[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 2 (Tuesday, January 4, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 93-31089]


[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: January 4, 1994]


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Part III





Department of Commerce





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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration



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50 CFR Parts 222 and 227




Endangered and Threatened Species; Status of Sacramento River Winter-
run Chinook Salmon; Final Rule
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 222 and 227

[Docket No. 930779-3330; I.D. 051192B]

 
Endangered and Threatened Species; Status of Sacramento River 
Winter-run Chinook Salmon

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS has determined that the Sacramento River winter-run 
chinook salmon should be reclassified from threatened to endangered 
under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). NMFS has determined 
that the current biological status of the species is endangered based 
on the continued decline and increased variability of run sizes since 
its first listing as a threatened species in 1989, the expectation of 
weak returns in certain years as the result of two small year classes 
(1991 and 1993), and continuing threats to the population. Although 
measures implemented through consultations conducted under section 7 of 
the ESA and State and Federal regulatory actions are designed to reduce 
adverse impacts on the species, quantifiable improvements in population 
levels are not likely to be evident for several years. NMFS will 
continue to closely monitor the status of this population, and evaluate 
the protective measures to determine whether there is evidence that 
these measures have reduced or eliminated threats to the species and 
whether a change in status may be warranted.

EFFECTIVE DATES: February 3, 1994.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: James H. Lecky, NMFS, Southwest 
Region, Protected Species Management Division, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., 
suite 4200, Long Beach, CA, 90802-4213, (310) 980-4015, or Margaret 
Lorenz, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, 1335 East-West Highway, 
Silver Spring, MD 20910, (301) 713-2322.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Under the ESA and its implementing regulations (50 CFR part 424), 
an ``endangered species'' is any species that is in danger of 
extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. A 
``threatened species'' is any species that is likely to become an 
endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. Based on a review of the status of 
the Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon and the factors 
affecting the species, NMFS has determined that it is endangered.
    The Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon is a unique 
population that is distinguishable from other chinook salmon runs in 
the Sacramento River based on the timing of its upstream migration and 
spawning period. For the most part, the winter-run chinook salmon 
population is comprised of three year classes, each of which primarily 
returns to spawn as 3-year old fish.
    The best available data on winter-run chinook salmon abundance are 
the annual estimates of the spawning run size made by the California 
Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) based on counts of fish passing the 
Red Bluff Diversion Dam. The CDFG began estimating the annual run size 
for winter-run chinook salmon in 1967 after the Dam was placed in 
operation. This time series of annual run size estimates has documented 
a precipitous decline in the winter-run chinook salmon to its present 
low level (Table 1).

     Table 1.--Annual Estimated Run Size at Red Bluff Diversion Dam     
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Year                            Number of Fish
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1967....................................................          57,306
1968....................................................          84,414
1969....................................................         117,808
1970....................................................          40,409
1971....................................................          53,089
1972....................................................          37,133
1973....................................................          24,079
1974....................................................          21,897
1975....................................................          23,430
1976....................................................          35,096
1977....................................................          17,214
1978....................................................          24,862
1979....................................................           2,364
1980....................................................           1,156
1981....................................................          20,041
1982....................................................           1,242
1983....................................................           1,831
1984....................................................           2,663
1985....................................................           3,962
1986....................................................           2,422
1987....................................................           2,236
1988....................................................           2,085
1989....................................................             547
1990....................................................             441
1991....................................................             191
1992....................................................           1,180
1993....................................................             341
------------------------------------------------------------------------


    In 1989, the CDFG estimated that the winter-run chinook salmon run 
size was only 547 fish. This unexpectedly small return represented 
nearly a 75 percent decline from the consistent, but low, run size of 
2,000 to 3,000 fish that had occurred since 1982. As a result of this 
unexpected decline, NMFS issued an emergency interim rule listing the 
winter-run chinook salmon as threatened under the ESA on August 4, 1989 
(54 FR 32085). During the period the emergency interim rule was in 
effect, NMFS published a proposed rule to list winter-run chinook 
salmon as threatened under the formal listing procedures of the ESA on 
March 20, 1990 (55 FR 10260). To avoid a hiatus in protection of the 
species until the formal listing process was completed, NMFS published 
a second emergency interim rule listing winter-run chinook salmon as 
threatened on April 2, 1990 (55 FR 12191). On November 5, 1990, NMFS 
completed the formal listing process and published a final rule (55 FR 
46515) listing the species as threatened under the ESA.
    On June 5, 1991, the American Fisheries Society petitioned NMFS to 
reclassify winter-run chinook salmon as an endangered species. At the 
time the petition was submitted, the best preliminary data available 
indicated that the 1991 run would consist of a return of only 88 to 200 
adults from the progeny of the 1988 run of 2,085 fish. The final run 
size estimate made by the CDFG for 1991 was 191 fish (Table 1). NMFS 
reviewed the petition and determined that it contained substantial 
information indicating that the petitioned action might be warranted. 
On November 7, 1991, NMFS announced (56 FR 58986) its intention to 
review the status of the species to determine whether reclassification 
was appropriate. After conducting a status review, NMFS published a 
proposed rule (57 FR 27416) on June 19, 1992, to reclassify winter-run 
chinook salmon as endangered.
    NMFS published a subsequent Federal Register notice (58 FR 31688) 
on June 4, 1993, delaying the issuance of a final determination on the 
reclassification for up to six months pursuant to section 4(b)(6)(B) of 
the ESA. On September 10, 1993, NMFS published another Federal Register 
notice that provided information on the 1993 run size estimate (341 
fish) and reopened the public comment period on the proposed rule.
    This determination does not change any of the prohibitions against 
taking Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon. Section 9 of the ESA 
prohibits taking endangered species. The regulations issued when this 
species was listed as threatened in November 1990 also prohibit taking.
    In a separate rulemaking, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), 
which is responsible for the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife, will revise the list to reflect the reclassification of this 
species from threatened to endangered.

