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Project Summary

Project 2002-035-00 - Riparian Buffers in Gilliam County
Project Number:
2002-035-00
Title:
Riparian Buffers in Gilliam County
Summary:
The mission of the Gilliam 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 Gilliam 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/herbaceous buffer systems in Gilliam County and address limiting factors identified in the John Day Subbasin Summary. 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 Lower John Day Basin. Technical staff shortage for conducting assessments and developing plans has created a growing backlog of potential buffer projects. This project implements requirements associated with Reasonable and Prudent Alternative (RPA) 153.

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

Notes:
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. 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 fiscal and administrative responsibility for managing CREP contracts to ensure contract terms are being met. Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has responsibility for technical supervision of all installed practices. NRCS delegates authority to the SWCD to provide this technical supervision as long as the SWCD adheres to NRCS standards and specifications. Through this delegation, SWCD technicians will use the NRCS Stream Visual Assessment Protocol (provided by NRCS) as the principal monitoring and evaluation tool to evaluate and describe both pre- and post- CREP project conditions.
Proposer:
None
Proponent Orgs:
Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) (SWCD)
Starting FY:
2002
Ending FY:
2024
BPA PM:
Stage:
Implementation - Project Status Report
Area:
Province Subbasin %
Columbia Plateau John Day 100.00%
Purpose:
Habitat
Emphasis:
Restoration/Protection
Focal Species:
Chinook - Mid-Columbia River Spring ESU
Lamprey, Pacific
Lamprey, River
Steelhead - Lower Columbia River DPS
Steelhead - Middle Columbia River DPS
Trout, Interior Redband
Wildlife
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  (FY2023 - FY2025)

Acct FY Acct Type Amount Fund Budget Decision Date
FY2023 Expense $70,000 From: BiOp FCRPS 2008 (non-Accord) FY23 SOY Budget Upload 06/01/2022
FY2024 Expense $73,080 From: General FY24 SOY Budget Upload 06/01/2023

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
2023 (Draft)
2022 $584,272 89%
2021 $178,250 72%
2020 $599,994 90%
2019 $215,626 75%
2018 $394,148 83%
2017 $83,922 51%
2016 $159,831 67%
2015 $140,310 64%
2014 $53,374 41%
2013 $74,474 49%
2012 $249,257 76%
2011 $274,517 78%
2010 $225,299 75%
2009 $295,100 80%
2008 $323,918 83%
2007 $244,225 79%

Contracts

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
9483 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $214,102 5/1/2002 - 6/30/2005
23102 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $52,785 7/1/2005 - 6/30/2006
27971 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $59,281 7/1/2006 - 6/30/2007
33531 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $59,265 7/1/2007 - 6/30/2008
38495 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $140,833 7/1/2008 - 6/30/2010
48295 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $75,307 7/1/2010 - 6/30/2011
53654 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $78,415 7/1/2011 - 6/30/2012
57936 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $77,853 7/1/2012 - 6/30/2013
61817 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $77,885 7/1/2013 - 6/30/2014
65818 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $77,885 7/1/2014 - 6/30/2015
69520 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $77,885 7/1/2015 - 6/30/2016
73169 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $79,823 7/1/2016 - 6/30/2017
76401 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $46,238 7/1/2017 - 6/30/2018
79668 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $74,419 7/1/2018 - 6/30/2019
82500 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $67,030 7/1/2019 - 6/30/2020
85333 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $62,784 7/1/2020 - 6/30/2021
88271 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Closed $57,548 7/1/2021 - 6/30/2022
90592 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Issued $70,000 7/1/2022 - 6/30/2023
92772 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Issued $70,000 7/1/2023 - 6/30/2024
CR-371406 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Pending $73,080 7/1/2024 - 6/30/2025



Annual Progress Reports
Expected (since FY2004):21
Completed:8
On time:8
Status Reports
Completed:75
On time:42
Avg Days Late:6

                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
9483 23102, 27971, 33531, 38495, 48295, 53654, 57936, 61817, 65818, 69520, 73169, 76401, 79668, 82500, 85333, 88271, 90592, 92772 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 05/01/2002 06/30/2024 Issued 74 175 20 0 131 326 59.82% 8
Project Totals 74 175 20 0 131 326 59.82% 8


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: 2022 Anadromous Fish Habitat & Hatchery Review

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 2002-035-00-NPCC-20230310
Project: 2002-035-00 - Riparian Buffers in Gilliam County
Review: 2022 Anadromous Fish Habitat & Hatchery Review
Approved Date: 4/15/2022
Recommendation: Implement with Conditions
Comments: Bonneville and Sponsor to address condition #1 (objective 1 explanation) and #3 (planning and prioritization) in project documentation, and to consider other conditions and address if appropriate. See Policy Issue I.a.

