BIOLOGY COMMITTEE MEETING
Biology Committee Meeting
Denver, CO., November 23, 1999
Participants: Frank Pfeifer, Tom Pitts, Tom Nesler, Matthew
Andersen, Kevin Christopherson, John Hawkins, Art Roybal, Angela
Kantola, Tom Czapla, Bob Muth, Tom Chart, Paul Dey, Pat Nelson,
Chris Kelleher, Rich Valdez, Tom Pruitt, Dave Soker, Ron Ryel,
Bruce McCloskey, Ed Wick, Clare Stalnaker, Tim Modde, Dan Beyers,
Kevin Bestgen, Todd Crowl, and John Reber.
Convene: 9:25 a.m.
- Additions/Revisions to the agenda - The agenda was
modified as it appears below.
- Approval of Aug.31-Sept.1, 1999 meeting summary - No
comments, the summary was approved as final.
- Angela Kantola presented Frank Pfeifer with a plaque on
behalf of the Program Director's office and the Recovery
Program thanking him for his work on the Biology
Committee. Frank served on the Committee for eight years
1992-1999, and was chairman in 1996 and 1999.
- Discussion/approval Draft Final reports
a. Assessment and Prediction of Effects of Selenium Exposure
to Larval Razorback Sucker - Dan Beyers reminded the Committee
that he is now doing additional work with higher selenium
concentrations. They didn't see the amount of bioaccumulation in
the food chain that they expected, so that may be why they didn't
detect adverse effects. Tom Nesler expressed concern that we seem
to be continuing additional selenium studies without eventually
seeing some kind of an effect. Tom also noted that it would have
been helpful to explain how the bioacccumulation problem is being
remedied in the subsequent studies; Dan will add a paragraph to
address that. Art Roybal will submit written comments. The
Committee approved the report as final with the foregoing
- Importance of the 15-Mile Reach to Colorado River
Populations of Endangered Colorado Pikeminnow and
Razorback Sucker - Frank noted that this report did not
come out of a particular scope of work funded by the
Recovery Program, but rather is something that the
Service asked Doug to prepare and that Frank thought
should be reviewed by the Biology Committee. Tom Nesler
expressed concern about elevating the importance of the
15-Mile Reach by downplaying the importance of other
reaches, because: the Reach has not been proven as
spawning habitat; and the argument that cooler
temperatures make the upper river (beyond the passage
barriers) marginal is not necessarily accurate. Tom said
he thinks more consideration should be given to
alternative hypotheses. John Hawkins agreed that
alternative explanations should be considered. Tom Pitts
suggested that the difficulty with this report is that it
is an argument for why the 15-Mile Reach is the most
important Colorado pikeminnow habitat rather than a
scientific report. The report also does not recognize all
the work the Program is doing in the 15-Mile Reach.
Committee members appreciated the information being
summarized, but didn't feel that they could support
- Facility Needs for the Production of Endangered Fishes of
the Upper Colorado River - Concern was expressed about
releasing fish from riverside ponds without determining
how many are being released (potential variability in
survival is very high, and if the numbers that enter the
river aren't known, then it will be difficult to assess
stocking success). This will be changed so that fish are
counted before release (unless a pond is inundated
accidentally, of course ). ( "Stocking" should
refer to fish put into the river, "hatchery
production goals" can be used when referring to
putting fish into growout ponds for subsequent harvest
and stocking into the river). Clarify available pond
space for broodstock versus production at Ouray. Tom
Pitts pointed out that the recommendations are actually
options; Tom Czapla agreed, and said he believes the
Biology Committee needs to decide which options to
proceed with. The Committee agreed, but will need to have
the options and trade-offs clearly identified. >Tom
Czapla and the subcommittee will develop those by January
5. Land acquisition criteria/BC involvement - Pat Nelson
provided a handout and gave an overview of land acquisition
criteria. Tom Pitts asked >Dave Soker to periodically provide
a table identifying land acquired and acquisitions in process.