Current Status

    Conservation measures were implemented by the Bureau of Reclamation 
(Bureau) beginning in 1986-1987 in an effort to improve adult passage 
conditions for winter-run chinook salmon at Red Bluff Diversion Dam and 
to provide suitable spawning and egg incubation conditions for the 
species in the upper Sacramento River below Keswick Dam. Despite the 
implementation of measures in 1986-1987 and 1987-1988, the winter-run 
chinook salmon run size declined to 441 fish in 1990 and to 191 fish in 
1991. The estimated 1991 run size of 191 fish was primarily the result 
of surviving progeny from the 1988 spawning population of 2,085 fish. 
Thus, the 1991 spawning escapement represented nearly a 90 percent 
decline in a single generation, and suggested that the 1988 year class 
was nearly a total failure (57 FR 27416).
    In 1992, the CDFG estimated that the winter-run chinook salmon run 
size increased to 1,180 fish. This run size was substantially higher 
than the runs estimated in 1989 (547 fish), 1990 (441 fish), and 1991 
(191 fish), and it represented more than a 100 percent increase in the 
spawning population in a single successive generation since the 1992 
run was comprised primarily of the surviving progeny from the 1989 run. 
In 1989, the Bureau implemented conservation measures to manage upper 
Sacramento River water temperatures and provide improved fish passage 
at the Red Bluff. As a result of these actions, temperature conditions 
were much improved with favorable water temperatures occurring from 
Keswick Dam to Bend Bridge (44 miles downstream) during almost the 
entire spawning and egg incubation period. Spawning ground surveys in 
1989 also indicated that nearly 100 percent of the estimated run 
spawned in this 44-mile river reach where water temperature was 
favorable. As a result of these factors, temperature-related mortality 
was minimal in 1989. The substantial increase in the 1992 run size 
suggests that the measures implemented to protect winter-run chinook 
salmon in 1989 were effective, and that similar or more protective 
measures may be successful in the future.
    In 1993, the CDFG estimated the winter-run chinook salmon run size 
to be 341 fish. This represented nearly a 30 percent decline of the run 
size in one generation. NMFS had anticipated that the run size would 
likely decline in 1993 because the 1990 spawning population (441 fish) 
experienced less favorable water temperature conditions during spawning 
and egg incubation, and more of the run spawned downstream from the 
river reach where temperatures could be suitably managed by the Bureau. 
In 1990, as a result of continued drought conditions and high ambient 
temperatures, favorable water temperatures for spawning and egg 
incubation were present only from Keswick Dam to the Balls Ferry Bridge 
(26 miles downstream) during a portion of the egg incubation period. In 
addition, spawning distribution surveys indicated that nearly 10 
percent of the run spawned downstream from Balls Ferry where 
temperatures were not favorable. Therefore, temperature-related 
mortality was substantially higher in 1990 than in 1989. In addition to 
less favorable temperature conditions, it is possible that conditions 
for outmigrants were less than favorable, and that ocean survival of 
the 1990 year class was reduced by the El Nino event that began in 
1991-92.
    Since the winter-run chinook salmon was formally listed as 
threatened in November 1990 (55 FR 46515), the species run size has 
continued to decline, with the exception of 1992, and exhibit 
considerable variability (Table 1). Although some protective measures 
were implemented beginning in 1987, this decline was exacerbated by the 
6-year drought in California (1987-1992). Based on the run size 
estimates for the last 3 years (1991-1993), the population now has two 
weak year classes (1991 and 1993). NMFS expects that the 1994 run will 
also be weak because of the weak 1991 year class (191 fish) and the 
less than favorable conditions for spawning, egg incubation, and 
juvenile outmigration that occurred in 1991-92. Because of the small 
run in 1991 and the weak return expected in 1994, this year class is 
likely to remain weakened for some time.
    As part of the status review, extinction probabilities were 
estimated for the winter-run chinook salmon population using 
modifications of the model described by Dennis, Munholland, and Scott 
(1991), and the 3-year geometric moving average of the annual estimated 
run size for the periods of 1967-1993 and 1979 1993, respectively. 
Results of the analysis indicate that if past trends continue, the 
population faces a high probability of dropping below 100 spawners per 
year at least once over the next 10 years, and to even lower levels 
over the 50 and 100 year time horizons.
    The extinction modeling results suggest that the risk of the 
winter-run chinook salmon population dropping to unacceptably low 
levels is high. However, this type of analysis is based only on 
historical trends in the population (1967-1993) and assumes that past 
conditions will continue in the future. Although the 1994 run is 
expected to be weak, NMFS believes that conditions for winter-run 
chinook salmon were substantially improved in 1992 and 1993 because of 
long-term protective measures implemented to reduce impacts of Central 
Valley and State Water Project operations and improve conditions for 
successful egg incubation, rearing, and outmigration, and the end of 
the drought. In addition to these protective measures, the FWS has been 
supplementing the natural production of juveniles with substantial 
numbers of hatchery produced fish. If these protective measures and 
supplementation efforts prove to be effective, run sizes in 1995 and 
1996 will likely increase. For these reasons, the probability of the 
population declining to low levels is probably less than suggested by 
the extinction modeling analysis. However, because the effectiveness of 
these recently implemented protective measures and supplementation 
efforts is unknown and cannot be assessed until future runs return, 
there remains substantial risk that the population is in danger of 
extinction.

Summary of Comments

    The World Wildlife Fund supported the reclassification and also 
encouraged NMFS to develop and implement a recovery plan for the 
conservation of Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon. The 
Department of the Interior (Interior) also supported the 
reclassification of winter-run chinook salmon, and said the population 
remained at depressed levels and may be in danger of extinction after 
the next two runs. However, Interior noted that the 1989 year class 
survived particularly well and that the resulting 1992 run size of 
1,180 adults represented more than a 100 percent increase in size in a 
single successive generation. Interior also acknowledged that the 1992 
increase in run size may indicate that measures taken to protect the 
population in recent years may be effective. Interior also provided 
technical comments to clarify and update facts contained in the 
proposed rule.
    The Westlands Water District, the Family Water Alliance, and the 
Glenn County Board of Supervisors all opposed reclassifying winter-run 
chinook salmon because of protective measures that have been recently 
implemented. They said that the threatened status should be retained 
until the effectiveness of these measures has been assessed.

Response to Comments

    NMFS agrees with the World Wildlife Fund that development and 
implementation of a recovery plan is essential for the conservation and 
recovery of winter-run chinook salmon. For this reason, NMFS has 
appointed a National Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon 
recovery team, comprised of fishery resource mangers, experts on 
winter-run chinook salmon biology, and conservation biology 
specialists, to develop a recovery plan. The recovery team has been 
meeting since September 1992 and will submit a draft recovery plan to 
NMFS in 1994. Interior's technical comments were incorporated where 
appropriate.
    NMFS disagrees with the comments of the Westlands Water District, 
the Family Water Alliance, and the Glenn County Board of Supervisors 
that current protective measures should be allowed to be in place for a 
certain amount of time and their effectiveness evaluated before NMFS 
determines whether reclassification is necessary. Although measures 
have been implemented to reduce adverse impacts on winter-run chinook 
salmon, and NMFS believes they are likely to be effective, their 
effectiveness is currently unknown and cannot be evaluated until data 
on future returns are available.
    One of the factors to be considered in listing, delisting and 
reclassifying a species is ``the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms.'' Judicial interpretation of this language allows NMFS to 
also consider the ``adequacy'' of regulatory mechanisms in its listing 
decisions. It is premature to determine the adequacy of these measures 
for purposes of this reclassification. Most measures will not 
demonstrate positive results until the 1996 return of adult winter-run 
chinook salmon. NMFS must determine whether reclassification is 
justified on the basis of the current status of the population and the 
factors affecting its continued existence.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4(a)(1) of the ESA specifies five criteria to be evaluated 
in reviewing the status of a species or population proposed for listing 
or reclassification. The following discussion is in addition to the 
evaluation of these factors in the proposed rulemaking to reclassify 
winter-run chinook salmon as an endangered species (57 FR 27416, June 
19, 1992), the first Notice of Determination (52 FR 6041, February 27, 
1987), a subsequent Notice of Determination (53 FR 49722, December 19, 
1987), two emergency rules (54 FR 32088, August 4, 1989 and 55 FR 
12193, April 2, 1990), the proposed rule to list winter-run chinook 
salmon as threatened (55 FR 10260, March 20, 1990), and the final rule 
listing the species as threatened (55 FR 46515, November 5, 1990).

1. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of its Habitat or Range

    Modification and loss of spawning and rearing habitat have been 
major factors contributing to the decline of the winter-run chinook 
salmon.
Shasta and Keswick Dams
    On February 12, 1993, NMFS issued a biological opinion and 
incidental take statement to the Bureau of Reclamation which concluded 
that long-term operations of the Federal Central Valley Project and the 
State Water Project would jeopardize the continued existence of winter-
run chinook salmon. The opinion identifies a reasonable and prudent 
alternative with measures designed to protect winter-run chinook salmon 
from the long-term operations of Shasta and Keswick Dams, as well as 
other facilities of the Central Valley Project. Implementation of these 
measures is expected to substantially improve water temperature and 
flow conditions in the upper Sacramento River for winter-run chinook 
salmon spawning, incubation, and rearing. The specific measures 
contained in the reasonable and prudent alternative that relate to 
Shasta and Keswick Dams require the Bureau to (1) use a more 
conservative forecasting approach to determine the annual allocation of 
deliverable water stored in Shasta Reservoir, (2) maintain a minimum 
end-of-water-year carryover storage in Shasta Reservoir (1.9 million 
acre-feet) for most water year types, (3) maintain daily average water 
temperatures in the winter-run chinook salmon spawning grounds below 
Keswick Dam at no more than 56 degrees Fahrenheit from April 15 through 
August 31 and at no more than 60 degrees Fahrenheit from October 1 
through October 31, (4) maintain a minimum flow of 3,250 cubic feet per 
second (cfs) from Keswick Dam from October 1 through March 31, and (5) 
reduce releases from Keswick Dam according to specific criteria from 
July 1 through March 31. The reasonable and prudent alternative 
identified specific temperature control points in the upper Sacramento 
River for various operating scenarios based on the water year type and 
reservoir storage conditions at the start of the water year.
    Based on forecasted water supplies and reservoir storage conditions 
in February and March 1993, the Bureau met the reasonable and prudent 
alternative requirement to maintain water temperatures at or below 56 
degrees Fahrenheit throughout the entire winter-run chinook salmon 
spawning and incubation season from Keswick Dam to Bend Bridge. The 
CDFG conducted numerous aerial surveys of redd (nests) counts during 
the winter-run chinook spawning period and observed an unusually large 
number of redds (in proportion to the estimated run size) due to 
excellent viewing conditions in the river. Based on these surveys, 
virtually all redds were observed in the vicinity of Redding well 
upstream from Ball's Ferry. Two redds were observed between Ball's 
Ferry and the Bend Bridge temperature control point, and only a single 
redd was observed below Bend Bridge (immediately downstream from the 
Red Bluff Diversion Dam). As a result of the temperature control 
maintained by the Bureau and the distribution of spawners in the river, 
the incremental impact of temperature on winter-run chinook salmon egg 
and juvenile survival was minimal in 1993. In addition to providing 
temperature control during the 1993 spawning, incubation, and rearing 
season, the Bureau's operations in 1993 resulted in an end-of-water-
year Shasta Reservoir storage (in excess of 3.0 million acre-feet) that 
far exceeded the requirements of the reasonable and prudent 
alternative.
    The incidental take statement issued with the February 1993, long-
term CVP biological opinion also contains specific measures that must 
be implemented to minimize the effects of Shasta and Keswick Dam 
operations on winter-run chinook salmon incidental take. These measures 
include (1) the continuation and expansion of temperature monitoring in 
the upper Sacramento River to ensure compliance with the temperature 
criteria, (2) NMFS review of the Bureau's proposed water allocation 
plans before delivery commitments are made each year to determine their 
potential effects on upper river water temperatures, and (3) monitoring 
in the upper river when Keswick Dam releases are reduced to prevent the 
stranding of juvenile winter-run chinook salmon. These measures were 
implemented by the Bureau as required by the incidental take statement.
    Spawning habitat utilized by winter-run chinook salmon in the 
Sacramento River has also been degraded by decreases in the rate of 
replenishment for gravel suitable for spawning (NMFS 1992c). In 1990, 
the California Department of Water Resources placed 100,000 cubic yards 
of spawning gravel in the upper Sacramento River between Salt Creek and 
Clear Creek to restore degraded spawning riffles in areas of the river 
used by winter-run chinook salmon. The FWS has been evaluating these 
gravel restoration efforts and issued progress reports in 1992 and 
1993. Thus far, the majority of the gravel remains where it was 
originally placed because flows have not reached rates great enough to 
disperse it in the upper river. Studies by the FWS are expected to 
continue through at least 1993 with a final report on the program 
expected in 1994.
    Adult winter-run chinook salmon can also be adversely impacted by 
operation of the Keswick Dam stilling basin. Overflow of water from the 
stilling basin during operation of the spillway attracts upstream 
migrating adult salmon into the basin at the base of the Dam where they 
become trapped. The CDFG and FWS have conducted fish rescue operations 
at the stilling basin and removed hundreds of trapped salmon. Until the 
facility is structurally modified to allow fish free passage back to 
the river, it is likely that some adult winter-run chinook salmon will 
be lost. To remedy this long-standing problem, the incidental take 
statement issued with NMFS' February 12, 1993, biological opinion 
requires the Bureau to structurally modify the stilling basin by no 
later than December 31, 1993, so that adult winter-run chinook salmon 
will be able to freely pass from the basin back into the Sacramento 
River. NMFS and the Bureau have been meeting to discuss and evaluate 
alternative methods of correcting the problems with the stilling basin.
Red Bluff Diversion Dam
    Another serious habitat concern for winter-run chinook salmon is 
the impediment to adult upstream migration caused by the Bureau's 
operation of this dam on the Sacramento River. Operation of the dam and 
the associated Tehama-Colusa Canal also adversely impacts juvenile 
winter-run chinook salmon migrating downstream past the facility. 
Impacts of the dam and its operations are discussed in the February 12, 
1993, biological opinion addressing long-term operations of the Central 
Valley and State Water Projects.
    The 1993 biological opinion also includes specific measures to 
minimize the impact of gate operations at Red Bluff Diversion Dam on 
both the upstream passage of adult winter-run chinook salmon and the 
downstream passage of juveniles. These measures require the Bureau to 
maintain the dam gates in the raised position at least through April 
30, 1993, and from November 1, 1993, through at least April 30, 1994. 
After the Bureau's proposed pilot pumping project is operational in 
1994, the Bureau must raise the dam gates from September 15 through at 
least May 14 in all subsequent years. Operation of dam gates in 
accordance with this schedule is expected to provide unimpeded access 
to upper river spawning habitat for most migrating adults and 
substantially reduce losses of downstream migrating juveniles due to 
predation. The Bureau maintained the dam gates in the raised position 
through April 30, 1993. In a effort to provide additional protection 
for outmigrating juveniles in 1993, the Bureau raised the dam gates in 
mid-October rather than on November 1 as required by the reasonable and 
prudent alternative.
    Operation of the Tehama-Colusa Canal water diversion facilities 
associated with Red Bluff Diversion Dam before 1990 also adversely 
affected juvenile winter-run chinook salmon during their outmigration. 
To improve operation of the dam and canal and to reduce impacts to 
juvenile salmonids, including winter-run chinook salmon, the Bureau 
installed ``state-of-the-art'' drum screens and a bypass system at the 
canal headworks in 1990. Studies conducted to date indicate that the 
entrainment problem has been greatly diminished by the new screens. FWS 
is expected to publish a report in 1993 summarizing the results of 
monitoring and evaluation studies conducted in 1992. Additional 
studies, including monitoring of entrainment and an evaluation of 
mortality associated with the bypass system is anticipated in 1993. The 
February 1993 biological opinion for long-term CVP operations requires 
the Bureau to develop and implement a program to evaluate the fish 
bypass facilities, and correct any identified problems. This evaluation 
has not been completed.
    The Bureau, in conjunction with Federal and state fishery agencies, 
has been evaluating various alternatives to the existing facilities at 
Red Bluff Diversion Dam. The Bureau published an appraisal report in 
1992 that identified and analyzed several alternatives for improving 
fish passage at the dam. Among the four most reasonable alternatives 
identified in the appraisal report, two involve installation of a new 
pumping plant based on the Archimedes screw design. The Bureau has 
postponed final selection of a preferred alternative until experimental 
data are collected and analyzed from a pilot pumping plant that will be 
constructed downstream from the dam in 1994.
    The pilot pumping plant that the Bureau has proposed to install at 
the dam will consist of three large pumps to be located on the west 
bank of the Sacramento River immediately downstream from the dam. Two 
of the pumps will be closed Archimedes pumps and the third will be a 
helical style pump, with each having approximately a 100 cfs capacity. 
This pilot program is intended to evaluate the pump design and 
operation, and to allow the Bureau to meet irrigation demands in the 
Tehama-Colusa Canal service area while maintaining the dam gates in the 
raised position. NMFS conducted an ESA section 7 consultation with the 
Bureau on the pilot pumping project and issued a biological opinion and 
incidental take statement in February 1993 which requires the Bureau to 
conduct an extensive monitoring program to evaluate the effects of fish 
passage by the pumps and assess the level of taking. Consultation was 
reinitiated in June 1993 to address modifications in the design, 
construction, and operations of the pumping facility that would delay 
eventual operation from October 1993 to December 1994.
Pollution
    Pollution in the Sacramento River has also degraded winter-run 
chinook salmon spawning and rearing habitat. In particular, NMFS is 
concerned about the effects on adult and juvenile winter-run chinook 
salmon from runoff entering the upper Sacramento River that is 
contaminated by heavy metals leached from inactive mining sites at Iron 
Mountain Mine (IMM). Heavy metal concentrations from this runoff can 
reach levels that are lethal to winter-run chinook salmon eggs and 
juveniles. Metal-laden runoff that flows from IMM into the Spring Creek 
drainage is impounded behind the Spring Creek Debris Dam operated by 
the Bureau. The Bureau generally operates this dam to control the 
release of contaminated Spring Creek flow in conjunction with dilution 
releases from Shasta and Whiskeytown Reservoirs. The Bureau is expected 
to continue controlling releases from Spring Creek Debris Dam in this 
manner until source control and/or cleanup can be achieved.
    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has placed IMM on the 
Superfund Priority List, and the State of California and EPA are 
continuing to evaluate options for the long-term control of 
contaminants originating from the IMM complex. Based on an memorandum 
of Agreement between the Bureau and EPA, the Bureau will develop a plan 
to enlarge Spring Creek Debris Dam to provide additional storage for 
IMM effluent. EPA also issued a Record of Decision on September 30, 
1992, identifying an interim remedial action plan to clean up hazardous 
substances in the Boulder Creek Operable Unit at the IMM site. The 
remedial action involves the collection and treatment of acid mine 
drainage discharges from the Richmond and Lawson portals at IMM, and 
the excavation and capping of existing waste piles that are eroding and 
discharging into Boulder Creek and subsequently Spring Creek and the 
upper Sacramento River. The Richmond and Lawson portals are the two 
largest sources of hazardous materials at the IMM site and represent 
the sources for nearly 40 percent of the copper and 80 percent of the 
cadmium and zinc leached from IMM and discharged into tributaries 
leading to the Sacramento River. In addition to these activities, the 
EPA is moving forward with plans to study several remaining sources of 
contamination at IMM and identify appropriate remedial actions.
    The 1993 biological opinion to the Bureau also addressed 
contamination from IMM. The opinion's incidental take statement 
requires the Bureau to operate Spring Creek Debris Dam and Shasta Dam 
so as to minimize the chronic exposure of adult and juvenile winter-run 
chinook salmon to heavy metal concentrations and eliminate the 
potential scouring of metal laden sediments from Keswick Reservoir.
    NMFS has previously expressed concern that outmigrating juvenile 
winter-run chinook salmon may be adversely impacted by the disposal of 
contaminated dredge sediments at disposal sites located in the San 
Francisco Bay area. The residence time for outmigrating winter-run 
chinook salmon through the Bay is thought to range from 1 week to more 
than 2 months depending on the water year type. Prey organisms utilized 
by juvenile winter-run chinook salmon may bioaccumulate contaminants 
originating from in-bay disposal of contaminated dredge sediments, 
thereby exposing juveniles to these contaminants as they forage and 
migrate through the Bay.
    Although NMFS continues to be concerned about the potential effects 
of in-bay disposal, the Corps has taken recent action to ensure that 
in-bay disposal of contaminated materials does not occur. In June 1992, 
the Corps, EPA, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the San 
Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission published 
proposed interim testing guidelines for dredged sediments that would be 
disposed of at in-bay sites. On February 1, 1993, the Corps formally 
adopted these guidelines in Public Notice 93-2. These interim testing 
guidelines are designed to ensure that sufficient information is 
available to characterize sediments to be dredged for all projects so 
that disposal does not result in chemical or biological degradation of 
the disposal site. These guidelines are intended to apply to all open 
water disposal projects until a long-term plan for managing dredged 
sediments in the San Francisco Bay area is developed and implemented.
    Although the interim testing guidelines adopted by the Corps 
represent an important short-term action aimed at preventing the in-bay 
disposal of contaminated sediments, NMFS believes it is essential that 
a long-term strategy be developed and implemented for San Francisco Bay 
area dredging and disposal activities. To meet this need, the Corps and 
several other Federal, state and local agencies, including NMFS, are 
developing a Long-Term Management Strategy (LTMS) for managing dredging 
and disposal activities. The LTMS is designed to provide appropriate 
dredged material disposal alternatives for a 50-year planning horizon 
through the designation of ocean, in-bay, and upland disposal sites and 
the identification of beneficial reuse options. Implementation of the 
LTMS management programs is anticipated to begin in August 1994.
Bank Stabilization
    Bank stabilization projects in the Sacramento River are believed to 
adversely affect winter-run chinook salmon rearing habitat. The Corp of 
Engineers has developed the Sacramento River Bank Protection Project as 
a long-range program for construction of bank erosion control works. On 
October 28, 1991, NMFS issued a biological opinion to the Corps that 
concluded Phase II of the project was not likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of winter-run chinook salmon. However, the 
incidental take statement issued with the opinion requires the Corps to 
select the least damaging bank stabilization methods available and to 
provide NMFS with detailed mitigation plans for each bank protection 
project in Phase II that would adversely affect winter-run chinook 
salmon habitat. Based on recent information developed by the FWS 
concerning bank protection methods that minimize impacts and the 
importance of protecting shaded riverine aquatic habitat, NMFS 
requested the Corps to reinitiate consultation on Phase II of the 
project in late 1992. The Corps is currently developing additional 
environmental documentation for the remaining Phase II bank protection 
projects, and NMFS anticipates that further consultation will be 
initiated when that documentation is completed.

2. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific or 
Educational Purposes

Commercial and Recreational Fishing
    In 1991, NMFS consulted with the Pacific Fishery Management Council 
(PFMC) pursuant to section 7 of the ESA to evaluate the potential 
effects of the proposed Pacific Ocean Salmon Fishery Management Plan 
(FMP) on winter-run chinook salmon. A biological opinion was issued to 
the PFMC on March 1, 1991, that concluded management of the salmon 
fishery under the Pacific Ocean Salmon FMP was not likely to jeopardize 
the continued existence of winter-run chinook salmon. An incidental 
take statement was also issued with the opinion that authorized a 
limited incidental take of winter-run chinook salmon by the ocean 
fishery (NMFS 1991b). NMFS has also consulted with the Council 
concerning implementation of Amendment 4 to the Pacific Coast 
Groundfish FMP. The opinion issued by NMFS concluded that 
implementation of the FMP would not jeopardize the continued existence 
of winter-run chinook salmon as a result of incidental bycatch of 
salmon in the fishery. NMFS will continue to consult internally and 
with the PFMC, as appropriate, to ensure that ocean salmon and other 
fishery management actions do not jeopardize the continued existence of 
winter-run chinook salmon.
    Since 1987, the CDFG has implemented seasonal fishing closures in 
the upper Sacramento River and monitored the recreational salmon catch. 
In 1990, the California Fish and Game Commission adopted regulations 
that prohibited the retention of salmon in the Sacramento River when 
adult winter-run chinook salmon are present. This closure has virtually 
eliminated the taking of winter-run chinook salmon by recreational 
fishermen. NMFS will continue to coordinate with CDFG concerning in-
river fishing restrictions.
Scientific Studies
    In 1991, NMFS issued an ESA section 10 scientific research permit 
to the FWS to conduct several scientific research studies on Sacramento 
River winter-run chinook salmon. The FWS's Northern Central Valley 
Fishery Resource Office published a report in early 1993 summarizing 
their 1992 activities under the permit. The results from the juvenile 
monitoring program, the hatchery propagation program, and the 
temperature tolerance experiments are expected to significantly 
contribute to NMFS efforts to protect and recover winter-run chinook 
salmon.
    CDFG and FWS also conduct annual spawning distribution surveys of 
winter-run chinook salmon in the upper Sacramento River and develop 
estimates of the annual spawning run size based on counts of fish 
passing the dam. CDFG conducts aerial surveys each year to count 
winter-run chinook spawning redds and determine their distribution in 
the upper River. The FWS also counts winter-run chinook salmon redds in 
an index area in the vicinity of Redding.
    In March 1993, NMFS modified the FWS's scientific research to 
authorize the directed take and sacrifice of coded-wire tagged winter-
run chinook juveniles produced at Coleman National Fish Hatchery and 
collected during monitoring studies in the Sacramento River, the Delta, 
and at the State and Federal water export facilities in the southern 
Delta. The purpose of the study was to determine growth rates of 
juvenile winter-run chinook salmon produced at the hatchery and 
released into the wild, and to help verify the size criteria developed 
by CDFG to separate and identify juvenile chinook salmon by race.
    Under the terms of the May 1988 Ten Point Restoration Plan for 
winter-run chinook salmon, the FWS agreed to fund and implement a 
winter-run chinook salmon propagation program at the hatchery. Prior to 
1991, this program was unsuccessful. However, in 1991 the FWS was able 
to successfully hold and spawn six female winter-run chinook salmon 
despite the low numbers of fish available (only 22), and produce and 
release about 11,000 juveniles into the Sacramento River near Redding, 
California. In 1992, the winter-run chinook salmon spawning run size 
was substantially higher (1,180 fish), more adults were collected for 
broodstock use, and a total of approximately 28,000 juvenile winter-run 
chinook salmon with tags were released into the upper Sacramento River 
in late January 1993. The FWS continued this program in 1993 using 
approximately 17 wild adults and is currently rearing in excess of 
20,000 juveniles at the hatchery. The surviving juveniles will 
eventually be tagged and released into the upper Sacramento. This 
marking program is expected to provide information on the timing of 
winter-run chinook salmon outmigration and growth. In addition, marked 
fish that return to the upper Sacramento River to spawn in the future 
will be easily distinguishable from wild fish, thereby allowing the FWS 
to assess the effectiveness of this supplementation program and ensure 
that hatchery produced adults are not mated with each other. The 
marking program may also provide additional information concerning the 
ocean harvest of winter-run chinook salmon. NMFS is currently 
conducting a section 7 consultation with the FWS to address the long-
term effects of this propagation program, as well as a proposed captive 
broodstock program, and other existing propagation programs at the 
hatchery, on the wild winter-run chinook salmon population. NMFS 
expects to conclude consultation and issue a biological opinion to the 
FWS before the end of 1993.
    In April 1992, FWS applied for a modification to its scientific 
research permit in order to initiate a captive breeding program using 
about 1,000 juveniles that remained from the hatchery propagation 
effort in 1991. A primary objective of this program was to provide 
insurance against extinction or loss of unique genetic variability 
until the wild winter-run chinook salmon population began to recover. 
The goal of the program is to produce about 200 mature broodstock for 
each of three consecutive years beginning in 1994.
    The FWS transferred approximately 750 of the juveniles produced 
from adults captured during the 1991 spawning run to the University of 
California's Bodega Marine Laboratory in September 1992 for extended 
captive rearing. A small number of these juveniles (approximately 50) 
were subsequently transferred to Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco 
during March 1993 for further rearing and display. Additional juveniles 
produced from adults collected and spawned in 1992 were transferred 
from the hatchery to Bodega Marine Laboratory for extended rearing in 
February 1993. As of September 1993, the Bodega Marine Lab was rearing 
approximately 425 fish from the 1991 broodyear and approximately 640 
fish from the 1992 broodyear. A portion of the surviving adults 
produced from the 1991 and 1992 broodyears may eventually be returned 
to the hatchery for use as broodstock. However, these captively reared 
adults will not be used in any matings nor can their progeny be 
released into the wild until after NMFS and FWS have concluded the 
ongoing section 7 consultation that is addressing the potential adverse 
effects of the captive broodstock program on wild fish, and NMFS has 
amended the FWS's existing ESA section 10 research and propagation 
permit.

3. Disease or Predation

    The magnitude and extent of predation on winter-run chinook salmon 
in the Sacramento River and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are poorly 
known. However, studies by the FWS have found that predation at Red 
Bluff Diversion Dam, primarily by squawfish, significantly contributes 
to the mortality of downstream winter-run chinook salmon migrants. The 
FWS has undertaken periodic electrofishing below the dam which may be 
useful in developing a relative squawfish abundance index. All of the 
fisheries agencies believe that before squawfish control is possible, 
more must be learned about their life history. In 1992, the FWS 
conducted limited studies of predation at the fish bypass outfall as 
part of its continuing evaluation of the dam and the new screens that 
were installed in 1990.
    NMFS has addressed this problem, in part, by requiring the Bureau, 
through the 1993 biological opinion on long-term operations of the 
Central Valley Project, to maintain the Red Bluff Diversion Dam gates 
in the raised position during most of the outmigration period. This 
action is expected to reduce substantially the adverse effects of 
predation at the dam on juvenile winter-run chinook salmon.
    The potential for high levels of predation on juvenile winter-run 
chinook salmon also exist at the Glen-Colusa Irrigation District (GCID) 
diversion facility and other manmade structures such as the California 
Department of Water Resource's Suisun Marsh Salinity Control Structure 
and Clifton Court Forebay in the southern Delta. Predation studies 
conducted by the CDFG in forebay indicate that the pre-screening 
mortality of marked salmonids, primarily due to predation by striped 
bass, is approximately 75 percent. Squawfish and striped bass predation 
has also been observed on juvenile salmonids released back into the 
Sacramento River from salvage operations conducted by the CDFG at State 
and Federal fish protection facilities in the lower Sacramento-San 
Joaquin Delta.
    The CDFG is conducting an extensive ongoing program to assess the 
abundance of predators in the forebay, remove predators by means of 
gill nets and other fishing gear, and investigate and evaluate all 
factors that are thought to contribute to pre-screening losses of 
juvenile salmonids. The February 1993 opinion on long-term operation of 
the CVP indirectly address predation in the forebay by limiting the 
combined incidental take of juvenile winter-run chinook salmon at the 
State and Federal facilities to 1 percent of the annual estimated 
juvenile production. In addition, implementation of specific measures 
contained in the opinion's reasonable and prudent alternative, such as 
closure of the Delta Cross Channel and reverse flow criteria in the 
western Delta, is expected to limit the diversion of juvenile winter-
run chinook salmon from the Sacramento River and their subsequent 
exposure to predation in the Delta and possibly Clifton Court Forebay.
    The CDFG began a large-scale program of stocking hatchery-reared 
striped bass in 1981 through the Striped Bass Stamp Program authorized 
that year. Approximately 60,000 yearling bass were stocked that year, 
and the program increased substantially in subsequent years. Beginning 
in 1984, the program expanded to include several private hatcheries and 
two state facilities. Between 1982 and 1990, the program raised and 
planted nearly 3.0 million juvenile striped bass. Additionally, 
privately reared yearling bass have purchased and stocked by the 
State's Department of Water Resources and the Pacific Gas and Electric 
Company as mitigation for fish losses at their facilities in the Delta. 
Since 1984, the company has purchased and stocked over 2.5 million 
juvenile bass, and the State has stocked almost 5.0 million juvenile 
bass since 1988.
    Several groups raised concerns in 1992 about the possible effects 
of CDFG's striped bass enhancement and management program on winter-run 
chinook salmon. NMFS reviewed CDFG's proposed enhancement program for 
1992 and recommended several changes, as well as the implementation of 
studies designed to assess the magnitude of striped bass predation on 
winter-run chinook salmon. As a result of these and other concerns, 
CDFG eventually decided to suspend the planting of hatchery-reared 
striped bass in Delta waters in 1992. In June 1993, NMFS requested that 
CDFG delay further release of hatchery fish as part of its striped bass 
management program, and apply for an ESA section 10 incidental take 
permit.

4. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    In the final rule listing winter-run chinook salmon as threatened 
(55 FR 46515, November 5, 1990), NMFS concluded that the existing 
regulatory mechanisms at that time were not adequate to recover the 
Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon. In the proposed rule 
reclassifying the species as endangered (57 FR 27416, June 19, 1992), 
NMFS concluded that regulatory mechanisms might not have been 
sufficient or applied effectively. NMFS believes that measures 
currently being taken by Federal agencies pursuant to their ESA section 
7 obligations will reduce adverse impacts on the species. However, 
these measures do not necessarily provide for the recovery of the 
species, but that the continued existence of the species is not likely 
to be jeopardized. Further, the adequacy or inadequacy of these 
measures cannot be determined until at least the 1996 return of adult 
salmon.
    In addition, NMFS believes that Title XXXIV of Public Law 102-575--
Central Valley Project Improvement Act--which was enacted by Congress 
in late 1992 will also contribute to the restoration and recovery of 
the winter-run chinook salmon. Although that Act is intended to 
protect, restore, and enhance all fishery resources and habitats in the 
Central Valley and Trinity River basins of California, the 
implementation of several provisions will directly benefit winter-run 
chinook salmon and aid in its recovery. Several of the provisions are 
also expected to help implement actions that NMFS has identified as 
necessary to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of winter-run 
chinook salmon and ensure its eventual recovery.
    Provisions of the Act that have the most direct beneficial effect 
on winter-run chinook salmon are those requiring:
    (1) Dedication of 800,000 acre-feet of CVP water for fish, 
wildlife, and habitat restoration purposes annually,
    (2) Installation and operation of a temperature control device at 
Shasta Dam and modifications of CVP operations to control water 
temperatures in the upper Sacramento River,
    (3) Development and implementation of measures at the Red Bluff 
Diversion Dam to minimize fish passage problems,
    (4) Expansion of the FWS's existing hatchery facility,
    (5) Modification of the Keswick Dam fish trap and spillway to 
prevent trapping of fish,
    (6) Development and implementation of a continuing program to 
restore and replenish lost spawning gravel in the upper Sacramento 
River,
    (7) Development and implementation of a program that provides for 
modified operations or new and improved control structures at the Delta 
Cross Channel and Georgiana Slough,
    (8) Development and implementation of a program to resolve fish 
passage and stranding problems associated with operation of the ACID 
dam,
    (9) Maintenance of minimum carryover storage in Sacramento and 
Trinity River reservoirs,
    (10) Design and construction, in conjunction with the State of 
California and other Federal agencies, of a new fish protection 
structure at the GCID pumping facility near Hamilton City, and
    (11) Development and implementation, with the State of California, 
of measures to avoid losses of juvenile fish resulting from unscreened 
or poorly screened diversions.
    EPA is expected to propose, in December 1993, regulations that 
would set water quality standards for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-
San Joaquin Bay/Delta estuary. This is in response to EPA disapproving 
many elements of a water quality control plan for salinity adopted in 
May 1991 by the California State Water Resources Control Board. The 
plan was disapproved because it failed to adequately protect the 
estuarine habitat and its resources. NMFS is presently consulting with 
EPA concerning the effects of the standards to be proposed on winter-
run chinook salmon and its critical habitat.

5. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting the Continued Existence 
of the Species

