Appendix C Bill Cross Rapids Freshwater Mussel and Fishery Study Plan

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1 Appendix C Bill Cross Rapids Freshwater Mussel and Fishery Study Plan

2 Study Plan Freshwater Mussel and Fishery Study Bill Cross Rapids Grandfather Falls Hydroelectric Project FERC Project No March 11, 2013 An Integrys Energy Group Company

3 Freshwater Mussel and Fishery Study Bill Cross Rapids Grandfather Falls Hydroelectric Project FERC Project No Table of Contents Section 1.0 Introduction... 1 Section 2.0 Study Description and Objectives ( 5.11(d)(1))... 1 Section 3.0 Resource Management Goals ( 5.11(d)(2))... 2 Section 4.0 Existing Information ( 5.11(d)(3))... 2 Section 5.0 Nexus to Project ( 5.11(d)(4))... 3 Section 6.0 Study Area... 3 Section 7.0 Methods ( 5.11(b)(1) and 5.11 (d)(5))... 3 Section 7.1 Literature Review and Data Synthesis... 3 Section 7.2 Fisheries Survey... 4 Section 7.3 Freshwater Mussel and Habitat Survey... 4 Section 7.4 Water Level Fluctuations... 5 Section 8.0 Final Product... 5 Section 9.0 Progress Reporting and Schedule ( 5.11(b)(2) and 5.11(b)(3))... 5 Section 10.0 Level of Effort and Cost ( 5.11(d)(3))... 5 List of Tables Table 1 Fish Species Collected In The Grandfather Falls Project Bypass Reach... 2 Table 2 Freshwater Mussel Species in the Project Vicinity... 3 Figure 1 List of Figures Map Showing Location of Bill Cross Rapids Relative to Grandfather Fall Hydroelectric Project... 6 \\Eagle\Jobs\506\005\Docs\Studies\GF Fish and Mussel study plan\001-bill Cross Fisheries Survey Study Plan ( ).docx i

4 Section 1.0 Introduction Freshwater Mussel and Fishery Study Bill Cross Rapids Grandfather Falls Hydroelectric Project FERC Project No Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS), as licensee of the Grandfather Falls Hydroelectric Project (Project), is proposing to complete a freshwater mussel and baseline fishery study at Bill Cross Rapids. The Bill Cross Rapids is a shoal and rapids area located in the Wisconsin River about 4.6 miles downstream of the Project (Figure 1). As discussed in greater detail below, this study is aimed at characterizing the mussel fauna and fish community occurring at Bill Cross Rapids, as well as the magnitude and duration of water level fluctuations in the reach during Project operations. This study plan (Plan) was prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Additional Information Request issued on January 25, It is the intent of WPS to include this plan in the filing of the Proposed Study Plan for relicensing of the Project to be filed no later than March 11, The Grandfather Falls Hydroelectric Project is located on the Wisconsin River in northern Lincoln County, Wisconsin, approximately 10 miles north of the City of Merrill and approximately 30 miles north of the Wausau Metropolitan Area. The Project is classified as a major hydroelectric project with an authorized capacity of MW. Originally constructed in 1905 and enlarged in 1938, the Project includes a concrete gravity dam, which forms the reservoir, Grandfather Falls Flowage, and a power canal with penstocks that bypass a reach of the Historic Wisconsin River channel approximately one mile in length. The Project is owned and operated by WPS. The current FERC license was issued in 1988 and will expire on April 1, Section 2.0 Study Description and Objectives ( 5.11(d)(1)) The goal of this study is to provide information sufficient to enable FERC staff to understand effects of peaking operations at the Project on fish and mussels and their habitats at Bill Cross Rapids. The study objectives are as follows: Determine fish and mussel species diversity and abundance; Characterize fish and mussel habitat in the reach; and Determine the magnitude and duration of water level fluctuations in the reach resulting from daily peaking operations at the Project. 1

