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
North Fork John Day River Dredge Tailings Restoration Project

BPA project number   9605300

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding

Sponsor type   OR-Federal Agency

Proposal contact person or principal investigator

 NameJohn Sanchez
 Mailing addressUmatilla National Forest
2517 SW Hailey Avenue
Pendleton, OR 97801

BPA technical contact   , EWN

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   3.1D.1, 7.6B.5

Short description
Restore floodplain function to 9 miles of the North Fork John Day River that was dredge mined in the late 30's

Project start year   1997    End year   1999

Start of operation and/or maintenance   2000

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
Project work was accomplished in the early 80's with contract 8400800. The new proposal is an example of adaptive management.

Project history

Biological results achieved

Annual reports and technical papers

Management implications
Past dredge mining severely altered the North Fork John Day River floodplain and instream characteristics. The tailings piles left behind confine the stream to a strait, narrow, high velocity channel. The results of these activities continue to cause streambank erosion and loss of fish habitat. This project is an excellent example of adaptive management. Previous restoration activities were more structure oriented while this new approach seeks to restore ecological floodplain function. Techniques developed on this project would have application throughout the world where dredge tailing channel restoration projects could be considered to restore fish and wildlife habitat.

Specific measureable objectives
The project will consist of redistributing dredge tailings piles within the floodplain of the river including intermittent side channels and the main river channel. This treatment will allow the river to pass high flows, dissipate energy, and deposit sediment and would allow the river to meander through the floodplain and create quality fish and wildlife habitat. The purpose of the project is to improve salmonid rearing habitat, water quality, streambank stability and riparian function. Physical channel parameters make excellent measurable objectives for this proposed project. The cone-shaped dredge tailings piles restrict high stream flows to a narrow channel that results in accelerated bank erosion. Channel profile objectives would be established for each project reach.

Testable hypothesis

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints

Restoration of natural floodplain function will be accomplished through the reconstruction of the natural floodplain strata disturbed by past mining activities using heavy equipment. Gravel and cobble tailing piles will be used to fill depressions in the floodplain following removal of built-up five sediments. These sediments will then be used to cover the leveled tailings for recovery of natural riparian vegetation in the flood plain. Also see "summary of expected outcome" below.

Brief schedule of activities
A pilot project was completed in 1993. The environmental analysis for this multi-year activity was completed in May 1995. Two miles of restoration project work was completed in the summer of 1995. Project work proposed for 1997 through 1999 would be a continuation of this multi-year project. The major project task for 1997 through 1999 is the administration of the equipment rental contract to accomplish work on-the-ground, and monitoring project results.

Biological need
The North Fork John Day River is home to wild runs of summer steelhead and spring chinook salmon. This multi-year project will restore the floodplain by re-depositing the dredge tailings allowing the river to flow over portions of the floodplain previously unavailable. Channel complexity and fish habitat quality and quantity will increase as the river reclaims its floodplain, dissipating the energy of high flow events and depositing sediment that promotes riparian vegetation growth.

Critical uncertainties
Without this project critical salmon and steelhead spawning and rearing habitat would continue to be severely limited due to constraints on the floodplain function.

Summary of expected outcome
During high flow events this project will result in channel building rather than streambank erosion when flows are allowed to spread out over the floodplain and dissipate their energy. This will help wild stocks of steelhead and salmon recover to their full ecological potential by conserving, protecting, and restoring cold-water fisheries habitat and their watersheds. Ultimately, this project will allows the river to discover its own course once we have freed it from the artificial tailings piles. Most of the tailings will be redistributed into dry side channels and floodplain, with an excavator with a 35 foot reach that will seldom enter the river. Increase sediment will also be minimized by working while the stream is at low flow levels. With the long arm of the excavator, dredge tailings will be removed with minimal disturbance of existing vegetation. Native riparian vegetation will be established in disturbed areas above the high water mark.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and USDA Forest Service, Umatilla National Forest are Co-applicants on this proposed project. Earlier phases of the project have received support from the Acid Spill Trust Fund which is co-managed by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Blue Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited in an active participant in project activities with volunteer in kind services and a $500 cash pledge for 1996 activities as well as sponsoring the project for Embrace-a-Stream and Bring Back the Natives grant proposals. A letter of support for the project was received from the Pacific Rivers Council after their representatives coming. Charlie Dewberry and Willa Nehlsen spent a day of review at the project site. There are no anticipated actions or events that may effect this project's timing or budget.

There are no known risks associated with the implementation of this project.

Monitoring activity
The strategy for monitoring and evaluating the project results will be through suspended sediment samplers, photo point, and stream cross-section profiles. Suspended sediment samplers are used above and below project activities to measure suspended sediment concentrations. Photo points are established to monitor riparian vegetation recovery on both the floodplain and flood terraces. Stream cross-section profiles are surveys to measure changes in the river thalweg and to determine if the river channel is aggrading or degrading. Monitoring and evaluation will continue for at least 10 years in and around the project site.

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: 100,000
1998: 100,000
1999: 100,000
2000: 20,000
2001: 20,000

* 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   Bonneville Dam - Priest Rapids Dam

Recommendation    Tier 1 - fund

Recommended funding level   $100,000

BPA 1997 authorized budget (approved start-of-year budget)   $100,000