Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program
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Project Summary

Project 1999-016-00 - Protect and Restore the Big Canyon Creek Watershed
Project Number:
Protect and Restore the Big Canyon Creek Watershed
Big Canyon Creek is a major tributary to the Clearwater River. The watershed drains approximately 227 square miles and ranges in elevation between 994 ft at the mouth and over 4,200 ft. near the origin. Precipitation ranges from an annual average of approximately 21 inches in the lower and central portions of the watershed to about 27 inches in the higher elevation areas. The watershed geology is comprised primarily of Columbia River basalt with dispersed outcrops of Idaho Batholith Granites. Most of the land within the watershed is used for agriculture with dry land grains and cattle among the most important products. The landownership is mixed with private, state, federal, and tribal entities as significant owners.

Big Canyon Creek Watershed provides habitat for a variety of anadromous and resident fish. The anadromous stocks include wild A-run Snake River Steelhead (listed as Threatened under the ESA - February 5, 1999, 56 FR 5740), Snake River Fall Chinook Salmon (listed as Threatened under the ESA - December 28, 1993, 58 FR 68543), and recently reintroduced Coho salmon. Resident fish include rainbow trout (Oncorhychus mykiss), suckers (Catostomus spp.), northern pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus oregonensis), chiselmouth (Acrocheilus alutaceus), as well as dace (Rhinichtys spp.) and sculpin (Cottus spp.) species. Local oral histories of the Nez Perce Tribe refer to the region’s once significant salmon runs. Similar to many anadromous streams in the Columbia River Basin, Big Canyon Creek has seen a significant decline in salmon and steelhead populations from historic levels. Despite current habitat conditions, rainbow-steelhead production continues to persist in the Big Canyon Creek Watershed, and considerable potential exists for improving anadromous fish populations in this watershed.

The Big Canyon Creek Watershed Rehabilitation Project was originally funded by BPA in 1999 to complete a watershed analysis. Since that time, the NPT Watershed Division has been working on resource assessments and project implementation throughout the watershed. Prior to the initiation of this project, a massive data gap existed on fish, the condition of fish habitat, and limiting factors within the watershed. Only a minimal amount of baseline data collection had occurred. We felt it was of utmost importance to address this issue prior to any large-scale implementation of restoration efforts. Thus, the early years of the project (1999-2001) were focused on watershed assessment and subbasin planning. Unfortunately, these efforts were very broad in scope, and the watershed assessment was based on what minimal data existed on the watershed at that time. This proved to be much too coarse to provide any substantial direction or to guide our restoration activities.

To fill this data gap, beginning in 2002 the NPT Watershed Division developed and/or modified existing protocols to facilitate the collection of relevant baseline data within the watershed. In realizing that this data collection phase would involve a substantial amount of personnel and take several years to complete, NPT Watershed in collaboration with the Nez Perce Soil and Water Conservation District (NPSWCD), began implementing watershed rehabilitation activities concurrently with data gathering activities. Due to the lack of a comprehensive, detailed watershed assessment to help prioritize restoration activities, implementation activities since 2002 have been concentrated on the “hot spots” or obvious areas in need of rehabilitation (e.g., livestock feeding operations, un-vegetated riparian areas, passage barriers, and areas with direct livestock access to the stream). As mentioned previously, these projects have been implemented in the interim while the detailed baseline data collection phase is completed. The NPT Water Resources Division, Watershed Division, and NPSWCD are all involved in the data collection/analysis process. By fall 2007, a very comprehensive baseline data set for the Big Canyon Creek Watershed should be assembled. These data sets will include some or all of the following as available: 1.) fish distribution and abundance data, 2.) fish habitat data, 3.) riparian canopy data, 4.) thermal imagery, 5.) LiDar imagery, 6.) water quality data, and 7.) aquatic/riparian assessments. These data will be compiled and analyzed together in 2007 to create a 10-year restoration plan for the Big Canyon Creek Watershed. This important plan will be used to prioritize, select, and justify future watershed restoration and protection activities in the Big Canyon Creek Watershed.
Proponent Orgs:
Nez Perce Tribe (Tribe)
Starting FY:
Ending FY:
Province Subbasin %
Mountain Snake Clearwater 100.00%
Focal Species:
Bass, Largemouth
Bass, Smallmouth
Carp, Common
Chinook - Snake River Fall ESU
Coho - Unspecified Population
Crappie, Black
Cutthroat Trout, Westslope
Freshwater Mussels
Lamprey, Pacific
Perch, Yellow
Pikeminnow, Northern
Steelhead - Snake River DPS
Trout, Brook
Trout, Brown
Trout, Bull
Trout, Interior Redband
Trout, Rainbow
Whitefish, Mountain
Species Benefit:
Anadromous: 100.0%   Resident: 0.0%   Wildlife: 0.0%
BiOp Association:
FCRPS 2008 – view list of FCRPS 2008 BiOp Actions

