Okanagan Chinook Restoration Program

Project Overview:

The Okanagan Chinook Restoration Program is a long term experiment designed to assess the feasibility of restoring summer Chinook Salmon, which includes mainsteam summer run and tributary spring run populations. ONA has been monitoring live adults and carcasses for over 15 years. In collaboration with our communities and En’owkin Centre, recovery plans and population reassessment reviews have been completed in 2007, and 2016. Less than 100 adult chinook are estimated per year to spawn in mainsteam or tributaries.

Beginning June 2017, hatchery-reared Chinook fry have been released into the Okanagan River (McIntyre Dam now called Ny Lin Tn). These fry, along with the summer chinook fry in Osoyoos Lake, may spend months to up to two years in their rearing lake or downstream reservoirs before migrating out the Columbia River to the ocean.   Sometimes the chinook display a unique life history adaptation where a small component spend their entire life in the lake (freshwater).

Outcomes from this 3-5 year pilot study will inform an expanded program, with interim goals for:

Spawner Escapement Goals for summer chinook, upstream of Osoyoos Lake is 2500 adults (Okanagan river, includes Penticton Channel), and 2500 (Okanagan lake tributaries), for an aggregate of 5000. Spawner Escapement Goal for spring chinook, upstream of Osoyoos Lake, is 2500 total.

100% financing contribution in 2016-017 provided by ONA-CCT, an expansion for rearing was financed and shared between OAE/ONA and Federal funds (DFO PICFDI program).

Project Goals:

To stabilize and rebuild the declining Okanagan Chinook population, to return Chinook to their former habitat and migration range, and to revitalize the Okanagan Nation salmon fishery.

Project Plan:

1997 → ONA initiated and proposed recovery of Chinook into their historic range.

2006 → Committee on Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) Review Completed

2016 → Ten year COSEWIC re-assessment of population

2016– Kl cp’elk’ stim’ Hatchery (Penticton) modifications for summer chinook incubation and early fry rearing; license review for adding chinook (multi-species rearing); September 2017, CCT-ONA at Chief Joe 15,000 eggs collected, disease screened tested negative, transported via CFIA documentation

2017 – Released 12,500 chinook marked fry (19 June, McIntyre following Salmon Ceremony)

Project Documents:

2017 OK Chinook Recovery FAQ

Project Progress/Status:

Year two of study in 2017

Project Team:

Team Lead – Richard Bussanich, ONA Biologist

Project Partnerships:

Colville Confederated Tribes

Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Penticton Indian Band

Osoyoos Indian Band