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
Amazon Basin/Eugene Wetlands - Phase II

BPA project number   9205900

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

Sponsor type   OR-State/Local Agency

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameCathy MacDonald
 Mailing addressThe Nature Conservancy
821 SE 14th
Portland,Oregon 97210

BPA technical contact   Charlie Craig, EWP 503/230-3430

Biological opinion ID   Duncan/Cohen letter

NWPPC Program number   11.3F.1

Short description
Continue implementation of management activities as defined in the Management Plan for the Willow Creek Natural Area for the following target species: beaver, black capped chickadee, red-tailed hawk, valley quail, western meadowlark, yellow warbler, and western pond turtle.

Project start year   1993    End year   

Start of operation and/or maintenance   1999

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects

Project history
Habitat evaluations and an environmental assessment were completed for the project in 1995. The Nature Conservancy and Bonneville Power Administration acquired fee ownership and conservation easements (respectively) on 329 acres. The conservation easements cost $1,112,500. The site is part of the larger West Eugene Wetlands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, City of Eugene, and The Nature Conservancy. Project partners have provided staff expertise, funding, and volunteer assistance to reduce management costs for the site. The first year of management implementation is currently underway and is budgeted at $46,538.97.

Biological results achieved
1) Protection of 329.36 acres providing a baseline of 575.39 Average Annual Habitat Units for the following target species: beaver, black capped chickadee, red-tailed hawk, valley quail, western meadowlark, yellow warbler, and western pond turtle.

2) Initiation of management actions to maintain and increase habitat units from 575.39 to 814.71 AAHU's as outlined in the Environmental Assessment and Management Plan.

Annual reports and technical papers
Bonneville Power Administration, 1995. Willow Creek Wildlife Mitigation Project Final Environmental Assessment, DOE-EA-1023.

Management implications
Knowledge gained from this project will be relevant to: 1) managing other Willamette Valley lowland mitigation projects and wildlife habitats; 2) managing mitigation projects in an urban context; 3) evaluating the costs and benefits of conservation easements relative to fee acquisition of mitigation project; and 4) evaluating the costs and benefits and organizational approaches to developing mitigation partnerships with non-profit organizations and local governments.

Specific measureable objectives
Increase AAHU's for target species from 575.39 to 814.71 by increasing the area and quality of key habitats for target species.

Testable hypothesis
Ho: Maintenance and enhancement work identified in the EA will not increase habitat units for target species.
Ha: Maintenance and enhancement work identified in the EA will increase habitat units for target species.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
1) Habitat models used to evaluate current and proposed conditions are accurate predictors of habitat suitability and benefits to species.
2) The impact of non-native animals on target species populations does not increase with or outweigh benefits of habitat enhancement.

Habitat management and enhancement activities will employ manual and mechanical (tractor mower, loppers, chain saws, hand saws) removal of invasive non-native species and enhancement of oak woodland habitat structure, and removal of invading woody vegetation. For most of the non-native and native invading species only the above ground portions of plants will be removed. Implementation of vegetation management treatments will be timed to minimize wildlife disturbance and maximize effectiveness of the treatment on target species. Off-site protection planning will incorporate air photo interpretation, GIS mapping, and qualitative evaluations of existing habitat conditions. Water quality assessments will be done by certified water quality testing facilities and on-site evaluation of turbidity using a Hach turbidity meter. Continuously recording rain gages will be used to monitor precipitation. Surface water and ground water will be monitored on a regular basis (monthly) and during specific precipitation events. Monitoring for treatment effectiveness will be based on paired comparisons of data from permanent sampling units using repeated measures analysis and qualitative comparison of photographs from permanent photo-monitoring stations. Population densities of target avian species will be tracked using a series of permanent fixed-radius point count stations.

Brief schedule of activities
Project Tasks for 1997:

1) Restore 5 acres of grassland habitat for target wildlife species, and rare, threatened, and endangered animal and plant species.
2) Implement second year of non-native plant species control to improve habitat for target wildlife species, and rare, threatened, and endangered animal and plant species.
3) Implement first year of habitat management in the oak woodlands to reduce non-native plant species, increase structural diversity, and increase productivity for target wildlife species.
4) In cooperation with the City of Eugene, complete a protection plan for the Willow Creek watershed that minimizes long-term off-site impacts to wildlife habitat on the Willow Creek Natural Area. Specifically address need for wildlife corridors and maintenance of hydrologic conditions.
5) Monitor hydrologic parameters critical to the condition of the riparian forest, forested wetland and wet prairie habitats.
6) Complete baseline monitoring for target species populations and/or habitat use.
7) Conduct defensibility monitoring on the site and complete necessary maintenance activities.