Unscreened Diversions and Entrainment
    Juvenile winter-run chinook salmon are subject to entrainment by 
large numbers of unscreened or inadequately screened diversions during 
their outmigration to the Pacific Ocean. These diversions range from 
small siphons diverting 20 cfs to the large export facilities operated 
by the Bureau and Department of Water Resources in the southern Delta 
that have the combined capacity of pumping approximately 12,000 cfs of 
water daily. The magnitude of this impact is currently unknown.
    Because of the potential impact from unscreened diversions, NMFS 
published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on October 
18, 1993, that stated NMFS is considering development of regulations 
that would establish screening requirements for water diversions from 
the Sacramento River and the Delta to protect juvenile winter-run 
chinook salmon. The ANPR also requested specific information and 
comments concerning the numbers, types, and sizes of diversions, the 
magnitude of juvenile salmon losses at unscreened diversions, the 
feasibility of installing positive-barrier fish screens to reduce 
losses, the estimated costs of screening and available funding 
mechanisms, and the availability of alternative management options for 
reducing fish losses due to entrainment. NMFS will evaluate all 
information and comments on the ANPR to determine whether to proceed 
with the development of screening regulations.
    In addition, the CDFG has begun an inventory of all existing water 
diversions on the Sacramento River and in the Sacramento-San Joaquin 
Delta to determine the number and size of unscreened diversions and 
identify high priority facilities requiring screening. The Bureau, in 
conjunction with the State, has also established a demonstration 
screening program that is expected to be implemented in 1994. This 
program was included as a measure to reduce taking of winter-run 
chinook salmon in the incidental take statement that NMFS issued to the 
Bureau with the February 12, 1993, biological opinion covering long-
term CVP operations. The program is intended to promote the advancement 
of state-of-the-art positive barrier screening technology at small 
(less than 40 cfs) unscreened diversions along the Sacramento River and 
within Delta waterways.
Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District
    The Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District (ACID) operates a 
diversion dam and two diversion facilities on the upper Sacramento 
River near Redding, California. The larger of the two diversions is 
protected by a screen operated and maintained by the CDFG. Until July 
1992, the smaller Bonneyview water diversion facility (65 cfs capacity) 
was unscreened.
    In May 1992 the ACID applied for a Corps of Engineers (Corps) 
permit to install a screening structure at the Bonneyview facility, and 
NMFS initiated section 7 consultation with the Corps to evaluate the 
effects of installing and operating the structure on winter-run chinook 
salmon. The ACID obtained a Corps permit and installed an impervious 
barrier with screens that was operational by early July 1992. 
Monitoring by CDFG in the irrigation canal behind the screening 
structure in July and August 1992 demonstrated that the structure 
effectively eliminated the entrainment of juvenile winter-run chinook 
salmon and other species. Subsequent dive inspections of the screening 
facility by the NMFS found that the cleaning mechanism was working 
improperly. As a result, ACID personnel are now cleaning the screens 
manually and are expected to work with NMFS and the screen manufacturer 
to develop an alternative cleaning mechanism.
Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District
    The GCID diversion facility located near Hamilton City, California, 
is the single largest diverter of water on the Sacramento River with 
the capacity to take up to 3,000 cfs daily. Inadequate fish screens at 
the facility result in the entrainment and impingement of juvenile 
salmon, including winter-run chinook salmon, that are dispersing in the 
river system during the peak of the irrigation season. Since 1990, NMFS 
has used the section 7 and section 10 provisions of ESA, together with 
direct legal action, in an effort to remedy the adverse effects of GCID 
water diversion operations on winter-run chinook salmon.
    On August 16, 1991, the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, 
California issued a temporary restraining order that required GCID not 
to exceed a pumping rate of 1,100 cfs from August 19 to August 29, 
1991. On January 9, 1992, the Court issued a permanent injunction that 
completely enjoined GCID from diverting any water at the facility from 
July 15 through November 30. The Court modified the permanent 
injunction in April 1992 to allow GCID to operate under the terms and 
conditions of a joint stipulation that was agreed to by GCID, the 
Department of Justice, and the State of California. Under the terms and 
conditions of the modified injunction, GCID was allowed to pump water 
on a restricted basis in 1992 in exchange for its commitment to 
implement a long-term solution to correct existing fish passage 
problems at the facility.
    Following completion of an ESA section 7 consultation and the 
issuance of a biological opinion from NMFS on June 5, 1992, the Corps 
issued a 1-year permit to GCID that authorized dredging and other 
construction activities that were identified as terms and conditions in 
the modified the permanent injunction. GCID completed construction of a 
training wall, reconfiguration of the lower oxbow leading back into the 
Sacramento River, and additional maintenance dredging near the screens 
by mid-July 1992.
    In September 1992, the Corps initiated consultation with NMFS 
concerning a new GCID permit application to conduct maintenance 
dredging and other activities at its facility over a 3-year period 
(1993-95). On April 22, 1993, NMFS concluded consultation and issued a 
jeopardy biological opinion and incidental take statement that limited 
dredging in the upper oxbow, required maintenance of the training wall 
and pilot cut through the lower oxbow, limited the permit duration to a 
period of 1 year, and required GCID to pursue a long-term solution for 
protecting winter-run chinook salmon and correcting passage problems at 
the facility. Following issuance of the Corps permit, GCID conducted 
maintenance dredging and other maintenance activities in accordance 
with the requirements of the biological opinion, and subsequently began 
pumping water on a restricted basis beginning on August 1, 1993.
    The Department of Justice and GCID signed a new stipulated 
agreement in June 1993 that allowed operations to continue in 1993. 
This new agreement, in conjunction with the biological opinion that was 
issued to the Corps, restricted pumping activities at the Hamilton City 
facility, required various types of monitoring, and committed GCID to 
ensure the implementation of long-term protective and conservation 
measures for winter-run chinook salmon at its Hamilton City facility.
    In 1992, GCID, the State of California, and the Corps began a joint 
Federal and state environmental review process to evaluate several 
long-term alternatives for correcting fish entrainment, impingement, 
and passage problems at the GCID facility. The Bureau is now the lead 
Federal agency responsible for preparing the environmental 
documentation and constructing the selected long-term protective and 
conservation measures due to the passage of the Central Valley 
Improvement Act. The environmental review process has been delayed, but 
is expected to be completed by mid-1994. NMFS will consult with the 
Bureau to evaluate the effects of constructing and operating the 
selected long-term protection alternative on winter-run chinook salmon.
Delta Export Facilities of the Central Valley Project and the State 
Water Project
    The Bureau and the California Department of Water Resources operate 
facilities in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to convey Sacramento 
River water into and through the Delta and to export water out of the 
Delta. These facilities include the Delta Cross Channel operated by the 
Bureau, and water export and fish protection facilities operated by the 
Bureau (Tracy Pumping Plant) and California Department of Water 
Resources (Byron Pumping Plant). The operations of these and other 
Central Valley and State water facilities, which are coordinated 
through the Coordinated Operations Agreement between the Bureau and the 
State, can adversely impact winter-run chinook salmon.
    To address the potential adverse effects of gate operations on 
juvenile winter-run chinook salmon survival in 1992, NMFS included a 
reasonable and prudent alternative measure in the February 14, 1992, 
biological opinion for 1992 CVP operations requiring the Bureau to 
close the Delta Cross Channel from February 1 through May 1, 1992. This 
action was expected to substantially reduce the diversion of juvenile 
winter-run chinook salmon into the Delta from the Sacramento River, 
especially with the extremely critical water supply and low export 
pumping rates that were anticipated to occur in 1992. Operation of the 
