This project adequately addresses the technical background, tie to the subbasin plan, and Fish and Wildlife Program. The proposal intends to benefit salmon, steelhead, bull trout, and westslope cutthroat trout as well as other fishes; waterfowl; upland wildlife; and other aquatic-, wetland-, and riparian-dependent species. The project is being used as a local and regional demonstration project for other stream restoration and watershed projects and as an outdoor educational facility for students of all ages. Phases I through IV are complete on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's Red River Wildlife Management Area, one of the four land parcels in the meadow of Lower Red River. Bird populations are said to be increasing, but this may not be associated solely with this project. Elk are mentioned as a non-focal species, but there's no mention of how elk would benefit from this work (will the exclusion fencing withstand elk attention?) A response is needed on the potential benefit to elk.
A response is also needed on the following ISRP comments and concerns:
The proposers concentrate on the post-2002 history and do not present most of the project's 12-year history (some alluded to in section 1). Results in terms of fish or other animal populations are not adequately shown. These are severe deficiencies that should be remedied in the response.
Parts of monitoring and evaluation are spread within the work elements. With regard to biological M&E, subjects are listed, but the methods are not described and a statistical design is not apparent. Clarification in the response is needed of stream-miles treated. Specifically, the numbers of miles that underwent each type of treatment (and miles remaining to be treated) should be set forth clearly in a table. The table should also show the length of the pre-project channel, the length of the present (restored) channel, and the predicted length when the project is completed. A map would be helpful.
A summary is needed of results of the apparently substantial past research expenditure. The narrative seems to say that 4.5 stream-miles have been treated in some way or ways at a total 12-year project cost of $3,445,489 -- or $765,664 per stream-mile. These costs seem high, even when probable research aspects (results not presented in this history) and apparent channel lengthening (not clearly described) are taken into account. The project's recent reduction of effort seems to have been appropriate. It might be further reduced, unless the project is expanded to include up- or downstream areas and proper biological M&E.
The biggest expenditure item ($137,215) is for Objective 1, which includes planting as remedial works for low survival and slow establishment. In response, please include more information about the presumed failure of the bioengineering design. Please explain whether this was a design flaw in choosing the appropriate technique, a construction problem (live material drying out before installation), or a failure to irrigate and/or protect against browse (deer and/or beaver)? The cause of failure needs to be identified before suggesting remedies. Please discuss in the response how plantings to "hold" or "substantiate" the bioengineered structure were expected to work.
Proper assessment of bioengineering planting failure-to-thrive, by a person both qualified and experienced to do this post-project appraisal work, seems to be needed and reported before further work is done. In response, please describe alternatives for completing such a report.