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
Walla Walla County Cooperative Watershed Plan (Development and Implementation)

BPA project number   9606400

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
Walla Walla County Conservation District

Sponsor type   OR-Model Watershed

Proposal contact person or principal investigator

 NameMark Taylor
 Mailing addressWalla Walla County Conservation Dist
1501 Business One Circle, Suite 101
Walla Walla, WA 99362

BPA technical contact   , EWP

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   3.1D.1

Short description
I. Develop a comprehensive cooperative watershed management plan that will: A. Identify the needs and criteria for developing and implementing an integration of conservation efforts and farming practices that will result in the restabilization and restoration of healthy watersheds in Walla Walla, Columbia and Umatilla Counties. Waters include: the Walla Walla River, the Touchet River, Mill Creek and their tributaries. B. Educate and inform the agricultural producers, the public, and cooperating entities as to the historical importance of watersheds, their function in sustaining clean, abundant water for use by man, fish & wildlife populations, by an extensive watershed management educational program that stresses the importance of watershed management from the top to the bottom. C. Prioritize Watershed usage and identify critical areas in desperate need of streambank restabilization and riparian restoration and implement the needed measures to correct the problem. II. Implement demonstration projects that integrate acceptable conservation practices with Best Management Practices to conserve soil, prevent erosion, improve water quality, restabilize stream banks and restore riparian zones.

Project start year   1996    End year   1998

Start of operation and/or maintenance   0

Project development phase   Planning/Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects

Project history
Walla Walla County does not have approved watershed management plans for its watersheds. Historically, the conservation efforts have been done on an emergency basis, sort of a "band-aid" approach, due to lack of coordinated efforts to develop a plan to deal with watershed management as an entire system.

Part of the problem is the lack of a strong public educational program needed to stress the importance of maintaining and protecting the watersheds as whole, functioning systems that nature has designed with a specific job to do ... increase the water holding capacity of the land, decrease soil erosion & transportation of sediment, improve water quality, and provide valuable fish and wildlife habitat.

The Walla Walla River, the Touchet River, and Mill Creek have all been identified as threatened or impaired waters on the Washington State Department of Ecology's 1996 proposed 303d list (Threatened and Impaired Water Bodies in Washington State).

Water quality problems identified include: Temperature that is not suitable to anadromous fish species (site specific), and excessive levels of pH, fecal coliform, DDT, nitrates, and pesticides; and excessive transportation and deposition of sediment in spawning areas.

Biological results achieved
In the past we have mainly worked with the farmers uphill from the waterways to stress Best Management Practices that reduce water runoff and soil erosion into the water. We have installed terraces, filter strips, grass waterways, cross slope farming, conservation tillage, etc.

In recent years, there have been a minimal amount of conservation or stabilization projects done in stream. This is a new concept to many farmers and they need to be educated on the importance of watershed management. We have a few farmers who want to improve fish habitat and the county is still in its infancy in restoration of fish habitat and increasing native stock populations.

Annual reports and technical papers

Management implications
Knowledge gained from this project will help to develop a standard operating procedure when dealing with identified watershed projects in Walla Walla County. Guidelines will be established, outlining acceptable specifications and practices that will be beneficial to the health of the watershed as a whole system. Practices that will be considered to have a detrimental effect (physically, and economically) to those who live either upstream or downstream will not be allowed under the new approved model watershed plan.

Demonstration restoration projects will be established for educational purposes; to measure success of various integrated conservation practices; and set an example for producers in Walla Walla County and across the state.

Specific measureable objectives
1. An approved comprehensive watershed plan will be completed and ready for implementation.

2. Water quality will improve due to restoring of riparian zones and stabilizing streambanks thereby:

a. reducing sediment flow and siltation.

b. improving filtration of agricultural
water runoff into the rivers.

C. increasing the land's natural water
holding capacity thereby replenishing the shallow aquifers.

3. Fish wildlife habitat will be improved thereby:

a. improving the temperatures of the water.

b. reducing siltation of gravel spawning beds.

C. improving water quality.
d. improving protective overwintering habitat, thereby

e. increasing populations of native anadromous fish species.

Testable hypothesis
Restoration of lost and damaged riparian zones, along with destruction and loss of farm land, due to unstable streambanks, will be monitored visually as to the efficiency of the newly stabilized streambanks and riparian areas.

Cutting away of productive farm land by rivers should be physically reduced or stopped, water quality will be monitored and the restoration of native fish runs can be recorded in the years to come.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
Factors to consider that may effect success of the project include:

1. Cooperation between the entities using the watersheds. The different groups all have their own scope or vision as to who has what rights to the water and what is in their best interest to contribute.

2. Highly erodible land being farmed. A high percentage of cropland
in Walla Walla County is classified as Highly Erodible Land by USDA-NRSC.

3. Unexpected weather conditions. The fall of 1995 and the winter of 1995-96 was extremely wet. Lots of rain and a quick melt of snow packs caused unexpected water run off and severe flooding, causing damage to farmland, streambanks and private property.

The model watershed management plan will:

1. Identify the different groups using the watershed.

2. Identify the function of a healthy watershed.

3. Identify the components of a healthy watershed.

4. Identify critical areas in Walla Walla County watersheds that are in need of streambank stabilization and riparian zone restoration.

