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
Meadow Creek Restoration

BPA project number   9607700

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
USFS

Sponsor type   ID-Federal Agency

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameWayne J. Paradis
 Mailing addressNez Perce National Forest
Rt. 2, Box 475
Grangeville, ID 83530
 Phone208/983-1963

BPA technical contact   ,

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   2.1, 3.1D.1

Short description
This is a restoration project encompassing a watershed of 9,770 hectares (24, 115 acre), Emphasis will be placed on restoring the 294 hectare (725 acre) McComas Meadow. Land management including mining, cattle grazing, road construction, timber harvest, and irrigation have impacted stream channel stability and fish habitat. This project will help increase egg to fry survival of Snake River fall chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Improved habitat in Meadow Creek will help increase natural production of Snake River spring/summer chinook salmon, steelhead and resident trout. The watershed is currently under U.S. Forest Service management. Meadow Creek (17060305-07) enters the South Fork Clearwater River (17060305) at river kilometer 52.3. The stream is approximately 30 miles east of Grangeville, Idaho.

Project start year   1997    End year   2000

Start of operation and/or maintenance   

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
The USFS/BPA Project 84.5 agreement was amended in May, 1985 to include modification of a partial migration barrier in Meadow Crook (South Fork Clearwater River Habitat Enhancement, April 1992, Project # 84-5. This project improved fish passage into Meadow Creek.

Project history

Biological results achieved

Annual reports and technical papers

Management implications

Specific measureable objectives
To reduce stream temperatures and improve fish habitat in Meadow Creek. To improve watershed conditions in the South Fork Clearwater River and aid in the recovery of Snake River spring/summer, and fall chinook salmon.

Testable hypothesis
We have limited funding, and we want the largest benefit for the least investment. 1. We can reduce overall stream temperatures by planting along the stream corridor. 3. We can increase bank stability with riparian planting.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
The Meadow Creek watershed will remain under Forest Service management.

Methods
This project will involve four emphasis areas. (1) Riparian Improvements, (2) Road Rehabilitation and Fish Passage Improvements. (3) Upland Vegetation Management. (4) Information and Education. The projects have been developed to illustrate an ecosystem approach to restoring listed Snake River salmon and resident fish by improving overall watershed conditions. Funding may be allocated for any or all phases of the project.

1. Riparian Improvements.

Riparian management is a key element in the recovery of the Meadow Creek stream system, Several positive actions have taken place within this area to improve the degraded riparian conditions. These activities include riparian planting, exclusion of livestock grazing, and numerous road stabilization projects. However, despite these actions, many more riparian enhancing activities are necessary to accelerate the recovery of this area.

Fencing

When the Forest Service acquired McComas Meadows through a land exchange they incurred the conditions of the existing deteriorated fence. Because McComas Meadows has been the operating hub of four livestock grazing permits it is paramount to upgrade the existing fence to exclude livestock, Approximately 4 miles of perimeter fence is needed to replace the existing deteriorated fence.

Proposal 1: Barbed four-wire fence with steel posts, wooden line, and brace posts at $3500/mi ($14000,00).

Proposal 2: Three-rail post and pole fence at $7000/mi ($28,000.00).

Proposal 3: Buck and pole fence at $5500/mi ($22,000.00).

Planting native hardwoods and grasses.

As a result of overgrazing in the once privately owned McComas Meadows, riparian vegetation conditions have been reduced from a diverse vegetation community having an overstory shrub layer, to a mostly herbaceous vegetation community that lacks an essential mid and overstory shrub component. Riparian planting would gradually build the structural diversity of the riparian area, provide tooting strength to unstable stream banks, and provide shade along the stream margins resulting in a reduction in stream water temperatures. Meadow Greek flows through the meadow for 2.2 miles.

To ensure the successful riparian plant restoration of the meadow. the FS contracted with Botanical Enterprises to develop management recommendations for McComas Meadows. The riparian planting proposal below represents recommendations from that report (Bursick 1995).

This project will plant alder, willow, red osier dogwood and various other species native to the riparian habitat. Cost 6,250/year for tour years. A control vs treatment statistical analysis will be implemented. Baseline information has documented channel profiles and vegetation communities. Fixed stations are in place to record the changes. Total cost= $25,000.00

Creating and Re-Creating Wetlands

Lentic wetlands are rare throughout the Nez Perce Forest. One such wetland exists in McComas Meadow (McComas Meadows Vegetation and Floristic surveys and Management Recommendations, R. Bursik, 1995). This wetland supports a small disjunct population of Buxbaum's sedge a rare plant in Idaho. The wetland has been ditched and itís ability to filter out sediment has been reduced. Drainage ditches will be removed and wetland sites will be increased on the meadow. A gravity-flow irrigation ditch rings McComas Meadow on either side of Meadow Creek. By use of intra-ditch check dams, these ditches can be made to hold water later into the year, providing both sediment settling ponds and habitat for breading amphibians. Cost for this project is estimated to be $8,000.00.

2. Road Rehabilitation

Road Stabilization projects to reduce non-point sediment sources have been identified in the watershed (K. Newgard 1995). The current road density is 3 miles/square mile. Site plans call for increased drainage, road obliteration, and revegetation using native species. Cost for this project is estimated to be $50,000.00.