[Background: See https://www.nwcouncil.org/2021-2022-anadromous-habitat-and-hatchery-review/]

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 2002-035-00-ISRP-20230309
Project: 2002-035-00 - Riparian Buffers in Gilliam County
Review: 2022 Anadromous Fish Habitat & Hatchery Review
Completed Date: 3/14/2023
Final Round ISRP Date: 2/10/2022
Final Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified)
Final Round ISRP Comment:

The SWCD projects in the John Day River basin provide valuable riparian protection and landowner outreach and education through the USDA/NRCS CREP program. The riparian buffers contribute to the overall goals of the John Day River Partnership, the Mid-Columbia Steelhead Recovery Plan, and the NPCC Fish and Wildlife Program. The ISRP encourages the SWCD to continue to develop working relationships with OWEB and ODFW to expand their efforts and provide critical monitoring information for strengthening the program.

The proponents have adequately responded to previous ISRP suggestions and qualifications. As well, the ISRP is pleased that the project is encouraging beaver presence, using beaver dam analogs and post assisted log structures to improve riparian conditions, and that the proponents are cooperating broadly with other regional projects.

The ISRP’s recommended Conditions are listed below. The proponents need to assist with development of an M&E Matrix during the response loop (September 24 to November 22, 2021) and to provide information to address the other following Conditions in future annual reports and work plans:

  1. Explanation of Objective 1. The proponents should provide a more thorough explanation as to why Objective 1 was dropped. When was it first proposed? The ISRP assumes that the objective was deleted because the proponents do not feel that the actions of this project are likely to substantially change basinwide abundances of steelhead, and many other factors are likely responsible for the basin trends. The proponents should clarify the reasons for the change in objectives in their Annual Report and indicate what objectives will guide them without this previous objective. For example, the proponents should consider developing more quantitative objectives for steelhead and Chinook based on their collaborative monitoring efforts with ODFW. 

  2. Success in meeting targets. The number of buffer agreements established annually seems to be less than the target value of 10. What factors have prevented the proponents from achieving their objective for CREP agreements? Will the proposed actions in the next funding period overcome the factors that have limited their enrollments? Should the enrollment target be adjusted? If so, explain the basis for the new objective. 

  3. Documentation of methods. Are the methods used by the project for planning, prioritizing areas of focus, implementing specific projects, and instream restoration (BDAs, PALS) documented? Provide documents, if they have been developed, or appropriate linkages to MonitoringResources.org. 

  4. SVAP assessment. Do all contracts incorporate sequential SVAP assessment? The proposal simply states that “all the contracts evaluated showed an increased score, indicating that CREP had improved the habitat conditions.” How many projects were assessed? What was the average change in score? How close did they come to the SVAP objective? 

  5. SVAP repeatability. Has the SVAP ever been evaluated for repeatability among those conducting the surveys? If so, what have been the results and how have SVAP assessments been modified? Other similar projects have demonstrated serious problems with observer-based evaluations. The ISRP recommends an evaluation of the repeatability of the SVAP. 

  6. Stream temperature. The ISRP recommends collecting water temperature data. Collecting water temperature measurements to evaluate the effectiveness of riparian plantings and channel mitigation efforts is a major omission from the monitoring efforts. Given the importance of temperature to steelhead and other native fishes and given the likelihood that it will increase with changing climate, it seems imperative to understand the degree to which the restoration actions may be helping to mitigate warming waters. For instance, the web site for the John Day Basin Partnership indicates that the 7-day daily average maximum temperature is a metric that can be used to evaluate projects. Regrettably, no projects seem to be collecting such data (as indicated on the web site). If data collected above and below restoration sites indicate reduced rates of warming and cooler habitats, it would provide additional evidence for potential fish benefits and may encourage greater landowner participation. 