Tributary Habitat Implementation 2007 to 2009,
Tributary Habitat Implementation 2007 to 2009,
Tributary Habitat Implementation 2007 to 2009

Description: Page: 7 Figure 1: Big Canyon Creek watershed and stream locations.

Project(s): 1999-016-00

Document: P120007

Dimensions: 922 x 1249

Description: Page: 11 Figure 2: February 2010, Work Element F on Tribal Allotment 1029 after tree maintenance activities.

Project(s): 1999-016-00

Document: P120007

Dimensions: 704 x 618

Description: Page: 14 Figure 3: April 2009, Work Element J on Tribal Allotment 1020A before tree planting activities.

Project(s): 1999-016-00

Document: P120007

Dimensions: 1058 x 629

Description: Page: 14 Figure 4: August 2010, Work Element J on Tribal Allotment 1020A after tree planting activities.

Project(s): 1999-016-00

Document: P120007

Dimensions: 1051 x 516

Description: Page: 16 Figure 5: July 2009, Work Element U: American Fisheries Society Hutton intern assists with potting trees for fall planting. These plants were later planted on Tribal Allotment 369B and associated with Work Elements M and N.

Project(s): 1999-016-00

Document: P120007

Dimensions: 870 x 652

Summary of Budgets

To view all expenditures for all fiscal years, click "Project Exp. by FY"

To see more detailed project budget information, please visit the "Project Budget" page

No Decided Budget Transfers

Pending Budget Decision?  No

Actual Project Cost Share

Current Fiscal Year — 2024
Cost Share Partner Total Proposed Contribution Total Confirmed Contribution
There are no project cost share contributions to show.
Previous Fiscal Years
Fiscal Year Total Contributions % of Budget
2009 $35,803 30%
2008 $36,250 18%
2007 $22,300 12%


The table below contains contracts with the following statuses: Active, Closed, Complete, History, Issued.
* "Total Contracted Amount" column includes contracted amount from both capital and expense components of the contract.
Expense Contracts:
Number Contractor Name Title Status Total Contracted Amount Dates
4557 SOW Nez Perce Tribe 1999-16 PROTECT & RESTORE BIG CANYON CREEK History $500,918 3/1/2001 - 2/28/2005
21506 SOW Nez Perce Tribe 1999 016 00 PROTECT & RESTORE THE BIG CANYON CREEK WATERSHED History $223,958 3/1/2005 - 2/28/2006
26502 SOW Nez Perce Tribe 1999 016 00 BIG CANYON WATERSHED RESTORATION History $228,047 3/1/2006 - 2/28/2007
32217 SOW Nez Perce Tribe 1999 016 00 BIG CANYON WATERSHED RESTORATION History $173,580 3/1/2007 - 4/30/2008
37368 SOW Nez Perce Tribe 1999-016-00 EXP NPT BIG CANYON CREEK WATERSHED RESTORATION History $139,941 5/1/2008 - 8/31/2009
42241 SOW Nez Perce Tribe 199901600 EXP NPT BIG CANYON CREEK WATERSHED RESTORATION History $82,059 5/1/2009 - 4/30/2010

Annual Progress Reports
Expected (since FY2004):5
On time:3
Status Reports
On time:8
Avg Days Late:37

                Count of Contract Deliverables
Earliest Contract Subsequent Contracts Title Contractor Earliest Start Latest End Latest Status Accepted Reports Complete Green Yellow Red Total % Green and Complete Canceled
4557 21506, 26502, 32217, 37368, 42241 199901600 EXP NPT BIG CANYON CREEK WATERSHED RESTORATION Nez Perce Tribe 03/01/2001 04/30/2010 History 23 50 0 0 23 73 68.49% 0
Project Totals 23 50 0 0 23 73 68.49% 0

The table content is updated frequently and thus contains more recent information than what was in the original proposal reviewed by ISRP and Council.

Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 1999-016-00-NPCC-20090924
Project: 1999-016-00 - Protect and Restore the Big Canyon Creek Watershed
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Approved Date: 10/23/2006
Recommendation: Fund
Comments: ISRP fundable in part. Funding in FY 2007 to complete reports on abundance, habitat status and a comprehensive presentation of prioritized restoration projects. Funding for restoration actions in 08 and 09 is conditioned on favorable ISRP and Council review of revised proposal linked to completed reports (per ISRP comments). 2007 Revised Budget: Significant reductions in salaries (FTEs), implementation tasks, land leasing, and NEPA/Cultural consultations. Implementation of proposed tasks at 100% is dependent on the acquisition of supplemental funding.

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 1999-016-00-ISRP-20060831
Project: 1999-016-00 - Protect and Restore the Big Canyon Creek Watershed
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 8/31/2006
Final Round ISRP Date: None
Final Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria - In Part
Final Round ISRP Comment:

The preliminary ISRP review of this proposal principally raised three questions. What was the historic and current status and importance of the steelhead population in the Big Canyon Creek watershed? What are results from habitat restoration undertaken by this project to date? And what is the potential to restore this water and if restored what kind of contribution will the steelhead population contribute to restoring the ESU and providing benefits to the focal species?

The sponsor replies that because there was a paucity of data on fish and their habitats the first few years of the project were spent determining fish distribution and abundance and performing stream and riparian habitat assessments. The sponsor reports that the field collections for these assessments are completed and that reports are presently being finalized. In the interim period the sponsor has undertaken habitat improvement in areas thought to be "hot spots." It is not clear whether these are areas that have outstanding potential to produce fish if improved, or if they are areas that are especially degraded. There is an intent announced to remove possible barriers in the form of agricultural equipment crossings that are very high in the tributaries for $1-2 million, but no biological justification was advanced.

The ISRP is uncomfortable agreeing with the sponsors that this is a stronghold for steelhead based on earlier surveys, when the sponsors themselves argued that more abundance information was needed to initiate habitat actions. Further, until the reports from the fish abundance and habitat surveys are completed it is not possible to conclude that the watershed has the potential to contribute to improving the status of the focal species and provide fish and wildlife benefits. Although the response shows significant effort in its preparation, the response provided does not constitute an adequate reporting of satisfactory results.

Based on this situation, the project is Fundable in Part for FY07 to complete the reports on fish abundance, habitat status, and a comprehensive presentation of prioritized restoration projects.

For full comments on "restore and protect" type projects, please see heading "General comments concerning Nez Perce Tribe proposals to protect and restore various watersheds" at the beginning of the ISRP comments on project # 199607702, Protect & Restore Lolo Creek Watershed.
Documentation Links:

Legal Assessment (In-Lieu)

Assessment Number: 1999-016-00-INLIEU-20090521
Project Number: 1999-016-00
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 10/6/2006
In Lieu Rating: Problems May Exist
Cost Share Rating: 3 - Does not appear reasonable
Comment: Watershed restoration, mix of tribal and private lands; multiple activities proposed; need confirmation BPA funding not being utilized for specific practices that other entity required to perform; need confirmation that cost share is sufficient.

Capital Assessment

Assessment Number: 1999-016-00-CAPITAL-20090618
Project Number: 1999-016-00
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 2/27/2007
Capital Rating: Does Not Qualify for Capital Funding
Capital Asset Category: None
Comment: None

Project Relationships: None

Name Role Organization
Emmit Taylor, Jr. Supervisor Nez Perce Tribe
Mark Fritsch Interested Party Northwest Power and Conservation Council
Bruce Hollen (Inactive) Interested Party Bonneville Power Administration
Justin Peterson Technical Contact Nez Perce Tribe
David Byrnes (Inactive) Project Manager Bonneville Power Administration
Bobby Hills Project Lead Nez Perce Tribe
Paul Krueger (Inactive) Supervisor Bonneville Power Administration
Donald Rose (Inactive) Env. Compliance Lead Bonneville Power Administration