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
Grande Ronde Model Watershed Habitat Projects

BPA project number   9402700

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
Grande Ronde Model Watershed Program (Blue Mtns.)

Sponsor type   OR-Model Watershed

Proposal contact person or principal investigator

 NamePatty Perry
 Mailing addressGrande Ronde Model Watershed
10901 Island Avenue
La Grande, OR 97850

BPA technical contact   Mark Shaw, EWP 503/230-5239

Biological opinion ID   None

NWPPC Program number   7.7B.1

Short description
Project includes over 50 individual watershed restoration projects targeting anadramous fish habitat. Projects will be developed with private landowners, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and County, State and Federal agencies.

Project start year   1994    End year   Ongoing

Start of operation and/or maintenance   

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
# 9202601 “GRMWP Admin/Impl/Research
Project coordinates, plans, and implements habitat restoration in T&E chinook and steelhead streams. Project builds community-wide participation in watershed restoration among the diverse interests of the Grande Ronde basin; developing innovative ideas in watershed planning. Project plans seminars for stakeholders and facilitates interagency cooperation in habitat restoration.

#9403000 RASP in Grande Ronde basin
Grande Ronde Ecosystem Diagnosis and Treatment Project provides a science-based planning process that incorporates local values and objectives. The project uses a patient-template analysis, with chinook as the diagnostic species, to analyze watershed condition, identify restoration alternatives, analyze and prioritize restoration alternatives, and implement selected actions.

# 8402500 “Joseph Creek, Grand Ronde River, Oregon(ODFW)”
Involves partnership efforts with Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. ODFW representatives serve on the model watershed technical committee and the Board of Directors. Representatives are an integral part of project planning and development. The GRMWP uses ODFW expertise in the Grande Ronde Ecosystem Diagnosis and Treatment Project. Working together in restoration efforts has enhanced opportunities for both groups.

# 9403900 “Wallowa Basin Project”
Provides technical support from the Nez Perce Tribe in sub-basin plans, project development, and coordination with tribal priorities for restoration activities.

Project history
The Grande Ronde Basin has been targeted for habitat restoration work by various agencies and programs. BPA has been working with agencies, the GRMWP, and individuals in the Grande Ronde basin for many years and has provided funding for many habitat restoration projects. In 1995 BPA committed $296,000 to habitat restoration projects. In 1996 the figure will be $260,000. Beginning in 1993 the Oregon Watershed Health Program(OWHP) began working in the Basin, and thru 1995 initiated over 100 projects which are to be completed by June of 1997. OWHP committed over three million dollars to projects which was cost shared with nearly as much from local landowners and agencies. BPA cost shared in several of these projects.

This project will continue these efforts. The influx of projects in the last two years has jump started restoration efforts in the Basin. There is much more public awareness of watershed health because of many of these projects and education efforts that have complimented the projects. However, restoration of habitat in the Basin is still really just in its infancy and it will take many more years to make meaningful strides toward significant habitat improvements. Actions included in this project are needed to continue this momentum and to demonstrate to partners in the Grande Ronde Basin a solid, unified commitment to restoration of critical freshwater habitats.

A thorough review process will assure implementation of high priority restoration projects. Actions included in this project are to be reviewed by the Grande Ronde Model Watershed Program (GRMWP) technical committee and Board of Directors. The review will include a screening and prioritization process which will address biological, technical, economic and social merits of each project. Project review is based on several planning activities which are completed or are in progress. These include a Basin-wide Habitat Assessment (Huntington 1993), the GRMWP Action Plan, the Grande Ronde Ecosystem Diagnosis and Treatment Project (Mobrand 1995, 1996) and individual Watershed Action Plans conducted by the GRMWP staff and others.

Biological results achieved
Recent BPA projects have addressed water quality (sediment) problems, fish habitat complexity, adult spring chinook passage, and riparian habitat quality. Timing of benefits range from immediate to long term. A project to alleviate adult passage problems on Catherine Creek addressed a critical passage impediment which, in effect, was solved immediately upon project completion. Projects addressing habitat have included road improvement work or road obliteration to correct chronic sediment sources, large wood additions to increase habitat complexity, and livestock management improvements to reduce grazing impacts in riparian zones.

The 100+ projects financed in part by BPA and the Oregon Watershed Health Program have addressed nearly every component of watershed health including: water quality, water quantity, in-stream habitat complexity, riparian vegetation, monitoring, education, data collection, and resource inventory. Some habitat benefits such as reduction of sediment input to waterways have been apparent in the short term. Others such as improvements in riparian vegetation, bank stability or stream temperatures will only become apparent with time. Even though habitat benefits may not fully be realized for many years; monitoring strategies, techniques and methods have been incorporated into the projects will insure that we can quantify benefits when they do become apparent.

Annual reports and technical papers
Final project reports have been prepared for all completed projects. The GRMWP maintains a copy of the report and also submits a copy to BPA and the Oregon Watershed Health Program since the projects received partial funding from these sources. Final reports included background of the project, materials and methods used in the project, accounting of expenditures, expected or demonstrated results, participants in the project and photo point documentation. In addition annual project status reports will be completed for the next five years which will include photos at the permanently established photo points.

