restoration actions by tributary over the simulation period. Numbers on the diagrams indicate units of effort. New app with candidate strategies

  • 5 years of seeding the model and then 20 years of actions simulated.
  • Strategy 1: Juvenile perennial habitat restoration focused in upper and lower-mid Sac River; Butte, Deer and Battle Creeks; and the Stanislaus and Feather Rivers
  • Strategy 2: Juvenile perennial habitat restoration focused in upper and lower-mid Sac River; Butte, Deer and Clear Creeks; and the Stanislaus and Feather Rivers
  • Strategy 3: Juvenile perennial habitat restoration focused in upper and lower-mid Sac River; Butte and Clear Creeks; and the Stanislaus, Mokelumne, and Feather Rivers
  • Strategy 4: Juvenile perennial habitat restoration focused in the mainstem Sac and San Joaquin Rivers
  • Strategy 5: Juvenile perennial habitat restoration focused in upper, upper-mid, and lower-mid Sac River and Cow and Clear Creeks
  • Strategy 6: Juvenile perennial habitat restoration focused in the upper and lower-mid Sac River; American River; and Clear Creeks with maintaining existing habitat in Clear and Butte Creeks and the Upper Sac River.
    • This strategy includes maintaining habitat in Butte (otherwise model rulesets allow habitat to decay)
  • Strategy 7: Juvenile seasonally-inundated habitat restoration focused in the mainstem Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers
    • Investing in floodplain in mainstem sections of river
  • Strategy 8: Optimal habitat restoration actions for winter run in the mainstem Sac with an emphasis on the Sac River below Red Bluff
    • This is an optimized strategy – allowing the model to tell us what actions to do in the tributaries chosen. Mainstem strategy, focuses on in-channel rearing and a bit on survival
  • Strategy 9: Optimal habitat restoration actions for spring run in the upper-mid and lower Sac River; Battle, Butte, Clear, Deer, Mill, and Antelope Creeks; and the Feather River with an emphasis on the Sac River and Battle, Butte, and Clear Creeks
    • Mixed strategy, quite a number of strategies have survival action for simulation actions
  • Strategy 10: Optimal habitat restoration actions for spring run in the upper-mid Sac River and Battle, Butte, Clear, Deer, Mill, and Antelope Creeks; and the Feather River equally allocated across tributaries
    • Similar to Strategy 9, forcing model to work in different places
  • Strategy 11: Optimal habitat restoration actions for fall run with at least one action per year in a tributary in each diversity group
  • Strategy 12: Optimal habitat restoration actions for fall run in the upper and lower Sac River and the American, Stanislaus, and Calaveras Rivers equally allocated across tributaries
    • More simple, chose where to work, in-channel rearing habitat
  • Strategy 13: Optimal habitat restoration actions for fall run in the upper and lower Sac River and the American, Stanislaus, and Mokelumne Rivers equally allocated across tributaries

Discussion

  • Brian Ellrott: We could put Mokelumne in the SSN. That would be consistent with the Technical Recovery Team/NMFS Recovery Plan. Will send info
    • Once NMFS adopts revised diversity groups, we will incorporate them into DSMs. Note: SIT previously adopted the use of the NMFS diversity groups so this would keep the SIT aligned with current diversity group designations.
  • Tricia Bratcher: Would like a sidebar conversation about Strategy 11 regarding Cottonwood Creek at some point. What is proposed is not really viable (have worked on that creek for 28 years now…). I’m also puzzled about the general lack of spawning habitat creation in the strategies below rim dams (e.g. Shasta/Keswick, Whiskeytown). Both have documented instream gravel deficits compared to historical conditions.
    • Jim: When Strategy 11 developed, we discussed feasibility of Cottonwood Creek and the problem with it is that there is a large head cut working its way back, general consensus not feasible to work in Cottonwood Creek, would take too much effort to address that. None of the final priorities reflected Cottonwood Creek.

