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Project Summary

Project 2001-021-00 - 15 Mile Creek Riparian Buffers

Please Note: This project is the product of one or more merges and/or splits from other projects. Historical data automatically included here are limited to the current project and previous generation (the “parent” projects) only. The Project Relationships section details the nature of the relationships between this project and the previous generation. To learn about the complete ancestry of this project, please review the Project Relationships section on the Project Summary page of each parent project.

Project Number:
2001-021-00
Title:
15 Mile Creek Riparian Buffers
Summary:
Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) provides local leadership in implementation of several full-scale watershed enhancement projects focused on improving watershed health. Working in close partnership with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) our team's strength is our ability to develop and implement scientifically sound, economically feasible resource management plans for private landowners.

This project to implement riparian buffer systems in the Mid-Columbia addresses high priority actions identified in the Fifteenmile Sub-basin Plan. It will dedicate 1.0 FTE to provide the technical planning support needed to implement at least 36 riparian buffer system contracts on approximately 872 acres covering an estimated 40 miles of anadromous fish streams as a 3-year goal. Buffer widths will be between 35 and 180 ft. on each side of the stream. Implementation will include prescribed plantings, fencing, and related practices. Actual implementation costs, lease payments, and maintenance costs will be borne by existing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs: Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Programs (CREP). Leases will be for 10-15 year periods.

Ten to fifteen (10-15) CCRP/CREP agreements will be signed by landowners annually, committing desired property to CCRP/CREP rules, i.e. shrub/tree/grass planting, weed control, livestock exclusion. Wasco SWCD staff will track contracts to ensure a smooth process between landowners and partner agencies. This tracking entails monitoring the approval process on completed plans through SWCD, NRCS, and FSA County Committee sign-off and Farm Service Agency (FSA) contracting.

This program meets a critical need in Fifteenmile Watershed in particular where existing Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) riparian lease agreements are expiring. This project fills a critical staffing need to conduct assessments and develop plans to address the growing backlog of potential projects. Plans developed under this project are used for federal contracts to implement riparian buffers. The SWCD uses the USDA NRCS Nine step planning process to develop these plans: (1) Identify problems and opportunities, (2) Determine Objectives, (3) Inventory resources, (4) Analyze resource inventory, (5) Formulate alternatives, (6) Evaluate alternatives, (7) Decision - Select Alternative, (8) Implement the Plan, (9) Evaluate plan (monitor).

Notes:
Operation and Maintenance (O&M) are not required in this project:
Actual O&M is a funded item in the CRP/CREP contracts whereby the landowner receives a small fee per acre to cover maintenance costs. The landowner is responsible under the contract for the maintenance. O&M is funded by USDA.

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is included as a cost item. This is accomplished through visual inspections. Additionally, records of stream miles, acreage and number of plans completed will be tracked for reporting purposes:
Farm Service Agency (FSA) has programmatic responsibility for spot-checking contracts to ensure terms are being met. NRCS has responsibility for technical supervision. The SWCD will use the NRCS Stream Visual Assessment Protocol as the principal monitoring and evaluation tool to evaluate and describe both pre- and post-project conditions.
Proposer:
None
Proponent Orgs:
Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) (SWCD)
Starting FY:
2001
Ending FY:
2021
BPA PM:
Stage:
Implementation - Project Status Report
Area:
Province Subbasin %
Columbia Gorge Fifteenmile 100.00%
Purpose:
Habitat
Emphasis:
Restoration/Protection
Focal Species:
Lamprey, Pacific
Steelhead - Middle Columbia River DPS
Trout, Interior Redband
Trout, Rainbow
Species Benefit:
Anadromous: 100.0%   Resident: 0.0%   Wildlife: 0.0%
Special:
None

No photos have been uploaded yet for this Project.

