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Project Summary

Project 2002-019-00 - Develop Riparian Buffer Systems in Lower Wasco County
Project Number:
Develop Riparian Buffer Systems in Lower Wasco County
Dedicate 1.0 FTE to provide the technical planning support needed to implement at least 20 riparian buffer system contracts on approximately 800 acres covering an estimated 36 miles of anadromous fish streams. Buffer widths will be between 35 and 180 ft. on each side of the stream. Implementation will include prescribed plantings, fencing, and related practices such as off-stream water developments.
Proponent Orgs:
Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) (SWCD)
Starting FY:
Ending FY:
Implementation - Project Status Report
Province Subbasin %
Columbia Plateau Deschutes 100.00%
Focal Species:
Lamprey, Pacific
Steelhead - Middle Columbia River DPS
Trout, Interior Redband
Species Benefit:
Anadromous: 100.0%   Resident: 0.0%   Wildlife: 0.0%

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  (FY2019 - FY2021)

Acct FY Acct Type Amount Fund Budget Decision Date
FY2019 Expense $0 From: BiOp FCRPS 2008 (non-Accord) Nov 30th SOY Transfers 12/07/2018

Pending Budget Decision?  No

Actual Project Cost Share

Current Fiscal Year — 2020
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 $42,211 36%
2017 $24,378 24%
2016 $13,451 15%
2015 $20,010 21%
2014 $1,410,572 95%
2013 $224,228 83%
2012 $393,776 84%
2011 $399,337 84%
2010 $164,238 70%
2009 $302,267 81%
2008 $865,960 93%
2007 $824,784 92%

No Current Contracts

Annual Progress Reports
Expected (since FY2004):14
On time:13
Status Reports
On time:29
Avg Days Late:5

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 64 155 0 0 88 243 63.79% 24

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: 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.
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: 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

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: 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

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

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: 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: 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: None

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
Brenda Aguirre Interested Party Bonneville Power Administration
Travis Kessler Env. Compliance Lead Bonneville Power Administration
Shilah Olson Project Lead Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)