Review important information

  • What are actions doing?
    • Spawning habitat: if limiting, increases no. fry
    • In-channel (perennial) juvenile habitat: if limiting, hold and grow juveniles
    • Floodplain (seasonally inundated) juvenile habitat: if limiting, hold and grow juveniles with higher survival and growth rates over short intervals
    • Increase survival: reduce/screen diversion
  • All strategies have 5 actions per year for 20 years. Exception: Strategy 11 has 6 actions per year
  • Winter-run: Battle Creek population not included, juveniles rearing in non-natal tributaries not included
  • Spring-run: Feather and Yuba fish not included in SIT metrics (they are still included in the model) because of lack of segregation between spring and fall run (decided in 2018)

Utility Scores Rescale Results

  • Proportional scoring; utility = (strategy value-minimum across strategies)/(maximum-minimum)
  • See slides for review of 2019 model results

November 2019: Strategy Development

  • Discussion centered around what strategy for increasing Chinook salmon numbers? String of pearls, connectivity, lateral/ephemeral tributaries, importance of spatial diversity, natural productivity, whether or not actions were supported by model outputs, what runs benefited from restoration priorities
  • Model outputs one of six different things discussed
  • Identified information needs based on sensitivity analysis
  • Developed monitoring guidelines
  • Data guidance
  • Graded models and inputs

NTRS Priority Restoration Actions for Chinook Salmon

  • Juvenile Habitat Restoration
    • Mainstem Sac River above the American River confluence (all runs)
    • Battle Creek in winter-run juvenile rearing locations
    • American River (fall)
    • Stanislaus River downstream to San Joaquin River at Vernalis (fall)
    • Clear Creek (spring, fall)
    • Lower Feather River below confluence with Yuba River (fall, spring)
  • Reconnect ephemeral non-natal tributaries in mainstem Sacramento River (winter)
  • Improve survival in Butte Creek in downstream areas (spring, fall)
  • Maintain existing spawning habitats in Upper Sac, American, and Stanislaus Rivers; Clear and Butte Creeks (all runs)

Sensitivity Analysis

Sensitivity analysis was used to identify which uncertainties influence average natural spawner abundance the most as well as which uncertainties change the optimal strategy (based on natural spawner abundance).

  • Common top uncertainties: model parameters (reducible with focused monitoring effort)
    • Juvenile survival
    • Juvenile growth
    • Adult survival
    • Reproduction
    • Juvenile territory size
  • Common top uncertainties: model inputs (reducible through expert meetings; will be refined as new monitoring data submitted)
    • In channel rearing habitat
    • Floodplain habitat
    • Spawning habitat
  • The sensitivity analysis results combined with SIT expert knowledge is what led to the identification of information need priorities

NTRS Priority Information Needs for Chinook Salmon

  • Getting better demographic information
    • Juvenile survival and growth in tributaries, mainstem, delta, ocean, and the effect of habitat
    • Juvenile movement and territory size and the effect of habitat
    • Juvenile use, growth, and survival in the Southport Levee Setback
  • Improved Habitat Estimates: update habitat modeling and estimates, habitat change through time (empirical basis)
  • Juvenile Production Estimates: emphasis on tributaries with existing long term data
  • Maintain long-term monitoring data on adult escapement and prespawn mortality

Discussion

  • Rod: When you want update on habitat inputs, can give that. Jim: We can schedule for October meeting
  • Brian: What is the distinction between things that ended up on the information needs list compared to the changes made via the SIT proposal process?
    • Megan: Things on the information need list came from results of sensitivity analysis and identify where we need better information. Proposals for changes to the model can be made at any time and include specifics on how things in the model can be improved or changed. Example would be habitat inputs - improved habitat information was identified as an information need and the SIT proposal on habitat inputs proposed a specific way to make that change and switch from Weighted Usable Area to the Habitat Suitability Index.
  • Brian: One thing to improve would be how spring-run handled in the model
    • Jim: Would just need a SIT proposal to make this change and have a discussion.