Three comprehensive technical reports have been prepared for the GRMWP. These are the GRMWP Action Plan, the Stream and Riparian Conditions in the Grande Ronde Basin (Huntington, 1993), and the Grande Ronde Ecosystem Diagnosis and Treatment Project (Mobrand 1995, 1996). Three Watershed Action Plans have been prepared to address individual watersheds.

Management implications
Knowledge will be gained over the next several years through project effectiveness monitoring and through watershed and basin-wide habitat monitoring. Project development has combined state-of-the-art techniques with landowner wants in most projects. This together with the GRMWP technical review process will result in methods and techniques which will reflect adaptive program management. Further adaptations in methods and techniques will result from on-going monitoring.

There are also some process oriented lessons we have learned that will help us adapt our program and make it more successful in the future. Most landowners are concerned about watershed health and are willing to do what they can to affect improvement, providing the process to get help and financial support is not overly bureaucratic or intimidating. We have tried to simplify the project development process as much as possible to encourage landowners to participate.

We have tried to build cooperative relationships with landowners. Cooperative relationships with landowners, built on trust, are more likely to result in beneficial restoration projects than is the threat of regulation. We now realize that development of projects with private landowners takes time and that successful projects and satisfied landowners are the best testimonial to good watershed stewardship and the greatest incentive for landowners to get involved.

More emphasis on effectiveness monitoring is needed in the near future if we are to plan and use the most appropriate restoration methods and techniques. In the last year over 120 restoration projects have been initiated, including Oregon Watershed Health Program projects, that could give us an excellent starting point to begin comprehensive and scientifically creditable monitoring programs to address the adaptive management questions. We should not miss the opportunity to learn from these projects, and should consider more commitment to monitoring in the future.

Specific measureable objectives
The overall objective of the project is to help restore watershed function in the Grande Ronde Basin to provide the required spawning, rearing and migration habitat for endangered salmonids.

Objectives cover a wide range of habitat parameters and will be specific to individual projects.
Over 50 habitat restoration proposals are included in this project. See the attached proposed project listing. Assessment of project success in meeting objectives will be addressed in individual project monitoring plans.

The bulk of the projects (30) will address restoration or improvement of riparian or in-stream habitat. Measurable habitat parameters targeted by these projects include riparian vegetation, channel stability, temperature, flow, channel structure and in-stream habitat complexity, ie. large wood, pools.

Thirteen projects will address water quality, primarily sediment inputs to the systems. Increased sedimentation has been identified in numerous assessment documents as being a critical problem in many stream systems in the Basin. Other water quality objectives to be addressed are pH, dissolved oxygen and nutrients which are monitored primarily by Oregon DEQ.

Eight projects specifically address a combination of several of the above objectives. These are in-stream habitat, riparian conditions and water quality. Lastly there are five projects which are monitoring, study or research oriented that will be designed to help answer some of the adaptive management questions.

Testable hypothesis
Projects submitted through the GRMWP are operational restoration projects. A watershed council working locally can move forward with arestoration efforts to measurably improve the watershed.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
GRMWP habitat projects are predicated upon the assumption that habitat degradation in the Grande Ronde Basin has been a contributing factor to the decline of spring chinook populations. Habitat problems are well documented in reports commissioned by the GRMWP, many graduate theses, as well as a multitude of other reports and publications. However, there are many additional factors outside of the Basin that have also contributed to spring chinook population declines. Spring chinook mortality outside of the Grande Ronde Basin is significant and is a critical constraint to chinook population increases.
Project objectives address habitat restoration. Success will be judged by habitat improvement and not how well spring chinook populations are maintained or enhanced. This is a very important distinction due to many constraints or factors that are not predictable or are outside of the influence of conditions within the Grande Ronde Basin. Constraints may include mainstem Snake and Columbia River habitat conditions, off-shore conditions, annual precipitation, harvest levels, and hydro-power generation operations.

An assumption that we cannot stress enough is that in many cases we will not see measurable results in the form of significantly improved habitat conditions for many years, perhaps several decades. This is due to the timeframes required for natural restorative processes to occur.

There are over 50 potential proposed projects included within this project designation. There is no standard description which adequately portrays the projects. The projects are not experimental and do not include a statistical analysis. See the attached project listings for the Grande Ronde and Wallowa Subbasins. Projects include: road improvement/sediment reduction work, historic channel restoration, in-stream large organic material additions, riparian vegetation enhancement, campground relocation, beaver re-introduction and prescribed burning.

Work methods are variable and too numerous to list for all of the projects. The approach and methods for any given restoration project are individually developed using available technical expertise, and with the landowner’s needs and concerns being a critical component of the process. An example of distinctly different methods of addressing sediment production from roads might be to close, obliterate and revegetate the road if it is not needed, or to improve the road to put it in a minimally sediment producing status if it is needed.

