FY07-09 proposal 200102100

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Section 1. Administrative

Proposal title15 Mile Creek Riparian Buffers
Proposal ID200102100
OrganizationWasco County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD)
Short descriptionThis proposal develops riparian buffer systems on streams in the Fifteenmile Subbasin and other direct tributaries to the Columbia River in northern Wasco County. Implementation of buffer plans developed under this proposal are fully funded by USDA.
Information transferRiparian Buffer plans are used to guide implementation of riparian protection practices including predominantly fencing, off stream water developments, tree, shrub, and ground cover planting prescriptions. They are the basis for long term (up to 15 year) buffer contracts between participating landowners and USDA. A copy of an approved plan is retained in landowner files in the USDA Service Center with one copy provided to the landowner.
Proposal contact person or principal investigator
Form submitter
Ron Graves Wasco County SWCD ron.graves@or.nacdnet.net
All assigned contacts
Ron Graves Wasco County SWCD ron.graves@or.nacdnet.net

Section 2. Locations

Province / subbasin: Columbia Gorge / Fifteenmile

45.5976 -121.3072 Threemile, Mill, Chenowith, and Mosier Crks. N. Wasco County Columbia River tributaries from Mosier to The Dalles
Fifteenmile Creek Fifteenmile Watershed including Fifteenmile Creek and its tributaries

Section 3. Focal species

primary: Steelhead Middle Columbia River ESU

Section 4. Past accomplishments

2005 17 buffer contracts established on 601.3 acres protecting 17.8 miles of stream. Buffer widths averaged 140 ft. each side of stream. Figures as of 12/31/05. Buffer values and costs remain to be determined at the end of the project year: 3/31/06.
2004 9 buffer contracts were implemented on 220.6 acres protecting 9.6 miles of stream. Buffer widths averaged 95 ft. on each side of the stream. The total value of contracts established this year is $355,676 compared with $77,711 in BPA contract costs.
2003 26 buffer contracts were implemented on 796 acres protecting 32.99 miles of stream. Buffer widths averaged 100 ft. on each side of the stream. The total value of contracts established this year is $1,432,993 compared with $63,280 in BPA contract costs.
2002 11 buffer contracts were implemented on 10.9 miles of stream. Buffer widths averaged 132 ft. on each side of the stream. The total value of contracts established this year is $666,121 compared with $71,115 in BPA contract costs.
2001 26 buffer contracts were established on 25.26 miles of stream. Buffer widths averaged 83 ft. on each side of the stream. The value of contracts established this year was $1,491,235 compared with $64,756 in BPA contract costs.

Section 5. Relationships to other projects

Funding sourceRelated IDRelated titleRelationship
BPA 199304000 Fifteenmile Creek Habitat Impr This proposal complements and is closely coordinated with on-going work by Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife begun in the late 1980s.
OWEB - State 204-223 North Wasco Co Direct Seed This proposal is a complementary project, assisting landowners convert their operation from conventional tillage systems to no-till. No-till methods reduce runoff and erosion from upland wheat farms. This project focused on the Fifteenmile Watershed. Streams in the Fifteenmile watershed are water quality limited for sediment and high summer water temperatures. This project has virtually eliminated sheet and rill erosion, a primary sedimentation source, from wheat cropland converted to direct seed/no-till.
OWEB - State 205-050 Hood-Deschutes Basin Direct Se This proposal is a complementary project, assisting landowners convert their operation from conventional tillage systems to no-till. No-till methods reduce runoff and erosion from upland wheat farms. The Hood-Deschutes Direct Seed project (currently in progress) includes conversion of tillage systems in both Fifteenmile and the lower Deschutes subbasins. This project has virtually eliminated sheet and rill erosion, a primary sedimentation source, from wheat cropland converted to direct seed/no-till. As of June 30, 2005 fully 68% of Wasco County's wheat cropland had been converted from conventional tillage systems to no-till.
OWEB - State 205-195 Dry Cr Steelhead & Trout Habit Complementary project to this Dry Creek (Fifteenmile Tributary) project which is designed to eliminate 11 fords, replacing them with bridges. A substantial portion of Dry Creek has been enrolled in the CREP buffer program.
OWEB - State 205-196 Fifteenmile Riverkeeper Phase This proposal complements the Riverkeeper project which seeks to add large wood to a limited reach in upper Fifteenmile Cr. Over time, the riparian buffer project will provide for large wood recruitment as plantings mature.
OWEB - State 206-118 Endersby Culvert Replacement Complements this project designed to eliminate site specific fish passage barrier on Eightmile Cr. a tributary to Fifteenmile. This will open several miles of habitat in upper Eightmile Creek to juvenile steelhead and lamprey migration.
OWEB - State 206-122 Dry Cr Gully Erosion Control Complements this upland erosion control project which is designed to control concentrated flow erosion and minimize sedimentation to fish streams.