Overview of Model Changes implemented in 2021

New Flow vs. survival relationship for the Sacramento River (from Cyril Michel)

  • Survival should vary in response to flow in the Sacramento River, with a step function.
  • Previous outmigrant survival model based on flows at Freeport, temperature, predator contact points, diversions, body size
  • New version based only on flows at Wilkins Slough (CalSim node)

New Temperature vs. survival relationship for the Delta (from Cyril Michel)

  • Previous delta survival relationship based on temperature, predator contact points, diversions, body size
  • New version based on temperature thresholds with 42% survival below 16.5 degrees C for Sacramento basin fish, decreasing 55% per degree Celsius increase up to 19.5oC. At 19.5oC survival goes to 3.5% until 25oC when survival is zero.
  • Keith: How did we fit the intervals functions between the steps in the temp survival model?
    • Cyril Michel: conducted a study to look at the temperature and flow relationships and used the slope from that data to define the steps

Adding Battle Creek Winter-run Chinook

  • Battle Creek Winter-run Proposal, Oct 2019: Add capability to SIT model to include winter Chinook salmon in Battle Creek
  • How: Seed the watershed with hatchery fish
    • About 500 hatchery adults returning to BC each year
  • Battle Creek Correlation for Calibration
    • Explored which tributary was most similar to Battle Creek for calibration purposes and found good relationship between escapement estimates between Battle Creek and late-fall-run in Upper Sacramento River
  • Synthetic Time Series Calibration
    • If we proportionally match a mean of 500 fish (added 100, low in some years), could calibrate it

Proposal: Improving Habitat Inputs

  • Increase accuracy in each watershed and consistency across watersheds
  • Replace scaled, subsampled, WUA with full 2D and binary suitability

Updated Habitat Inputs

  • Mark Tompkins used new HSI-derived habitat to prototype approach Deer Creek habitat and is an improvement. Some tributaries were scaled off Deer Creek and those updated as well. Still longer term intent in the info needs to update similarly with better modeling in other watersheds.
  • Main point: Work in progress, this proposal.
  • QA/QC- extending of the species extents (remapped some upstream limits of where diff runs were going with watershed experts). Have not brought all habitat into new format of HSI-derived habitat approach
  • Keith: When you say scaled Deer Creek 2-D derived habitat to other areas, was that limited to tributaries, or any tributaries out into mainstem?
    • Mark: Have modeling for mainstem so that not happening, can see which ones were scaled here. Smaller northern tributaries don’t have any 2D modeling.

SIT Task for Today

  • See results of incorporating changes to the existing Chinook salmon models (fall-run, winter-run, spring-run)
  • Review updated Chinook salmon model output
  • Begin discussion of whether updated model results indicate significant change in our understanding of the system. Notes: threshold for change is high, and priorities are informed by DSM output, not determined by DSM output.
  • Ultimately, affirm existing priorities still supported

Updated Model Results and Discussion

Chinook Model Calibrations

  • Fall-run calibration results similar to calibration last time around
  • Winter-run calibration results slightly better than previous calibration, but not by much
  • Spring-run correlation a bit lower than previous calibration. Have to keep in mind both escapement and other rulesets (habitat rule sets, etc.)

Fall-run Natural Production Utility

Discussion related to implications of new survival terms in model

  • Brett Harvey: looking at differences between strategies 9 and 10, wondering if updated Cyril survival stuff affecting those?
  • Rene: wonder what the effect of changing those survival flow and temp relationships will have on ocean survival. Feel like a lot of the success of different strategies in the river comes down to how we treat ocean survival. We’re giving a size and timing distribution to ocean, and ocean treats them the same. If ocean treats them differently then survival might be less important.
    • Jim: good point. Using Will Satterthwaite model that takes into account timing relative to upwelling and size of fish. Upwelling related to climate. Those are not linked in the model. would be a good idea to link those at some point.
  • Corey Phillis: new survival terms could shift distribution of what the fish look like and that could have effects on how fish actually survive. Simple check to look at fish exiting between the two models to see if unintentionally imparted a strong filter on either the size or the timing of fish exiting.
    • Jim/Adam will contrast strategy 4 and look at size distribution and timing to see fish leaving in old version and new version. Will have info available for Sept call.
  • Rene: thinking about what are all the possible things that could shift, is there anything else to make sure that when we make a change like Cyril’s, we think about things we might need to do downstream to make the changes consistent conceptually.

