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Project Summary

Project 2010-004-00 - CREST Estuary Habitat Restoration
Project Number:
2010-004-00
Title:
CREST Estuary Habitat Restoration
Summary:
The project objective is restoration of estuary habitat critical to the recovery of Threatened/Endangered Columbia River and tributary salmon ESUs. Specific habitat types targeted by CREST are shallow water, peripheral habitats that are adjacent to the Columbia River mainstem. The recovery of these habitats and their vital importance in the long term health of the salmon resource is described in the following sections. Action effectiveness monitoring will be utilized by CREST to adaptively manage future restoration projects. Scientific review and project selection of habitat restoration actions funded through this proposal will be driven by a process described in Appendix C of the project proposal.

The Columbia River is historically the world’s greatest producer of salmon. The lower Columbia River and Estuary are critical to the viability of all anadromous fish populations for the entire Columbia Basin (NMFS, 2000). Juvenile salmonids, especially juvenile Chinook and coho salmon, reside and feed for lengthy periods in shallow, tidal-fluvial channels and wetlands during their transition from the freshwater to marine environments. In the lower Columbia River and Estuary, historic emergent and forested wetland types with their complex network of dendritic tidal channels and backwater sloughs have been greatly diminished. An estimated 62% percent of marshes and 77% of forested wetlands have been lost in the Columbia River estuary (Thomas 1983). To the extent that survival and productivity of juvenile salmonids is related to interconnected shallow water habitats, the loss of these habitats adversely affect juvenile salmonids in the lower Columbia River.

According to Bottom et al, the most significant changes to the capacity of the Columbia River Estuary to support juvenile salmon are likely the results of habitat loss and recovery of those salmon life histories that depend on shallow-water rearing habitat will require restoration of peripheral estuarine wetlands (Bottom et. al., 2005). Alterations to the historic floodplain and its complex network of shallow waters have created significant limiting factors, presenting substantial restoration opportunities. Recent research describes that even small survival improvements in the estuary and coastal ocean could yield some of the most significant population increases for spring and summer Chinook salmon (Kareiva et al. 2000).

The Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership (Estuary Partnership) has for several years developed strategies, partnerships, and prioritization plans which have provided a much needed framework for future implementation actions. CREST’s efforts have complimented the Estuary Partnership’s coordination and planning actions by implementing on-the-ground salmon restoration projects, utilizing our community connections and reputation, staff expertise resulting in high quality habitat restoration projects.

Many of the shallow, peripheral wetlands in this subbasin have been destroyed or impaired by land use activities such as diking, filling, tide gate installation, and shoreline armoring, isolating the lower Columbia River from its extensive historic floodplain. It is estimated that an area of over 80,000 acres of historic floodplain and wetlands are now positioned behind an extensive system of dikes and tide gates, and that urbanization and its associated filling and shoreline armoring account for an additional 20,000 acres of habitat loss (US ACOE, 2003). Extensive loss of historic estuarine wetlands through widespread diking and filling in Northwest estuaries may reduce or eliminate some subyearling migrant life histories that have been linked to the availability of shallow marsh habitats (e.g., Levy and Northcote 1981 and 1982). As stated in the NOAA Estuary Module, the implication of habitat loss is that the area’s habitats must be available through time and space and at sufficient quantities to support more than 150 distinct salmon and steelhead populations.

CREST proposes to target the following primary limiting factors from the Lower Columbia Salmon Recovery 6-year Habitat Work Schedule and Lead Entity Habitat Strategy – Estuary Mainstem River Subbasin which contribute towards the restoration critical habitats:

1. Availability of preferred habitat (juvenile rearing for within and out-of-basin subbasin populations pg A-3)
2. Microdetritus-based food web, increase inputs of macrodetritus to increase productivity in estuary food web, such as was supported by the historic food web (juvenile rearing for within and out-of-basin subbasin populations pg A-4)
3. Loss of habitat connectivity (juvenile rearing for within and out-of-basin subbasin populations pg A-4)

These can also be defined in terms of NOAA Estuary Module identified limiting factors: Reduced In-Channel Habitat Opportunity, Food Web (reduced macrodetrial inputs, increased microdetrital inputs), and Reduced Off-Channel Habitat Opportunity.
Proposer:
Proponent Orgs:
Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) (Non-Profit)
Starting FY:
2010
Ending FY:
2028
BPA PM:
Stage:
Implementation - Project Status Report
Area:
Province Subbasin %
Columbia River Estuary Columbia Estuary 100.00%
Purpose:
Habitat
Emphasis:
Restoration/Protection
Focal Species:
Chinook - All Populations
Chinook - Lower Columbia River ESU
Chinook - Mid-Columbia River Spring ESU
Chinook - Upper Columbia River Spring ESU
Chinook - Upper Columbia River Summer/Fall ESU
Chinook - Upper Willamette River ESU
Chum - Columbia River ESU
Coho - Lower Columbia River ESU
Coho - Unspecified Population
Cutthroat Trout, Coastal - All Anadromous Populations
Cutthroat Trout, Coastal - Resident Populations
Sockeye - All Populations
Sockeye - Snake River ESU
Steelhead - All Populations
Steelhead - Lower Columbia River DPS
Wildlife
Species Benefit:
Anadromous: 100.0%   Resident: 0.0%   Wildlife: 0.0%
Special:
None
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