Federal and State export facilities in 1992 was not expected to 
incidentally take more than a small percentage of the 1991 winter-run 
chinook salmon outmigrant population.
    However, based on monitoring at these facilities during February 
and March 1992, NMFS determined that the taking of juveniles exceeded 
the amount identified in the incidental take statement, and requested 
consultation be reinitiated. After further consultation with the Bureau 
and the State was completed, NMFS amended the incidental take statement 
to restrict the combined daily water export rate from both facilities 
to 1,200 cfs during the remainder of April 1992. The amended take 
statement also required that consultation be reinitiated if the 
incidental take of juveniles exceeded 400 fish during this period or 
there was evidence to indicate that winter-run outmigration would 
substantially continue beyond April 30, 1992, and required both the 
Bureau and the State to support efforts to develop a more refined and 
accurate method for determining the level of taking incidental to 
pumping operations at the water export facilities.
    Because the losses of juvenile fish at these facilities were higher 
than expected in the spring of 1992, NMFS and the CDFG established a 
Delta Salvage and Loss Working Group consisting of representatives from 
NMFS, FWS, the California Departments of Fish and Game and Water 
Resources, and the Bureau. The objectives of this group were to (1) 
review and refine the juvenile winter-run chinook salmon loss estimates 
at the water export facilities during the 1992 outmigration period, and 
(2) evaluate the loss estimation and reporting procedures used in 1992 
and make recommendations for improving the procedures for 1993 and 
future years. The group met frequently to discuss these issues and 
issued a summary report in September 1992 that included a revised 
estimate of juvenile winter-run chinook salmon losses in 1992 and a 
series of recommendations for loss estimation and reporting. The loss 
estimation and reporting procedures developed by this group were 
eventually incorporated into the February 12, 1993, biological opinion 
and incidental take statement that NMFS issued to the Bureau on the 
long-term operations of the Federal and State water projects.
    The biological opinion also includes protective measures designed 
to reduce the impact of Delta operations on winter-run chinook salmon. 
The reasonable and prudent alternative in the opinion contains the 
following measures to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of 
winter-run chinook salmon: (1) Closure of the Delta Cross Channel each 
year from February 1 through April 30; (2) operation of the cross 
channel gate each year from October 1 through January 31 to minimize 
the diversion of juveniles into the Delta based on the use of a real-
time monitoring program; (3) operation of the delta water export 
facilities each year to ensure that no reverse flow conditions occur in 
the western Delta from February 1 through April 30; (4) operation of 
the delta export facilities each year to ensure that reverse flow 
conditions are minimized from November 1 through January 31; and (5) 
monitoring of winter-run chinook incidental take at the Federal and 
State export facilities. The incidental take statement included with 
the opinion also contains measures designed to minimize the taking of 
juvenile winter-run chinook salmon incidental to the operation of the 
water export facilities. This take statement identifies the level of 
incidental taking by the Bureau and State export facilities to be no 
more than 1 percent of the estimated number of outmigrant juvenile 
winter-run chinook salmon entering the Delta in any year, and requires 
the Bureau and the State to submit daily, weekly, and annual reports 
based on an extensive monitoring program to ensure the incidental take 
authorization is not exceeded.
    Based on the 1992 run size estimate (1,180 fish), NMFS determined 
that the allowable take of outmigrating juvenile winter-run chinook 
salmon incidental to operation of the export facilities in 1992-93 was 
2,700 fish. Monitoring of winter-run chinook salmon incidental take 
during the 1993 outmigration season indicated that the level of taking 
was substantially higher at the State export facility than at the 
Federal export facility. The monitoring program also indicated that the 
rate of taking by mid-February 1993 was higher than anticipated, and 
that continued high pumping rates could result in exceeding the annual 
take level authorized by NMFS. As a result, the State voluntarily 
curtailed pumping at its Delta pumping facility in late February to 
reduce the loss rate and cumulative loss of juvenile winter-run chinook 
salmon at its facility. Although pumping rates were gradually increased 
during March and April 1993 at the State facility, the cumulative loss 
of juveniles was less than 1 percent of the estimated outmigrant 
population in 1993. As a result of these and other actions taken by the 
State and Bureau in accordance with the February 12, 1993, biological 
opinion and incidental take statement, NMFS believes that the survival 
of outmigrating juveniles in 1993 was significantly improved over 
previous years. Continued implementation of these protective measures 
in future years is expected to improve outmigration success of juvenile 
winter-run chinook salmon and aid in recovery.
Suisun Marsh
    Operation of the Suisun Marsh salinity control gate structure by 
the State can potentially affect winter-run chinook adversely by 
diverting outmigrating juveniles from the Sacramento River into 
Montezuma Slough where conditions for survival are poorer because 
diverted fish have a longer migration route, and are exposed to 
increased water temperatures, increased predation, and numerous 
unscreened water diversions. Upstream migrant adult winter-run chinook 
that enter the downstream end of Montezuma Slough may also be blocked 
or delayed by operation of the gates as they attempt to migrate into 
the Sacramento River.
    In order to minimize impacts on winter-run chinook salmon 
juveniles, NMFS required (in the 1992 CVP opinion) that salinity 
control gates to either close from March 1 through April 15, or that 
unscreened diversions in the Slough not operate during this period. The 
California Departments of Water Resources and Fish and Game conducted 
monitoring during this period and provided documentation to NMFS that 
these diversions were not operated. However, sampling by FWS during 
April 1992 also indicated that only a small percentage of marked 
juvenile salmonids (0.2-1.5 percent) were diverted into Montezuma 
Slough.
    Since the potential impacts of operating the salinity control gates 
on winter-run chinook salmon are unclear based on the available 
information, NMFS addressed the need for additional studies at the 
facility in the incidental take statement included with the 1993 CVP 
biological opinion. Specifically, the incidental take statement 
requires the Bureau and the State to develop and implement a program to 
evaluate the effects of operating the salinity control structure on 
winter-run chinook salmon by spring 1994. The program is expected to 
assess the diversion rate of chinook salmon juveniles into Montezuma 
Slough, predation at the structure, survival of juveniles passing 
through the slough, and passage of adults upstream.
Droughts/El Nino
    The natural factors of greatest concern to NMFS are drought 
conditions and the oceanographic phenomenon known as El Nino. The 
effects of the extended 1987-1992 drought on California's water supply 
have likely exacerbated the effects of management of State and Federal 
water operations and other activities on winter-run chinook salmon over 
the past several years. However, the end of the drought in 1993 due to 
above normal levels of precipitation throughout the State, and the 
implementation of protective measures contained in NMFS February 12, 
1993, biological opinion are expected to reduce the adverse effects of 
drought in future years by ensuring that minimum carryover storage is 
maintained in Shasta Reservoir each year, and that conservative water 
supply forecasts are used by the Bureau to make annual water allocation 
decisions. In addition to these measures, the Bureau is expected to 
construct a temperature control device at Shasta Reservoir that should 
improve its ability to provide suitable water temperatures in the upper 
Sacramento River.
    The El Nino event that began in 1991-1992 may result in reduced 
ocean survival of winter-run chinook salmon produced in 1990 and 1991 
when the estimated run sizes were very low (441 and 191 fish 
respectively) and drought conditions prevailed. For these and other 
reasons, NMFS anticipated that the 1993 run size would be low, and also 
expects that the run size in 1994 will be weak. The only measure that 
may help to mitigate the impact of El Nino events may be the hatchery 
supplementation program developed by the FWS to augment natural 
juvenile production. If the hatchery supplementation program proves to 
be successful, it may provide the necessary juvenile production to 
offset any adverse effects of El Nino conditions.