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

Decided Budget Transfers  (FY2020 - FY2022)

Acct FY Acct Type Amount Fund Budget Decision Date
FY2020 Expense $100,000 From: BiOp FCRPS 2008 (non-Accord) FY20 SOY 06/05/2019
FY2021 Expense $100,000 From: BiOp FCRPS 2008 (non-Accord) FY21 SOY 06/09/2020

Pending Budget Decision?  No


Actual Project Cost Share

Current Fiscal Year — 2021
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
2019 (Draft)
2018 $56,706 38%
2017 $35,514 27%
2016 $217,056 70%
2015 $147,553 62%
2014 $359,110 80%
2013 $77,850 46%
2012 $382,597 81%
2011 $446,317 83%
2010 $127,672 59%
2009 $616,890 88%
2008 $631,165 88%
2007 $555,496 87%

Contracts

The table below contains contracts with the following statuses: Active, 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
82637 SOW Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2001-021-00 EXP WASCO COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Issued $100,000 7/1/2019 - 6/30/2020
85547 SOW Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2001-021-00 EXP RIPARIAN BUFFERS IN WASCO COUNTY Issued $100,000 7/1/2020 - 6/30/2021
CR-343145 SOW Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2001-021-00 EXP RIPARIAN BUFFERS IN WASCO COUNTY Pending $100,000 7/1/2021 - 3/30/2022



Annual Progress Reports
Expected (since FY2004):16
Completed:13
On time:13
Status Reports
Completed:61
On time:23
Avg Days Late:9

Historical from: 2002-019-00
Earliest Subsequent           Accepted Count of Contract Deliverables
Contract Contract(s) Title Contractor Start End Status Reports Complete Green Yellow Red Total % Green and Complete Canceled
9502 22517, 27327, 32854, 37792, 47611, 52790, 57193, 61293, 65112, 69322, 72874, 76369, 79694 2002-019-00 WASCO RIPARIAN BUFFERS Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 05/2002 05/2002 Closed 64 155 0 0 88 243 63.79% 24
Project Totals 124 353 0 0 164 517 68.28% 56


Earliest Subsequent           Accepted Count of Contract Deliverables
Contract Contract(s) Title Contractor Start End Status Reports Complete Green Yellow Red Total % Green and Complete Canceled
4935 22189, 26765, 32383, 37494, 46807, 52456, 56911, 60806, 64665, 69192, 72971, 76345, 79709, 82637, 85547 2001-021-00 FIFTEEN MILE CREEK RIPARIAN BUFFERS Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 04/2001 04/2001 Issued 60 198 0 0 76 274 72.26% 32
Project Totals 124 353 0 0 164 517 68.28% 56


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: 2013 Geographic Category Review

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 2001-021-00-NPCC-20131125
Project: 2001-021-00 - 15 Mile Creek Riparian Buffers
Review: 2013 Geographic Category Review
Proposal: GEOREV-2001-021-00
Proposal State: Pending BPA Response
Approved Date: 11/5/2013
Recommendation: Implement with Conditions
Comments: Implement through FY 2018: See Programmatic Issue and Recommendation A for effectiveness monitoring.
Conditions:
Council Condition #1 Programmatic Issue: A. Implement Monitoring, and Evaluation at a Regional Scale—See Programmatic Issue and Recommendation A for effectiveness monitoring.
Assessment Number: 2002-019-00-NPCC-20131125
Project: 2002-019-00 - Develop Riparian Buffer Systems in Lower Wasco County
Review: 2013 Geographic Category Review
Proposal: GEOREV-2002-019-00
Proposal State: Pending BPA Response
Approved Date: 11/5/2013
Recommendation: Implement with Conditions
Comments: Implement through FY 2018. See Programmatic Issue and Recommendation A for effectiveness monitoring.
Conditions:
Council Condition #1 ISRP Qualification: A more robust well-rounded program to monitor effectiveness is needed—See Programmatic Issue and Recommendation A for effectiveness monitoring.
Council Condition #2 Programmatic Issue: A. Implement Monitoring, and Evaluation at a Regional Scale—See Programmatic Issue and Recommendation A for effectiveness monitoring.