The Committee felt the criteria were generally appropriate,
although they did raise some questions about prioritizing the
addition of new habitat versus protecting existing habitat. Ed
Wick suggested that if the Program is stocking many adult
razorbacks, then we also need to provide them habitat. Pat
replied that larval habitat is good for both juveniles and
adults, whereas adult habitat is not useful to larvae.
- Review/Approval of SOW entitled "Population
Estimates for Colorado Pikeminnow in the Middle Green
River/Yampa Population" - Tom Czapla distributed the
peer reviewers' comments. Canyon reaches would not be
sampled in the first year (due to budget limitations).
Kevin Bestgen addressed reviewer and Committee comments.
Frank Pfeifer recommended that one person be designated
as the principal investigator. The Committee asked the
>authors to revise the proposal based on the
reviewers' comments and budget constraints by December
15. John Hawkins noted that the scouting is necessary
because of the private land involved. The authors will
break out the budget in tasks 1-3. Kevin Bestgen
recommends that if the budget has to be cut, it would be
best to consider not sampling a particular reach rather
than to reduce the number of passes. Potential areas to
cut are: capital, number of miles sampled, or number of
passes. In light of the cost ($65,000 over the amount in
the FY 2000 budget), >the authors will consider these
and discuss with the Program Director's office to
determine how to proceed.
- Bonytail stocking in the Yampa River. This stocking is
called for in the approved Colorado Stocking Plan,
however, recently some individuals have questioned the
timing and the location of the proposed stocking.
- NPS study proposal on razorback sucker radio-telemetry.
Discussion deferred. It was suggested that Tim Modde or
the Park Service should send the Biology Committee a copy
of that proposal (or post it to the Program listserver).
- Price River gage at Woodside - Discussion deferred.
- Update on Recovery Goal process - Rich Valdez distributed
a working draft of humpback chub recovery goals. Rich
noted that they met with Margot Zallen, who stressed that
the goals must address the threats to the species that
were cited when the species was listed. Rich said they
want to be sure the Committee agrees with the approach
that they've taken. >Comments on the humpback chub
working draft recovery goals are due back to Rich by
December 20. Rich walked the Committee through the draft
- Colorado's parallel effort to develop recovery goals -
Tom Nesler noted that he's been assigned by the State to
develop recovery goals for all four species in Colorado.
Tom is looking at existing data to determine what the
populations have been doing since 1991. So far, Tom said
his estimates for Colorado pikeminnow are higher than
Osmundson's, and his estimate for humpback chub in
Westwater are lower than Chart's. His goals won't go into
the same level of detail as those Valdez and Ryel are
developing, but he is working with Valdez and Ryel so
they have the benefit of his work as well.
- USGS Livable Lands for the Future - Clare Stalnaker
distributed handouts and explained that the Colorado
River has been identified as one of four river basins
expected to receive significant funding through a USGS
initiative slated to begin in 2001 ("Colorado River:
Integrated Science for Adaptive Management").
Preliminary work in 2000 would involve holding three
workshops and develop a strategic plan to determine what
scientific data collection and ecological process model
building USGS can do to augment their ongoing Watershed
and River System Management Program (WARSMP) (a decision
support system). One of these workshops will focus on the
Gunnison River. Their intention is to complement work
already underway by the Recovery Program and other
entities. The chair of the Biology Committee will be
Clare's contact person for this workshop for now.
- Election of new chairman - Art Roybal was selected as the
new Committee chair and Paul Dey as the new vice-chair.
- Schedule next meeting: A conference call will be held
December 15 from 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. (agenda items will
include: the Pitlick report on longitudinal changes in
the Colorado River; and the Price River gage at Woodside
[>Tom Chart will post background information to the
listserver]) The next meeting will be February 8 from
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. in Grand Junction (agenda items
will include: review of recommended revisions to the
RIPRAP and draft FY 2001 Program Guidance; NPS proposal
on razorback sucker radiotelemetry; bonytail stocking in
the Yampa River; Flaming Gorge and Lodore Canyon reports;
and the revised scope of work from Bestgen, et.al.; and
the revised facility needs document). >Tom Czapla will
post to the listserver an outline of the steps in the
recovery goal approval process.
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