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
O’Hara Watershed Restoration

BPA project number   5520100

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding

Sponsor type   ID-Federal Agency

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameKatherine L. Thompson
 Mailing addressNez Perce National Forest
Route 2, Box 475
Grangeville, ID 83530

BPA technical contact   ,

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   3.1D.1

Short description
This project will involve maintenance and improvement of existing instream structures in a small stream (O’Hara Creek, Selway River subbabsin, Clearwater River basin) supporting at-risk stocks of spring chinook salmon and steelhead trout spawnign and rearing. It will also involve extensive road obliteration within the watershed.

Project start year   1997    End year   

Start of operation and/or maintenance   1999

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
Related projects include include various watershed improvement projects funded by the U.S. Forest Service other than the road obliteration specified under this proposal. Also included is a visitor information program designed to educate the public about fish, stream ecology, and watershed restoration. This prgram has been funded in the past under a challenge cost share scenario including the Nez Perce National Forest, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and Trout Unlimited. It includes a self-guided tour, sign, and brochure. This site is located near a heavily-used campground along the Selway River.

Project history
the O’Hara Creek Restoration project was planned and implemented in 1988, 1989, and 1990. Instream structures were established in the stream channel over a six mile section in the lower portion of the waterhsed at a cost of $6800.00. This part of O’Hara Creek had previously consisted of low gradient riffles with excess sediment deposition and little large woody debris. O’Hara Creek is used for spawning and rearing by wild spring chinook salmon, B-run steelhead trout, and westslope cutthroat trout.

Work completed included construction of rock and log weirs, side channel construction, placement of woody debris including large cedar logs and root wads, and planting riparian trees and shrubs throughout this section of stream. Objectives for this project included an increase in pool:riffle ratio, increases in winter rearing habitat, increases in overall habitat diversity, and an increase in overall carrying capacity for both anadromous and resident fish.

Following initial construction of the instream structures, the Nez Perce National Forest initiated a challenge cost share proposal to fund an interpretive program for the public at the site, which is heavily used by recreationists. Partners in the project included Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Trout Unlimited, and the contractor who completed the actual construction of the instream structures. Work was completed in 1992 and included establishment of a self-guided tour, brochuires to guide the tour, and a large interpretive sign at the downstream end of the project area. The Nez Perce Forest contributed $2500.00 to this effort and recieved $1300.00 from partners in actual contributions.

Biological results achieved
The enhanced area was surveyed for habitat and fish prior to implemetation of the project in 1989 and every year thereafter until 1992. Results indicated that pool:riffle ration was increased from 3:97 to 53:47, numbers of acting debris increased from 27 pieces/square meter to 80 pieces/square meter, overwinter habitat increased from 0 to 132 square meters, glide/pool habitat increased from 221 square meters to 2,617 square meters, and side channel habitat increased from 710 square meters to 1,563 square meters. Fish densities in November were estimated at 0/100 square meters to 10.9 juvenile steelhead/100 square meters and 5.4 juvenile chinook salmon/100 square meters after project implementation. Anchor ice formation was noted prior to project implementation and was not noted post project implementation.

It was generally noted, however, that levels of deposited sediment generally did not improve follwing establishment of stream structures. Stream structures by themselves generally do not result in reduction in deposited sediment unless they are specifically designed for this purpose. Structures constructed for this project were designed to create pool habitat, increase cover, increase stream depth, and increase habitat diversity in a stream reach consisting mostly of low gradient riffles. Establishment of such structures is inconsistent with increasing routing of deposited sediment out of the reach. In the absence of other improvements in watershed condition, decreases in deposited sediment were not to be expected under this project scenario.

Annual reports and technical papers
Technical and project reports including the above monitoring results, along with all original data sheets and analysis, are available at the Selway Ranger District office, Nez Perce National Forest. No technical reports have been peer reviewed or published, however.

Management implications
Management implicantions for this project and project monitoring include generally accepted beliefs about fish response to habitat modification or improvement, although an actual increase in fish produced in this watershed as a result of the project has not been documented. More importantly, these structures did not improve levels of deposited sediment; the management implication for this facet of stream habitat improvement is that improvement in watershed condition, concurrent with structures specifically designed to rout sediment, is necessary for improvement in this condition.

Specific measureable objectives
Cobble embeddedness, percent surface fines, fines within spawning habitat, pool:riffle ratio, relative densities of fish throughout the year, and numbers of returning adult anadromous spawners from year to year.

Testable hypothesis
Does improvement in watershed condition from road obliteration result in reduced sediment deposition in downstream areas? Does improvement and maintenance of existing structures result in more sediment routed out of the system and improvement in percent surface fines and cobble embeddedness? Do potential decreases in percent surface fines and cobble embeddedness result in higher densities of fish and increased numbers of anadromous and resident spawners in O’Hara Creek?

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
No known constraints. We are assuming we have chosen the correct variables to modify and monitor.