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 2001-021-00-ISRP-20130610
Project: 2001-021-00 - 15 Mile Creek Riparian Buffers
Review: 2013 Geographic Category Review
Proposal Number: GEOREV-2001-021-00
Completed Date: 9/26/2013
Final Round ISRP Date: 8/15/2013
Final Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified)
Final Round ISRP Comment:

The project sponsors provided thoughtful and detailed responses to the ISRP’s questions. These responses included (1) riparian buffer dimensions, types of restoration actions, and adaptive management plans, (2) additional information on the rates of riparian recovery after fencing and replanting as measured by SVAP protocols, as well as a link to the OWEB macroinvertebrate study report showing improvements in caddisflies, stoneflies, and mayflies at buffered sites, and (3) additional details on coordination activities between Wasco SWCD and ODFW, and plans to include ISEMP monitoring and CHaMP habitat survey protocols in Fifteenmile Creek. The coordination with partners and landowners has been excellent and the working relationship with the ODFW habitat improvement project is described in reasonable detail. The ISRP was impressed with the level of coordination between federal, state, county, and local landowners in the subbasin. The ISRP was also encouraged that the project sponsors are aware of the need to increase effectiveness monitoring efforts and are taking steps to make this happen.

Evaluation of Results
The high percentage of riparian buffers that have been enrolled in the CREP program and the number of landowners that are not eligible for CREP but are voluntarily participating in Wasco SWCD and ODFW restoration efforts suggest that the Fifteenmile Creek can be considered a regional model for cooperation in restoring wild steelhead. When effectiveness monitoring results become more complete, the project sponsors together with ODFW should publish their results. Thus others in the Columbia Basin can appreciate their success and learn from their experiences.

Qualification #1 - Continue to bolster efforts to increase biological effectiveness monitoring associated with the buffers
This is a well-organized project that has achieved real progress in protecting riparian zones in the Fifteenmile Creek subbasin. The qualification is that project sponsors should continue to bolster efforts to increase biological effectiveness monitoring associated with the buffers. The response indicates that Wasco County SWCD is closely working with ODFW to assess sitespecific restoration effectiveness and that efforts are underway to implement ISEMP/CHaMP monitoring protocols on a group of 25 sites within the system. These efforts are critically needed, and the ISRP recommends that effectiveness monitoring of selected CREP buffers be implemented as soon as is feasible. In addition, the plan of work should state how plant assemblage goals were specifically determined. NRCS standards were used to select plant assemblages, but a summary of NRCS plant assemblage standards (with species of plants typically used) should be included in the project description with a reference to how these assemblages will benefit aquatic habitat.
First Round ISRP Date: 6/10/2013
First Round ISRP Rating: Response Requested
First Round ISRP Comment:

The ISRP understands that the project supports the administration of CREP buffers and that currently over 90% of private landowners have enrolled in the CREP Program – Wasco County leads the state in this regard. However, a little more information is needed on a few key items.

An adequate response should address the following questions. First, we would like to know more about the buffers themselves: what are their typical width dimensions, how are riparian plant assemblage goals established, and what are the different types of restoration actions in the CREP buffers? Second, what riparian results have been achieved by implementation of CREP buffers to date; specifically, how quickly are riparian areas moving toward desired conditions, and are project sponsors satisfied with progress to date? Finally, more details are needed about how the Wasco SWCD interfaces with ODFW in coordinating restoration activities along Fifteenmile Creek and its tributaries.

1. Purpose: Significance to Regional Programs, Technical Background, and Objectives

This primarily administrative project enables the local soil and water conservation district in the Fifteenmile Creek subbasin to negotiate riparian protection agreements with private landowners under the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). The agreements involve native riparian plant re-establishment, weed control, and livestock exclusion along Fifteenmile Creek, some of its tributaries, and other small streams draining directly to the mid-Columbia River. Much of the cost of the CREP program in Fifteenmile Creek is borne by the USDA, with the Wasco SWCD requesting a modest $86-91K for planning and contract execution over the next five years.

Some of the original CREP agreements are expiring, and the project sponsor wishes to renew them as well as to add new agreements with private landowners to fill gaps identified in the first map: 38 stream miles in total, including Fivemile, Eightmile, Fifteenmile, Ramsey and Dry Creeks. The project's objective is to negotiate 80 CREP agreements (16 per year) committing landowners to abide by CREP rules and to maintain the riparian protections implemented as part of the restoration effort.

While the background and objectives are clearly explained in general terms, little detail is provided about the buffers themselves such as width, specific riparian objectives, or types of restoration actions. A chart or table breaking down restoration actions into general categories - revegetation, weed control, livestock exclusion - would be helpful. There is considerable collaboration between this project and the companion ODFW habitat improvement project in the Fifteenmile Creek subbasin (1993-040-00), and more details are needed about how these two projects work together and share resources.