Rene raised topic of whether perennial habitat is providing the benefits we assume they are providing and alluded to current work that may provide data to help shed light on this question. Discussion followed related to defining perennial habitat and its benefits (or lack thereof).

  • Chris: not that we don’t see juveniles in perennial habitat, it’s that they aren’t experiencing increased growth rate as a function of food availability. Habitat in that they can reside there but not benefitting from it
  • Brett Harvey: The benefit of in-channel structure/habitat is going to vary substantially between YOY vs yearlings, or between hi and lo flow conditions, it seems yearlings especially while over-summering would get the greatest benefit from that structure.
  • Susan Strachan: money spent on perennially inundated juvenile habitat is not on mainstem itself. Recognize the challenge and focused on restoring side channels which are narrower and have more access to side channels. They are used by juveniles. Haven’t done work on growth and survival yet but hope to soon. Mandy Banet is leading the monitoring program. Have some sites with BACI data and some have a mainstem control which will hopefully allow us to compare that question.
  • Jim: Assumption here is someone can design project such that it provides habitat that fish can grow and survive in it, and it’s useful for the longest possible time during rearing season
  • Chris: what was the threshold for perennial habitat? Results sort of have a flow habitat rating curve at some flow level where above is perennial and below is seasonal.
    • Mark: varies by watershed and the modeling available. All pretty well documented at the habitat input site. Typically the modeling in many places the modeling provided a perennial channel boundary. If it didn’t exist in some cases, Mark did some geomorphic delineations to determine the active low flow channel.

Rod: broader topic of effectiveness monitoring. Challenge SIT to be thinking about reinforcing its recommendations on the monitoring and the info needs on this area so we get a better definition so we’re not wondering the definitions. Important that we monitor constructed habitats on the type of project we build in the future.

Brian: issue of climate change and how we incorporate

  • Megan to convene group interested in talking through how to incorporate climate change scenarios into the model; coordinate with the CalSim proposal presented by Mark Tompkins back in June. This would be a proposal for the SIT to consider in the next round of model changes.

Fall-run Juvenile Biomass Utility

  • Wasn’t good correspondence between juvenile biomass and natural production. Little bit, not super great
  • Patterns with exception of 4, kind of similar

Winter-run Natural Production Utility

  • Correlation is 0.93 between 2019 and 2021 outputs
  • Megan: One of changes in 2021 was adding Battle Creek winter-run population
  • Asterisk is because in about half of simulations, Battle Creek goes extinct because of droughts, want to open up to discussion if we want to calibrate to habitat model to see habitat persisting. This is possibly from calibrating using the average running matching Sac river. Alternatively to try to calibrate to an average of 1000 and re-run winter strategies.
    • Matt Brown: think it’s worth doubling population calibration and seeding it with 1000

Spring-run Natural Production Utility

  • Strategy 10- upper and mid-sac actions, particularly 3 units of floodplain habitat in upper/mid sac every year. Sort through picking 2 tributaries each year (clear, butte, battle, antelope, deer, mill)
  • Jim/Adam can explore strategy 10 similar to how exploring strategy 4 (see timing of fish leaving under 2019 and 2021 fall-run model)
  • Corey: first thought would be creating good habitat that only hold spring-run and then run into temp and flow with lower survival.
    • Cyril: makes sense that that’s what might be going on. From research, think it’s reflecting what’s happening in nature (if fish don’t get out by early-mid May certain years, they’re toast)

Summary of Model Results and Candidate Restoration Strategies

  • Strategies 5/6/7 are generally showing as good for at least winter and fall-run for both 2019 and 2021, and Strategy 10 came up in 2019, and Strategies 9 and 11 in 2021
  • Note a slight difference in the strategies in 2021: in some strategies, Adam would add every other year in different places in previous version. In this version doing half unit every year instead of alternating years (e.g., Strategy 4 and 5).

Sensitivity Analysis Summary

  • Comparison of sensitivity analysis of parameters across the 2019 and 2021 model runs showed very similar things (survival, growth, etc)
  • Comparison of sensitivity analysis of inputs showed some some commonalities and some differences across the 2019 and 2021 model runs. Things that appeared in 2021 include days cross channel gates closed, streamflows, and probability of nest scour. Spawning habitat did not appear in 2021 results. Think differences in streamflow and temperature reflecting Cyril’s changes to the model – probably have to do with timing of fish moving through system, sizes, and where would do actions.