5 Section 3.0 Resource Management Goals ( 5.11(d)(2)) The goal of this study is to provide information sufficient to characterize existing fish and mussel resources downstream of the Project and enable FERC staff to understand effects of peaking operations by the Grandfather Falls Project on fish and mussels and their habitats at Bill Cross Rapid. Section 4.0 Existing Information ( 5.11(d)(3)) WPS is not aware of site-specific fish and mussel data for the Bill Cross Rapids reach at this time. However, previous sampling upstream in the Project bypass reach suggests a fishery community with warmwater and transitional species representative of the Wisconsin River, including important game species such muskellunge, northern pike, smallmouth bass and walleye (Table 1). Non-game riverine and stream species are also represented in the existing data including longnose dace, logperch, yellow bullhead and shiner species. As many as 51 freshwater mussel species are thought to be native to the Wisconsin River (WATRI, 2012), with 13 occurring in Lincoln County, Wisconsin (Table 2). WPS is not aware of the occurrence of freshwater mussels in the Bill Cross Reach at this time, and anecdotal information presented in the Pre-Application Document (PAD) suggested that none have been documented there historically (Personal Correspondence, Cheryl Laatsch, WDNR, May 30, 2012, as cited in PAD). Table 1 Fish Species Collected In The Grandfather Falls Project Bypass Reach Common Name Scientific Name Relative Abundance Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus 2.97 Catfish spp. Ictaluridae 0.07 Crappie spp. Centrarchidae 0.97 Logperch Percina caprodes 0.07 Longnose dace Rhinichthys cataractae Muskellunge Esox masquinongy 0.14 Northern pike Esox lucius 0.14 Perch spp. Percidae 0.07 Pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus 0.07 Redhorse spp. Catostomidae 3.17 Rock bass Ambloplites rupestris 0.21 Shiner spp. Cyprinidae 0.21 Smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu Sucker spp. Catostomidae 1.38 Walleye Sander vitreus 0.69 White sucker Catostomus commersonii 0.83 Yellow bullhead Ameiurus natalis 0.41 Sources: WSP

6 TABLE 2 Freshwater Mussel Species in the Wisconsin River, Lincoln County, Wisconsin Common Name Scientific Name Black Sandshell Ligumia recta Creek Heelsplitter Lasmigona compressa Cylindrical Papershell Anodontoides ferussacianus Fatmucket Lampsilis siliquoidea Fluted shell Lasmigona costata Giant Floater Pyganodon grandis Mucket Actinonaias ligamentina Plain Pocketbook Lampsilis cardium Spike Elliptio dilatata Squawfoot Strophitus undulatus Three ridge Amblema plicata Wabash Pigtoe Fusconaia flava White Heelsplitter Lasmigona complanata Source: WATRI, 2012 Section 5.0 Nexus to Project ( 5.11(d)(4)) As previously noted, the Bill Cross Rapids reach is located just 4.6 miles downstream of the Project. Daily peaking operations at the Project have potential to result in fluctuating water levels in the Bill Cross Rapids, which in turn can potentially affect habitat for fish and mussels, primarily through fluctuations in wetted stream width, water depth and water velocity. Section 6.0 Study Area The study area will be the approximately 1,000 ft-long Bill Cross Rapids reach of the Wisconsin River, located approximately 4.6 miles downstream of the Project (Figure 1). Section 7.0 Methods ( 5.11(b)(1) and 5.11 (d)(5)) Section 7.1 Literature Review and Data Synthesis An extensive literature review of existing fish and mussel information for the Bill Cross Reach will be conducted to determine if there is sufficient existing data to characterize the fish and mussel fauna and their associated habitats. Potential data sources that will be reviewed include published journal articles, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and other agency resource management reports, theses, unpublished data, and digital data repositories such as the Wisconsin Mussel Atlas. If WPS and its retained expert are able to collect appropriate existing data and information sufficient to characterize the fish and/or mussel fauna and associated habitat in the Bill Cross reach, WPS will forgo the field effort and provide the existing information in the Initial Study Report submitted to FERC and stakeholders on August 8,