2. History: Accomplishments, Results, and Adaptive Management (Evaluation of Results)

Because the project is administrative in nature, its accomplishments are described as successful CREP agreements with landowners. The reported results, therefore, are given as contracts signed and miles of stream affected by the agreements. The proposal did not provide any specific data or evidence about improvements in riparian condition over time since the contracts were executed. On the other hand, it is clear from the map that the extent of CREP coverage on the subbasin and adjacent streams is extensive, and if the CREP objectives for riparian condition are being met there is little doubt that the project has led to significant improvements in riparian condition and stream habitat.

Although the ISRP requested project sponsors to show a link to biological improvements resulting from the project in a previous review, the current proposal is still somewhat deficient in this regard. We understand that a convincing demonstration of improvement in steelhead productivity is in the future, but what evidence is available to demonstrate that the buffers have resulted in desired changes in riparian condition? There must be some data showing that the CREP agreements are working. Additionally, even though the results of the stream visual assessment protocol surveys are preliminary they are still of interest to the ISRP and should be included in the proposal.

In the section on adaptive management, the project sponsors state that individual agreements can be modified as needed. It would be helpful to describe how decisions are made regarding modifications and what evidence is required for a modification to take place.

Over the first 11 years this project has signed up 142 contracts covering 3809 acres and protected 128.7 miles of creek riparian habitats. The future goal is to average 10 new contracts per year through 2023 (Is this future goal consistent with the objective for 16 per year under this contract?). Past ISRP reviews have asked for ties to biological/fish monitoring. This proposal indicates that ODFW project 2010-035-00 will do the monitoring. However, the proposal should provide a link or brief summary of that project's results to date that relate trends in benefits to fish from habitat protection applied to Fifteenmile Creek.

Evaluation of Results

The ISRP notes that the 15-year CREP enrollment period may not be long enough to allow monitoring to assess the full habitat benefits of CREP protection. This could be remedied by either extending the contract time or by establishing interim habitat goals that can be monitored during the 15-year period, for example at 1, 3, 5, and 15 year intervals post-enrollment.

3. Project Relationships, Emerging Limiting Factors, and Tailored Questions

As pointed out above, the relationship between this project and the older ODFW habitat improvement project in Fifteenmile Creek (1993-040-00) should be made clearer. How are duplicative efforts avoided? How are riparian improvements coordinated between the two projects and how are workloads shared, if at all?

With regard to emerging limiting factors, the ODFW habitat project identifies the spread of non-native invasive plants as a significant threat to the subbasin. While weed control is mentioned among the supported CREP actions, it was not clear if efforts to control invasives will need to be stepped up in the coming years.

4. Deliverables, Work Elements, Metrics, and Methods

The deliverables and work elements were administrative such as landowner coordination, preparation of NRCS checklists, conservation plan development, CREP agreements, report preparation, and thus there were no technical metrics or methods to review. The proposal did do an adequate job of describing administrative details, however. Based on the funding requested here it is evident that most of the cost of the CREP buffers will be supported by the USDA Farm Service Agency.

The ISRP was intrigued by the macroinvertebrate monitoring studies that were discussed during the site visit and hopes that such sampling can be expanded in the future.

Specific comments on protocols and methods described in MonitoringMethods.org

The proposal states that no RM&E protocols will be needed; however, project sponsors will be implementing the NRCS stream visual assessment protocols as mentioned earlier. It would have been helpful for the proposal to briefly describe the SVAP technique.

Modified by Dal Marsters on 9/26/2013 11:20:06 AM.
Documentation Links:
  • Proponent Response (7/9/2013)
Assessment Number: 2002-019-00-ISRP-20130610
Project: 2002-019-00 - Develop Riparian Buffer Systems in Lower Wasco County
Review: 2013 Geographic Category Review
Proposal Number: GEOREV-2002-019-00
Completed Date: 9/26/2013
Final Round ISRP Date: 8/15/2013
Final Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified)
Final Round ISRP Comment:

It would appear that SVAP monitoring could be the foundation of a monitoring program for vegetation recovery, tied to different treatment types and site conditions. To be most effective, it would need to be stratified by vegetation/treatment type (plant stock species/age, planting technique, irrigation vs. no irrigation) and some basic measures of site character (valley bottom type, general soils/geology, existing vegetation type and coverage, aspect, etc.) and conducted on a regular re-sampling basis for a pre-determined number of treatment sites annually. Additional low cost techniques to quantify percent canopy and/or ground cover, stem, or plant density by species, percent stream surface shading and/or water temperature, plant survival by species and planting technique could be used to supplement SVAP. It is suspected this could be done for a relatively modest increase in cost and would provide very useful information to inform future work and to complement future OWEB effectiveness monitoring. SVAP assessments, performed to date, indicate general improvement in stream channel and riparian conditions following habitat restoration. It was informative to see the SVAP information that was provided, but it was not clear as to why the average time between surveys, shown in the bar graphs, was 1.7 years while the recommended time between sampling on the SVAP forms was 5 years. It appears that with some planning, and a slight re-balancing of time and costs, a very useful program to monitor vegetative recovery could become an integral part of the restoration program. These assessments should continue but need to incorporate a systematic sampling design, including a procedure for selecting monitoring sites, a time frame for sampling the sites, and analysis and periodic summary of results. The ISRP looks forward to reviewing the results of the SVAP assessments in future proposals.

Comments on climate change in the response were adequate.

For fish assessments, in the 2006 review, the sponsors suggested that ODFW’s fish monitoring projects on two tributaries to Deschutes River could enable evaluation of the effectiveness of the SWCD’s stream enhancement projects in these basins. In the recent response the sponsors indicate that this evaluation was not possible because ODFW’s monitoring is at the watershed scale and will not enable evaluation of effectiveness at the scale of individual habitat enhancement projects in these streams. Nevertheless, the ODFW monitoring projects could help in evaluating the cumulative effectiveness of SWCD’s habitat projects within each tributary, which would be better than no evaluation at all. The sponsors should continue to explore with ODFW the possibility of using their fish monitoring data to assess effectiveness of habitat projects at the watershed scale in these streams.

The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) funded a study, completed in 2009, to evaluate the effectiveness of some of the sponsors’ projects. The study indicated that buffered sites had greater abundances of some aquatic insects than un-buffered sites. Although these results are encouraging, it would have been useful if the sponsors had provided more detail on the study design and results of this study. Apparently there is the possibility that in the future OWEB will fund additional effectiveness evaluations of the sponsors’ projects. This direction is encouraging, and the sponsors are to be commended for developing what could be an important cooperative relationship with OWEB. The sponsors should ensure that any future work with OWEB is carefully designed so as to yield meaningful scientific results. It would be useful in future proposals for the SWCD to involve OWEB and their new staff person in planning a low cost assessment protocol. Hopefully, some assessment of fish response will be included in future effectiveness evaluations. More information on progress should be made available in future reporting.

Regarding assessment and reporting of past SWCD experience with contract preparation and implementation, it was useful to see the summary table that was provided and to be informed of the informal information exchange that is occurring. It appears that a bit more effort to incorporate and document this information would allow a much more comprehensive discussion of lessons learned.

The comments on buffer width were informative. Emphasis on widening them beyond minimums is undoubtedly a result of interaction between the SWCD and individual landowners. The table on what has and has not worked is useful, but a bit brief. It would also be useful to indicate what the sponsors found to be the reasons behind why particular actions worked and did not work.

Qualification #1 - A more robust well-rounded program to monitor effectiveness is needed
The qualification relates to further development of the monitoring program. Although limiting factors for effectiveness monitoring as related to stream conditions and fish production are provided, a more robust well-rounded program to monitor effectiveness is needed. The sponsors indicate that they have the tools to do the monitoring. During contracting the sponsors should describe a systematic sampling design including a procedure for selecting monitoring sites, a time frame for sampling the sites, and plans for analysis and a periodic summary of results. The ISRP will review progress in achieving a robust monitoring program, as outlined in comments below, during future proposal reviews.
First Round ISRP Date: 6/10/2013
First Round ISRP Rating: Response Requested
First Round ISRP Comment:

ISRP Qualifications in the previous review were: "that the project should develop: 1. a collaboration plan (with ODFW) for buffer effectiveness monitoring; and 2. a work element to assess SWCD experience with buffer contract development and implementation. Council qualifications were similar." These qualifications do not appear to have been addressed. A response is requested for each of these items.

