Response for project 198402100: John Day Habitat Enhancement

Comment on proposed FY 2006 budget

The proposed budget, while consistent with Bonneville's FY 05 approved budget, will not cover the indirect cost increase effective July of 05. The difference in the indirect of 7.19% for 2006 amounts to $8,672.00. In order to meet our goal of building approximately 15 miles of riparian enhancement fence in 2006, a budget of $456,561.00 would be needed to accomplish this task. If no additional funds are appropriated to cover the increase in indirect costs, approximately 2 miles of riparian enhancement fence will not be constructed.

Accomplishments since the last review

2003 - Completed 12.7 miles of fence, protecting 370 acres (on 6 projects), this included both upland and riparian habitat, 1 solar spring development was installed. Contoured 0.7 miles of mine tail dredging on Granite Cr., a tributary of the North Fork of the John Day River, approximately 70 acres treated. The site was then planted with 100 lbs of native seed and 5,000 native tree seedlings. Project personnel gathered bank stability data on 2.1 miles of Lake Cr. /Hoover property. Steelhead redd counts were conducted on Mountain, Lake, Tex, and Murderers Creek. Maintenance on 66.14 miles of existing fence, 66 watergaps and 33 spring developments. Established photopoints were retaken on existing projects and new photopoints were established on 2003 projects. 2004 - Completed 17.5 miles of riparian fence on 5 projects, protecting 800 acres of (80%) riparian and (20%) upland habitat. 4 offsite water developments were installed. Fence removal of 3.08 miles of barbed wire fence on 2 of the Cottonwood Creek projects.500 willow cuttings were collected and planted on the Grub Creek/McDaniel property. 450 junipers were cut,hauled and placed on the Mountain Creek/Jones property. 140 yards of pit run material was installed at 3 watergaps on the Jones property. Program conducted a juvenile fish population survey on Mountain Creek/Jones property. Established photopoints were taken on existing projects and new photopoints were established on 2004 projects. Maintenance on 82.94 miles of existing fence, 71 watergaps and 37 spring developments. In 2003-2004 the fish habitat program utilized the OYCC crew, which is a youth organization that provides job opportunities and on the ground experience. They have assisted with tree and shrub plantings, and removal of old barbed wire. 2005-Scheduled projects are 3 riparian fence projects totaling 10.5 miles, 3 spring developments, 0.7 miles of dredge tail leveling on MFJDR. Maintained 90.34 miles of fence, 71 watergaps and 31 springs.

FY 2006 goals and anticipated accomplishments

FY 2006 goals are to build approximately 15 miles of riparian enhancement fencing on 4 project sites, install 5 spring developments on the 4 sites, plant (1000) aspen trees, which include building a pole fence to protect them at our Phipps Meadows project site. We may install juniper riprap on Mountain Creek/Jones property depending on how well the juniper project completed in 2004 is recovering. Willow cuttings will be placed on existing and new project areas where native vegetation is inadequate. Maintenance of approximately 94 miles of existing riparian fence, 77 watergaps and 41 spring developments will be completed by project personnel. A bank stability analysis will be completed on 8 Mile Creek/Leach property, a tributary of the Middle Fork of the John Day River. Photopoints will be taken on existing projects and established on 2006 projects. Steelhead redd counts will be conducted on Lake and Cottonwood (Dayville) Creeks. During the winter of 2006, a DSL permit will be completed for the installation of structures that will help raise the water table on Fox Creek/Johns property. This project is to be started in 2007, and will take a considerable amount of time acquiring measurements, pictures and drawings. Weed control will be completed by the Grant County Weed department on existing projects.

Subbasin planning

How is this project consistent with subbasin plans?

As noted throughout the John Day subbasin plan, the John Day basin is renowned for its spring chinook salmon and summer steelhead populations. Two of the last remaining intact wild populations of anadromous fish in the Columbia River Basin, though now considerably reduced from their historic abundance. The management plan defines 10 broad restoration strategies, of these, 7 strategies pertain to the BPA Fish Habitat Program specifically (Strategies C-I page 6).The Fish Habitat program provides benefits to all of the focal species within the John Day Basin, (page 285-288). As stated in the subbasin plan (page 94) "the recent increases have been attributed to improvements in fish habitat". In the last two years (2003-2004) the fish habitat program has protected 1240 acres of which 80% is riparian habitat and 20 % is upland habitat. Since 1984 when the project was initiated, up through the current date, the program has protected approximately 3700 acres of fish habitat, primarily through the use of fencing and offsite water developments.

How do goals match subbasin plan priorities?

The primary goal of "The John Day Basin Fish Habitat Enhancement Project” is to access, create, improve, protect, and restore riparian and instream habitat for anadromous salmonids, thereby maximizing opportunities for natural fish production within the basin. This project provides for implementation of Program Measure 703 (C)(1), Action Item 4.2 of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's, Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program (NPCC, 1987), which continues to be implemented as offsite mitigation for mainstem fishery losses caused by the Columbia River hydro-electric system. The expected results of the John Day Fish Habitat Enhancement Program is to enhance production of indigenous wild stocks of spring chinook and summer steelhead within the subbasin through habitat protection, enhancement and fish passage improvement. The work conducted by the fish habitat program is on private lands and requires considerable time spent developing landowner trust and continued cooperation with the program throughout the 15 year lease or agreement periods. The project uses a passive approach to regeneration of habitat, by incorporating riparian exclosure fencing as the primary method to restore degraded streams to a more natural system. Individual projects help contribute to and complement the ecosystem and basin-wide watershed restoration efforts that are undertaken by state, federal, watershed councils and tribal agencies. In a cooperative effort to support the largest remaining wild runs of spring chinook salmon and summer steelhead in NE Oregon. The project accomplishes priority work under the subbasin plan, based on the framework in the management plan that puts fish habitat as the highest priority in all three geographic areas (Pg 7-8). Management plan also states that high priority should be placed on projects that protect and improve focal species habitat (Pg 286). The fish habitat programs main focus has been on the highest ranking priority areas.

Other comments

After reviewing the FY 2002 Columbia Plateau Proposal, the John Day fish habitat program has accomplished more than what was stated in those objectives. The fish habitat program has been signing 15 year cooperative and riparian lease agreements since 1984. In the last couple of years, landowners have been willing to rest larger pieces of property in order to qualify for the CREP program, in which the landowner is paid for acreage that is rested. The Bonneville Power Administration under contract number DEA 179-84 BP17460 provides funding for this endeavor. This funding is for private land leasing, stream habitat inventory, planning and design work, contract development, budgeting, fish passage improvement, fence construction, instream habitat placement, vegetation enhancement, construction review and maintenance. These activities are for anadromous fish habitat improvement on private lands within the John Day Basin. The John Day Fish Habitat program primarily relies on restoring natural vegetation, floodplain connectivity and groundwater interactions, using riparian fencing, in streams that have been impacted by livestock grazing. This method has proven to be effective in protecting and restoring streams (Beschta and others, 1991; Chaney and others, 1993). This program is coordinated with other fish habitat improvement programs on BLM, Forest Service and Tribal lands within the basin. For these restoration activities to be successful, they must be coordinated across many jurisdictional and ownership boundaries; Section 7, Action Item 7.6C of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's, Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program (NPCC, 1994). Meshing the goals of the fish habitat program, with goals and priorities of the John Day Subbasin Plan, it appears as though they both complement the causes associated with the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s, Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.