SIT Discussion of existing Chinook salmon priorities

  • Reminder of criteria for developing priorities (included all of the following, not just model output)
    • Connectivity- habitat patches, ephemeral tributaries
    • Spatial diversity
    • Natural productivity
    • Supported by model outputs
    • Runs benefiting

Evidence for change to priorities for juvenile habitat restoration?

  • Mike Beakes: still seems valid. Looked like top optimal strategies didn’t really change. Unless someone has a change in philosophy, nothing from model that suggests should change it. Jim: yes, might be worse to do something in lower end of Sac, but need to tease out first. About only thing would see

Evidence for change to priority for connecting ephemeral non-natal tributaries?

  • Matt Brown: still relevant.

Evidence for change to priority for improving survival in Butte Creek?

  • Matt Brown: if anything, Butte needs more help than it did before. Spring-run dependent on trans base diversions and PGE moving out of watershed and potentially leaving the fish high and dry. Also fish passage problems that could open up habitat.
  • Rod: are the passage issues natural or related to operations of diversions? Matt: both.
  • Tricia: there was a flow study completed in 2016 or 17 by CDFW on Butte creek. Critical riffles or other things, good place to look. Study available here. Will show the most recent instream flow studies (plus some of them also assessed water temperatures) completed by CDFW; it includes Butte Creek.
  • Hannon: priority refers to “downstream”. Can we have more specificity? Matt Brown: issues can be up to limits of migration. Action Item: Megan to look into past SIT notes to check for greater specificity.
  • Corey: if we get the same number of juveniles out of Butte no matter the number of adults, that suggests it’s not holding habitat that’s limiting, it’s the spawning habitat or something downstream in the lifecycle. But if we get more juveniles back than adults, it suggests prespawn mortality is the bottleneck. Concern that recommendation made now is that we are assuming that the bottleneck is downstream of the prespawn mortality.
    • Urkov: did not include an action in any watershed that was taking an action that would improve adult survival. Only spawning habitat.
    • Jim: what we can do is to look at what’s prespawn mortality of spring-run in Butte and other tribs and see if it’s one of those that’s getting hammered. Can review that info in Sept and bring this back up.

Evidence for change to priority for maintaining spawning habitat?

  • Keith Marine: saw spawning habitat show up very few places. Why spawning habitat at some point. Are we never getting to a place where it becomes limiting so it becomes a more important strategy or action
    • Jim: it does come out in multiple places
    • Adam: strategies 1-7 don’t have enhanced spawning habitat because it wasn’t an option we allowed the model to pick.
  • Keith: in terms of habitat decay is it simply based on sediment transport?

    • Adam: it’s just a probability of proportion decay. Rod leading a subgroup.
    • Jim: this is an expert judgement element and still working on getting a good quantitative handle on it. Right now have expert best guess of what decay rate would be in different tributaries.
    • Rod: we will be working on that (rod, mark, hammer, everyone welcome). Trying to get something more viable on the deterministic side, hopefully have something ready by 2022 or 2023. Any info on rate of transport of fine sediments is great, coarse measurement better. Don’t think we considered impact of fire on fine input rates but will have to do so soon. Please join us.
    • Matt Brown: on Clear Creek used empirical data collected that looks at each gravel sites put in and how much habitat that exists from that. Does include a couple big fire years. For tribs with no reservoirs there is no decay rate.
  • Corey Phillis: concern with Butte. Would maybe make a tweak: Maintain existing holding and spawning habitat for spring-run.

    • Rod: how much of that is an operational issue vs a physical issue?
    • Corey: think mix of both. Model assumes cold water being delivered to Butte Creek.
    • Matt Brown: yes both. Good points about this and wondering why we decided on downstream focus. Vast majority of spring-run on Butte Creek have already perished this year. Proposals out there to increase holding habitat by removing upstream barriers. Areas upstream would provide access to cold water
    • Brian: would support adding this as a priority.
  • Tricia: even though Mill and Deer not listed, they are 2 of 3 source pops for spring-run. Those two are struggling with diversion in the valley floor impacts and also ties to climate change and fire. Going to have challenges with cold water coming out of those and seeing impacts from illegal diversions.