Section 6. Biological objectives

Biological objectivesFull descriptionAssociated subbasin planStrategy
Fifteenmile Winter Steelhead Productivity Increase winter steelhead smolt production from the current range of 4559-10,504 smolts per year to the target range of 8,125-18,697 smolts per year. This objective can best be met by increasing spawning success and increasing egg to smolt survival which requires habitat improvements in Fifteenmile Creek, its tributaries and other N. Wasco County Streams which are direct tributaries to the Columbia Gorge where spawning and rearing take place. To affect that habitat improvement, this project will establish 40 riparian buffer systems on 900 riparian acres, improving habitat on 40 stream miles. Fifteenmile Riparian Floodplain Restoration

Section 7. Work elements (coming back to this)

Work element nameWork element titleDescriptionStart dateEnd dateEst budget
Outreach and Education Outreach & Education to the Private Landowners Conduct at least one outreach activity quarterly: news articles, presentations, neighborhood meetings informing landowners about the buffer program and how to sign up. 4/1/2007 3/31/2010 $5,390
Biological objectives
Fifteenmile Winter Steelhead Productivity
* # of general public reached: 100 Landowners contacted annually
Coordination Coordinate with Private Landowners & Partner Agencies Meet at least quarterly with partner agencies to assess progress, coordinate on-going activities and to avoid duplication of effort. Planners, technicans will coordinate on a continuing basis with other agency counterparts during the field season. Coordination with participating landowners will be done as necessary before and during the planning process and during implementation. Approximately 100 landowner contacts will be made annually. 4/1/2007 3/31/2010 $10,700
Biological objectives
Fifteenmile Winter Steelhead Productivity
Produce Environmental Compliance Documentation Prepare & Submit NRCS Environmental Checklist Prepare and submit environmental checklist for each buffer site being planned. Obtain site specific list of T/E and sensitive species. Request cultural resource specialist review of proposed buffer sites. 4/1/2007 3/31/2010 $5,330
Biological objectives
Fifteenmile Winter Steelhead Productivity
Coordination Produce Conservation Plan for Landowners Develop site specific inventories, assessments, alternatives for implementation. Review with landowner to ensure resource needs and landowner objectives met. Document selected alternative. Develop designs, specifications necessary for practices to be implemented as part of the plan. Move plan through review and approval steps. 4/1/2007 3/31/2010 $185,260
Biological objectives
Fifteenmile Winter Steelhead Productivity
Coordination Sign CCRP/CREP Agreements with Landowners, NRCS, SWCD & FSA SWCD technical staff will track conservation plans through the approval process culminating with USDA buffer contracts to ensure a smooth process between landowners and partner agencies. 4/1/2007 3/31/2010 $2,675
Biological objectives
Fifteenmile Winter Steelhead Productivity
Provide Technical Review Provide Technical Review on Implementation of Conservation Plans Provide technical review and coordination as necessary, assisting landowners prepare to implement approved CCRP/CREP buffer plans. Coordinate with landowners on plantings, fencing, off-stream water developments and other conservation practices associated with the riparian buffer. Inspect buffers and associated conservation practices, verifying planned practices were installed in accordance with USDA NRCS Field Office Technical Guide standards. Repeat Stream Visual Assessment Protocol after buffer has been in place for a minimum of 3-5 years. 4/1/2007 3/31/2010 $26,650
Biological objectives
Fifteenmile Winter Steelhead Productivity
Manage and Administer Projects Manage & Administer Project Develop Contract Statements of Work, Budgets, spending plan and inventory list. Maintain workplans, workforce and cost records. Attend BPA, NWPCC, CBFWA conferences and workshops as required. Manage project resources, maintaining accountability and efficiency. Provide leadership and supervision to project personnel. Integrate contract work elements and budget into SWCD Annual Work Plan and public budgeting process to ensure contract requirements are met in a timely manner and within budget. This work element also includes bookkeeping and accounting functions. 4/1/2007 3/31/2010 $26,650
Biological objectives
Fifteenmile Winter Steelhead Productivity
Produce Status Report Produce Status Reports Prepare 4 quarterly status reports each project year and submit them to the BPA COTR. Status reports will include a summary of outreach efforts, summary of potential buffer contracts, and summary of plans completed. 7/1/2007 4/1/2010 $1,200
Biological objectives
Fifteenmile Winter Steelhead Productivity
Produce Annual Report Prepare Annual Report Prepare an annual report for each project year's (performance period) beginning with the FY07 project year 4/1/07-3/31/08 4/1/2008 5/15/2010 $2,700
Biological objectives
Fifteenmile Winter Steelhead Productivity