5. Stress the importance of cooperation between adjacent land users, the public and all entities involved in sharing the watersheds.

6. Provide the needed guidelines to provide proper procedures to follow when planning and implementing individual site restoration projects that will benefit the entire watershed system.

7. Provide the needed foundation to develop an intensive watershed management educational program that can be presented to farmers, the public school systems and to all interested community service and youth organizations.

It is the goal of this office to help farmers reduce soil loss, water runoff, improve water quality and restore healthy riparian zones to improve the watershed's natural function and to restore desirable habitat that is required to increase anadromous fish populations.

Fish populations should increase if:

1. The farmers and the public are properly educated on the importance of healthy watersheds and their benefits.

2. Aquatic education curriculum would be included as part of the public schools curriculum. Information could be taught as an integrated curriculum to compliment science, math, history, reading and English requirements.

3. School classes were supplied with aquariums, cooling units and 500,000 salmon eggs to raise, study and release into our watersheds.

4. Streambank stabilization and riparian restoration projects were implemented along our streams.

Brief schedule of activities
1997 - 1. Identify the watershed users.

2. Start a Walla Walla County Watershed Alliance.

3. Develop a comprehensive cooperative watershed plan for approval.

4. Identify critical areas in need of stabilization and restoration.

5. Develop a demonstration project for each watershed using integrated farm practices and conservation efforts.

6. Start implementation of demonstration projects.

7. Document the watersheds progress through development of an educational video (with before and after pictures).

8. Set up testing sites for water quality monitoring.

9. Start development of a watershed management educational program.

10. Give educational presentations to farmers, public organizations and school groups.


1. Critique projects from the previous year.

2. Walla Walla County Watershed Alliance will meet quarterly.

3. Develop a quarterly Watershed Newsletter for distribution.

4. Continue to develop and implement watershed restoration projects throughout the county.

S. Initiate "Walla Walla County Conservation Days" to promote watershed management. (annually)

6. Set up an educational booth at the county fair each year.

7. Continue making educational presentations to farmers, community organizations and school groups.

8. Implement water quality monitoring with the cooperation of the State fisheries biologists and the local science and agriculture classes (public schools and colleges).

9. Keep the local media informed as to the progress that we are making in Walla Walla County.

Biological need
The waters of the Walla Walla River, the Touchet River, and Mill Creek have been identified on the Washington State Department of Ecology's 303d list, Threatened and impaired Waterbodies in Washington State.

Lack of healthy riparian zones; unhealthy temperature levels; low dissolved oxygen; and fecal coliform, pH, nitrates and pesticides have been found to be in excessive levels contributing to unhealthy fish habitat.

Excessive amounts of sediments wash into the rivers causing siltation and, in turn, the destruction of gravel spawning beds and suffocation of eggs of anadromous fish.

Lack of established riparian zones has contributed to loss of streambanks, soils and spawning areas during flooding; excessive summer water temperatures; lack of protective winter habitat which leaves the fish open to heavy predation.

Restoration of riparian zones and streambank stabilization should improve water quality by improved filtration of agricultural water, sediment trapping, reducing soil erosion and sediment transport and vastly improving fish & wildlife habitat.

Critical uncertainties
The following factors effect the success of this project:

1. Lack of funding - We have many farmers in Walla Walla County who want to do conservation projects but can't afford to pay for the whole project out of their pockets.

2. Cooperation between watershed users - conservation projects have been piece-meal, here and there, with lack of consideration to other users along the watersheds.

3. Unpredictable weather conditions - Adverse weather conditions may affect the success of the
implementation portion of this project.

Summary of expected outcome
The following results are expected:

1. A completed, approved watershed management plan for the Walla Walla River, The Touchet River and Mill Creek.

2. Improved watershed health resulting in:

a. Improved water quality.

b. Improved fish & wildlife habitat.

C. An increase in fish populations.

d. Streambank stabilization.

e. Better flood control.

f. A reduction in soil erosion and sediment

3. An extensive watershed management educational program.

4. An increase in public awareness, support and involvement.

5. Monitoring of water quality on the rivers.

6. An increase in the numbers of conservation projects on the ground.

7. A watershed alliance group that will meet quarterly.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
The completed watershed management plan will have to be approved by NEPA and SEPA, in cooperation with the National Resource Conservation Service, the Walla Walla County Regional Planning Office, the U.S. department of Fish & Wildlife, the Washington State department of Fish & Wildlife and the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Others entities that will need to cooperate include: Columbia county (Washington state) and Umatilla county (Oregon state), the water districts, Agricultural agencies, the cities, and the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indians.

This will be a cooperative effort between three counties, two states, multiple agencies and cultures.


Monitoring activity
Water quality can be monitored at testing sites to be established. Information can be collected and recorded and compared from year to year.

Visual monitoring will be done at demonstration projects and on adjacent streambanks.

Fish counts can be established in future years to compared fish populations with years in the past.

A pre-course survey can be given to school groups to evaluate their knowledge of watershed education before presentations are made. The same survey can be given to groups after mini-courses and volunteer work.

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: 75,000
2000: 50,000
2001: 50,000

* 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)   $88,000