Decided Budget Transfers  (FY2023 - FY2025)

Acct FY Acct Type Amount Fund Budget Decision Date
FY2023 Expense $5,000,000 From: BiOp FCRPS 2008 (non-Accord) FY23 SOY Budget Upload 06/01/2022
FY2024 Capital $6,329,725 From: BiOp FCRPS 2008 (non-Accord) Capital FY24 Transfers 02/23/2024
FY2024 Expense $8,800,814 From: BiOp FCRPS 2008 (non-Accord) FY24 SOY Budget Upload 06/01/2023
FY2024 Expense $6,329,725 To: BiOp FCRPS 2008 (non-Accord) Capital FY24 Transfers 02/23/2024

Pending Budget Decision?  No


Actual Project Cost Share

Current Fiscal Year — 2024   DRAFT
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 $872,751 15%
2022 $358,144 7%
2021 $129,109 3%
2020 $3,259,848 42%
2019 $654,220 14%
2018 $325,000 5%
2017 $978,211 24%
2016 $30,000 1%
2015 $121,600 4%
2014 $44,500 1%
2013 $345,179 12%
2012 $136,091 4%
2011 $875,356 44%
2010

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.
Capital Contracts:
Number Contractor Name Title Status Total Contracted Amount Dates
94091 SOW Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 2010-004-00 CAP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT REST--WOLF BAY Issued $1,364,235 1/18/2024 - 6/30/2025
94092 SOW Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 2010-004-00 CAP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT REST--WARREN SLOUGH Issued $1,270,329 1/18/2024 - 6/30/2025
94094 SOW Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 2010-004-00 CAP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT REST--AGENCY CREEK Issued $1,327,561 1/18/2024 - 6/30/2025
94095 SOW Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 2010-004-00 CAP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT REST--PALENSKY WC Issued $1,667,600 1/18/2024 - 6/30/2025
Expense Contracts:
Number Contractor Name Title Status Total Contracted Amount Dates
49325 SOW Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 2010-004-00 EXP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION Closed $771,601 7/1/2010 - 6/30/2011
26934 REL 30 SOW Pacific Northwest National Laboratory 2010-004-00 EXP GRAYS RIVER RESTORATION MONITORING Closed $151,899 8/1/2010 - 12/31/2011
39727 REL 49 SOW Applied Archaeological Research FORT COLUMBIA TIDAL RECONNECTION PROJECT-MONITORING Closed $13,916 11/1/2010 - 2/28/2011
53618 SOW Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 2010-004-00 EXP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION Closed $4,119,949 7/1/2011 - 6/30/2013
61940 SOW Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 2010-004-00 EXP ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION (CREST) Closed $4,406,860 7/1/2013 - 6/30/2015
69497 SOW Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 2010-004-00 EXP ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION (CREST) Closed $5,064,251 7/1/2015 - 6/30/2017
76317 SOW Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 2010-004-00 EXP ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION (CREST) Closed $6,399,776 7/1/2017 - 6/30/2019
80692 SOW Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 2010-004-00 EXP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION (USFWS-CREST) Closed $78,000 11/1/2018 - 10/31/2019
81071 SOW Day Appraisal Company, Inc. APPRAISAL SERVICES: WALLUSKI RIVER EASEMENT ACQUISITION Closed $15,500 12/10/2018 - 3/31/2019
82217 SOW Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 2010-004-00 EXP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION (CREST) Closed $4,563,991 7/1/2019 - 6/30/2021
BPA-011269 Bonneville Power Administration FY20 Acquisition Active $0 10/1/2019 - 9/30/2020
83368 SOW Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 2010-004-00 EXP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION (USFWS-CREST) Closed $55,000 11/1/2019 - 10/31/2020
86381 SOW Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 2010-004-00 EXP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION (USFWS-CREST) Closed $45,000 11/1/2020 - 10/31/2021
88130 SOW Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 2010-004-00 EXP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION (CREST) Issued $9,384,173 7/1/2021 - 9/30/2023
92647 SOW Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 2010-004-00 EXP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION (CREST) Issued $6,279,217 7/1/2023 - 6/30/2025
BPA-013719 Bonneville Power Administration FY24 Land Acquisitions Active $132,457 10/1/2023 - 9/30/2024



Annual Progress Reports
Expected (since FY2004):26
Completed:22
On time:22
Status Reports
Completed:76
On time:33
Avg Days Late:9

                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
49325 53618, 61940, 69497, 76317, 82217, 88130, 92647 2010-004-00 EXP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION (CREST) Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 07/01/2010 06/30/2025 Issued 55 236 25 1 37 299 87.29% 29
26934 REL 30 2010-004-00 EXP GRAYS RIVER RESTORATION MONITORING Pacific Northwest National Laboratory 08/01/2010 12/31/2011 Closed 6 7 0 0 0 7 100.00% 0
80692 83368, 86381 2010-004-00 EXP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION (USFWS-CREST) Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 11/01/2018 10/31/2021 Closed 15 9 0 0 1 10 90.00% 0
BPA-11269 FY20 Acquisition Bonneville Power Administration 10/01/2019 09/30/2020 Active 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
BPA-13719 FY24 Land Acquisitions Bonneville Power Administration 10/01/2023 09/30/2024 Active 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
94091 2010-004-00 CAP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT REST--WOLF BAY Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 01/18/2024 06/30/2025 Issued 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
94092 2010-004-00 CAP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT REST--WARREN SLOUGH Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 01/18/2024 06/30/2025 Issued 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
94094 2010-004-00 CAP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT REST--AGENCY CREEK Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 01/18/2024 06/30/2025 Issued 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
94095 2010-004-00 CAP CREST ESTUARY HABITAT REST--PALENSKY WC Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) 01/18/2024 06/30/2025 Issued 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Project Totals 76 252 25 1 38 316 87.66% 29