  7. M&E matrix - support. As habitat projects and monitoring projects are not presented as part of an integrated proposal or plan, the need for a crosswalk to identify the linkages between implementation and monitoring is extremely important for basins or geographic areas. The ISRP is requesting a response from the John Day River Salmonid Monitoring to Inform Recovery Project (199801600) to summarize the linkages between implementation and monitoring projects in the basin. During the response loop, we ask this project to assist them in creating the summary and provide information to them about what is being monitored for this implementation project and where and when the monitoring occurs. A map or maps of locations of monitoring actions would be helpful in this regard. 

  8. Pace of restoration. The ISRP asks the proponents to provide an assessment of the pace of restoration as compared to the overall length of streams needing treatment. This assessment would be best addressed as a cooperative effort with the John Day Basin Partnership, which has much of the basin-level riparian information.

The ISRP provides the following additional comments to consider in future documentation and proposals, but these are suggestions (not Conditions) for the project and BPA.

Additional Comments:

For Objectives 1 (John Day Summer Steelhead Productivity) and 2 (Riparian Buffer Systems on 50 miles), it would be useful to know when the project started and if the trends are moving in a positive direction.

The quantitative biological objective is to protect with fencing and plant 10 miles of stream and 250 (300 acres?) acres of habitat through 2027. Is this annually or during the entire project period? From the graphic, it appears to be annually, but the total acreage to be protected does not match the information in the graphic.

The quantitative social objective is to increase the adoption of in-stream process-based actions on CREP streams by 20%. Is this annually or during the entire project period? The graphic does not provide the needed information.

In the section titled Progress to Date, the authors mention that when techniques are found to be successful, they are always shared with others working in similar environments to improve the success of the CREP program. More detail is needed on how this occurs, including if any exchanges occur at specific meetings, for example.

Toward the end of the Problem Statement, the authors indicate that degraded water quality should be improved by riparian shading, suggesting that temperature is the issue. Later in the proposal, however, sediments are also mentioned as a cause of degraded water quality. Clarify what specific parameters are being targeted as improvements

The macroinvertebrate study from Wasco County provides evidence for the effectiveness of riparian buffers. When was the study conducted? Could such a study be repeated for locations in Gilliam County and the John Day basin? Would such a study be relevant for the John Day Basin FIP project funded by OWEB?

Q1: Clearly defined objectives and outcomes

The primary goal of the Gilliam County Riparian Habitat Protection and Enhancement project is to protect and enhance riparian and floodplain habitat for fish and wildlife with an emphasis on steelhead habitat that will address limiting factors outlined in the Mid-Columbia Recovery Plan using the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and process-based restoration technical assistance. They intend to implement riparian fencing projects with 10 private landowners in the lower mainstem John Day River. The CREP buffer agreements provide critical riparian protection on private lands in the John Day River basin.

The proposal identifies SMART objectives, including two biological objectives, one social objective, and one implementation objective. The first biological objective—to improve the initial Stream Visual Assessment score by 1.5 points five years after implementation—is appropriate and is socially valuable because it involves landowner assessment of ecological conditions. SVAP, when compared with other indices in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the U.S. (Hughes et al. 2010), was weakly to moderately correlated with biological indicators. As well, collaboration with other monitoring groups, when possible, will strengthen the measures of outcomes. The second biological objective—“to protect with fence and plant 10 miles of stream and 250 acres of habitat per (???) through 2027”—basically is an implementation objective with biological relevance. It is not clear whether this is a target for each year, the biennium, or the funding period. The social and implementation objectives are reasonable measures of project success.

The proponents removed biological objectives that specified responses of juvenile and adult steelhead for the entire John Day River basin because their project is directed at riparian area protection. While the ultimate purpose of this protection includes recovery of steelhead populations, the basinwide objectives are part of the Mid-Columbia Steelhead Recovery Plan rather than the specific actions of this project. While their point is valid, the project could develop more quantitative objectives for steelhead and Chinook based on their collaborative monitoring efforts with ODFW.