Conclusion

    Since the winter-run chinook salmon was formally listed as a 
threatened species in November 1990 (55 FR 46515), the annual estimated 
run sizes have become more variable and have continued to decline with 
the exception of an increase in 1992. Although some protective measures 
were implemented beginning in 1987, the decline was exacerbated by a 6-
year drought in California (1987-1992) and threats adversely affecting 
the species that were not addressed until recently. Based on the run 
size estimates for the last 3 years (1991-1993), the population now has 
at least one and possibly two extremely weak year classes (1991 and 
1993). NMFS expects that the 1994 run will also be weak because of the 
small numbers of adults returning in 1991 (191 fish) and less than 
favorable conditions for spawning, egg incubation, and juvenile 
outmigration that occurred in 1991-92. This years class is likely to 
remain weakened for the foreseeable future.
    Although conditions for winter-run chinook salmon began improving 
in 1992 and 1993 because of protective measures implemented to reduce 
the long-term impacts of operations of the Federal and State water 
projects and improve conditions for successful egg incubation, rearing, 
and outmigration, the 6-year drought ended, and the natural production 
of juveniles is being supplemented with hatchery produced fish, NMFS 
believes that quantifiable improvements in population levels are not 
likely to be evident for several years. Since the effectiveness of 
these recently implemented protective measures and supplementation 
efforts is unknown and cannot be assessed until future runs return, 
there remains substantial risk that the population is in danger of 
extinction.
    Based on the continued decline of the population and increased 
variability of run sizes since 1991, the expected weak return in 1994, 
continuing threats to the population, and uncertainty about whether 
recently implemented protective and conservation measures will be 
effective, NMFS believes that the Sacramento River winter-run chinook 
salmon is in danger of becoming extinct and should be classified as an 
endangered species. NMFS will continue to monitor closely the status of 
this population as well as evaluate the effectiveness of existing and 
future protective and conservation measures to determine whether any 
further changes in its status are warranted.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species that are listed under the 
ESA include listing, recovery actions, implementation of certain 
protective measures, and designation and protection of critical 
habitat. Some of the most useful protective measures are contained in 
section 7 of the ESA. Pursuant to section 7, Federal agencies are 
required to conduct conservation programs for endangered species and to 
consult with NMFS regarding the potential effects of their actions on 
winter-run chinook salmon.
    Since winter-run chinook salmon was originally listed as a 
threatened species on an emergency basis in August 1989, NMFS has 
conducted numerous section 7 consultations with Federal agencies whose 
actions may affect the species. The most significant consultations have 
been with the Bureau and the California Department of Water Resources 
concerning the long-term operations of the Central Valley Project and 
the State Water Project and the Corps concerning fish passage at the 
GCID diversion facility at Hamilton City. NMFS is currently engaged in 
consultations with other Federal agencies and will continue this 
process to determine whether Federal actions affect winter-run chinook 
salmon.
    Section 10 of the ESA provides for addressing the effects of 
private and state (non-Federal) actions on endangered species. NMFS has 
worked with GCID to address the impacts of their major diversion 
facility on winter-run chinook salmon through this process. NMFS also 
expects to work with the CDFG to address potentially adverse effects of 
striped bass and salmon hatchery management on winter-run chinook 
salmon. In the future, NMFS will continue to pursue opportunities to 
remedy private and non-Federal activities that may affect winter-run 
chinook salmon through this process.
    In 1992, NMFS established a National Sacramento River Winter-run 
Chinook Salmon recovery team to develop a recovery plan for the 
species. The team is comprised of fishery resource managers, experts on 
winter-run chinook salmon biology and, other conservation specialists. 
The recovery team meets frequently and expects to complete development 
of a comprehensive draft recovery plan in 1994.

Critical Habitat

    Section 4(a)(3)(A) of the ESA requires that, to the extent that it 
is prudent and determinable, critical habitat be designated 
concurrently with the listing of a species. NMFS published a final rule 
designating critical habitat for Sacramento River winter-run chinook 
salmon on June 16, 1993. The designated critical habitat includes: the 
Sacramento River from Keswick Dam (RM 302) to Chipps Island (RM 0) at 
the westward margin of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, all waters 
from Chipps Island westward to Carquinez Bridge, all waters of San 
Pablo Bay, and all waters in San Francisco Bay north of the San 
Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge. The final rule also identifies those 
physical and biological features of the habitat that are essential to 
the conservation of winter-run chinook salmon.

List of Subjects

50 CFR Part 222

    Administrative practice and procedure, Endangered and threatened 
species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, 
Transportation.

50 CFR Part 227

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Marine 
mammals, Transportation.

    Dated: December 14, 1993.
Nancy Foster,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 50 CFR parts 222 and 227 
are amended as follows:

PART 222--ENDANGERED FISH OR WILDLIFE

    1. The authority citation for part 222 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531-1543.


Sec. 222.23  [Amended]

    2. In Sec. 222.23, paragraph (a) is amended by adding the phrase 
``Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus 
tshawytscha);'' immediately after the phrase ``Snake River sockeye 
salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)'' in the second sentence.

PART 227--THREATENED FISH AND WILDLIFE

    3. The authority citation for part 227 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.


Sec. 227.4  [Amended]

    4. In Sec. 227.4, paragraph (e) is removed and paragraphs (f) 
through (h) are redesignated paragraphs (e) through (g) respectively.


Sec. 227.21  [Amended]

    5. In Sec. 227.21, paragraphs (a) and (b)(1), the phrase ``(e), (g) 
and (h)'' is removed, and the phrase ``(f) and (g)'' is added in its 
place; in paragraph (b)(2), the phrase ``(g) and (h)'' is removed and 
the phrase ``(f) and (g)'' is added in its place.
[FR Doc. 93-31089 Filed 12-28-93; 4:17 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P