1) Materials to be used for the instream portion of this project include an excavator combined with manual labor to modify, maintain, or improve existing structures. No new materials will be used at the site since ample boulders and large cedars are already available on-site. An array of possible structure modifications is being considered, based on sound hydrological and biological pronciples for maintaining the above improved habitat variables while providing the stream greater ability to move sediment. The constructed side-channel will not be alterred.

Materials and techniques for road obliteration include standard heavy equipment used for road construction such as backhoes and dozers. Native shrubs and trees would be planted following all ground disturbance to hasten the road obliteration process. Road obliteration would include full recontouring so the past existence of the road will be difficult or impossible to detect several years post project implementation.

2) Statistical analysis of monitoring data would include standard non-parametric assessment of post project monitoring data to detect changes in deposited sediment levels in the project area. Wolman pebble counts would be performed as a means of assessing shifts in D50 and D84 of substrate size classes from data collected from various habitat types. Mean cobble embeddedness would be compared from year to year using multiple analysis of variance (MANOVA) techniques to assess both long and short term trends in deposited sediment. Standard electrofishing or snorkel techniques would be employed to assess relative abundance of fish at the site. Numbers of adult spawners and redds would be counted each year and documented.

3) No hatchery outplantings of hatchery fish are currently proposed, but we would consider this an option depending on other agency involvement (i.e. Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Nez Perce Tribe). This would be an option for chinook salmon only as the steelhead in the Selway River have never been supplemented with hatchery fish. Species affected by this project include chinook salmon, steehead trout, westslope cutthroat trout, and possibly bull trout. Relative densities of all these species will be monitored following project implementation.

Brief schedule of activities
1996- USFS fish biologists, hydrologists, and engineers plan and develop project specifications (funded entirely by the USFS). Environmental analysis initiated.

1997- Environmental analysis completed; instream structure work and road obliteration contracts developed and let; construction and obliteration completed. BPA funds needed for this phase.

1998- Vegetation planting of obliterated areas, first year sediment monitoring of structure site to commence. Rewrite O’Hara self-guided tour and interp. Sign to include more recent information on project and fish ecology. BPA and USFS funds needed here.

1999- Sediment and fish monitoring continued; peer review and publication of report from first two years’ data if appropriate. BPA and USFS funds needed here.

2000 and beyond- Continued monitoring of the project. USFS will fund.

Biological need
The biological need for this project is focused around the relatrive size and position of the O’Hara Creek watershed in the Selway River subbasin in addition to its existing condition. It is the only tributary large enough to support spring chinook salmon spawning and rearing in the lower sixteen miles of the Selway River. It is known to support spring chinook salmon and steelhead trout, limited presumably by excessive levels of deposited sediment and amount of habitat available.

The Selway River supports one of the strongest populations of wild B-run steelhead trout in the Clearwater River and has never been supplemented with hatchery stocks. The Selway River also supports a significant population of wild spring chinook salmon, with O’Hara Creek providing the first potential spawning habitat for both species on their way up the Selway River.

The O’Hara Creek watershed has been affected by road construction and timber harvest, which has resulted in high sediment yields in certain portions of the drainage and high road densities. Current high levels of deposited sediment in the lower portion of the watershed have been attributed in part to poor watershed condition. We believe the potential for watershed and stream recovery to be high, however, due to the morphology of the watershed and the fact that large portions of the watershed remain unnaffected by land-disturbing activities. We believe that improvement in this watershed would result in significant improvement of fish habitat and subsequent improvement in survivability of juvenile fish.

We also believe this project will provide benefits for resident fish and wildlfe. Westslope cutthroat trout, which comprise a fluvial population in the Selway River of considerable national significance, would benefit from the same improvements as anadromous fish. Bull trout have not been documented in O’Hara Creek but given improvement in habitat condition may choose to spawn and rear in this stream. Elk, deer, predators such as wolves, mountain lions, and bears, and any other wildlife species affected by road construction, increased human access, and road maintenance, would benefit from road obliteration.

Critical uncertainties

Summary of expected outcome
Expected outcomes include improvement in spawning and rearing habitat for anadromous and resident salmonids, increased survivial of juvenile fish, increased numbers of fish using this stream reach, and reduction in road density within the watershed leading to improvement in downstream conditions.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
The NEPA analysis for this project would be tiered to a larger analysis involving O’Hara Creek and other watersheds in the vicinity. As with any project, there is uncertainty concerning the success of the NEPA process for timely completion. The Forest is planning to issue a Notice of Intent for this area by the end of FY96, with subsequent EA/EIS completed in the months thereafter.

The Forest has a history of cooperation from other agencies and groups with this project. We therefore believe the potential for cooperation to be high.

None. The project is partly designed to reduce risk through obliteration of roads at high risk for mass failure.

Monitoring activity
See under project plan description and statistical methods to be used.

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: 35,000
1998: 5,000
1999: 5,000

* 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   Snake River

Recommendation    Tier 1 - fund

Recommended funding level   $35,000

BPA 1997 authorized budget (approved start-of-year budget)   $25,000