In general, preferred methods of accomplishing given restoration objectives are to allow, or to encourage natural processes to do most of the restoration work over time. Actions which do this are especially appropriate, for example, in restoring riparian vegetation which takes time. Controlling grazing pressure instead of planting vegetation may be all that is needed to allow natural revegetation with local plant materials to take place. Reintroduction of fire, under prescribed conditions, is another example of an activity which will encourage natural processes to restore watershed function.

Improvement of facilities to make them watershed and fish friendly is an example of the opposite type of restoration, more appropriately called mitigation. Road improvement work and irrigation diversion structure enhancement are examples of mitigation activities.

Brief schedule of activities
The major task for 1997 will be to complete as many individual restoration projects in “focus areas” as possible. Focus areas are watersheds that have been identified as the most critical links in the efforts to restore watershed health and spring chinook habitat. Restoration projects included in this project are proposed in response to a reaffirmation of the focus areas by the GRMWP technical committee and Board of Directors. Focus areas for the Grande Ronde Subbasin are: the Upper Grande Ronde, Middle Grande Ronde, Catherine Creek, Lookingglass Creek and Indian Creek. Focus areas for the Wallowa Subbasin are: Minam River, Wenaha River, Wallowa River, Lostine River, Bear Creek, Big Sheep Creek, Hurricane Creek and the Imnaha River.

See the attached Proposed 1997 Projects listing for each of the Subbasins. Developing and completing these projects will be the major emphasis for the program in 1997. Nearly all projects will be completed during the 1997 work season except for a few especially large scale projects which may require an additional field season to complete.

We do not see a major shift in emphasis in the years following 1997. Working with individual landowners, land management agencies and resource management professionals will continue to be the approach we use to meet watershed restoration objectives.

Biological need
Proposed 1997 projects address freshwater habitat deficiencies identified in technical material and assessments that have been prepared for the Grande Ronde Basin. Listing of the Snake River spring chinook as threatened in 1992, and subsequent listing as endangered, is a testimonial to the serious nature of the habitat problems in the Grande Ronde Basin. Habitat degradation as well as outside influences ,for well over a hundred years, has seriously reduced spring chinook production in the Basin from historical levels. Although by no means a cure in itself, habitat restoration is an integral part of the program to increase spring chinook populations in the Basin.

We must succeed in our habitat restoration efforts to even have the opportunity to maintain the wild Snake River spring chinook run in the Grande Ronde Basin.

Critical uncertainties
See previous sections. There are many uncertainties with habitat restoration work in the Grande Ronde Basin which could affect success of efforts to increase salmon populations. These include funding, biological complexities, and climatological variables.

Funding will always be uncertain for obvious reasons, there will never be enough. We are in the process of attempting to change conditions which have taken 150 years of settlement to develop.

Biological systems are exceedingly complex and often will not respond in predictable ways due to the multitudes of variables in natural systems. Climatological events are not at all predictable and can easily nullify or negate anything we might do. Rain on snow events, ice flows and drought are examples of such events.

Summary of expected outcome
The projects are part of a comprehensive watershed restoration program now it its third year with the GRMWP. Projects proposed for 1997, when implemented, will continue to restore riparian habitats and watershed function essential to the continued survival of wild spring chinook salmon in the Grande Ronde Basin. Projects will address the full array of habitat deficiencies identified in various assessment documents.

Projects will make incremental habitat improvements toward historic conditions although reaching historic habitat conditions may not possible in many areas. As noted previously, numbers of chinook adults returning to the system, although an indicator of habitat quality, are not the primary judge of the success of habitat improvement projects. Long term monitoring which measures the appropriate environmental attributes will track actual improvements. Hopefully increased adult chinook returns will be the result of measurable habitat improvement and a healthy watershed.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
Project implementation is contingent upon appropriate NAPA documentation and cultural resource surveys where appropriate. Various levels of consultation with NMFS may also be required. NEPA documentation as well as NMFS consultation may be conducted by cooperating agencies on their projects.

Implementation will also be contingent upon cooperating agencies or landowners being able to provide equitable cost share. All projects provide opportunities for cooperation among various agencies or landowners. Many times cooperative efforts backed by financial support from two or more entities will be the only way many of these projects will be accomplished.

Risk will be minimized through proper planning, design and implementation. There are the risks that projects will not full attain expected results for a variety of reasons, or that proper maintenance will not continue into the future. These risks are to be anticipated and addressed individually with each project as appropriate.

Monitoring activity
All restoration projects will have an implementation and effectiveness monitoring plan incorporated into the project design. In addition, Watershed Action Plans when implemented for individual watersheds, outline monitoring strategies to determine overall effectiveness of projects in the watershed.

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) Obligation: 0
Authorized: 260,000
Planned: 260,000
1997: 1,439,000
1998: 2,205,000
1999: 650,000
2000: 650,000
2001: 650,000

* 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   $1,439,000

BPA 1997 authorized budget (approved start-of-year budget)   $1,309,937