Q2: Methods

The proposal describes the context for the project and the approaches used to enlist landowners to develop CREP buffers. They note that currently 135 miles of steelhead stream in Gilliam County lack riparian fencing, and they use the Atlas dataset to prioritize their efforts to contact and enlist landowners in the program. The approach is a formal process developed by NRCS and is coordinated with other regional planning groups, such as the John Day Partnership. Stream reaches are evaluated for the opportunity for riparian fencing, riparian planting, off- stream water source, and beaver restoration management. Sub-watersheds are prioritized based on geomorphic potential, current habitat condition, and future habitat condition. Outreach is focused on steelhead streams with the highest priority scores. This approach is informed by landscape conditions and fish populations and is appropriate for the project’s goals and objectives.

The project encourages beaver presence on sites with adequate food sources and pool habitat to promote natural processes. They have identified sites and worked with landowners and ODFW to encourage beaver activity but also control nuisance beaver damage. They also are using beaver dam analogs (BDAs) to improve instream and riparian conditions.

The proposal includes a Gantt chart of the typical annual schedule of activities. The ISRP anticipates that the project will work with BPA to provide plans for specific projects as part of their work plans and Annual Reports.

The proposal identifies climate change as a major confounding factor, and the proponents have incorporated regional data on assessments of potential changes in temperature and precipitation for planning. They are using several methods, such as BDAs, plantings of drought-tolerant species, pot-rooted stock, and hardwood cuttings, to increase survival and ability to withstand future climate conditions.

Q3: Provisions for M&E

The proponents use SVAP for monitoring the physical and biological outcomes of their CREP enrollments. This is appropriate for the activities being assessed. While the SVAP generally has low to moderate correlations with more detailed biological measurements (Hughes et al. 2010), it has several major strengths. It is rapid, inexpensive, and focused on channel and riparian conditions, which are the primary actions of the program. Even more importantly, it teaches the landowners to use the visual assessment, thereby giving them ownership in the assessment process and educating them about stream geomorphology and riparian structure and function. The project also tracks its implementation, landowner participation, and total acreage protected. These are reasonable assessments for these CREP projects for riparian protection. Additional information is needed about the proportion of contracts that include SVAP assessment, the number of projects assessed, and average change in score across all projects. The project also should conduct comparisons of assessments using different survey personnel or landowners to evaluate the method for repeatability. Other similar projects have demonstrated serious problems with observer-based evaluations. The ISRP recommends an evaluation of the repeatability of the SVAP.

The proponents also strengthened their program by collaborating with ODFW’s fish monitoring project in the John Day basin. This type of integration of implementation projects with monitoring projects has the potential to provide valuable information and use regional funding resources more efficiently.

The project has developed and expanded the use of before-and-after drone imagery and SVAP scores to help evaluate all projects

The project’s adaptive management uses a structured nine-step planning and evaluation process by USDA/NRCS.

Q4: Results – benefits to fish and wildlife

The activities are improving riparian conditions along streams receiving restoration. Overall, conditions are improving based on SVAP scores.

Gilliam County established 2,279 acres of riparian buffers on 115 miles of streams from 2002-2013 and 1,146 acres of riparian buffers on 88.5 miles of stream from 2014 to 2020. SVAP scores increased by 0.8 for 18 projects that had been enrolled and implemented between 2005 and 2014. Newer projects increased by 1.25, indicating that their practices may be improving. The proponents also obtained OWEB funding to supplement their existing funds. Previous ISRP reviews recommended increased collaboration with ODFW and OWEB, and the project has been successful in developing greater interaction with these agencies.