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: 2010-004-00-NPCC-20230316
Project: 2010-004-00 - CREST Estuary Habitat Restoration
Review: 2022 Anadromous Fish Habitat & Hatchery Review
Approved Date: 4/15/2022
Recommendation: Implement with Conditions
Comments: Bonneville and Sponsor to address condition #2 (link methods to objectives), #3 and #4 (results) in future project proposals.

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

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 2010-004-00-ISRP-20230308
Project: 2010-004-00 - CREST Estuary Habitat Restoration
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 ISRP recommends the following conditions be addressed in the next annual report and future work plans:

  1. Outcomes of goals and objectives. Describe the outcome or benefit associated with accomplishing each specific goal and objective, including an explicit emphasis on how addressing the goals and objectives will lead to increases in abundances and productivity of focal fish populations.
  2. Link methods to objectives. Provide methods for each specific objective included in the proposal. This was done for some objectives in the revised proposal, but all objectives should have methods associated with them.
  3. Use of photopoints. Describe the ways in which photopoint data are being used and how the data are analyzed and evaluated? The ISRP notes that a massive amount of data may be captured with these methods, and changes in vegetation are just some of the changes that could be detected. For insights that could guide analyses, refer to Chapter 5 in “Guidance: Monitoring and evaluating nonpoint source watershed projects.”
  4. Water temperature. Describe the way in which water temperature data are being used to evaluate project design, restoration effectiveness, or environmental conditions in the Lower Columbia River.
  5. Benefits to fish and wildlife. Use data collected by state and federal programs or analyses conducted by others to provide evidence of project effectiveness for juvenile salmonids. This is an important need for the project going forward.

In our preliminary review, we requested a response on the topics listed below. Our final comments based on the response are provided after each topic:

  1. Goals and Objectives. In general, the goals and objectives are more effectively organized than in the original version of the proposal. The ISRP appreciates the proponents’ efforts to link methods to specific goals and objectives and to reorganize the Project Evaluation and Adjustment Section. Collectively, these edits clarify how projects are identified and evaluated. However, see Conditions 1 and 2 above for improvement.
  2. Progress to Date. The emphasis on broader impacts added to specific projects in Appendix A is helpful.
  3. SMART objectives. As mentioned above, the goals and objectives are more effectively organized than in the original proposal. Many of the objectives are now framed in a SMART format, and the ISRP appreciates the proponents’ efforts to incorporate quantitative criteria into this section. One aspect of this section that remains somewhat limited is that not all objectives are directly tied to specific outcomes. As one example, consider Goal 2, Objective 3: “Throughout the year share knowledge about project results, innovative restoration approaches, and lessons learned with the CEERP and other estuary sponsors.” What would be the outcome (or benefit) of regular engagement with CEERP and other sponsors? The proponents should add such information for all objectives.
  4. M&E matrix – support. Table 1 is a very helpful addition to this proposal. The ISRP also appreciates the proponents’ efforts to contribute to the M&E documentation requested of project 200300700.
  5. Organization of methods. The inclusion of specific goals and objectives to which specific actions are tied is a strength of the revised proposal. However, it is unclear why all actions cannot be linked to specific goals and objectives. This weakness can be addressed in a future version of the proposal.
  6. Project responsibilities. The explanation of project responsibilities was helpful.
  7. New projects. Detail added for FY 2023 and FY 2024 projects is helpful, and the lack of additional detail on project justifications and expected outcomes for work occurring after FY 2024 seems reasonable given the proponents’ explanation that these factors have yet to be negotiated for future projects.
  8. Project evaluation and adjustment. The proponents’ response and their edits to the project evaluation and adjustment section are helpful. The large amount of potential data collected with photopoints indicates that evaluating these data may provide new insights into project effectiveness. It would also be helpful to clarify how water temperature data are being used.
  9. Benefits to fish and wildlife. The proponents cite a study suggesting that “all lines of evidence from the LCRE indicated positive habitat based and salmon-based responses to the restoration performed under the CEERP” (Diefenderfer et al. 2011; 2016a). The proponents also explain that “CREST is not funded to collect fish data at each restoration site as the cost and permitting requirements are prohibitive, therefore empirical evidence for individual project sites cannot be provided.” They go on to explain that “Instead of individual site data collection, data is collected through various research groups and State and Federal agencies. This data is shared with CREST and other estuary practitioners through the CEERP program.” These data could be used to partially address the recommendation of the ISRP to document the benefits to juvenile salmonids. Because all projects are required to show the efficacy of the program and benefits to fish and wildlife, this information should be included in next annual reports.

