BPA Fish and Wildlife FY 1997 Proposal

Section 1. Administrative
Section 2. Narrative
Section 3. Budget

see CBFWA and BPA funding recommendations

Section 1. Administrative

Title of project
Minidoka Wildlife Mitigation

BPA project number   5501700

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
IDFG

Sponsor type   ID-State/Local Agency

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameJerome Hansen
 Mailing addressIdaho Department of Fish and Game
600 South Walnut Street
Boise, ID 83707
 Phone208/334-4098

BPA technical contact   Allyn Meuleman, EWP 208/334-9137

Biological opinion ID   None

NWPPC Program number   11.3D.5

Short description
Implementation planning and advance design for Minidoka Dam wildlife mitigation. Begin implementation of the Cottonwood Wildlife Management Area project and the wildlife tract management project. Mitigation measures involve enhancing wildlife habitats on IDFG and BLM lands. Additional lands may be protected and enhanced through various acquisition /easement tools.

Project start year   1996    End year   When mitigation has been completed

Start of operation and/or maintenance   1997

Project development phase   PLANNING and IMPLEMENTATION

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
None

Project history
Construction of Minidoka Dam (Lake Walcott) was completed in 1909, impacting over 12,000 acres of wildlife habitat. The Minidoka Dam Wildlife Impact Assessment, completed in 1989, estimated 5,374 Habitat Units were lost. The Minidoka Wildlife Mitigation Plan was completed in 1991, with the two preferred projects being riparian/river protection/enhancement and South Hills shrub-steppe protection. An amendment was submitted to the NPPC in October 1995 to begin advance design and implementation of Minidoka wildlife mitigation, particularly in the Big Cottonwood Creek area.

Biological results achieved

Annual reports and technical papers
Wildlife Impact Assessment, Minidoka Dam. March 1989.
Wildlife Protection, Mitigation and Enhancement Plan, Minidoka Dam. April 1991.

Management implications

Specific measureable objectives
Full implementation of the Minidoka Wildlife Mitigation Plan is estimated to produce 5,374 Habitat Units (HUs). The Cottonwood WMA (Big Cottonwood Creek area) habitat enhancement project is estimated to provide 350 HUs. The wildlife tract habitat enhancement project on BLM lands is estimated to provide up to 500 HUs. These two projects would address both upland and riparian target species, yellow warbler, sage grouse, mule deer, and to a lesser extent river otter. Other Minidoka mitigation projects address the remaining wildlife habitat losses.

Testable hypothesis
This is not a research project. Long-term monitoring of protection and enhancement projects will allow wildlife and land managers to gain a better understanding of wildlife-habitat relationships.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
* Principles of adaptive management would be used throughout the project.
* We are assuming there will be willing landowners interested in participating in this project
* We are assuming local public and governmental support of this project would be developed..
* We are assuming funds will be available to implement this project in a reasonable timeframe, and that funds committed to this project would not be jeopardized by other wildlife mitigation projects in the Columbia Basin.
* Funding availability and funding certainty are critical constraints for this project.

Methods
This is a wildlife habitat protection and enhancement project, not a research project.

The interagency work group would be re-activated to complete implementation planning. The Implementation Plan would be tiered to BPA’s Programmatic Wildlife Mitigation EIS. We would work with landowners interested in participating in the mitigation projects to cooperate on management of the BLM wildlife tracts, and to develop conservation easements or acquire wildlife habitat parcels in fee-title. Habitat Evaluation Procedures will be used to determine HU benefits of each site-specific project. Local county commissioners and other interested publics would be kept informed of the status of the mitigation projects. We would explore opportunities for partnerships. County Commissioner input would be solicited prior to making a decision on any land acquisition project.

We would coordinate with other agencies and local groups to implement wildlife habitat enhancement projects on existing public lands. Typical habitat enhancement activities include developing conservation plans compatible with wildlife habitat objectives for farming and grazing uses, noxious weed control, fencing, plantings, thinning, wildlife water developments, and erosion control projects.

Brief schedule of activities
Advance design activities and the implementation plan could be completed by early 1997, with implementation following immediately thereafter, especially the habitat enhancement projects..

Biological need
Riparian and native upland vegetation habitats provide important wildlife habitats in south-central Idaho. Much of the adjacent land base is private farmland which often leaves little food or cover for wildlife. The proposed enhancement projects would improve the wildlife habitat value for a number of species including sage grouse, mule deer, neotropical migrants, aquatic furbearers, and pheasants. The Cottonwood WMA enhancements will benefit at least one T&E species (bald eagle) and 4 C-2 species, including habitat for a recovering California bighorn sheep population, Townsends bat, small footed myotis, and aquatic habitat for Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

Critical uncertainties
Funding. Cooperating agencies, local interest groups, and landowners quickly lose interest in participating in the mitigation projects when we cannot assure them funding is available to implement the project. This also applies to long-term operation, maintenance, and monitoring.

Summary of expected outcome
Implementation of the Cottonwood WMA and wildlife tracts habitat enhancement projects are estimated to produce 850 HUs to BPA and a variety of benefits to wildlife and the public.. Additional habitat protection and enhancement projects would be identified during implementation planning to complete full mitigation for Minidoka.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
We are committed to working with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes on all Minidoka wildlife mitigation projects as this area is culturally and historically important to the Tribe. We are currently working out a wildlife mitigation agreement between Idaho Fish and Game and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.

As we are planning to tier the Minidoka implementation plan to BPA’s Programmatic Wildlife EIS, timely completion of that EIS in 1996 will be important.

Risks
The credibility of BPA, Idaho Fish and Game, and the NPPC Columbia Basin Wildlife Program would be at risk if funding does not allow us to follow through with implementation and long-term maintenance of mitigation projects.

Monitoring activity
A monitoring plan would be developed for each mitigation project as part of the site-specific management plan. Habitat Evaluation Procedures (HEP) will be used to determine the HU benefits of each project. The HEP methodology may also be used for long-term monitoring and to determine benefits of habitat enhancements.

Section 3. Budget

Data shown are the total of expense and capital obligations by fiscal year. Obligations for any given year may not equal actual expenditures or accruals within the year, due to carryover, pre-funding, capitalization and difference between operating year and BPA fiscal year.

Historic costsFY 1996 budget data*Current and future funding needs
(none) New project - no FY96 data available 1997: 100,000
1998: 100,000
1999: 120,000
2000: 120,000
2001: 120,000

* For most projects, Authorized is the amount recommended by CBFWA and the Council. Planned is amount currently allocated. Contracted is the amount obligated to date of printout.

Funding recommendations

CBFWA funding review group   Wildlife

Recommendation    No recommendation