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
Camas Prairie-Anderson Ranch Dam-Phase II

BPA project number   9206000

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
 Phone208/334-3098

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

Biological opinion ID   None

NWPPC Program number   11.3D.5

Short description
Implement mitigation measures identified in the Programmatic Management Plan/Environmental Assessment. The project addresses losses of riparian, wetland, and upland habitats associated with the development of Anderson Ranch Dam. We will focus on the Camas Prairie mitigation project and site plans will be developed as specific alternatives are implemented.

Project start year   1993    End year   

Start of operation and/or maintenance   1997

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects

Project history
Anderson Ranch Dam was completed in 1950, inundating 4,740 acres of wildlife habitat and over 18 miles of free-flowing river. Shrub-steppe, evergreen forest, forested and scrub-shrub wetlands, and agricultural lands were flooded along the South Fork Boise River, a river that previously had chinook and steelhead runs. The Wildlife Impact Assessment, Anderson Ranch was completed in May 1986 and estimated that 9,620 habitat units (HUs) were lost. The Wildlife Protection, Mitigation, and Enhancement Plan was completed in June 1987 in which the interagency work group identified several alternative mitigation projects. The highest-priority alternative was the Camas Prairie project that was estimated to mitigate for at least 5,620 HUs. About 4,079 of the 5,620 HUs to be provided by the Camas Prairie project are considered high-priority habitat types in the NPPC’s program. The Camas Prairie is a unique, high-prairie/sagebrush-steppe/creek/marsh system with diverse plant and animal communities. The natural communities and processes have been stressed for over one hundred years and are increasingly threatened by intensive farming and grazing practices, poor water management, and potential home development. The area is also of great cultural and historical significance to the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.

Implementation planning for the Camas Prairie project began in 1993. A public open house was conducted in 1994, and updates have been presented at both Elmore and Camas County commission meetings. Our mitigation specialists took a field trip with Elmore County commissioners to look at potential projects. Thus, concerned stakeholders, including county commissioners, landowners, and interested citizens have been involved in this project and expect implementation to develop. Opportunities to implement the Camas Prairie project currently are being pursued along the upper end of Camas Creek, and there is potential to complete most mitigation for Anderson Ranch in this area.

Biological results achieved
Because this project has been in the planning phase, no biological results have been achieved prior to FY1996. We expect to achieve some biological results during FY1996, including protection of riparian, wetland, and upland areas. Protection/enhancement activities will continue on new lands in FY1997 in addition to enhancement/maintenance activities on lands secured during FY1996. Implementation is expected to benefit all of the target species and other wildlife such as neotropical migrants, waterfowl and shorebirds, gallinaceous birds, large ungulates, raptors, furbearers, and amphibians. A resident fishery will be restored in conjunction with wildlife habitat protection and enhancements. About 25 species of plants and animals with special status (i.e., federally listed, candidate, species of special concern, state priority) occur in the project area.

Annual reports and technical papers
Four documents related to Anderson Ranch Dam have been completed: Wildlife Mitigation Status Report (1985), Wildlife Impact Assessment (1986), Wildlife Protection, Mitigation, and Enhancement Plan (1987) and Anderson Ranch Wildlife Mitigation Project Programmatic Management Plan (Implementation Phase I) and Environmental Assessment (completed in FY96). Annual reports have not been required for this project but monthly progress reports have been submitted to BPA since 1994.

Management implications
Management implications of on-the-ground enhancement activities such as streambank stabilization and re-establishing native vegetation will be more clear during monitoring and evaluation. We also hope to demonstrate the importance of upstream activities and condition to downstream conditions (i.e., the connectedness of riparian corridors and watersheds).

By implementing this project, we are learning how to work towards a long-range vision by piecing together parcels in an area by gaining support of local landowners, interest groups, and county commissioners. We have learned that planning and implementation coevolve and that flexibility is important to meet mitigation goals. Although the implementation planning has not been completed for alternative projects for Anderson Ranch mitigation, we need the flexibility to act on timely, cost-effective opportunities. Thus, we are incorporating those alternatives into the Programmatic Management Plan/Environmental Assessment to improve efficiency in meeting mitigation goals.

