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200001500 - Oxbow Conservation Area Management

Sponsor: Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon

Budgets: FY07: $264,366 | FY08: $211,073 | FY09: $341,261

Short description: The 1,022-acre Oxbow Conservation Area project is a mitigation property acquired by the CTWSRO through BPA funding. This proposal aims to continue the O&M, M&E, and habitat improvement projects on this valuable anadromous fish property.

view full proposal

Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $200,070 | FY08: $200,070 | FY09: $200,070


ISRP final recommendation: Fundable


This is a well-prepared proposal that is making progress toward its well-stated and well-justified objectives. The Oxbow Conservation Area was purchased as a high priority project in 2001 with BPA mitigation funds by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon (Tribes). The Project has since received BPA annual funding for O&M as part of the Memorandum of Agreement between the Tribes and BPA. The Oxbow property is located in the Camp Creek 5th Field HUC in the John Day subbasin. The subbasin plan identifies the Middle Fork John Day River as the highest priority subwatershed for the John Day subbasin. The valuable property holds a high concentration of adult spring Chinook salmon through the high temperatures and low flows of the summer months in its deep pools. The conservation area offers spawning and rearing habitat to Chinook, summer steelhead and bull trout as well as access to the five fish-bearing perennial tributaries that come into the property from National Forest lands. Technical and scientific background: The proposal contains good detail of riparian and in-stream problems requiring remediation and describes in some detail past accomplishments. A list of monitoring activities is presented and an M&E document is referenced. The proponents gave adequate responses to past ISRP questions and concerns. In particular, monitoring and evaluation on the Oxbow Ranch appears to be well coordinated with ongoing ODEQ and ODFW monitoring projects for the John Day basin. This section contains a quite complete description of the Oxbow Conservation Area, including habitat conditions and context. It also contains material that would be more appropriately placed in the sections on project history, objectives and methods. The section on spring Chinook contains a statement that the fish are protected under MSFCMA, when the reference should be to ESA. The table on fish distribution should contain some citation to sources. Overall the section contains good description of the fish and wildlife species and assessments done on their abundance and habitat. Helpful photos are provided. A good description of habitat issues that need to be addressed by the activities proposed in this project is also provided: dredge tailings, fish passage, riparian trees and shrubs, non-native plants and forest health. Rationale and significance to subbasin plans and regional programs: The proposal establishes good rationales and significance through linkages to the 2000 Fish and Wildlife Program and to the John Day Subbasin Plan. The area in which Oxbow CAP is located is identified as the highest priority for restoration in the subbasin plan. Recovery strategies identified as highest priority in the subbasin plan are consistent with activities contained in the proposed project. The Oxbow CAAP has developed a draft management plan which is under review at BPA. Goals and objectives of that plan are reflected in this proposal. The proposal also notes links to the USFS and NC management plans for the Middle Fork John Day, with ODFW management plans, with the Grant County SWCD, the watershed council, and with Wy-Kan-Ush-Mi-Wa-Kish-Wit. Relationships to other projects: The proposal lists several other projects to which this project is directly linked and with which it shares resources. A table identifies specific activities that are shared with other projects. Project history: A history of project development and various funding issues affecting project scale is presented. This is followed by a description of project results by category such as habitat protection, fencing, planting, fish screening, etc. The project clearly has implemented a substantial amount of restoration work. It would be helpful to have a little more evaluation of what these actions mean in the overall context; e.g.; where is the area now relative to where it was, and needs to be. Objectives: The proposal contains a number of biological objectives that link the subbasin plan and Oxbow CAP management plan. Several work elements are associated with each objective. The objectives are quite general in specification (e.g. "restore stream base flows) but contain a work element that is quite specific (obtain instream leases for water rights). Time lines are specified. Specific details are contained in the work element metrics (admin and budgeting section). Tasks (work elements) and methods are broadly described, but seemingly appropriate. Several work elements are associated with each objective. Some of the work elements are presented in general, rather than specific terms (e.g. install fence) but do contain discussion that establish the intention, context and rationale in more detail. Other work elements (e.g. replace 4 fish screens) are specific and measurable. All work elements have specific time lines attached. The objectives and work elements cover a lot of ground and consist of reasonable activities, with reference to their motivation in management plans and to monitoring activities (e.g. the grazing plan, water conditions, fish counts, etc). Specific details are contained in the work element metrics (admin and budgeting section). Monitoring and evaluation: M&E is conducted in a separate grazing management plan. M&E of project results for fish and habitat is also a separate work element. Data are collected and monitoring conducted on stream temperature, bird surveys, habitat condition, stream flow, fish counts, weather, etc. Descriptions of monitoring efforts contained in Section B provide additional detail of the type of assessment, monitoring and evaluation that is part of this project. It would be useful to see the Oxbow Conservation Area Management Plan to see how the monitoring is integrated to inform decision making on the area as a whole. There is quite a bit of monitoring laid out, but not very good indication of what they are looking for in terms of responses. Facilities, equipment, and personnel: Facilities and personnel are well situated in place with strong ties to related projects. Also note cost-sharing with the Nature Conservancy and other institutions. Information transfer: Good description of not only routine reporting to BPA, but also specific details on information sharing and coordination with other projects and agencies. Benefit to focal and non-focal species is well described. Project restoration activities will provide realizable benefits to spring Chinook, steelhead, redband trout and lamprey. Habitat restoration actions will also benefit frogs, white-tail deer, mink, mallard, yellow warbler, black-capped chickadee and western meadowlark. It is reasonable to expect that these benefits will persist over the long term.

State/province recommendation: Fundable, but at a reduced level

Review group: OSPIT - Plateau

Recommended budgets: FY07: $139,070 | FY08: $139,070 | FY09: $139,070

Comment: OSPIT recommends maintaining funding at the FY06 level and flatlining in the out years. High priority for CTWSRO for O&M funding.