3. Upland Vegetation Management

Historically, the Meadow Creek watershed contained extensive stands of fire-climax ponderosa pine. These stands were maintained in an open, park-like structure by repeated underburns. Due to fire exclusion and timber harvest, the fire-climax forest has been replaced by a dense, mixed conifer forest. This now forest structure is highly susceptible to root rot disease and subsequent stand-replacing burns. When the stand-replacing fires occur, the impact to the surrounding watershed is far greater than that which occurred historically. In order to restore the stability of these upland plant communities, decrease the list of stand replacing fire (and subsequent watershed deterioration), and improve wildlife habitat, restoration of the natural fire regime is required. It is estimated that 1, 000 acres of former fire-climax ponderosa pine habitat is present in the watershed. Reintroducing the natural fire regime would require underburning 250 acres each year over a four year period. Total project cost = $30,000.

Grassland Improvements.

The grassland portion of McComas Meadows is gradually being replaced by invading ledgepole pine and grand fir. These grasslands provide a unique habitat in the Meadow Creek watershed, and are used by a variety of wildlife species, including: bald eagles, Columbian ground squirrels, turkeys, Western bluebirds, elk, moose and deer. Retention of this unique habitat is critical for maintaining local biodiversity, Such retention is best done by periodic meadow burning. Approximately 500 acres of grassland are in need of treatment, costing $30 per acre. Total cost - $1 5,000.

Aspen Reintroduction

Quaking aspen is a rare element in the Meadow Creek watershed, and yet contributes disproportionately to the biodiversity value of this area. Aspen, known as a 'keystone species,, is important to over 130 species known to occur on the Nez Perce National Forest. in order to further promote biodiversity, h is proposed that 1,500 aspen seedlings be planted over a 3 acre area in McComas Meadow. In addition, other hardwood species such as water birth and common chokecherry would be planted on an additional 2 acres. Total area covered would be 5 acres, for a total cost of $2500.

4. Information and Education

Meadow Creek is listed in the Idaho Wildlife Viewing Guide. There is an existing display at the mouth of the stream detailing the BPA funded work on the migration barrier. The McComas Meadow site lends itself to interpretive signing as well as to educational demonstrations. Cost for this portion of the project is estimated to be $10,000.00.

Brief schedule of activities
1997
Fencing ($14000.00)
Riparian Planting ($5000.00)
Aspen Planting ($2500.00)
Uplands Underburning ($7500.00)
Grassland Burning ($15000.00)
Wetland Design and Implementation ($8000.00)
Road Obliteration Design and Contract Preparation ($10000.00)
Information and Education Plans Developed ($2000.00)
Monitoring ($2000.00)

1998
Riparian Planting ($5000.00)
Uplands Underburning ($7500.00)
Road Obliteration Implemented ($20000.00)
Information and Education Material Ordered ($5000.00)
Monitoring ($2000-00)

1999
Riparian Planting ($5000.00)
Road Obliteration Implemented ($20000.00)
Uplands Underburning ($7500.00)
I&E Implemented ($3000.00)
Monitoring ($2000.00)

2000
Riparian Planting ($2000.00)
Uplands Underburning ($7500.00)
Monitoring ($2000.00)

2001
Monitoring ($2000.00)

Biological need
The Biological Assessment for the South Fork Clearwater River (March 1995) has determined that land management activities in the basin have the potential to impact critical habitat for listed Snake River fall chinook salmon. The South Fork Clearwater River is a degraded system with the potential to assist in the recovery of listed and non-listed anadromous and resident fish including spring summer chinook, Steelhead, westslope cutthroat, and bull trout. The Nez Perce Forest is currently developing a watershed restoration plan for the South Fork Basin. The Meadow Creek Project will serve as a corner stone for this recovery effort.

Critical uncertainties

Summary of expected outcome
Water temperatures have been documented (Nez Perce Trial Fisheries unpublished) as increasing 10 degrees C from the top of the McComas Meadow to the bottom (2.2 mi.). This project will decrease water temperatures in Meadow Creek. Suspended sediment from the South Fork Clearwater River has the potential to impact critical habitat for listed Snake River fall chinook salmon. This project will help stabilize Meadow Creek and decrease suspended sediment in the basin. Meadow Creek currently supports a small run of steelhead trout. Historic surveys document the presence of bull trout, westslope cutthroat, and chinook salmon. The Nez Perce Forest is committed to recovery of these species and overall ecosystem restoration and protection. The project will benefit from a holistic approach to species recovery and watershed restoration.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
The Nez Perce Forest has a proven record of compliance, and project completion under ESA and NEPA.

Risks
Introducing fire to the forested ecosystem has risks. The Forest has experience with this practice and records show no adverse impact to the aquatic environment.

Monitoring activity
Water temperature recorders will be placed above and below the meadow to monitor stream temperatures. Permanent channel profile transacts have been established. Follow up measurements will document expected changes in width to depth ratios, substrate composition, residual pool volume, pool to riffle ratios, and bank stability. Photo points, serial videography, aerial photos and mapping have documented the baseline conditions. These will all be repeated to document the improvements.

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: 69,000
1998: 39,000
1999: 37,000
2000: 14,500
2001: 2,000

* 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   $69,000

BPA 1997 authorized budget (approved start-of-year budget)   $55,000