Preliminary ISRP report comments: response requested

Response request comment:

The ISRP recognizes great value in the past and proposed work, and the proponents have a good track record of getting projects done. Overall, the estuary projects seem to be well coordinated. Critical aspects of the proposal, however, are unclear, making the success of individual projects difficult to evaluate. The ISRP requests the proponents to address the following points in a revised proposal and to provide a brief point-by-point response to explain how and where each issue is addressed in the revised proposal:

  1. Goals and Objectives. The proponents state “More broadly, CREST has developed specific programmatic goals and objectives which allows us to identify locations for restoration projects, willing landowners, and project partners that has resulted in a steady pipeline of restoration projects in the Columbia River estuary.” The way in which this occurs is not clear from the stated goals and objectives, and therefore the process for identifying and prioritizing restoration opportunities should be described in more detail.
  2. Progress to Date. The proponents state that “broader impacts” of projects can include expanded trail access, more opportunities for hunting, fishing, and boating. It would be helpful and instructive for assessing Progress to Date if these broader impacts for completed projects are documented clearly.
  3. SMART objectives. Provide all objectives in a SMART format (see proposal instructions). Some of the objectives are vague and not clearly presented (e.g., Goal 1, Objectives 5 and 6).
  4. 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 matrix to identify the linkages between implementation and monitoring is extremely important for basins or geographic areas. The ISRP is requesting a response from the Columbia River Estuary Ecosystem Monitoring Project (200300700) to summarize the linkages between implementation and monitoring projects in the Lower Columbia geographic area. We ask this project (201000400) to assist them in creating the summary and to provide information 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.
  5. Organization of methods. The methods should be organized to facilitate understanding the proposed steps, preferably explicitly related to specific Goals and Objectives. The organization of the proposal hinders easy assessment of the methods, as they are presented in different places (e.g., on p. 21, in the Goals and Objectives section, and also the Methods section on p. 27), and in some cases, seem more like summaries of past actions than proposed methods. The described methods are chiefly the process for letting out contracts, rather than the assessment of results.
  6. Project responsibilities. The ISRP was under the impression that the LCEP was responsible for funding of direct capital to proponents throughout the estuary. This would include the Columbia Land Trust, Cowlitz Indian Tribe, Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, watershed councils, and other entities working on floodplain habitat reconnection. On p. 2, the proponents state that this is their responsibility. Or is that statement referring to BPA’s Columbia Estuary Ecosystem Restoration Program (CEERP)? Please clarify with whom the responsibility lies.
    Similarly, the ISRP was under the impression that collecting pre- and post-construction action effectiveness data (AEMR program), as part of the larger estuary study to evaluate the success and effectiveness of restoration actions for adaptive management, is also the responsibility of the LCEP monitoring project. Please explain where responsibility falls, along with the types of pre- and post- construction action data that are collected, and by whom.
  7. New projects. Provide a list of new projects, justifications for each, as well as expected outcomes. The ISRP found a list of sites to be treated along with projected costs only on the last page of the proposal, as part of the budget. The proposal provides no justifications or expected outcomes for any of the sites.
  8. Project evaluation and adjustment. Provide the formal mechanism or process by which knowledge is incorporated into future projects. For instance, in the Progress to Date section the proponents state that each restoration project that CREST completes offers valuable lessons on restoration design, process, and adaptive management, and that this knowledge is incorporated into future projects. As well, in the Project Evaluation and Adjustment Process, the authors indicate that decisions about which restoration projects to advance in the restoration design and construction phase are informed by results of a prioritization exercise based on disturbance theory and applied at site and landscape scales. For both situations, the proposal should provide better description of how knowledge is incorporated into future projects.
  9. Benefits to fish and wildlife. Provide empirical evidence that the CREST activities are providing benefits to juvenile salmonids. For example, the evidence should be in terms of fish survivorship and condition, and specific restoration actions that are minimizing the effects of predators and competitors on out-migrating populations. The relevant species and life history forms should be indicated, as not all may benefit equally from these actions.

Q1: Clearly defined objectives and outcomes

The proponents have not proposed any new projects to be evaluated by the ISRP. Only on the last page of the proposal, as part of the budget, did we find a list of sites to be treated along with projected costs. No justifications or outcomes are provided for any of the sites.

The specific goals (e.g., p. 21) are difficult to discern because what is presented is primarily the history of the program. The loss of estuarine habitat is not in question, nor is the beneficial nature of estuarine habitats for salmonids, though species and life history variants differ in their reliance on these habitats. The ISRP infers that the goals are the restoration of estuarine ecosystem processes, and the specific objectives are to identify and restore or protect specific habitat units to advance toward greater proportional restoration, relative to historic losses. Specifically, the objectives are no net loss relative to the 2009 baseline (40% loss of historic coverage) and recovery of 30% of historic coverage by 2030 and 40% by 2050 (= restoration of 22,480 acres).

Some CREST objectives, while general, are presented in a SMART format. Others are not in a SMART format and need to be so for future project evaluation.

The ecological outcomes of projects are not clearly described. See comments below relating to fish and wildlife benefits.

The Methods section stated, "For juvenile salmonids specifically, CEERP’s restoration strategy is intended to increase direct access to project sites for feeding and refuge and increase export of prey (primarily insects) from the restored wetlands to the mainstem river where the prey are consumed by out-migrating salmonids." This seems like the kind of information that would be better in the statement of goals, objectives, and outcomes.

