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
Biodiversity Inventory and Analysis of the Hanford Site/Reach

BPA project number   5503200

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
The Nature Conservancy

Sponsor type   WA-Consultant

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameCurt Soper
 Mailing address217 Pine Street, Suite 1100
Seattle, WA 98101

BPA technical contact   , EWN

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   

Short description
Carry out a biodiversity inventory and analysis of the Hanford Site and Hanford Reach of the Columbia River. Data will be in a GIS format for use in management and land use decision by affected agencies. Covered disciplines include mammology, ornithology, entomology, botany, and ecology with emphasis on species and habitats of concern.

Project start year   1997    End year   1998

Start of operation and/or maintenance   1999

Project development phase   Maintenance

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects

Project history
This project has been funded the past two years by the U.S. Department of Energy ($250,000 in 1994) and The Nature Conservancy ($100,000 in 1995). Funding from these sources is currently not available for continuation of the project. It has not been funded in the past through BPA. The full scope of the project was originally for 3-4 years with a total cost of $810,000. Non-biological products include considerable national press coverage of the project and the siginificance of its findings including two PBS television shows, national magazines, National Public Radio, and all major newspapers in the state of Washington.

Biological results achieved
Numerous findings of biological significance have come from work to date including the discovery of 21 species new to science and many populations of rare or otherwise sensitive wildlife species previously unkown from the Site. 55 bird point count stations and numerous transects have been established and monitored for two years giving insight to the habitat preference and abundance of birds in the native shrub-steppe; Over 180,000 acres have been mapped as to ecosystem type and quality; detailed amphibian and reptile and rare plant surveys have been conducted over some 100,000 acres of the Site with documentation on the locations of many rare and sensitive taxa; a baseline insect study has been ongoing for two years; wetland habitats along the Hanford Reach have been mapped and classified.

Annual reports and technical papers
Twelve technical reports and one annual project report have been completed to date. These are available for review if desired. A second annual report and two additional technical reports will be completed in April of 1995. Oral media presentations have been given each year in the Tri-Cities region as well. Technical reports include ornithological inventory findings from 1994 and 1995 (2 each); amphibian and reptile inventory findings from 1995; rare plant survey findings from 1994 and 1995 (1 each); invertebrate inventory findings from 1994; Lepidoptera survey findings from 1994 and 1995 (1 each); and ecosystem mapping reports from 1994 and 1995 (1 each).

Management implications
Includes the ability to identify conservation priorities and locate clean-up and development activities on the Site with the best available biological information to minimize or avoid negative impacts to significant wildlife resources; identification and designation of baseline areas containing the highest quality native flora and fauna for use as models in conservation and restoration efforts in the Columbia Basin; knowledge about the infestation of important exotic pest species such as purple loosestrife and reed canarygrass; compliance information for agencies required under the Endangered Species Act; and for use as part of a larger shrub-steppe region biodiversity analysis allowing compararison with other sites regarding the quality of shrub-steppe habitat in the Columbia Basin .

Specific measureable objectives
1) Complete inventory of entire Hanford Site for small mammals with emphasis on species of concern including pygmy rabbit, Washington ground squirrel, and others; 2) Complete mapping and classification of plant communities/habitat types for portions of Site not already mapped (Central Hanford, dune sheet area, Umtanum Ridge area, others); 3) Complete rare plant species inventories for portions of Site not already completed (Central Hanford, dune sheet area); 4) Continue baseline invertebrate studies; 5) Continue collection of data for all established point count bird plots and expand ornithology efforts by 50%; 6) See that all data gathered is entered into appropriate GIS data systems for access and use by affected agencies and tribes; 7) Publish technical reports and annual reports documenting findings in each field of study.

Testable hypothesis
The free-flowing nature of the Columbia River through the Hanford Site and the strict and limited access to the Site over the past 50 years have preserved wildlife habitat values on certain portions of the Site that are present nowhere else in the Columbia Basin shrub-steppe region and which are extremely valuable to natural resource managers and land use decision-makers. Knowledge about the location and abundance of these values will help ensure their preservation and provide important mitigation for their loss elsewhere.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
No critical constraints. An excellent team of biologists and technicians is in place and prepared to conduct the necessary research and data analysis if funding is made available. A Cooperative Agreeement is in place between The Nature Conservancy and the Department of Energy which allows for access to the Site and necessary facilities.