Section 8. Budgets

Itemized estimated budget
Personnel Conservation Planner/Technician 0.9 FTE $36,291 $37,379 $38,501
Personnel Technician Asst. 0.2 FTE $4,100 $4,200 $4,500
Personnel District Manager 0.2 FTE $11,810 $12,164 $12,921
Personnel Clerical Asst. 0.08 FTE $2,949 $3,038 $3,227
Fringe Benefits Other Personnel Expenses $16,545 $17,034 $17,745
Supplies Field & Office Equipment / Supplies $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Travel 3 days / year at $120 $360 $360 $360
Other Vehicle operating costs 12,000 mi.@$0.44 $5,280 $5,280 $5,280
Overhead 10% $7,833 $8,045 $8,353
Totals $86,168 $88,500 $91,887
Total estimated FY 2007-2009 budgets
Total itemized budget: $266,555
Total work element budget: $266,555
Cost sharing
Funding source/orgItem or service providedFY 07 est value ($)FY 08 est value ($)FY 09 est value ($)Cash or in-kind?Status
OWEB/ODA Technician 0.4 FTE $16,229 $17,273 $18,365 Cash Under Development
USDA Farm Services Agency Buffer Implementation and Contract Payments based on historical annual average $986,500 $986,500 $986,500 Cash Under Development
USDA NRCS Technical Review of Completed Plans $4,000 $4,000 $4,000 In-Kind Confirmed
Totals $1,006,729 $1,007,773 $1,008,865

Section 9. Project future

FY 2010 estimated budget: $95,000
FY 2011 estimated budget: $95,000
Comments: Assumes continuation of same level of effort with 2-3% annual increases in salary, OPE, and overhead expenses.

Future O&M costs: No Cost to BPA. O&M costs funded by USDA in annual maintenance payments to landowners.

Termination date: 2014
Comments: Termination date to be determined. There is potential for approximately 1,000 stream miles of Riparian Buffers in Wasco County, although realistically 500 miles is the maximum we should expect to enroll for a variety of reasons. As of December 2005, 223.88 miles of buffer had been contracted for about 22% of the total. Assuming progress continues at the current rate, half the potential buffers (about 500 miles) will be under contract by the time the first contracts begin to expire in 2014. Therefore a 2014 tentative termination date seems reasonable.

Final deliverables: Final Reports

Section 10. Narrative and other documents

Collaborative ISRP Response(2) Jul 2006
Revised narrative for proposal 200102100 Jul 2006

Reviews and recommendations

FY07 budget FY08 budget FY09 budget Total budget Type Category Recommendation
NPCC FINAL FUNDING RECOMMENDATIONS (Oct 23, 2006) [full Council recs]
$86,168 $88,500 $91,887 $266,555 Expense ProvinceExpense Fund
NPCC DRAFT FUNDING RECOMMENDATIONS (Sep 15, 2006) [full Council recs]
$86,168 $88,500 $91,887 $0 ProvinceExpense
Comments: M&E comment pending. See M&E decision memo discussion.