Specific description of outreach efforts and target for numbers of meetings is useful (Goal 1, Objective 3), as is the inclusion of a goal intended to build relationships with partners and stakeholders (Goal 3).

Q2: Methods

The floodplain reconnection methods are appropriate and allow fish to move between the river and adjacent (restored) floodplains. The methods should be organized to clearly relate restoration actions to specific Goals and Objectives. Methods are described in multiple sections of the proposal without clear linkages.

Q3: Provisions for M&E

There are ample opportunities for sharing information and for making project adjustments, when required.

The monitoring and evaluation seem to be conducted by the Ecosystem Monitoring Program, which separately collects status and trends data on salmonid occurrence, diet, and condition; habitat structure; food web characteristics; and biogeochemistry.

The proposal states, "LCEP’s process for adaptive management is to treat restoration actions as experiments, identify hypotheses or performance targets for each action; collect data and analyze the data against these performance targets to see if actions are performing as intended; report to partners the results in a back-and-forth exchange of information; provide an annual presentation to our Science Work Group to exchange information and support learning, improvements in restoration or monitoring techniques; provide presentations to local and regional conferences and workshops; and provide an annual report to BPA." It is not clear how the monitoring process, which is characterized as being designed for long-term data collection, is testing hypotheses and providing the knowledge for adaptive learning and project adjustment. If restoration actions are treated as experiments, what hypotheses are being tested?

The section on Project Evaluation and Adjustment Process primarily provides information on the kinds of data being collected rather than the specific feedbacks and data analyses needed to inform decisions about how to change course. A more complete narrative is needed for the ISRP to understand what is actually being done.

Q4: Results – benefits to fish and wildlife

The role of estuaries in salmonid ecology has been the subject of many studies and reviews, and the benefits are many but often complicated by ecological interactions with other members of the biotic community and by abiotic factors. The proposal does not clearly describe how the benefits of the restoration actions are actually being assessed. The metrics are primarily in areas protected and restored, representing progress toward goals set relative to pre-development condition and subsequent alteration. While this is sensible, it is uncertain what the benefits to the fish and wildlife might be. A common (but erroneous) assumption in lieu of information may be that the biological responses are proportional to the acreage protected or restored. The monitoring section also does not make this clear, even for biotic processes directly related to fish such as their diet, much less to processes such as carbon sequestration. Further, no evidence is provided to demonstrate that the restoration actions have not significantly improved habitat for predators and competitors of juvenile salmonids. The ISRP notes that evidence, if it exists, may be in the synthesis reports submitted to the USACE and the BPA (e.g., Johnson et al. 2018 cited in the proposal). A summary of the evidence should appear in this proposal as part of the justification for any proposed future activities.

The proponents assert (p. 5) that “More access points, availability of food resources, and quieter resting areas directly off the main river, are all believed to lead to improved survivability odds.” The proposal should include data and a narrative to support the statement, especially as it relates to improved survivorship.

The proponents provide a list of the most salient regional programs that assert the need for an ecosystem-based restoration of habitats in the lower Columbia River. While this is a useful list of projects, actions, and goals, it reveals little about what has been accomplished for juvenile salmonids. Please identify which projects have quantified improvements in the survivorship or condition of juvenile salmon during out-migration.

Please provide the data or publications to support the statement that “An evidence-based evaluation of the CEERP concluded that ‘all lines of evidence’ from the (lower Columbia River) indicated positive habitat-based and salmon-based responses to the restoration performed under the CEERP… Accordingly, the…strategy for restoration continues to emphasize large- size, full hydrologic reconnection projects at sites near the mainstem river.”

The proposal indicates that a list of CREST Projects Completed 2013-2020 was attached as Appendix A (p. 37), but the list was not in Appendix A. However, a list was found in a Johnson et al. (2018) report to the USACE. The report contained information on sites, year, and miles or acres restored. Please provide this kind of information in the future.

Climate change is certainly an important confounding factor for the success of restoration actions. Nevertheless, the ISRP wonders why other factors that may have substantial impacts on project activities are not mentioned. For instance, curtailment of the sediment supply by dams in combination with estuarine subsidence seems like an important issue. As well, the trapping and recirculation of toxic chemicals and their effects on juvenile salmonids and other aquatic organisms would seem to be a paramount concern. How are these and other emerging environmental issues being factored into the project?

The section on Potential Confounding Factors correctly notes the effects of sea level rise and elevated temperatures from climate change. However, the most obvious and pressing confounding factor at the broad habitat level would seem to be human population growth and redistribution, and the associated effects on shorelines, wetlands, and other parts of the estuarine ecosystem. In addition, from the standpoint of salmonids, the most obvious confounding factor would seem to be the growth of predator populations, especially birds. These factors should be clearly integrated into the proposal.

 

Documentation Links:
Review: 2013 Geographic Category Review

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 2010-004-00-NPCC-20131126
Project: 2010-004-00 - CREST Estuary Habitat Restoration
Review: 2013 Geographic Category Review
Proposal: GEOREV-2010-004-00
Proposal State: Pending BPA Response
Approved Date: 11/5/2013
Recommendation: Implement with Conditions
Comments: Implement through FY 2018. See Programmatic Issue and Recommendation D for monitoring in the estuary.
Conditions:
Council Condition #1 ISRP Qualification: Qualification #1—See Programmatic Issue and Recommendation D for monitoring in the estuary.
Council Condition #2 Programmatic Issue: D. Columbia River Estuary – effectiveness monitoring—See Programmatic Issue and Recommendation D for monitoring in the estuary.