Additionally, this project coordinates with several other SWCD projects. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is conducting fish productivity studies in two of the streams where this project is performing riparian restoration. It is not clear how these latter two projects will be coordinated. Will the ODFW project be explicitly assessing fish production at the sponsor’s project sites? It is also unclear if this project is coordinating with other tribal and state habitat restoration plans ongoing in the Deschutes and John Day, such as BPA-funded projects 1984-021-00 (John Day Habitat Enhancement), 2000-031-00 (Enhancement of Habitat in North Fork John Day), and 2007-397-00 (John Day Passage, Flow, and Habitat Enhancement). Additional information on these items is requested.

1. Purpose: Significance to Regional Programs, Technical Background, and Objectives

Wasco County SWCD has developed this proposal to "provide technical assistance working with landowners and partner agencies to plan and implement riparian buffers to improve anadromous fish habitat in the lower Deschutes and lower John Day subbasins. The proposed work is relevant to several plans and programs in the two subbasins. It addresses riparian degradation, one of the leading limiting factors to salmonid production in the two subbasins, by contracting with private landowners to establish riparian restoration projects. The project engages largely in planning and implementation of riparian projects through CREP. The main goal is to establish riparian buffers on 90 miles of stream (average 18 mi/yr)." The overall background and need is well established. Identification of limiting factors for salmonid production leading to this prescription came from EDT.

Objective three is the only objective that directly describes the activities of this project. Objectives one and two pertain to increasing fish productivity in the Deschutes and John Day Subbasin. This project only indirectly addresses fish productivity. Hopefully, the proposed riparian restoration projects will increase freshwater productivity, but additional actions, for example improved fish passage and irrigation diversion screening, also are needed to improve freshwater fish survival and growth. This project is not undertaking these additional activities. Additional detail on how the proposed work links to other important restoration in the subbasin is needed.

Although this is an important program that has been in place for nearly 15 years, there are a number of program elements as outlined below that need to be incorporated before another 5 years pass.

2. History: Accomplishments, Results, and Adaptive Management (Evaluation of Results)

The sponsors have initiated a substantial number of riparian projects with landowner involvement. This project appears to be effectively cost-shared by other agencies. The sponsors present a table showing, by year, the number of contracts initiated and the number of miles and acres of riparian buffer that has been established. However, no quantitative results relating to project effectiveness in improving habitat were presented. The only statement of results was that the projects are showing a “positive trend.” This statement conveys little information about project success to date. In future proposals more information on pre- and post-riparian conditions should be presented.

The adaptive changes mentioned by the sponsors mostly have involved modification of ongoing projects on a site-specific basis. The proposal did provide details on widening buffers from 35 feet to 180 feet. There was no discussion as to what prompted this broad-scale change.

3. Project Relationships, Emerging Limiting Factors, and Tailored Questions

The sponsors recognize climate change as a limiting factor but seem to believe that its impact will not be so severe in the John Day and Deschutes. The sponsors maintain that their projects will help ameliorate climate change impacts. Further consideration of these issues is needed.

Little information on an RM&E program is given. Effectiveness monitoring is not currently an integral part of the program. The ISRP, in its last review of this project, gave the Qualification that the project should develop, in collaboration with ODFW, a plan for effectiveness monitoring of their riparian projects. This Qualification apparently has not been met. The sponsors provided no explanation of why they did not develop one. The sponsors should have explained why it has not been developed. This issue is still relevant.

4. Deliverables, Work Elements, Metrics, and Methods

The Deliverables currently define the steps in the implementation process. They will lead to accomplishment of Objective 3 but only indirectly support Objectives one and two. No metrics and methods, other than procedures in the planning and implementation process, are given.

A progressive intermediate goals-met approach may need to be used to assess intermediate results. What kinds of ecological responses are expected and measurable after 1, 3, 5, 10, and 15 years? What kinds of rapid bioassessment approaches might be useful for riparian and instream responses? More effort needs to be expended in this area. More coordination for specific activities in monitoring by ODFW would be beneficial.