Reference

Hughes, R.M., A.T. Herlihy, and P.R. Kaufmann. 2010. An evaluation of qualitative indexes of physical habitat applied to agricultural streams in ten U.S. states. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 46: 792-806. https://doi-org.ezproxy.proxy.library.oregonstate.edu/10.1111/j.1752-1688.2010.00455.x

Documentation Links:
Review: 2013 Geographic Category Review

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 2002-035-00-NPCC-20131126
Project: 2002-035-00 - Riparian Buffers in Gilliam County
Review: 2013 Geographic Category Review
Proposal: GEOREV-2002-035-00
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: Need a reasonable plan/strategy to monitor the effectiveness of the restoration actions—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: 2002-035-00-ISRP-20130610
Project: 2002-035-00 - Riparian Buffers in Gilliam County
Review: 2013 Geographic Category Review
Proposal Number: GEOREV-2002-035-00
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:

See Qualification

Qualification #1 - Need a reasonable plan/strategy to monitor the effectiveness of the restoration actions
The sponsors provided adequate responses to all of the ISRP's qualifications of the original proposal, with the exception of one item. The exception, and the reason for the qualification on this version of the proposal, is that the ISRP believes the sponsors need a reasonable plan/strategy to monitor the effectiveness of the restoration actions. This can be accomplished in cooperation with others (e.g., ODFW and OWEB). Further, it appears that much of the baseline strategy could be extracted from the SVAP process elements and used in the development of the objective statements. This could establish a sound foundation for post project monitoring. The monitoring should include all fish species of concern (i.e., steelhead, Chinook, lamprey, bull trout), their food supplies (e.g., aquatic insects), and riparian responses to the conservation and restoration actions. 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. This work does not need to be expensive to implement. More information on monitoring progress and results should be provided in future reporting.
First Round ISRP Date: 6/10/2013
First Round ISRP Rating: Response Requested
First Round ISRP Comment:

This is basically a good proposal but the ISRP has some concerns. General issues that were identified by ISRP in 2006 do not appear to have been resolved. It seems that now is the time to bring this program up to standard by providing a response that includes:

1) identification of areas of linkage to other plans/efforts for conservation/restoration,

2) a clear method for the prioritization and focus of treatments,

3) a clear description of desired vegetative conditions that reflect a fully-functioning riparian area and

4) a more complete description of method for monitoring project and program effectiveness

5) a description of a strategy for improving enrollments in light of the recent low rate of enrollments and low miles protected.

Other concerns are articulated in the review and may have important implications for activities on the ground and for the eventual success of the project – these should be also addressed in a response.

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

The purpose of the proposal is for Gilliam County SWCD to “provide technical assistance working with landowners and partner agencies to plan and implement riparian buffers to improve anadromous fish habitat in the lower John Day Sub basins.” They plan is to establish riparian buffers on at least 50 miles of stream (10 mi/yr). Gilliam County believes that this project is important because it helps implement FCRPS 2008 BIOP RPA 35, and strategies to address limiting factors identified in sub basin plans and Mid-C Steelhead Recovery Plan. As such, it supports other BPA funded projects in the John Day catchment. The staff involved appears to have adequate technical training and experience to accomplish the proposed activities.

The objectives are clearly stated and have quantitative goals and timelines. However, it is not clear how a goal of 24,900 adult steelhead in 25 years was determined. Further, there are no quantitative goals for Chinook, bull trout, or lamprey – all species of concern.

Riparian area restoration, particularly on private land, is key element to meet improved habitat conditions in the John Day catchment. SWCD has, or can obtain, technical expertise to address conditions and needs on private land has reported consistent accomplishments over the last several years.

Actual project objectives are generally qualitative regarding riparian and habitat outcomes to be achieved. They focus primarily on numbers of agreements and miles of stream per year.

There appears limited coordination, other than with the ODFW JDEP and Wheeler and Wasco County riparian buffer programs, with the variety of other restoration projects in the basin. This array of programs does not seem to be unified by an overarching strategy and accompanying list of geographic and treatment priorities.

The proposal notes that there are 7 priority locations for restoring natural riparian vegetation and 4 priority geographic locations for protecting high quality habitat. How these are used as a basis for work is unclear. The sponsors state "the SWCD has some programmatic constraints the CREP program limiting our ability to prioritize where buffer work occurs." This apparently relates to the fact that a conservation plan is first prepared for an area (scale not described for this) and then landowners must agree to participate. Overall, it appears that lack of defining how much work needs to occur, where it should occur, and the ability to focus that work remain major issues.