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 2010-004-00-ISRP-20130610
Project: 2010-004-00 - CREST Estuary Habitat Restoration
Review: 2013 Geographic Category Review
Proposal Number: GEOREV-2010-004-00
Completed Date: 6/12/2013
Final Round ISRP Date: 6/10/2013
Final Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified)
Final Round ISRP Comment:

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

The project is an important part of a larger set of activities to protect and restore the ecological structure, function and biodiversity of the Columbia River estuary. There has been a significant amount of strategic planning and ecological assessment to provide a foundation for the work. There has also been substantial effort to coordinate activities with an array of agencies/organizations all working towards protection and/or restoration of the estuary.

However, a program goal, "Protect and restore the Columbia River Estuary ecosystem, focusing on habitat opportunity, capacity and realized function for aquatic organisms." is given, rather than a series of objectives. The objectives need to be better defined to focus on key questions, such as: 1) How will protection be achieved? 2) How will be restoration be accomplished? Where will the projects be located? 3) What ecological functions will be restored? 4) What benchmarks and reference sites will be used? The technical background provided was very general, and only a few references are provided for problem to be addressed. The proposal does not specify how CREST will address problems, and detail is lacking.

The objective, actually the goal as noted above, of CREST is succinctly stated as to implement on-the-ground salmon restoration projects and to focus on habitat opportunity, capacity and realized function for aquatic organisms. However the objective does not mention achieving increased survival targets for salmon and steelhead which seems to be a driving element of the work. If it is assumed that survival and habitat opportunity, capacity and realized function are synonymous, it would be helpful to discuss this. 

The sponsors state:

"...Proposed ESA Recovery Plan for Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon, Lower Columbia River Chinook Salmon, Columbia River Chum Salmon and Lower Columbia River Steelhead (NMFS 2012).This plan is the culmination of all the recovery plans for the lower Columbia basin and synthesizes the salmonid recovery plans in Oregon, Washington, White Salmon as well as the Estuary Recovery Plan Module. NMFS anticipates its completion in early 2013. This plan lists limiting factors, threats and identified actions from these plans. This proposal will address those categories of actions that pertain to habitat protection and restoration."

This recovery plan is apparently a new development. It would be useful learn if it is now available. It is not cited in this proposal.

There is a mix of strategic direction referenced, but it is unclear if there is an overarching strategy to guide this complex effort. The questions posed for umbrella habitat projects dealing with the steps to solicit, review, prioritize, and select habitat projects were answered. A flow chart or road map of some kind would be useful to help understand the procedure.

As part of the landscape assessment process, it does not appear that there has been an assessment of fish and aquatic organism passage, particularly as related to tide gates and road-stream crossings. This information is important to ensure that the maximum connectivity is achieved when acquiring and restoring parcels. Correcting passage issues, on lands adjacent to those restored, can also serve to increase the scope of benefits beyond the immediate area of restoration

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

A good history of project achievements was provided. It appears that the program has had some impressive accomplishments, and there has been sound use of available funding.

The implementation metrics could be useful tools to describe a variety of desired outcomes, but it is not clear how these outcomes are measured. Additionally, in the summary of completed projects, these metrics were not applied. This would have been useful in better understanding and appreciating them.

The photos of each project helped get a perspective on what was done. However, the project result abstracts were lacking detail or references. For example, following the Fort Columbia photo the statement was made "Genetic analysis indicated use by multiple ESUs including up-river stocks." A reference to a CREST report or one by others should be included. The 2011 Annual Report to BPA contained some good data related to fish monitoring for the Fort Columbia site. It is unclear if this monitoring will be continued in the future for Fort Columbia and other sites. The explanations given in the field were essential to understand the significance of technical items such as the setback levees required by USACE.

There does not appear to be any formal documentation of lessons learned through the adaptive management process or their application to adjust current work activities. It appears the sponsors defer to the CEERP adaptive management process under the umbrella. It is not clear that this process is driven by designed experiments.

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

The sponsor has excellent working relationships with the sponsors of other restoration projects in the estuary. There has been good progress in establishing cost share agreements with other entities. However, there is no mention of any accomplishments for community or public involvement in the project/program. Given the landownership of the area and the commitment to sustainable, long-term protection, and restoration, this seems to be a critical element that needs to have elevated importance. Development of the ONCOR data base, described in the proposal, sounds like a good step for improving information sharing with the public and local communities and landowners but is reportedly still under development.

It is difficult to determine from the proposal what procedures are in place to determine when success has been reached and how long monitoring is required. There does not seem to be a long term monitoring program in place. This may be because of irregular funding schedules, but it would be helpful to find out if the sponsor has plans or procedures such as performance bonds or other procedures to ensure funds are available for long term monitoring and adjustment to projects going forward.

The sponsors state the following concerning limiting factors:

"Action effectiveness monitoring will be incorporated in to adaptive management for site maintenance and restoration design moving forward. CREST does address climate change, non-native species, predation and toxics through our project designs and implementation. For example the restoration of natural processes addresses resilience of specific sites to factors like climate change. CREST has also built in topographic diversity within our restoration sites to allow for multiple water elevations and vegetation types within a treated area. Much effort is put in to eradicating non-native plant species as well as improvements of water quality to address non-native fish species."