Specific measureable objectives
Implementation of this project should yield up to 9,260 HUs in the bank for BPA for Anderson Ranch Dam. The Camas Prairie project was estimated to provide 5,260 HUs in the Wildlife Protection, Mitigation, and Enhancement Plan (1987). The remaining, alternative projects for Anderson Ranch would provide the balance of 4,000 HUs: 2,770 HUs for Bennett Hills big game winter range enhancement; 780 HUs for sharp-tailed grouse enhancement at Nelson Ranch; and 450 HUs for cottonwood protection along the Boise River. There is excellent potential to incorporate many of those 4,000 HUs into the Camas Prairie project. These alternatives will be evaluated in the Programmatic Management Plan/EA, scheduled for completion in FY1996. Site plans will be developed when specific proposals are presented for habitat protection and enhancement opportunities.

Testable hypothesis
The scientific method for conducting research is not required for implementation of this project. This project is based on scientific knowledge but is not a research project per se.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
Our philosophy for mitigation in Idaho is that forests, rangelands, rivers, and streams are the foundation of rural Idaho, and wildlife mitigation should have positive effects on rural cultures, communities, and landscapes. We believe that without habitat protection and enhancement the public will continue to lose, little by little, the fish and wildlife, scenic beauty, and open spaces that make Idaho “Idaho”. Our approach to mitigation is to protect those high-value areas that may be threatened and to enhance high-potential areas that already have been damaged.

We also are assuming the following:
* There will be willing participants (this does not seem to be a problem within the project area).
* There will be local public and government support.
* Funding will be available to implement this project in a reasonable timeframe, and funds committed to this project would not be jeopardized by other wildlife mitigation projects in the Columbia Basin. Certainty of project funding is critical to the success of the project.

Methods
As previously mentioned, this is not a research project although scientific techniques are used in implementation.
We will continue to dovetail with a proposed U.S. Forest Service land adjustment within the project area. This exchange has provided an opportunity to acquire several key parcels (up to 5,000 acres in FY1996) adjacent to Centennial Marsh Wildlife Management Area and upstream along Camas Creek. We will pursue conservation easements for the remaining “gaps” along the corridor.

The Habitat Evaluation Procedures will be used to keep track of HUs, the unit of measure that was used in the loss assessments. Methods for habitat enhancements may include, but are not limited to, planting native trees, shrubs, perennial grasses and forbs; controlling or removing domestic livestock to reduce risk of overgrazing and damage to riparian areas and springs; using chemical, mechanical, or biological methods to control noxious weeds; stabilizing streambanks to decrease erosion potential; and using prescribed burning to simulate the natural role of fire in plant succession. See the Programmatic Management Plan/EA for more details.

Brief schedule of activities
We currently are pursuing the opportunity to acquire, through land trades, approximately 5,000 acres adjacent to and upstream from the Centennial Marsh Wildlife Management Area. Easements and fee-titles may be acquired beginning in FY1996 and will continue until 5,620 to 9,620 HUs from protection and enhancement have been accumulated. Habitat enhancements, operation and maintenance, and monitoring and evaluation would commence as lands and easements are acquired (expected to begin in FY1997). We also may enhance existing public lands. Initial tasks will be to establish baseline HUs; work out appropriate livestock grazing regimes (including exclusion/removal); and encourage native plant regeneration. We will continue to cooperate with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and to incorporate cultural aspects when and where appropriate.