Specific comments on protocols and methods described in MonitoringMethods.org

SVAP effectiveness surveys are to be done prior to establishing a landowner agreement and then every 5 years after, yet the proposal states that in a span of 15 year only a few follow up surveys have been completed and this "shows positive trends were established." There is no description of desired conditions for successful restoration or a definition for fully functioning riparian areas.

Although the sponsors have coordinated with ODFW and have screw traps in Bakeoven and Buckhollow Creeks, they provided no statement on how the data informs riparian buffer treatment effects. They also stated that the ODFW monitoring project on Fifteenmile Creek "is expected to provide, for the first time, a solid basis for buffer effectiveness evaluation." It is not explained how this study will isolate the possible effects of riparian buffers from an array of other habitat restoration actions.

The project has a solid history of implementing riparian habitat restoration projects. A particularly positive aspect of this work is enlisting landowner participation, and outreach and education. With the success the sponsors have had enlisting landowner cooperation it would have been interesting to know how successful the projects have been, both in terms of biological results and landowner satisfaction.

Overall, the information presented indicates that this is a very cost-effective project with large potential habitat benefits that should continue and improve.

Modified by Dal Marsters on 9/26/2013 11:43:55 AM.
Documentation Links:
  • Proponent Response (7/9/2013)
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 2001-021-00-NPCC-20090924
Project: 2001-021-00 - 15 Mile Creek Riparian Buffers
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Approved Date: 10/23/2006
Recommendation: Fund
Comments: Programmatic Issue: habitat m&e.
Assessment Number: 2002-019-00-NPCC-20090924
Project: 2002-019-00 - Develop Riparian Buffer Systems in Lower Wasco County
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Approved Date: 10/23/2006
Recommendation: Fund
Comments:

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 2001-021-00-ISRP-20060831
Project: 2001-021-00 - 15 Mile Creek Riparian Buffers
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 8/31/2006
Final Round ISRP Date: None
Final Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified)
Final Round ISRP Comment:
The consolidated response of the conservation districts to this and other riparian buffer proposals in central Oregon argues that BPA funding will enable the districts and constituent landowners to produce plans that can be put forward for Farm Bill and OWEB support for project implementation. The ISRP endorses this approach, in principle. However, the response sheds little light on the specific ecological questions raised in the first review; specifically, where will riparian buffers be sited, how do these sites fit within the context of the applicable subbasin plan (i.e., priority areas in relation to focal species), and how will their success be monitored? Those questions need to be answered in more than general terms in order for the projects to be assessed scientifically.

Adequate responses seem limited to the list of four programmatic questions at the end of the review. Although a narrative with a much-improved presentation was provided, the response ignored most of the ISRP's preliminary requests that focused on clarification of the 15-Mile proposal. With regard to the 15 Mile proposal, the only information provided on the buffers relative to the focal species (steelhead) is that EDT analysis identified riparian buffers in the lower watershed as a priority restoration action. That was helpful, but more details really are needed. There remains the need to show definitively that the buffer projects fall out of a watershed assessment as a priority, and that there is a plan for effectiveness evaluation, including a biological response through an adaptive management experiment. Without a map of where these buffers are proposed, for example, it is impossible to assess the degree of continuity achievable, which is an important factor in the efficacy of buffers. Opportunities for installing buffers may not coincide with the areas most in need of them but that does not prevent a map being prepared that shows the relationship between the areas with highest priority and those being proposed as a result of landowner willingness and other opportunities. Answers should have been given to all the questions raised in the review, not just the selected few.

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program has been underway for some time and in theory has resulted in significant improvements in stream and riparian conditions. The programs also have provided an excellent means of engaging local landowners in the conservation process. The planning effort is valuable, but it must include an appropriate level of monitoring, and it should build on the 15 Mile subbasin plan. It is not enough to assume that riparian buffers are working if no evidence is being gathered to support this assumption. It is time to demonstrate real improvements, and this will require a more explicit and substantial monitoring program (perhaps basinwide) than was generally described in the response. Basically, the ISRP would like some evidence that (1) the buffers are being sited where they will do substantial good, and (2) implementation of the buffers is resulting in demonstrated ecosystem benefits where steelhead and other focal species occur (e.g., surface water temperature reduction and recruitment of stream cover).

Therefore, the project appears fundable with the qualification that procedures for demonstrating proof of effectiveness will be included in the plan. Specifically, the tie to the biological monitoring by ODFW was missing and must be included. There remains a need to establish a coordinated effort of effectiveness evaluation from the suite of riparian buffer projects within the basin, where a system of treatments and controls might be examined for a biological response from fish, including from within 15 Mile Riparian Buffers. The scientific justification for the project, the ISRP's fundable recommendation, is contingent upon development of that assessment.
Documentation Links:
Assessment Number: 2002-019-00-ISRP-20060831
Project: 2002-019-00 - Develop Riparian Buffer Systems in Lower Wasco County
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 8/31/2006
Final Round ISRP Date: None
Final Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified)
Final Round ISRP Comment:
This is a combined response from the group of SWCD projects. The response letter raises concerns that ISRP reviewers are unaware of the nature of leveraged funding (with OWEB and USDA) that these projects allow. However, reviewers found that proposals make that relationship clear. ISRP review comments are directed at extending the benefits generated through these cost-effective proposals by developing monitoring collaborations and expanding evaluative assessment of the SWCD work. Review comments are also directed at encouraging the SWCDs to prioritize projects not only on the basis of opportunity but also on the basis of priority areas for conservation; i.e., to actively target areas prioritized in subbasin plans.



The response addresses five areas identified by the ISRP. In the response, the SWCDs indicate that they will initiate a cooperative buffer effectiveness monitoring effort with ODFW, describe how enrollment is targeted, provide a plan to resolve the buffer contract data confidentiality issue, agree to collaboratively document SWCD experience with riparian buffer contracts, and identify the relation of SWCD projects to other riparian projects.



However, the issue of the effectiveness of these riparian buffer contracts in improving physical status of habitats and the biological status of fish populations remains. Fish and physical habitat response need to be evaluated. The number of acres under contract is impressive, but sites at different areas should be monitored for factors such as parr utilization. At present, the tie to the ODFW biological monitoring is inadequate and should be more actively coordinated.



In developing the collaborative document assessing SWCD experience with riparian buffer contracts, the ISRP urges the SWCDs to include information on "what hasn't worked" as well as "what has worked" and reasons why. The document should be as analytical as possible about effective and ineffective approaches, opportunities and constraints. If written as an analytical assessment the document could be an important educational tool providing information transfer to other districts and entities as they implement similar types of incentive programs.



The recommended qualification to funding is that the project should develop: 1. a collaboration plan (with ODFW) for buffer effectiveness monitoring; and 2. a work element to assess SWCD experience with buffer contract development and implementation.
Documentation Links:

Legal Assessment (In-Lieu)

Assessment Number: 2001-021-00-INLIEU-20090521
Project Number: 2001-021-00
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 10/6/2006
In Lieu Rating: Problems May Exist
Cost Share Rating: 1 - Appears reasonable
Comment: Coordination, conservation plan development to assist landowners in providing riparian buffer zones (via NRCS funding) NRCS authorized/required, but cost share appears reasonable.
Assessment Number: 2002-019-00-INLIEU-20090521
Project Number: 2002-019-00
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 10/6/2006
In Lieu Rating: Problems May Exist
Cost Share Rating: 1 - Appears reasonable
Comment: Coordination, conservation plan development to assist landowners in providing riparian buffer zones (via NRCS funding) NRCS authorized/required, but cost share appears reasonable.

Capital Assessment

Assessment Number: 2001-021-00-CAPITAL-20090618
Project Number: 2001-021-00
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 2/27/2007
Capital Rating: Does Not Qualify for Capital Funding
Capital Asset Category: None
Comment: None
Assessment Number: 2002-019-00-CAPITAL-20090618
Project Number: 2002-019-00
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: This project Merged From 2002-019-00 effective on 10/1/2018
Relationship Description: Starting in FY19, all work/$ from 2001-021-00 has been moved to 2001-021-00 15-Mile Creek Riparian Buffers.


Name Role Organization
Ron Graves (Inactive) Interested Party Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)
John Skidmore Supervisor Bonneville Power Administration
Jesse Wilson Project Manager Bonneville Power Administration
Zachary Gustafson Interested Party Bonneville Power Administration
Shilah Olson Project Lead Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)