    • Rod: need to remember this is a list of priorities, we have lots of good ideas that are not high enough priority to make this list. My sense in other analyses that we are far more limited in juvenile rearing than we are in spawning. Not true everywhere but certainly on bigger watersheds it appears that’s the case. Seems right that priorities are to address biggest deficits. Once we have a lot of those types of projects completed and the process for getting those projects funded is imminent here.
    • Tricia: Acknowledge that this is priority list, hope that there are mechanisms in place given it’s a 5-year plan, if other things happen with in-stream flows and water temperatures that kill almost everything, that we are responsive and adaptive enough with this plan to be able to address these things in a proactive manner.
  • Brian: Mill and Deer Creek are small systems so never be big producers but they are arguably the most important Chinook salmon systems in the whole valley. With this model, would we ever expect them to show up as a priority given they are small?

    • Jim: yes, natural productivity is just one aspect of the evaluation this time. Next time in moving forward from here, argument can be made that yeah we have spatial diversity but not a lot of spring-run so not really meeting those goals. We can evaluate some actions in there - e.g., exploring a North Sac tiny tributary strategy might be something worth considering.
  • Rod: in looking at objectives may need to stratify by ESA or non-ESA next time. What is the current status of endangered species in northern part of valley?

    • Brian: Situation is not good. At tail end of 5 year status review. Having tough discussions about whether to keep spring-run as threatened or uplist to endangered.
  • Rod: would be good to get an update at a future SIT meeting about LTO implementation and role for the SIT.

  • Derek Rupert: Clear Creek is one of those places to truly address juvenile survival. If we make even small adjustments, we can make huge gains in habitat really quickly and easily probably compared to everywhere else. Appreciate these marching orders. If we can get funding and cooperation with partners, we can move forward and make some really big strides. Look forward to implementing key restoration programs on Clear Creek to address massive lack of juvenile rearing habitat.

Evidence for change to information needs?

  • Brian/JD: Fry data in mainstem and through delta is a piece that probably needs more refinement. Do we need to distinguish fry vs smolts in juvenile rearing habitat or demographics?

  • Chris Hammersmark: surprised to see spawning habitat drop. Think have static estimates of spawning habitat and time has passed since then. Know those need improvement.

    • Jim: agree and kind of surprised too. We’ve basically done 4 versions of the model. Two early versions of SIT all the spawning habitat variables came out as important. This is the first time spawning habitat hasn’t come out as important. In the info needs spawning and rearing habitat would be improved. Wouldn’t change the ranks of the model outputs of the strategies.
    • JD: for new folks, spawning habitat is rearing habitat. It’s where a lot of macroinvert production happens. Don’t want to lose sight that there is a multiple benefit to putting gravel in streams and not just serving a single function.
    • Rod: need that written down really well for habitat subgroup, and so it can inform tier 1 monitoring requirements in future funding opportunities.
  • Mike Urkov: days cross channel closed. Should know more about that. Doesn’t change actions. Does it change info needs? Don’t think it does so long as juvenile movement and territory size and effective habitat includes juvenile movement in delta for salmon demographics.

    • Jim: all about the timing and what the actions do to timing of fish. Action Item: Can pull up response profile plots for days cross channel closed and see where these are changing and switching between different actions.
  • JD: question on new model run and existing strategies. Wonder if Yuba might have gotten new traction in the new model runs if considered other candidate strategies to explore Yuba? Or maybe not now but in next 5-year strategy?

    • Jim: There are actions would benefit Yuba. That’s why the Feather River below confluence below Yuba was brought up as a restoration action.
    • Megan: exploring new candidate strategies focused on Yuba would be more appropriate when we revisit priorities for the next 5-year strategy.

Late-fall-run Chinook salmon beta model

  • Beta version of new late-fall-run Chinook salmon model was presented. Calibration and initial model run done but sensitivity analysis not yet completed. See slides for details and more info will be presented at a future SIT meeting.