However, no details are provided on how they will actually deal with these concerns or they will influence project selection and evaluation of the success criterion.

4. Deliverables, Work Elements, Metrics, and Method 

DELV - 2 "The vast majority of CREST's effort under our contract with BPA is in the designing, permitting, and construction phases." And DELV-4 is mainly coordination. This work is not amenable to scientific review.

Monitor the effectiveness of restoration actions. (DELV-3) - the sponsors state "When funding agencies desire more intensive monitoring CREST biologists assess fish utilization using trap netting, seining, and PIT tag arrays." It would be helpful to clarify what criteria the sponsor uses to determine restoration success and how long they think it take to achieve success.

A strategic framework for project prioritization and selection appears to remain a work in progress (see comments in Q1 regarding needs for a comprehensive, over-arching strategy or strategic framework). Two sets of selection criteria were described, one for the Lower Columbia Restoration Enhancement Partnership and one for the BiOp Technical review group. The LCREP criteria are straight forward and seem logical, but there is no discussion on the logic or basis for how the points/weightings for each of the three major components were developed. The sub-elements under each main component, Ecological benefits, Implementation and Cost, are quite comprehensive but lack individual weights or scoring. Given this, it seems like the current arrangement would allow for a wide range of different interpretations and scoring for individual parcels. As mentioned in Johnson et al. (2013) it appears that there remains a need for additional work to refine and document this process. See programmatic comments for additional comments.

There are a number of metrics described to measure accomplishments. It is not clear when or how these are measured for each land acquisition. This list does seem to provide a good source for use in development of project specific objectives. 

There is a lengthy description of the AEMR process under the CEERP program. It was not apparent what actual monitoring has been selected for individual projects being planned or for those completed under this program. It is not clear if only Level 3 standard extensive metrics will be collected for all project actions unless funding agencies desire more monitoring. It would seem that there should be an opportunity to more actively seek cooperation with other programs to allow more extensive monitoring at some sites in order to allow a more complete evaluation of restoration impact. Additionally, there is no acknowledgement or discussion on how monitoring will be transitioned into the ISEMP/CHAMP/AEM program.

Specific comments on protocols and methods described in MonitoringMethods.org

All methods are satisfactory, except they seem to be only 56% complete. Please see the comments above. The Roegner et al. (2009) document prepared under the umbrella project is the main provider of methods.

Qualification #1 - Qualification #1
See the programmatic comment for the estuary and the response request for LCREP. Continued work on justifying prioritization, coordinating RME, and report results at the programmatic level is recommended. The ISRP's issues can be dealt with in contracting and future project reviews.
First Round ISRP Date: 6/10/2013
First Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified)
First Round ISRP Comment:

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

The project is an important part of a larger set of activities to protect and restore the ecological structure, function and biodiversity of the Columbia River estuary. There has been a significant amount of strategic planning and ecological assessment to provide a foundation for the work. There has also been substantial effort to coordinate activities with an array of agencies/organizations all working towards protection and/or restoration of the estuary.

However, a program goal, "Protect and restore the Columbia River Estuary ecosystem, focusing on habitat opportunity, capacity and realized function for aquatic organisms." is given, rather than a series of objectives. The objectives need to be better defined to focus on key questions, such as: 1) How will protection be achieved? 2) How will be restoration be accomplished? Where will the projects be located? 3) What ecological functions will be restored? 4) What benchmarks and reference sites will be used? The technical background provided was very general, and only a few references are provided for problem to be addressed. The proposal does not specify how CREST will address problems, and detail is lacking.

The objective, actually the goal as noted above, of CREST is succinctly stated as to implement on-the-ground salmon restoration projects and to focus on habitat opportunity, capacity and realized function for aquatic organisms. However the objective does not mention achieving increased survival targets for salmon and steelhead which seems to be a driving element of the work. If it is assumed that survival and habitat opportunity, capacity and realized function are synonymous, it would be helpful to discuss this. 

The sponsors state:

"...Proposed ESA Recovery Plan for Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon, Lower Columbia River Chinook Salmon, Columbia River Chum Salmon and Lower Columbia River Steelhead (NMFS 2012).This plan is the culmination of all the recovery plans for the lower Columbia basin and synthesizes the salmonid recovery plans in Oregon, Washington, White Salmon as well as the Estuary Recovery Plan Module. NMFS anticipates its completion in early 2013. This plan lists limiting factors, threats and identified actions from these plans. This proposal will address those categories of actions that pertain to habitat protection and restoration."

This recovery plan is apparently a new development. It would be useful learn if it is now available. It is not cited in this proposal.

There is a mix of strategic direction referenced, but it is unclear if there is an overarching strategy to guide this complex effort. The questions posed for umbrella habitat projects dealing with the steps to solicit, review, prioritize, and select habitat projects were answered. A flow chart or road map of some kind would be useful to help understand the procedure.

