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

Project 2002-026-00 - Morrow County Riparian Buffers
Project Number:
Morrow County Riparian Buffers
The mission of the Morrow Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is to conserve, protect, and develop soil, water, and other natural resources for the economic and environmental benefit of the residents of Morrow County.

In partnership with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) the district has the ability to develop and implement scientifically sound and economically feasible resource management plans for private landowners at the local level.

This project will implement riparian buffer/filter systems in Morrow County and address limiting factors identified in the Umatilla Subbasin Summary (which includes Willow Creek), John Day Subbasin Summary, Umatilla Willow Subbasin Plan (in development) and the Willow Creek Watershed Ag Water Quality Management Plan (AgWQMP SB1010).

One FTE will be dedicated to the outreach and promotion of state and federal funding programs along with the technical planning support needed to implement approximately 15 riparian buffer agreements in this contract year. Buffer widths will average from 35 to 180 feet on each side of qualifying streams and will include such practices as fencing, riparian plantings and off stream watering facilities to benefit livestock and wildlife. Existing programs, i.e. Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP) and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), will cover actual implementation costs on a cost-share basis, lease payments, and maintenance costs. Incentive payments are also available to the contract holder. A cost-share incentive amount has been included in the project budget for first year agreements to entice adjoining landowners to participate in the programs when incentives are unavailable from other funding programs. Other funding may also be used as available. Leases will be for 10-15 year periods. This program meets a critical need in the Mid-Columbia Basin. Technical staff shortage for conducting assessments and developing plans has created a growing backlog of potential buffer projects.

Morrow SWCD will continue to provide vehicle liability and collision insurance for the length of this agreement.

Operation and Maintenance (O&M) are not required in this project:
Actual O&M is a funded item in the CCRP/CREP contract whereby the landowner receives an additional payment to cover maintenance costs. The landowner is responsible under the contract for maintenance.

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is included as a cost item. Additionally, records of stream miles, acreage and number of plans completed will be tracked for reporting purposes: Farm Service Agency has programmatic responsibility for contract spot checks to ensure terms are being met. NRCS has responsibility for technical supervision. The SWCD will conduct annual inspection of additional items cost shared under this contract. The SWCD will use the NRCS Stream Visual Assessment Protocol as the principal M&E tool to evaluate and describe both pre- and post-project conditions.

Before and after photos will be archived in individual landowner files.

Cost-share incentive explanation:
In order to get as many landowners involved in conservation measures as possible, additional incentives may be used. CCRP/CREP programs offer cost-share incentives.

A budgeted incentive amount for this contract could be used to include reaches not otherwise eligible for the program. Such as, if a landowner has two reaches he wants to protect with buffers and a section between them doesn't qualify, this buffer contract incentive would provide the funding to include that section.

Another situation where additional incentives could improve a landowner's willingness to participate would be to increase the available USDA program incentive to enroll high value or highly productive land into a buffer system.

A third situation concerns USDA payment limitation rules. If a landowner has reached the payment limitation for CCRP they are not eligible to receive further lease payments. Supplemental Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) funding allows the Conservation District to offer an enticement to put land in buffers.
Proponent Orgs:
Morrow Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) (SWCD)
Starting FY:
Ending FY:
Province Subbasin %
Columbia Plateau Umatilla 100.00%
Regional Coordination
Focal Species:
Other Resident
Trout, Rainbow
Species Benefit:
Anadromous: 100.0%   Resident: 0.0%   Wildlife: 0.0%
BiOp Association:

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

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
2008 $0 0%
2007 $88,662 73%


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
9569 SOW Morrow Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-026-00 MORROW COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $233,679 5/1/2002 - 12/31/2005
26098 SOW Morrow Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-026-00 EXP MORROW COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS History $75,703 1/1/2006 - 3/31/2007

Annual Progress Reports
Expected (since FY2004):3
On time:3
Status Reports
On time:4
Avg Days Late:91

                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
9569 26098 2002-026-00 EXP MORROW COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Morrow Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 05/01/2002 03/31/2007 History 7 48 0 0 0 48 100.00% 0
Project Totals 7 48 0 0 0 48 100.00% 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: 2002-026-00-NPCC-20090924
Project: 2002-026-00 - Morrow County Riparian Buffers
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Approved Date: 10/23/2006
Recommendation: Do Not Fund

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 2002-026-00-ISRP-20060831
Project: 2002-026-00 - Morrow County Riparian Buffers
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 8/31/2006
Final Round ISRP Date: None
Final Round ISRP Rating: Response Requested
Final Round ISRP Comment:
The project entails parallel efforts in Umatilla and Morrow Counties to enroll 80 new sections of riparian buffer systems (covering >2000 acres of lands and >100 miles of stream). The proposal identifies the disconnection of the streams with the land as a major ongoing habitat threat to fish and wildlife due to runoff effects, temperature effects, sedimentation, and so on associated with agricultural land uses. The project is primarily an effort to coordinate efforts among agencies (including USDA through CRP and CREP), outreach and promotion with landowners, and implementation monitoring following enrollment. The project's history is relatively short (2002). The two counties involved have had differing success in enrolling landowners in the program, but there is some stated opportunity that has promise.

A response is needed to address ISRP questions posed on the set of SWCD riparian buffer proposals in Oregon below (also see comments on 200201900). Especially needed is reporting of past results in terms of benefit to fish and wildlife, which should show that enrollment is helping. Doing the actual habitat / fish response monitoring is not reasonable for a project like this considering the ongoing M&E effort in the basin by the co-managers. This project states that they will do some basic implementation monitoring; this should include photo-points.

This is a well-prepared proposal and thought-out project. The project is expected to improve habitat quality for bull trout and summer steelhead through watershed and in-channel improvements to water quality, temperature, reduced sedimentation, etc. Benefits to secondary focal species, especially wildlife, are expected from the creation of extra habitat complexity. Implementation will be a challenge depending on willingness of landowners and stability of USDA conservation programs, but population responses are expected.

Ultimately, favorable earlier review comments by ISRP still apply:

"Fundable. See comments below for this set of SWCD proposals. The cost effectiveness of this and similar projects for accelerating habitat restoration activities is impressive. The proposal is well prepared. Protection of riparian areas is an important part of watershed restoration. It is troublesome, however, that some potential participants in the program have declined. The reason offered was a lack of staff. However, there was a proven record of accomplishment and an experienced planner. They should pick at least one buffer site as a model or demonstration "show case" site. A hydro-geomorphological model of a fully buffered system might prove instructive, particularly when 50 or 100-yr flood events are considered. This seems like a worthwhile project to parlay one FTE of BPA funds to attain over $2 million in other funds. The proposed work to foster riparian buffer protection and rehab is surely needed and in the regional plans. Drumming up landowner interest is a big job and one that seems to have slipped recently. Riparian buffers are good in their own right for fish and wildlife, but it would have been good to have the affected fish species listed. Better recognition of other BPA-funded projects in the area would have been useful. There is no M&E, but good riparian improvement may be judged without a specially funded study, or by using a modeling approach and/or demonstration sites. We applaud the partnership approach."

The proposed project directly addresses objectives in the Umatilla Subbasin Plan with regard to focal species and non-focal species (both fish and wildlife). The project directly addresses current limiting factors and also water quality issues.

The objectives are clearly presented. The primary overarching objective is to increase enrollment in USDA buffer programs. The objectives also include monitoring of plant species composition and implementation monitoring. The measures for these objectives are primarily in relation to enrollment and coverage, but are suitable for this kind of proposed project.

The methods are clearly stated, albeit not especially science-based -- planning, outreach, promotion, coordination, and implementation monitoring. That said, the project is based on needs identified in the subbasin plan from modeling (two modeling approaches were indicated without specific reference, this could be bolstered to strengthen the compelling need), but are based on long-standing scientific information about the benefits of riparian habitats.

Monitoring of plant species composition is included as work element as is implementation monitoring. By and large success of the program will be measured against ability to enroll the 80 systems (and associated coverage).

Missing is some coordination with fish and wildlife co-managers regarding the responses of the focal and non-focal species to these expected habitat improvements (these should show up as positive responses in the EDT and other models).

General Comment on Oregon SWCD Riparian Buffer Projects:

As with other riparian buffer projects the evaluation aspect could be enhanced by evaluating factors influencing enrollment (although this proposal is notable for having included some discussion of this aspect in the rationale section) and lessons learned from the development and implementation of these contracts. The ISRP recommends that the Oregon SWCDs work together to identify general findings as well as outcomes that vary by SWCD. The evaluation could identify ways to tie in outreach and education with landowner incentives and constraints. Additional thinking might be developed on how to target new audiences.

The ISRP requests a response clarifying the following issues identified in the review:
1. The potential to develop a cooperative effort with ODFW to monitor fisheries and stream habitat response to the implementation of riparian buffers.
2. How enrollment objectives are determined.
3. Whether the conservation plans developed as part of CREP enrollment are kept confidential or are reported as part of the project results. If conservation plans are not reported, can they be synthesized in a way that will allow monitoring of progress toward meeting their objectives?
4. The potential for SWCD collaborative development of a report assessing the determinants of successful implementation processes for riparian buffer contracts and other USDA voluntary conservation programs.
Documentation Links:

Legal Assessment (In-Lieu)

Assessment Number: 2002-026-00-INLIEU-20090521
Project Number: 2002-026-00
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 10/6/2006
In Lieu Rating: Problems May Exist
Cost Share Rating: 1 - Appears reasonable
Comment: Coordination, outreach, technical support for enrolling riparian buffers via NRCS and related programs; other entities authorized/required (eg NRCS) but cost share appears more than reasonable.

Capital Assessment

Assessment Number: 2002-026-00-CAPITAL-20090618
Project Number: 2002-026-00
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
Janet Greenup (Inactive) Project Lead Morrow Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)
Jamie Cleveland Project Manager Bonneville Power Administration