Biological need
The Camas Prairie is a unique system although constant, intensive use has homogenized the native diversity. The area is a mosaic of high prairie and sagebrush steppe with desert springs and wet meadows along meandering creeks. The channel of Camas Creek eventually dissolves, opening up into a springtime marsh that once again forms a channelized creek a few miles away. The system supports a tremendous diversity of wildlife as well as many uncommon, native, and endemic plant species. About 25 species of plants and animals with special status occur in the area. The marsh is an important stopover for migratory birds that are declining nationwide, and the prairie is a major staging area for over 25 species of raptors. Much of the prairie and marsh has been converted into agriculture, the creek’s waters rechanneled and diverted for irrigation, and the creek banks damaged by overgrazing of livestock. Over 3,000 acres of the wetlands already are protected (Centennial Marsh Wildlife Management Area) but activities upstream impact the protected area. Mitigation activities upstream could significantly improve the water flows through the marsh as well as restore wildlife habitat along the creek corridor. Resident fish have been absent from upper Camas Creek for decades, and this project will enable us to restore resident fish habitat in Camas Creek.

The mosaic of sagebrush steppe, aspen groves, and chokecherry thickets of the Bennett Hills and upper Camas Creek functions as a high-value birthing and foraging area for big game but has deteriorated from heavy use. When protected and enhanced, the area also will provide excellent habitat for sharp-tailed grouse, mountain quail, neotropical migrants, and other declining populations of birds.

Critical uncertainties
The critical uncertainty associated with this project is funding. It is difficult to make contact with landowners, local groups, and other agencies and organizations to develop ideas and partnerships when we vacillate between having and not having funds to implement. This also applies to long-term operation, maintenance, and monitoring.

Summary of expected outcome
This project will result in the protection and enhancement of important wildlife habitat in perpetuity. Because this project could enhance a mosaic of habitat types, many species of wildlife, in addition to the target species, will benefit. We will work towards achieving a healthy, functioning watershed with support of the locals. This project will have positive effects on rural cultures, communities, and landscapes of Idaho, and cultural attributes important to the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes will be protected.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
We are expecting that the Programmatic Management Plan/EA for Anderson Ranch mitigation will be completed in FY1996.

We are committed to working closely with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes on this project because the area is culturally and historically important to tribal members. A southern Idaho mitigation agreement between the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes should be completed in FY1996. County commissioners have had regular updates on the project. Currently, we are coordinating with a specialist in land exchanges who is working closely with landowners in the project area for a U.S. Forest Service land adjustment. Possible partnerships include working with conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy; other governmental agencies such as Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Bureau of Land Management; and heritage groups such as Wood River Land Trust.

As in other states, acquisition of fee-titles by state or federal government agencies is sometimes controversial due to concerns about private land becoming public and being removed from the tax base. IDFG pays annual fee-in-lieu-of-taxes on all undeveloped parcels. However, we want the mitigation project to contribute more than tax dollars to the community. The project area can be a demonstration area where schoolkids are bussed in to learn about the natural history -- geology, habitats, wildlife, and native peoples -- of the area; a destination for outdoor enthusiasts; a celebration of tribal culture and rural Idaho. We are committed to working with county commissioners, landowners, locals, and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes to address their concerns and to develop this shared vision.

Risks
Other than funding certainty there are few, if any, foreseeable risks associated with implementing this project. Risks such as lack of public support may arise but are handled during the process. Funding certainty throughout implementation will minimize risks associated with this project. For example, if an option to buy was put on a parcel because the current FY funding was inadequate, then funding for the following FY would be critical to prevent wasting money on the option and losing the opportunity. Finally, the credibility of BPA, the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program, and IDFG staff involved with the mitigation program is at risk if the project is discontinued.

Monitoring activity
We will use adaptive management principles to ensure we are meeting mitigation goals and objectives. HUs will be monitored after implementation and compared with baseline HUs to evaluate the improvement of wildlife habitat by protection and enhancements. We will monitor species presence and relative abundance in response to protection and enhancements. We also will evaluate alternative methods to achieve mitigation goals so as to maximize cost-effectiveness. Site-specific monitoring and evaluation activities will be described in site plans.

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: 85,099
1995: 48,720
Obligation: 0
Authorized: 500,000
Planned: 500,000
1997: 750,000
1998: 750,000
1999: 500,000
2000: 250,000
2001: 150,000

* 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

BPA 1997 authorized budget (approved start-of-year budget)   $500,000