Response for project 200002600: Rainwater Wildlife Area Operat

Comment on proposed FY 2006 budget

The Rainwater Wildlife Area (Project # 200002600) is being reprogrammed for funding through NPPC Fish & Wildlife Program in FY2006 because funds provided under the Washington Wildife Mitigation Interim Agreement and BPA-CTUIR MOA for operations, maintenance, and enhancements during FY2003-2004 budget periods have been exhausted. The planned budget of $304,926 is acceptible to accomplish the statement of work for administration, operations, maintenance, habitat enhancements, and monitoring/evaluation during the FY2006 budget period.

Accomplishments since the last review

BPA Environmental ComplianceCompleted NEPA checklist and supplemental environmental analyses for Rainwater Wildlife Area Management Plan, Operations & Maintenance.
Produce Environmental Compliance DocumentationPrepared NEPA checklist, organized cultural resource investigation, prepared draft biological assessment for South Touchet Project, and environmental documentation for BPA NEPA analysis file for operations/maintenance activities.
Produce Inventory or AssessmentCompleted Rainwater Wildlife Area Watershed Management Plan and Habitat Evaluation Procedures (HEP) document.
Produce Annual ReportDrafted annual reports. Reports for 2004 currently in draft form and under development for submittal to BPA COTR for approval.
Produce Status ReportCompleted quarterly reports and submitted to BPA COTR to maintain communication on status of statement of work and accomplishments.
Type of decommissioning (B/S/R): (Blocked, Scarified/Ripped, Recontoured)Scarified/ripped 0.70 miles of road and returned to grass, shrub, tree production.
# of road miles decommissioned (0.01 mi.)0.70 miles existing road scarified and ripped, seeded, and planted.
# of road miles improved, upgraded, or restoredConducted maintenance on road network to improve drainage and minimize sediment delivery to fish bearing streams. During reporting period, 4.5 miles of existing road has been treated, including installation of dips, drainage basins, and spot rocking.
# of miles of fence (0.01 mi.)During reporting period, 2.42 miles of boundary fences was installed along north and eastern property boundaries adjacent to private land to minimize livestock trespass onto the wildlife area.
# of acres of vegetation planted (0.1 ac.)Approximately 40 acres of upland forest and 3 acres of riparian habitat planted during reporting period. Planting included installation of 7,000 conifers and 500 hydrphytic shrubs.
# of riparian miles treated (0.01 mi.; count each bank separately)0.25 miles of treatment along South Fork Touchet River (750 conifers and 500 shrubs).
Maintain Terrestrial StructureMaintained 4 miles of boundary fence and cattle guard to minimize trespass livestock onto wildlife area.
Maintain VegetationAnnually treated approximately 100 acres of upland and 20 acres of riparian habitat for noxious weeds. Treatment included broadleaf-specific herbicide and establishment of 12 biological control agent release sites to control yellow starthistle.
Remove DebrisDisposed of an estimated 2 tons of garbage/refuse/and abandoned logging equipment collected from wildlife area.
Prepare HEP ReportCompleted Rainwater Wildlife HEP report in 2003. Report currently under review by BPA.
Conduct Pre-Acquisition ActivitiesConducted landline boundary survey and monumentation through subcontract with private land survey company. Approximately 13 of survey and monumentation completed. Survey planned for completion in 2005.
Collect/Generate/Validate Field and Lab DataConducted ongoing monitoring and evaluation for project area including vegetation plot data, instream habitat and channel morphology, water quality, fish populations, and photopoints. Participated/coordinated with WDFW in data collection of big game pops

During the reporting period, management actions on the wildlife area have been focused on general operations and maintenance such as public use management and access and travel management, completing landline boundary surveys and monumentation, boundary fence construction to prevent trespass livestock from adjacent private lands, weed control, obliteration/reclamation of roads, tree planting, and planning, design, and interagency/private landowner coordination for a restoration project associated with 7 miles of the South Fork Touchet River corridor within the Wildlfie Area.

FY 2006 goals and anticipated accomplishments

BPA Environmental ComplianceComplete NEPA checklists and other environmental compliance needs (consultations on ESA listed fish and Wildlife, permits, cultural resource evaluations).
Produce Environmental Compliance DocumentationPrepare biological assessment, coordinate cultural resource investigations, prepare permit applications.
CoordinationContnue coordination with interior private landowners on access and travel management policies. Coordinate with WDFW and WADNR on fish and wildife issues, surveys, project designs, and permit needs.
Manage and Administer ProjectsAdminister subcontracts for weed control, landline surveys, and restoreation work. Fulfull contractural responsibilities with BPA regarding project contract (statements of work and budgets, reporting, etc).
Produce Annual ReportPrepare and submit annual report.
Produce Status ReportPrepare and submit quarterly reports via Pisces milestone and metric reporting program.
# of stream miles treated (0.01 mi.)7 miles South Fork Touchet River.
# of structures installedEstimated 300 whole trees with rootwad and misc large woody debris. Placement includes individual and log jam configurations to enhance instream habitat complexity, direct channel thalweg, and/or develop gravel bars.
Start and end lat/long of treated reach (0.1")046 06' 21.60" N/117 59' 6.72"W to 046 11' 58.73"N/117 57' 17.06" W.
# of road miles improved, upgraded, or restoredAs part of South Touchet Restoration Project, realign, spot rock, reconstruction approximatley 3 miles of drawbottom road that provides legal access to private landowners. Current road in extremely poor condition with channel capture of road prism.
# of acres of vegetation planted (0.1 ac.)Plant 2-4,000 trees and shrubs in upland forest and riparian habitat to restore plant communities/cover. Estimated 20 acres.
# of riparian miles treated (0.01 mi.; count each bank separately)3 miles riparian habitat along lower South Fork Touchet River.
Enhance FloodplainSouth Fork Touchet Habitat Restoration Project includes relocation of approximatley 3 miles of floodplain road to reduce resource damage and reconnect stream to floodplain.
Maintain Terrestrial StructureMaintain approximately 6 miles of property boundary fence to minimize trespass livestock onto wildlife area.
Maintain VegetationConduct annual weed management activities including spot herbicide application and release of biological control agents (beetle colonies).
Collect/Generate/Validate Field and Lab DataTake photo points, deploy and retrieve theremographs, conduct vegetation plot surveys, conduct fish population surveys, tabulate and summarize data, prepare summaries for annual reports.

