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Project Summary

Project 2002-035-00 - Riparian Buffers in Gilliam County
Project Number:
Riparian Buffers in Gilliam County
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.

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.
Proponent Orgs:
Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) (SWCD)
Starting FY:
Ending FY:
Implementation - Project Status Report
Province Subbasin %
Columbia Plateau John Day 100.00%
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
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 $70,000 From: BiOp FCRPS 2008 (non-Accord) Nov 30th SOY Transfers 12/07/2018
FY2020 Expense $70,000 From: BiOp FCRPS 2008 (non-Accord) FY20 SOY 06/05/2019
FY2021 Expense $70,000 From: BiOp FCRPS 2008 (non-Accord) FY21 SOY 06/09/2020

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 (Draft)
2017 (Draft)
2016 (Draft)
2015 (Draft)
2014 (Draft)
2013 (Draft)
2012 $278,987 (Draft) 78% (Draft)
2011 $298,957 (Draft) 79% (Draft)
2010 $243,544 (Draft) 76% (Draft)
2009 $325,416 (Draft) 82% (Draft)
2008 $379,978 (Draft) 85% (Draft)
2007 $273,781 (Draft) 81% (Draft)


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
82500 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Issued $70,000 7/1/2019 - 6/30/2020
85333 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Issued $70,000 7/1/2020 - 6/30/2021
CR-343148 SOW Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2002-035-00 EXP GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Pending $70,000 7/1/2021 - 6/30/2022

Annual Progress Reports
Expected (since FY2004):18
On time:7
Status Reports
On time:32
Avg Days Late:9

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
9483 23102, 27971, 33531, 38495, 48295, 53654, 57936, 61817, 65818, 69520, 73169, 76401, 79668, 82500, 85333 2002-035-00 GILLIAM COUNTY RIPARIAN BUFFERS Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) 05/2002 05/2002 Issued 60 131 0 0 103 234 55.98% 8
Project Totals 60 131 0 0 103 234 55.98% 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: 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.
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

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

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
Jesse Wilson Project Manager Bonneville Power Administration
Travis Kessler Env. Compliance Lead Bonneville Power Administration
Herb (GC) Winters Supervisor Gilliam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)