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
John Day Slope Stabilization Project

BPA project number   5506700

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding

Sponsor type   

Proposal contact person or principal investigator

 NameScott Russell
 Mailing addressUSDA/Forest Service, East Hwy. 13, Grangeville , ID 83530

BPA technical contact   ,

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   

Short description
This project is located on the Salmon River Ranger District on the Nez Perce National Forest, Idaho County, Idaho (T26N, R2E, Sec. 22). The project is in the John Day watershed which is within the 17060209 hydrologic unit. John Day enters the Salmon River at river mile 72 between Riggins and White Bird, Idaho. John Day Creek has been designated as critical habitat for Snake River spring chinook. Over the last several years, the East Fork John Day watershed has experienced a number of landslides and debris torrents. The most severe events occurred in May 1995. These events have significantly altered the East Fork John Day channel and introduced large quantities of sediment into the mainstem John Day Creek and the Salmon River. Most of these events initiated from an existing road system that is in a large active earthflow area. Future slides and debris torrents appear likely if the road related drainage and slope stability problems are not addressed. The Nez Perce National Forest has proposed to treat 5.5 miles of road. The work includes ripping and recontouring the road template, removing culverts, reestablishing the natural drainages and placement of rock buttresses. Disturbed areas will be revegetated with forbs, shrubs and trees. Following implementation, slope stability, surface erosion and revegetation will be monitored.

Project start year   1997    End year   2000

Start of operation and/or maintenance   0

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects

Project history
The project was initiated in 1995. Approximately $15,000 has already been spent on design and NEPA. The Forest has requested $60,000 for Phase I of the construction.

The design of the project has been developed with assistance of a regional engineering team and the Intermountain Research Station. This project is of particular interest because of the unstable landtypes involved.

Biological results achieved
There have been no past watershed improvement projects on National Forest land in the John Day watershed.

Annual reports and technical papers
Biological Assessment Lower Salmon River, March 1995, Nez Perce National Forest.

Management implications
Knowledge and skills gained from this project will be used to benefit other known areas where sediment from slumps, slides, and roads are contributing to poor quality fisheries habitat; it is anticipated that there will be additional scale road obliteration and slope stablization projects on the District and the Forest using knowledge gained from this project.

Specific measureable objectives
The objective of this project is to reduce road related mass failures that are causing high cobble embeddedness and high suspended sediment. By stabilizing the slopes and restoring natural drainage, this project is expected to improve the spawning and rearing habitat for spring chinook, bull trout, steelhead, and cutthroat trout in lower John Day Creek.

Prior to the May 1995 debris torrents, the cobble embeddedness measurements averaged 33%. After the debris torrents, the embeddedness was estimated at 60%. Cobble embeddedness values for habitat in good condition should be less than 20%. Prevention of future landslides from the treated roads should allow levels of cobble embeddedness in John Day Creek to be significantly reduced.

Prevention of landslides and revegetation of roads should decrease both pulse and chronic suspended sediment.

Testable hypothesis
This is a management oriented project that is expected to reduce the risk of mass failures and resulting sedimentation. It does not test a biological hypothesis.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
This project assumes that recontouring the roads will increase slope stability and partially restore natural drainage. The second assumption is that the proposed road treatments will reduce or eliminate mass failures which are adversely impacting John Day Creek.

The success of this project will be assessed from geotechnical, hydrological and biological perspectives. Monitoring tools will include aerial photos, maps, photo points, and stream surveys.

Brief schedule of activities
The project schedule is as follows:

Survey/Field Design Completed in 1995.
NEPA Complete by 5/96.
Contract Preparation Complete by 7/96.
Phase I Contract Award 9/96
Phase II Contract Award 5/97
Contract Completion Date 9/97
Revegetation Contract 10/97
Monitoring 1998 to 2000.

The work will consist of two public works contracts that involves road recontouring and stabilization. Phase I will treat 3.5 miles of road; Phase II will treat 2.0 miles of road. All disturbed areas will be revegetated.

Biological need
Snake River spring chinook salmon were listed as a threatened species in the Salmon River basin on May 22, 1992. This species is the only listed species with designated critical habitat in John Day Creek. Critical habitat specific to John Day extends from the mouth upstream 2.3 miles, where a barrier prevents upstream movement of anadromous or resident fish. Juvenile chinook salmon were documented in lower John Day Creek in 1993. John Day Creek also provides cool water habitat at its mouth and downstream into the Salmon River during peak summer temperatures.

The East Fork and mainstem John Day Creek (above mile mark 2.3) are also occupied habitat for bull trout which is a candidate species for listing under ESA. Cutthroat trout (probably Yellowstone) and rainbow/steelhead trout are found in John Day Creek.

The primary limiting factors for salmonid production in John Day Creek are elevated levels of deposited sediment for rearing and spawning habitat, low pool/riffle ratios, lack of instream large woody debris, and streambank scouring. These conditions are largely a factor of debris torrents.

The need for this stabilization project was actually identified in the Biological Assessment for the Lower Salmon River, Chapter Five: John Day Watershed as submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service in March, 1995. Unfortunately, several portions of Roads 9303 and 9306 already slumped in May 1995 and caused a large debris torrent in the East Fork of John Day Creek.

The need for this project was dramatically underscored by the 1995 debris torrent which caused sediment deposition in lower John Day Creek and a visible plume out into the Salmon River; therefore, the purpose of the project is stabilize a number of the present slumps and slides and to obliterate portions of the roads to prevent additional sediment from reaching the East Fork of John Day Creek and being transported downstream into critical habitat.

The road obliteration portions of the project are needed to reduce the risk of road related mass failures, reduce road related surface erosion, and partially restore the hydrologic function of the watershed.

Critical uncertainties
Due to problems beyond the Forest that limit the number of returning adults, it is uncertain if there will be enough chinook salmon to utilize available habitat within John Day Creek; however, the better the habitat, the better chance that chinook salmon, and other native fish species, will be able to successfully reproduce.

Summary of expected outcome
Treatment of the roads at risk for future failures should substantially reduce the risk of mass failures and improve the hydrologic function of the watershed. Revegetation of the recontoured roads should contribute to long term slope stability. Fisheries habitat conditions in East Fork John Day and main John Day Creek should improve as a result of these upland treatments.

Area wildlife will benefit from the road obliterations and replantings by increasing the amount and quality of security that the area offers.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
NEPA analysis should be completed by the U.S. Forest Service within FY 96. BLM is a cooperating agency and has already submitted the existing condition analysis for the NEPA document.

The road and stabilization project proposed by the Forest Service is independent of the instream improvement project proposed by the BLM; only the NEPA document is a joint USFS/BLM effort. The BLM may submit a separate request to BPA for instream improvement, but neither agency is dependent on the other for implementation.

There is a risk that the stabilization work will fail and contribute to a failure that impacts the stream. This risk must be weighed against the high probability of future failures if the road system is left untreated. Geotechnical personnel believe that the risk will be significantly decreased by the proposed work. Some suspended and fine deposited sediment production can be expected immediately after recontouring the roads. This effect will be minimized by aggressive revegation efforts and is expected to be short term. Negligible sediment production is expected after three years.

Monitoring activity
Monitoring of the project will occur in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Monitoring of the recontouring and stabilization efforts will focus on slope stability and stream condition. Photo points will be established to document before and after conditions of the slide areas. Monitoring of the revegetation efforts will determine the effectiveness of the plantings at reducing surface erosion. Monitoring will also indicate areas needing replanting. All monitoring efforts will be documented.

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: 56,000
1998: 15,000
1999: 4,000
2000: 4,000

* 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 2 - fund when funds available

Recommended funding level   $56,000