Recommendation: Response requested

NPCC comments: Protection of riparian areas has been given a high priority in this subbasin, as noted in the subbasin plan. The proposal, however, does not adequately describe what this project will do. With some difficulty, reviewers determined that the purpose of this project was to assist in the planning and coordination of additional riparian protection in the Fifteenmile Creek system but that the funds will not actually be used to build or maintain fences of off-stream stock watering systems. A response is requested regarding reporting of past results in terms of benefit to fish and wildlife and other issues raised below. A map with the project sites clearly identified would have made an excellent addition to the proposal and eased understanding of the effectiveness of the treatment proposed. It still is not clear why this was submitted as a stand-alone project and not combined with another proposal that actually implements habitat improvements. Although it is not clear why the planning and coordination phase of the Fifteenmile riparian protection effort is being submitted as a separate proposal, it is nevertheless an important step, and if more landowners are encouraged to enroll in the CREP/CRP program, there will be long-term benefits. The effort appears positive - significant buffer zone implementation and planning (over 44 miles of streambank) should provide positive results. The proposal describes some other projects in the Fifteenmile Creek system, but it doesn't clarify how this project has or will contribute to them. Additional details should be provided in the response. For example, what problems were the other projects having that this one helped solve? The proposal adequately describes the biological objectives for improving riparian areas in the Fifteenmile subbasin. The "physical objectives of this project" are to develop 40 new riparian buffer plans that will benefit 44 miles of stream and 900 acres of riparian habitat. The actual objectives of this project do not involve on-the-ground implementation but instead focus on planning, coordination, enrollment on the USDA buffer program, and technical feedback to landowners. The planning, coordination, and technical transfer steps are reasonably well described. It would be helpful for the response to show where the 40 new riparian buffers would be likely to be located, and their relationship to focal species distribution. See also the ISRP’s programmatic comments and proposal review comments on 200706100 - Deschutes Sub-basin Riparian Restoration through USDA Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and the relation of this project to these issues: 1. How enrollment objectives are determined. 2. The potential to develop a cooperative effort with ODFW to monitor fisheries and stream habitat response to the implementation of riparian buffers. 3. The potential for SWCD collaborative development of a report assessing the determinants of successful implementation processes for riparian buffer contracts and other USDA voluntary conservation programs. 4. Whether the conservation plans developed as part of CREP enrollment are kept confidential or are reported as part of the project results. If conservation plans are not reported, can they be synthesized in a way that will allow monitoring of progress toward meeting their objectives? See also: 200203400 - Wheeler Co Riparian Buffers and 200203500 - Gilliam Co Riparian Buffers. This proposal might coordinate a response to the items above with sponsors of these other related proposals.

ISRP FINAL REVIEW (Aug 31, 2006)

Recommendation: Fundable (Qualified)

NPCC comments: The consolidated response of the conservation districts to this and other riparian buffer proposals in central Oregon argues that BPA funding will enable the districts and constituent landowners to produce plans that can be put forward for Farm Bill and OWEB support for project implementation. The ISRP endorses this approach, in principle. However, the response sheds little light on the specific ecological questions raised in the first review; specifically, where will riparian buffers be sited, how do these sites fit within the context of the applicable subbasin plan (i.e., priority areas in relation to focal species), and how will their success be monitored? Those questions need to be answered in more than general terms in order for the projects to be assessed scientifically. Adequate responses seem limited to the list of four programmatic questions at the end of the review. Although a narrative with a much-improved presentation was provided, the response ignored most of the ISRP’s preliminary requests that focused on clarification of the 15-Mile proposal. With regard to the 15 Mile proposal, the only information provided on the buffers relative to the focal species (steelhead) is that EDT analysis identified riparian buffers in the lower watershed as a priority restoration action. That was helpful, but more details really are needed. There remains the need to show definitively that the buffer projects fall out of a watershed assessment as a priority, and that there is a plan for effectiveness evaluation, including a biological response through an adaptive management experiment. Without a map of where these buffers are proposed, for example, it is impossible to assess the degree of continuity achievable, which is an important factor in the efficacy of buffers. Opportunities for installing buffers may not coincide with the areas most in need of them but that does not prevent a map being prepared that shows the relationship between the areas with highest priority and those being proposed as a result of landowner willingness and other opportunities. Answers should have been given to all the questions raised in the review, not just the selected few. The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program has been underway for some time and in theory has resulted in significant improvements in stream and riparian conditions. The programs also have provided an excellent means of engaging local landowners in the conservation process. The planning effort is valuable, but it must include an appropriate level of monitoring, and it should build on the 15 Mile subbasin plan. It is not enough to assume that riparian buffers are working if no evidence is being gathered to support this assumption. It is time to demonstrate real improvements, and this will require a more explicit and substantial monitoring program (perhaps basinwide) than was generally described in the response. Basically, the ISRP would like some evidence that (1) the buffers are being sited where they will do substantial good, and (2) implementation of the buffers is resulting in demonstrated ecosystem benefits where steelhead and other focal species occur (e.g., surface water temperature reduction and recruitment of stream cover). Therefore, the project appears fundable with the qualification that procedures for demonstrating proof of effectiveness will be included in the plan. Specifically, the tie to the biological monitoring by ODFW was missing and must be included. There remains a need to establish a coordinated effort of effectiveness evaluation from the suite of riparian buffer projects within the basin, where a system of treatments and controls might be examined for a biological response from fish, including from within 15 Mile Riparian Buffers. The scientific justification for the project, the ISRP’s fundable recommendation, is contingent upon development of that assessment.