The Rainwater Wildlife Area was acquired in September 1998 by the CTUIR through an agreement with Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to partially offset habitat losses associated with construction of the John Day and McNary hydroelectric facilities on the mainstem Columbia River. Management and administration of the Wildlife Area provides protection of watershed and fish and wildlife resources on 8,768 acres. The project provides 5,185 habitat units of protection credit and over 1,850 enhancement habitat units to BPA for seven targeted wildlife species. Annual operations and maintenance address key strategies for habitat protection and enhancement. The following management activities have been accomplished annually during the reporting period: Fence construction and maintenance to minimize trespess livestock and provide habitat protection, road obliteration and drainage repair to reduce sediment delivery to fish bearing streams, implementation of access and travel management policy that provides for wildlife security (year-round road closures, and 3.5 miles of motorized public access), weed control (herbicide treatments and release of biological control agents), landline boundary survey and monumentation to identify property boundaries in preparation of prioritized fence construction, planning/design on 7 mile restoration effort along South Fork Touchet River (floodplain road relocation and drainage repair, large wood/whole tree additions, natural channel design), and monitoring/evaluation (vegetation plots, photo points, instream habitat/morphological surveys, fish population studies, big game population surveys).

Subbasin planning

How is this project consistent with subbasin plans?

The project is consistent with the Walla Walla Subbasin Plan (December 2004) by providing protection of fish and wildlife habitats in the headwater of the Touchet River Watershed, and implementing numerous stratgies listed under multiple objectives (Section 7.3.2, pgs 151-167). Strategies employed under the Rainwater Management Plan include habitat conservation of key headwater habitat in the South Fork Touchet River Watershed, instream and riparian/flooplain habitat restoration and enhancement, removal of roads located in floodplains that contribute sediment to fish bearing streams, planting native vegetation, and control of noxious weeds.

How do goals match subbasin plan priorities?

The Rainwater Wildlife Area is a priority in the subbasin as it provides protection in a key headwater reach of the South Touchet Watershed. In addition, the wildlife area is prioritized to mitigate wildlife losses associated with the McNary and John Day hydroelectric facilities on the Columbia River, providing off-site, primarily in-kind mitibation. Rainwater is specifically mentioned in the Plan as an example of needed protection efforts and the opportunity provide dual benefits for both fish and wildlife resources. Key priority habitat-related actions identified in the plan to address limiting factors such as habitat quality and quantity and water quality include: H-1: Active Instream Habitat Scenario (LWD, Boulder/Pool), H-2: Passive Instream Habitat Scenario (Riparian) – Improve riparian zone habitat, and function by fencing and planting riparian zones and modifying detrimental land use activities, including problematic roads, H-3: Modify channel and flood-plain function, H-4: Protect High Quality Habitat – e.g. Rainwater, H-5: Restore upstream or headwater attributes to improve downstream conditions (Uplands Scenario) (Subbasin Plan, Final Addendum, Nov 2004, Section 1.1.5.3, Habitat, pgs 5-7).

Other comments

The following specific goals and objectives were developed in the Wildlife Area Management Plan and are presented to supplement information provided above related to the Walla Walla Subbasin Plan. Wildlife Mitigation Species Objectives The following objectives have been established by the CTUIR for individual target wildlife mitigation species. It should be recognized that many of these objectives also apply to non-target wildlife: •Restore natural range of variability for structural stages and plant community groups in Forest, Grass & Shrubland, and Riparian Cover Types •Increase quality and quantity of forest cover habitat for big game and other wildlife •Maintain and promote high quality big game/wildlife security habitat •Maintain and/or promote optimum forest stand conditions •Increase availability of snag and log habitat •Restore native grasslands and decrease the occurrence of noxious weeds and/or competing and unwanted vegetation •Restore riparian and wetland habitat along the South Fork Touchet River, Griffin Fork, and other streams in the study area. Fisheries and Watershed Objectives The following fisheries and watershed objectives have been identified by the CTUIR: Many of the following objectives are specific to instream habitat conditions •Improve water quality (decrease high summer water temperature) •Improve width:depth ratio on fish bearing streams •Increase stream channel sinuosity and reduce stream gradient •Encourage development of single threaded, consolidated low flow channel (reduce unnatural stream braiding) and reconnect streams to their floodplains •Increase frequency of large, complex pool habitat •Increase vegetative cover within floodplain to provide shade, floodplain stability, and future large woody debris •Improve streambank stability and reduce erosion from both floodplain and upland sources •Stabilize headcuts in South Fork Touchet River floodplain, particularly those associated with drawbottom roads and skid trails •Encourage recolonization of beaver