Significant Changes in Project Activities for 1998 - 2001: None.

Biological need
This project has been implemented to partially meet the need for mitigation for wildlife and wildlife habitat adversely affected by the development of Federal hydroelectric projects in the Willamette River drainage. The purposes as identified in the EA of the project are to: provide for protection and improvement of wildlife habitat for mitigation of habitat lost as outlined in the Northwest Power Planning Council's 1994 Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program, and; be consistent with BPA's obligation under provisions of the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act (Northwest Power Act) of 1980. To achieve these primary purposes and address the biological needs at the site, the following specific goals were established:

1) Secure protection for lands necessary to maintain target species and habitats, provide for key ecological processes, and reduce off-site impacts to critical habitat areas;
2) Protect important ecological processes that are essential to the long-term ecological viability of the site;
3) Manage the area for plant and animal habitat as the highest priority;
4) Manage the site to maintain a diversity of native plants and animals, and protect Willamette Valley habitats;
5) Manage human use of the site to minimize impacts to wildlife, wildlife habitats, and rare, threatened, and endangered species; and
6) Contribute to the protection of rare, threatened, and endangered plant and animal species.

The Willow Creek Natural Area is a mosaic of wet prairie -- riparian forest -- oak woodlands. Historic fire disturbance and seasonal flooding were the key processes that maintained these habitats at the site for the target species and other native animal and plant species. Fire suppression, development in the watershed, and introduction of non-native species has resulted in a loss of habitat quality for the target species identified. To achieve the purpose of the project and the biological needs of the target species, management actions must be implemented to reverse these changes.

Critical uncertainties
To date the effectiveness of management methods outlined for improving or enhancing habitat for non-game wildlife species in the Willamette Valley is largely untested.

Summary of expected outcome
1) Increase of 5 acres of wet prairie habitat.
2) Reduction of target non-native plant species abundance and distribution to target control levels.
3) Increase in the structural diversity and productivity of the oak woodlands habitat for target wildlife species.
4) Identification of off-site needs and strategies (priority acquisitions, land use zoning, land management recommendations) for protecting wildlife corridors and existing hydrologic conditions.
5) Completion of year of hydrologic monitoring baseline.
6) Protection of habitat quality from disturbance related to unauthorized uses of the site.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
Most of the activities identified for 1997 are independent of actions or events outside the control of BPA and The Nature Conservancy. The watershed protection plan will require a commitment of staff time from the City of Eugene and Lane Council of Governments. They have indicated that this will be a high priority for action in 1997. This project benefits from strong partnerships with the City of Eugene, Bureau of Land Management, Army Corp of Engineers, and The Nature Conservancy. Participation by these organizations in activities identified for 1997 will include staff and volunteer resources, expertise, and funding for research and management. These contributions will reduce the costs of the projects identified by an estimated $10,000.

There are no known risks associated with the continuing implementation of this project. Potential environmental impacts to fish and wildlife habitat, fish and wildlife resources, hydrologic resources, air quality, cultural resources, and wetlands and floodplains were identified and addressed in the Environmental Assessment for the project. Most of the impacts identified were positive. Minor short-term impacts to wildlife, wetlands, cultural resources, and air quality could result from implementation of habitat enhancement activities, however, these can be minimized through the proper timing and methodology of the activities. Evaluation of the potential impacts of the project were reviewed by federal, state, local and tribal governments and the public. No new risks have been identified during the implementation phase.

Monitoring activity
Qualitative and quantitative monitoring of site conditions and effectiveness of management treatments will be conducted to monitor the project's outcomes. Ultimately, the project's outcomes will be measured by monitoring changes in population size and/or habitat use by target species and in the number of AAHU at the site (as defined in the Habitat Evaluation Procedures for the target species). Other key habitat components such as surface and ground water monitoring quality, quantity and timing will be monitored to evaluate our success in minimizing or mitigating for off-site impacts to existing hydrologic conditions. Specific monitoring is being implemented to evaluate the effectiveness of management treatments used to restore wet prairie habitat, reduce non-native species, and minimize unauthorized uses of the site.

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
1993: 495,477
1994: 0
1995: 696,539
Obligation: 0
Authorized: 0
Planned: 0
1997: 51,000
1998: 45,000
1999: 25,000
2000: 25,000
2001: 25,000

* 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 1 - fund

Recommended funding level   $51,000

BPA 1997 authorized budget (approved start-of-year budget)   $51,000