As part of the landscape assessment process, it does not appear that there has been an assessment of fish and aquatic organism passage, particularly as related to tide gates and road-stream crossings. This information is important to ensure that the maximum connectivity is achieved when acquiring and restoring parcels. Correcting passage issues, on lands adjacent to those restored, can also serve to increase the scope of benefits beyond the immediate area of restoration

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

A good history of project achievements was provided. It appears that the program has had some impressive accomplishments, and there has been sound use of available funding.

The implementation metrics could be useful tools to describe a variety of desired outcomes, but it is not clear how these outcomes are measured. Additionally, in the summary of completed projects, these metrics were not applied. This would have been useful in better understanding and appreciating them.

The photos of each project helped get a perspective on what was done. However, the project result abstracts were lacking detail or references. For example, following the Fort Columbia photo the statement was made "Genetic analysis indicated use by multiple ESUs including up-river stocks." A reference to a CREST report or one by others should be included. The 2011 Annual Report to BPA contained some good data related to fish monitoring for the Fort Columbia site. It is unclear if this monitoring will be continued in the future for Fort Columbia and other sites. The explanations given in the field were essential to understand the significance of technical items such as the setback levees required by USACE.

There does not appear to be any formal documentation of lessons learned through the adaptive management process or their application to adjust current work activities. It appears the sponsors defer to the CEERP adaptive management process under the umbrella. It is not clear that this process is driven by designed experiments.

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

The sponsor has excellent working relationships with the sponsors of other restoration projects in the estuary. There has been good progress in establishing cost share agreements with other entities. However, there is no mention of any accomplishments for community or public involvement in the project/program. Given the landownership of the area and the commitment to sustainable, long-term protection, and restoration, this seems to be a critical element that needs to have elevated importance. Development of the ONCOR data base, described in the proposal, sounds like a good step for improving information sharing with the public and local communities and landowners but is reportedly still under development.

It is difficult to determine from the proposal what procedures are in place to determine when success has been reached and how long monitoring is required. There does not seem to be a long term monitoring program in place. This may be because of irregular funding schedules, but it would be helpful to find out if the sponsor has plans or procedures such as performance bonds or other procedures to ensure funds are available for long term monitoring and adjustment to projects going forward.

The sponsors state the following concerning limiting factors:

"Action effectiveness monitoring will be incorporated in to adaptive management for site maintenance and restoration design moving forward. CREST does address climate change, non-native species, predation and toxics through our project designs and implementation. For example the restoration of natural processes addresses resilience of specific sites to factors like climate change. CREST has also built in topographic diversity within our restoration sites to allow for multiple water elevations and vegetation types within a treated area. Much effort is put in to eradicating non-native plant species as well as improvements of water quality to address non-native fish species."

However, no details are provided on how they will actually deal with these concerns or they will influence project selection and evaluation of the success criterion.

4. Deliverables, Work Elements, Metrics, and Method 

DELV - 2 "The vast majority of CREST's effort under our contract with BPA is in the designing, permitting, and construction phases." And DELV-4 is mainly coordination. This work is not amenable to scientific review.

Monitor the effectiveness of restoration actions. (DELV-3) - the sponsors state "When funding agencies desire more intensive monitoring CREST biologists assess fish utilization using trap netting, seining, and PIT tag arrays." It would be helpful to clarify what criteria the sponsor uses to determine restoration success and how long they think it take to achieve success.

A strategic framework for project prioritization and selection appears to remain a work in progress (see comments in Q1 regarding needs for a comprehensive, over-arching strategy or strategic framework). Two sets of selection criteria were described, one for the Lower Columbia Restoration Enhancement Partnership and one for the BiOp Technical review group. The LCREP criteria are straight forward and seem logical, but there is no discussion on the logic or basis for how the points/weightings for each of the three major components were developed. The sub-elements under each main component, Ecological benefits, Implementation and Cost, are quite comprehensive but lack individual weights or scoring. Given this, it seems like the current arrangement would allow for a wide range of different interpretations and scoring for individual parcels. As mentioned in Johnson et al. (2013) it appears that there remains a need for additional work to refine and document this process. See programmatic comments for additional comments.

There are a number of metrics described to measure accomplishments. It is not clear when or how these are measured for each land acquisition. This list does seem to provide a good source for use in development of project specific objectives. 

There is a lengthy description of the AEMR process under the CEERP program. It was not apparent what actual monitoring has been selected for individual projects being planned or for those completed under this program. It is not clear if only Level 3 standard extensive metrics will be collected for all project actions unless funding agencies desire more monitoring. It would seem that there should be an opportunity to more actively seek cooperation with other programs to allow more extensive monitoring at some sites in order to allow a more complete evaluation of restoration impact. Additionally, there is no acknowledgement or discussion on how monitoring will be transitioned into the ISEMP/CHAMP/AEM program.

Specific comments on protocols and methods described in MonitoringMethods.org

All methods are satisfactory, except they seem to be only 56% complete. Please see the comments above. The Roegner et al. (2009) document prepared under the umbrella project is the main provider of methods.

 

  

Modified by Dal Marsters on 6/12/2013 9:13:01 AM.
Documentation Links:

Project Relationships: None

Name Role Organization
Denise Lofman Supervisor Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST)
Anne Creason Project Manager Bonneville Power Administration
Tom Josephson Project Lead Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST)
Shawn Skinner Env. Compliance Lead Bonneville Power Administration
Jason Karnezis Supervisor Bonneville Power Administration
Jason Smith Project Lead Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST)