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
Albeni Falls Wildlife Mitigation Implementation (formerly Pend Oreille Wetlands [IDFG] - Phase I)

BPA project number   9206100

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 S. Walnut Street
P.O. Box 25
Boise, ID 83707
 Phone208/334-3078

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

Biological opinion ID   None

NWPPC Program number   11.3D.1

Short description
Develop and implement the Programmatic Albeni Falls Wildlife Management Plan / Environmental Assessment. This project will implement habitat protection and enhancement activities described in the Plan to mitigate loss of habitat from the development of Albeni Falls Dam.

Project start year   1993    End year   

Start of operation and/or maintenance   1997

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
There are no related mitigation projects in Idaho currently funded by BPA. The Kalispel's Pend Oreille Wetlands project (91-061) was implemented in Washington adjacent to the Tribe's reservation as partial mitigation for construction and operation of Albeni Falls Dam.

Project history
In 1955, Albeni Falls Dam was completed. Construction and operation of the dam resulted in the loss of 6,617 acres (28,658 Habitat Units) of wetland habitat and the inundation of 8,900 acres of deep water marsh. In August 1988, the Albeni Falls Loss Assessment and Mitigation Plan was completed. The largest impacts to wildlife habitat occurred in the Pack River and Clark Fork River deltas. These areas were ranked as the highest priority for mitigation implementation in the 1992 BPA project ranking process. Habitat losses resulting from the construction and operation of Albeni Falls Dam are ongoing as shoreline erosion and the subsequent loss of native shoreline vegetation have been exacerbated by sustained high water levels. This project was developed to address the need to protect and enhance the long-term quality of wetland, riparian, and upland wildlife habitat in the two largest tributaries of Lake Pend Oreille. The indirect effects of seasonally sustained lake levels including shoreline development, rising land values and the subsequent loss of wildlife habitat are permanent and have resulted in fewer opportunities to implement cost-effective mitigation.

Biological results achieved
The project has been in the planning phase, so no biological results have been achieved prior to FY 96. Several parcels are currently being reviewed for potential protection and habitat enhancement in FY 96. Additional protection and enhancement activities will continue in FY 97.

Annual reports and technical papers
Two reports have been completed for the Albeni Falls Wildlife Mitigation Project: the Mitigation Status Report (1985) and the Albeni Falls Wildlife Protection, Mitigation and Enhancement Plan (1988). The Programmatic Albeni Falls Wildlife Management Plan / Environmental Assessment (1996) is currently being printed. Progress reports have been submitted on a monthly basis since September 1993.

Management implications
It is helpful if project planning is broadly based and is not overly restricted to a particular geographic area. As long as mitigation implementation is in-place and in-kind to the extent it is achievable, then planning targets and mitigation goals can be met. However, in project areas where human encroachment and habitat development are out-pacing mitigation implementation and precluding opportunities to protect and enhance wildlife habitat, it becomes necessary to broaden the area in which prospective mitigation implementation takes place.

Monitoring and evaluation activities will be designed to incorporate adaptive management principles. Changes in wildlife habitat trends and species response to habitat manipulations will be documented through time to the extent possible. An effective monitoring program will ensure that projected benefits to wildlife are achieved and mitigation activities are adjusted as new technologies are developed and as mitigation objectives are revised.

Specific measureable objectives
Implementation of the Albeni Falls Wildlife Management Plan includes the protection and enhancement of up to 28,658 Habitat Units (HUs) lost as a result of the construction and operation of Albeni Falls Dam. Objectives for target species include 5,985 mallard HUs; 4,699 Canada goose HUs; 3,379 redhead HUs; 4,508 breeding bald eagle HUs; 4,365 wintering bald eagle HUs; 2,286 black-capped chickadee HUs; 1,680 white-tailed deer HUs; and 1,756 muskrat HUs. Specific goals for the Pack River and Clark Fork River deltas include the development of 11,580 HUs, through the protection and enhancement of at least 2,100 acres.

Testable hypothesis
This project is based on, and supported by, the best available scientific knowledge. The project has been developed, evaluated, and approved by an interagency team of biologists representing state and federal agencies and tribes.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
Protection of wildlife habitat in the Lake Pend Oreille area is dependent on opportunities presented by willing sellers and on local support. We assume that local and government support for the project will continue. We also assume that once funding is committed, it is not jeopardized by other wildlife mitigation activities in the Columbia River basin. Identified and committed funding levels are a critical uncertainty for agencies and tribes.

Methods
Habitat will be protected through conservation easement, lease, or purchase of fee-title from willing sellers at fair market value. Enhancement activities may include vegetation planting; control of noxious weeds through the use of chemical and/or biological control agents, prescribed burns or livestock grazing; construction of breakwaters and subimpoundments to protect shorelines from erosion and manage water levels for wildlife. The Habitat Evaluation Procedure (HEP) will be used and Habitat Units (HUs) will be used to quantify the wildlife benefits of enhancement activities. Adaptive management principles will be used to modify mitigation objectives according to species and habitat response to management techniques.

Brief schedule of activities
FY 1997: Continue to purchase easements, leases and fee-title on critical wetlands, riparian areas, associated uplands and rare plant communities; initiate and/or continue enhancement activities on lands protected in FY 1996; conduct baseline surveys; and begin monitoring and evaluation activities.

FY 1998-2001: Continue establishing protection and enhancement projects and initial baseline surveys. Distribute an increasing proportion of funds to operation and maintenance funding, which will be required on lands as soon as enhancement / restoration projects are established.

Biological need
The Pend Oreille watershed is a 24,000-square mile ecosystem that centers around one of the largest and deepest natural lakes in the western United States. Lake Pend Oreille once had anadromous fish runs and still supports a variety of native fish species including bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout. Project impacts to bald eagle include a reduction in suitable nesting and perching habitat and an increase in project-related human disturbance. Bald eagle impacts total approximately 8,900 Habitat Units. The Pack River and Clark Fork River deltas once supported extensive herbaceous wetlands, wet and dry meadows, and shallow and deep marshes. The construction and operation of Albeni Falls Dam has changed the natural hydrograph of the lake. The extensive wetlands and marshes are now open water areas during the summer and mudflats during the winter. Wave and wind erosion have had dramatic effects, particularly in areas where shoreline vegetation has been lost. Lake shorelines are continuing to erode at a rate of about 30 percent per year. Half of that, 15 percent, occurs in the Clark Fork delta alone.

Several tributaries to Lake Pend Oreille provide spawning and rearing habitat for bull trout. Protection and restoration of wetland and riparian habitats in the larger tributaries of the lake will protect and improve wetland function and improve water quality. In the long-term, enhancement activities outlined in the Programmatic Albeni Falls Wildlife Management Plan will not only provide numerous benefits to wetland-dependent wildlife species, but also will increase fish habitat structure and quality. Enhancements such as subimpoundments may significantly improve the health of overwintering habitat for a variety of fish species. Protection and restoration of high quality native aquatic and emergent wetland plant communities will be essential to the restoration of resident salmonid rearing habitat; restored rearing habitat is necessary to maintain healthy resident fish population levels.

Critical uncertainties
On-going impacts due to erosion and the subsequent loss of shoreline habitat are exacerbating the habitat losses already incurred by the project. Further funding delays or a lack of funding to complete project implementation will be detrimental to BPA, Council and agency credibility. Annual funding for the project has become more vulnerable due to the lack of BPA budget certainty within the state of Idaho.

Summary of expected outcome
We expect to protect and enhance up to 28,658 Habitat Units (7,300 - 25,000 acres) over the next 10-15 years. High quality cottonwood forests and emergent wetlands will be protected from the threat of development in perpetuity. Habitat quality of the additional wetlands will dramatically improve within 2-3 years. Enhancement activities, such as construction of subimpoundments to stabilize water levels, will allow for an increase in wetland acreage within 3-5 years. In the long-term, wetland enhancements would result in an increase of wetland plant and animal diversity, and in vegetative cover types that range from freshwater deep marsh to seasonally flooded wet meadows. Under ideal conditions, habitat quality and diversity of the lacustrine and shoreline areas could improve at a rapid pace and be restored within 1-2 years. Restoration of native plant cover types in riverine or creek bank zones could improve habitat quality to the point of observable results within 2-5 years. Native plant communities would be replanted on most agricultural croplands. Depending on the site, improved habitat conditions may be expected within 3-7 years. We anticipate that by controlling livestock grazing in riparian scrub-shrub habitats which are heavily degraded, the native shrub and grass communities will improve within a single growing season. Bull trout and other resident salmonid habitat will be protected and enhanced.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
BPA's ability to complete processing site plans, once submitted, is foreseen as a potential delay. Such delays will likely not be cost effective and may result in lost opportunities to mitigate for the losses incurred by the Albeni Falls project.

We are excited about the opportunities to form new partnerships with community members, local and regional land trust organizations, federal and state agencies and tribes, and other organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Partners for Wildlife, local watershed groups, and local sportsman's organizations.

Risks
Several meetings have been held throughout the planning process including those held with the public, county commissioners, county planning departments, and state congressional representatives. The credibility of BPA, the Council's Fish and Wildlife Program, and the IDFG staff involved with the Program is at risk if this project is terminated. The Albeni Falls mitigation project has been in the Council's Program for several years and has received public input and planning dollars to bring it this far in the process. The public has expressed the concern that the process has taken too long to implement. Further funding delays for implementation will ultimately require BPA to pay higher costs for habitat protection at ratepayer expense.

Monitoring activity
Immediately after habitat is secured for the project, monitoring and evaluation of a site would begin. Site specific monitoring may include terrestrial and aquatic vegetation surveys, cultural surveys, public use, waterfowl nesting activity, wildlife habitat use, and species response to habitat manipulation(s).

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: 89,899
1995: 48,961
Obligation: 0
Authorized: 500,000
Planned: 500,000
1997: 800,000
1998: 1,500,000
1999: 800,000
2000: 800,000
2001: 800,000

* 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   $800,000

BPA 1997 authorized budget (approved start-of-year budget)   $1,300,000