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

It is not clear how effective past actions have been in terms of improving fish abundance and productivity, improving instream habitat, for example water temperature, or riparian condition. Limited data on temperature, EDT riparian function ranking, and miles of stream protected by year are provided in the proposal. None of these data specifically address fish. Further the temperature and riparian data appear to be one-time measurements; no temporal trends are provided. Data need to be provided on these and other related aspects of the restoration actions to reveal trends over time. Also, the number of stream miles protected by the program has declined in recent years, and are well below the 10 miles/year goal set for future years. How realistic is the goal for future years? An indication of landowners showing an inclination to adopt riparian protection would be useful.

Adaptive management could go beyond the project level where it is limited to site-specific adaptations for individual conservation plans. While each site may be somewhat unique, there are generalities that would apply to all sites; the adaptive management process could be better used to achieve overall program effectiveness. Hypotheses at the individual project scale or as a collection of sites could be used to rigorously test restoration actions and assumptions. Further, there is some discussion on adaptive management which discusses application of lessons learned for site specific project implementation. It is stated that these changes greatly increased success although no quantitative description is provided. A state-wide, programmatic change which allows treatment of all streams, not just those with anadromous fish, is mentioned and will be a benefit for dealing with water quality issues including elevated stream temperature.

The project has had consistent accomplishments over the last 10 years averaging 7 contracts, 11+ stream miles and 228 acres per year. Details on the ecological response to the work are much less clear despite implementation of an NRCS SVAP monitoring effort looking solely at vegetative response.

There seems limited progress in incorporating suggested changes in prioritization and effectiveness monitoring (ISRP, 2006).

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

Gilliam County has developed a relationship with ODFW but the details of that relationship are not especially clear. As well, there is limited linkage to the wide array of other conservation and restoration work occurring in the basin.

It is refreshing to see climate change listed as an emerging limiting factor. The sponsors are encouraged to use the newer climate-hydrology models to prepare forecasts for the John Day River in terms of flows and temperatures for the coming decades (see, for example, Donley et al. 2012. Strategic planning for instream flow restoration: a case study of potential climate change impacts in the central Columbia River basin. Global Change Biology doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2012.02773). The results may be revealing and could help guide the restoration activities. Possible program adjustments including wider buffers given more frequent high flow events and use of more drought tolerant plant species should be considered.

4. Deliverables, Work Elements, Metrics, and Methods

In general, deliverables are clearly spelled out although a number appear to be somewhat vague and relate to administration, coordination and oversight. Preparation of conservation plans is a major activity but there is no mention of what the plans should contain and whether they have evolved in response to lessons learned over the last several years. Also, metrics deal with treated areas such as acres and steam miles, rather than the actual, desired vegetative/ecological response that is desired.

Provisions should be made to quantify the number of returning adult steelhead each year and, as well, the use of the streams by adult Chinook, bull trout and lamprey and their juveniles. These data will be essential in evaluating the effectiveness of the restoration actions. Also, a couple questions about the scope of the restoration:

1) Beaver can be useful ecosystem-scale engineers in riparian rehabilitation. How are they being used in this project?

2) The riparian actions should restore benefits to wildlife, and should be quantified over time. What actions are being taken to acquire these data?

3) Does the fencing only exclude cattle or does it exclude native ungulates too? This will be important when active plantings are part of the restoration actions.

Manage and Administer Project (DELV-8): Why is this a deliverable when overhead is charged on the budget?

Specific comments on protocols and methods described in MonitoringMethods.org

Effectiveness monitoring remains weak for the project. An initial ODFW stream survey has been completed on 30 Mile Creek, where there are a number of treatments in various stages of implementation/completion. Follow up surveys are planned to evaluate changes that may have occurred. There are no target attributes or expected changes described and a follow up survey has not occurred. Additionally a standardized visual monitoring protocol (SVAP) has been initiated to evaluate vegetative response (Pre and post) treatment. Apparently only initial surveys have been completed. It seems likely that this method will offer a broad indication of vegetative response. There are no metrics regarding species diversity or density for the vegetation considered to be a desired condition for a recovered riparian area.

Modified by Dal Marsters on 9/26/2013 11:59:39 AM.