7 Section 7.2 Fisheries Survey If deemed necessary following completion of the literature and data review described above, the fishery community of the Bill Cross Rapids reach will be sampled using boom and/or backpack electrofishing methods combined with block netting. Although the specific number and locations of sampling sites will need to be refined based on field reconnaissance of available habitat and access points, WPS anticipates establishment of four representative sampling stations. Boom (boat) electrofishing will be utilized in boatable areas (typically greater than 3 ft in depth); however, it is not known at this time how many sites will have such access. One site will likely be at the toe of the rapids, as boat access is available from downstream Lake Alexander. Stream (backpack) electrofishing combined with block netting will be employed in areas less than 3 ft in depth. Under this scenario, a block net (straight seine with ¼ in mesh) will be set up immediately downstream of shoal habitat to be sampled and the area electrofished in an upstream to downstream orientation such that immobilized fish drift downstream and are collected in the block seine. This method combines the immobilizing benefits of electrofishing with the kicknetting method requested by FERC to enhance catch of darters and other small fish. Fish collected at each site will be identified to species, enumerated, and game fish measured for total length in the field prior to release. In addition to a species list, catch per unit effort (CPUE) will be reported for each species collected, as well as length frequency for game fish (walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, and smallmouth bass). Section 7.3 Freshwater Mussel and Habitat Survey A qualitative survey of the freshwater mussels and habitat occurring in the Bill Cross reach will be conducted in accordance with the WDNR s 2005 Guidelines for Sampling Freshwater Mussel in Wadable Streams (Guidelines). Qualitative surveys will consist of timed searches in suitable habitat and are intended to determine: 1) presence/absence of freshwater mussels and 2) a list of species occurring in the reach. Although the number and specific location of qualitative survey points will be determined based on field reconnaissance, WPS expects a minimum of 10 representative sites distributed throughout the reach. Sampling will be done primarily via hand picking and snorkel and mask methods, although SCUBA may be used in areas greater than 2.5 ft in depth. The survey will be conducted by an experienced malacologist with expertise in Wisconsin River species. In accordance with the guidelines, a minimum of four man-hours 1 of cumulative search effort will be exerted to ensure adequate coverage of suitable habitats. In general, live and fresh dead mussels collected during the survey will be identified to species, enumerated and returned to their habitat, although some shell material and/or live specimens may be preserved and returned to the laboratory for taxonomic confirmation. All sampling stations, as well as any significant mussel beds found during sampling, will be documented using GPS. Information collected will be used to complete the WDNR's Mussel Survey Station Species Assessment Datasheet provided in Attachment A. An assessment of aquatic habitat occurring in the Bill Cross reach will be conducted concurrently with the mussel surveys. Specifically, the mussel habitat worksheet (Attachment A) developed as part of the Guidelines will be completed at each mussel sampling station. This will provide a rapid means of assessing major habitat factors, including predominant macrohabitat (pool, run, riffle, etc), dominant substrate, aquatic vegetation coverage, riparian land use, and artificial bank features. 1 Studies have shown that mussel richness reaches an asymptote after approximately four man-hours of searching for large rivers and two hours for smaller streams (WDNR, 2005) 4

8 Section 7.4 Water Level Fluctuations A minimum of three water level data loggers will be deployed in the Bill Cross reach an for an approximate one week period concurrent with the fish and mussel collections for purposes of assessing the magnitude and timing of water level fluctuations resulting from peaking operations at the Project. Although specific locations will need to be determined based on field reconnaissance, WPS expects to deploy level-loggers at the upstream extent, mid-way, and near the toe of the rapids; this should provide adequate spatial distribution for characterized water level fluctuations. Loggers will be set to record at one-minute interval and will be synchronized with powerhouse generation data to allow for assessment of travel time and the magnitude of peaking releases. Loggers will be deployed during summer base flow conditions to capture low flow impacts of peaking releases. Section 8.0 Final Product The final report for this effort will, at a minimum, provide the following: A summary of the fish and mussel species occurring in the Bill Cross Rapids reach; CPUE for both fish and mussels; Determination of class size for game fish species including walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, and smallmouth bass; A summary of the predominant aquatic habitat features occurring in the reach, including predominant macrohabitat (pool, run, riffle, etc), dominant substrate, aquatic vegetation coverage, riparian land use, and artificial bank features; and Narrative and graphical summaries of the timing, duration and magnitude of water level fluctuations resulting from peaking operations at the Project. Section 9.0 Progress Reporting and Schedule ( 5.11(b)(2) and 5.11(b)(3)) The final study plan for this effort will be filed with FERC as part of the Proposed Study Plan by March 11, As recommended by FERC, all field efforts will be conducted concurrently over an approximately 5-7 day period, if possible, in order to reduce time, costs and effort. Field data collection is proposed to be completed during the summer of 2013 or the summer of The Initial Study Report will be filed with the FERC and Stakeholders by August 8, Section 10.0 Level of Effort and Cost ( 5.11(d)(3)) The cost for preparing the study plan, conducting the study and preparing the report is expected to be less than $30,000. This cost does not include lost generation for maintaining safe water levels downstream of the Grandfather Falls Hydroelectric Project powerhouse and dam during the study activities. 5

9 FIGURE 1 Map Showing Location of Bill Cross Rapids Relative to Grandfather Fall Hydroelectric Project 6

10 Attachment A Mussel Survey Station Habitat Assessment Datasheet (WDNR, 2005)

11 Mussel Survey Station Species Assessment Datasheet (WDNR, 2005)

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