Inventory, data analysis, and data compilation methods will be technically and scientifically sound and will follow those currently recommended in various disciplines. 1) Bird work will include point count station and transect methodology suggested by Partners in Flight Program; 2) Habitat type surveys and mapping will include the establishment and reading of a statistically valid number of vegetation plots and will describe communities based on Daubenmire’s approach to describing shrub-steppe vegetation and be consistent with Washington Natural Heritage Program vegetation classification; 3) Mammal, herptile, insect, and rare plant inventories shall use appropriate methods for documenting and recording findings within each discipline including the use of pitfall traps, visual encounter transects, attractants, collecting, call sampling, road sampling, tracking, netting, and other approaches as appropriate; 4) All required permits pursuant to implementation of inventory methods shall be obtained from the Washington Department of Wildlife and other appropriate agencies; 5) Data collected shall be analyzed using a variety of statistical programs and shall be entered into an Arc-Info Geographic Information System.

Brief schedule of activities
Major tasks for 1997 will include initiation of small mammal studies; reading of existing bird point count stations and transects as well as establishment of an additional 30 stations in other portions of the Site; continuation (third year) of invertebrate inventory and analysis; carrying out a rare plant species inventory on the Central Hanford region including the dune fields; continuation of amphibian and reptile studies; and the mapping and classification of habitat types on the Central Hanford and Umtanum Ridge poritons of the Site. 1998 will see the end of the project with a focus on carrying out final inventory work, analyzing data and comparing it with other Columbia Basin shrub-steppe locales, compiling findings into appropriate GIS data system for use by affected parties, and publication of findings in technical reports.

Biological need
Much of the Hanford Site has not been thoroughly studied for the presence of significant wildlife and natural resource values. The Hanford Reach of the Columbia River is the last free-flowing stretch and home to the only remaining native salmon spawning beds on the mainstem of the river. While it is known that the Site contains unaltered habitat of sufficient size to perpetuate the biodiversity of the region, it is not known comprehensively which declining wildlife species and habitats in fact occur there, and where specifically they can be found. The scientific studies that have been undertaken in the past at Hanford have by and large been project specific and narrow in scope. The mission of the Site has changed from one of development and production to one of clean-up, restoration, and land release. Long term land use decisions regarding the Site will be made in the next few years. The affected parties involved in making decisions about future land management of the Hanford Site need to have a full and accurate accounting of the wildlife and natural resource values present in order to operate from a position of knowledge. Completion of this project will help provide that knowledge.

Critical uncertainties

Summary of expected outcome
The outcome of this project will be a thorough documentation of the full range of biological diversity present on the Hanford Site and within the Hanford Reach. It will be documented via intensive biological inventories; publication of findings in technical and annual reports; and compilation of quality GIS data for utilitarian use by all affected parties. The parties will be able to use the results of the project to help set rational conservation priorities and to identify specific sites for use as baseline areas against which to measure the impacts of human uses in the Columbia Basin shrub-steppe region.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
Funding will need to be in place prior to February, 1997 in order to facilitate start of field work in concert with seasonal constraints. No NEPA analysis is necessary nor is consent of other agencies, except that of the Department of Energy, which is already in place. There is considerable opportunity for cooperation on this project. The Site has tremendous religious and cultural significance to the Yakama, Umatilla, Wanapum, and Nez Perce Indian Tribes and portions of the Site are currently leased to and manged by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. It is anticipated that each will have a vested interest in participating in this project and receiving and utilizing the results.

There is considerable risk for failing to develop techniques to preserve the genetic structure of the Snake River salmon complex. There is risk that captive rearing will not prevent extinction. There is risk that captive rearing is not attainable. There is risk that captive rearing (and brood stock) programs will build false hope for restoration among scientists, the publics, and decision makers and divert attention from the crucial limiting factors in the Snake River Basin.

Monitoring activity
The Nature Conservancy hopes to work with all the affected parties: tribes, state agencies, federal agencies, local organizations, and others to monitor the biological health and significance of the Hanford Site and the Hanford Reach though no formal monitoring plans are in place at this time.

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: 200,000
1998: 200,000

* 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    Tier 2 - fund when funds available

Recommended funding level   $200,000