Modified by Dal Marsters on 9/26/2013 1:40:58 PM.
Documentation Links:
  • Proponent Response (7/9/2013)
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 2002-035-00-NPCC-20090924
Project: 2002-035-00 - Riparian Buffers in Gilliam County
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Approved Date: 10/23/2006
Recommendation: Do Not Fund
Comments:

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 2002-035-00-ISRP-20060831
Project: 2002-035-00 - Riparian Buffers in Gilliam County
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 SWCD projects as a group continue to be cost-effective approaches to leveraging a large amount of USDA money in CCRP/CREP contracts that would probably not be implemented without the funding of these development positions. The riparian buffer contracts have the potential for strong benefits to aquatic habitat, and so aquatic species, as well as to non-aquatic riparian species.

Gilliam County has a high proportion of private landownership, and so needs landowner cooperation in riparian restoration. A good description is provided of the causes of riparian degradation, the relation of degradation to the decline of aquatic species, and link between riparian condition and stream flows. The Subbasin Plan is cited, as is the Thirtymile watershed assessment that will identify strategies for riparian buffers on this priority stream.

The project is well connected to the priority drainage areas identified in the John Day Subbasin Plan. The restoration of these systems is linked to the strategies listed in the Subbasin Plan that in turn relate to the long-term recovery goals for summer steelhead, redband trout, and spring Chinook. The project is also linked to a range of other projects in the subbasin and to regional programs. There is information exchange with SWCDs in other subbasins. A good description of the project's history includes assessment of the potential for further leveraging. There is also some evaluation of off-site stock watering and the cost-effectiveness of mulching options.

Quantitative objectives for riparian buffer contracts enrollment are provided, as with the other SWCD proposals. The biological and habitat objectives are taken from the Subbasin Plan, with an emphasis on restoring riparian habitat in order to support recovery of focal species on private land. This project will focus enrollment efforts on Subbasin Plan priority areas but will assist in other areas as well. However, as with other riparian buffer projects it would be helpful to know the basis for these numbers, to understand how the SWCDs develop their enrollment targets or how these targeted enrollments relate to the total need.

The narrative does a good job of showing how enrollment activities relate to the "improve stream flow" objective. It also is convincing as to why the NRCS cannot do the expanded enrollment alone, and how the activities to enroll landowners in the CRP/CREP programs are related to the subbasin goals. The work elements are reasonable and follow NRCS protocols. The project will monitor riparian buffer implementation and the effectiveness of livestock exclusion. Monitoring and evaluation will also be conducted through the application of NRCS protocols, in which a baseline visual stream assessment is followed by subsequent periodic assessments to assess terrestrial change within the riparian buffer. The ISRP recommends that to more completely assess post-project results and effectiveness a cooperative effort be implemented with ODFW to also monitor fisheries and stream habitat response to the implementation of riparian buffers. Does the existing information sharing with ODFW extend to collaborative monitoring?

The sponsors should clarify 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? The issue of project data provision vs. USDA confidentiality requirements should be addressed.

The sponsors don't give themselves enough credit for the information transfer built into the proposal. They indicate that the proposal's information will be transferred and available for review on the BPA publication web site and the PISCES reporting web site. But elsewhere in the proposal they describe the joint tour of ODFW/SWCD of the riparian projects, to share information on flow requirements, passage issues, and riparian planting methods. There is also noted information sharing among projects, and among SWCDs (software, processes, USDA and SWCD personnel). They also mention teaching stream bank restoration techniques in Morrow and Umatilla counties. This project does an excellent job at information transfer.

As with other riparian buffer projects the evaluation aspect could be enhanced by evaluating factors influencing enrollment 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: 2002-035-00-INLIEU-20090521
Project Number: 2002-035-00
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 FSA/NRCS funding) NRCS authorized/required, but cost share appears reasonable.

Capital Assessment

Assessment Number: 2002-035-00-CAPITAL-20090618
Project Number: 2002-035-00
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
Roger Lathrop Project Lead Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)
Norie Wright Administrative Contact Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)
John Skidmore Supervisor Bonneville Power Administration
Herb (GC) Winters Supervisor Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)
Lindsey Arotin Env. Compliance Lead Bonneville Power Administration
Allan Whiting Project Manager Bonneville Power Administration