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200701300 - Convert BPA Term Riparian Lease Agreements to Permanent Riparian Conservation Easements

Sponsor: John Day Basin Trust

Budgets: FY07: $433,690 | FY08: $427,811 | FY09: $433,145

Short description: The John Day Basin Trust requests program operations funding and a "set aside" allocation of purchase funding to pursue the conversion of current and expired riparian lease agreements to permanent riparian conservation easements.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $0 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $0

Comment:

ISRP final recommendation: Response requested

Comment:

This proposal requests funding to purchase and administer the conversion of riparian area protections (fenced areas) to permanent conservation easements. The proposal lacks detail to support the request, including justification for why conservation easements are the most effective tool, identification of the specific amount of easements needed, or details of the approach. The proposal links conservation easements to the achievement of subbasin plan objectives but should be able to demonstrate why conservation easements would be the most cost-effective approach to long-term protections in the John Day Subbasin. The sponsors’ response should better justify the easement approach and present information about the costs and benefits of this approach relative to other protection tools. It would be helpful to include citations to studies that demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of conservation easements in contributing to subbasin goals. In addition to responding to the areas identified in the paragraph above, sponsors are also asked to respond to the concerns and questions identified in the sections below. The technical and scientific background includes an extensive description of the project area and its existing riparian protections. Several questions pertaining to the project context are left unaddressed. 1. What proportion of priority and habitat streams are fenced by existing projects? (e.g. What does 76 miles of fence mean in context?) 2. What proportion (actual %) of the existing riparian fenced areas are within the Subbasin Plan’s high priority areas? 2. The proposal shows a trend of increasing numbers of conservation easements in the John Day Basin (Figure 3). What influenced the relatively low number in 2004? 3. What is the basis for the statement that conservation easements (compared to fee-simple acquisitions) may be one of the most efficient approaches? How has this evaluation been made? 4. How are standards for continuing fence maintenance monitored and enforced under easements? Proposal objectives are quite generally specified. They sound reasonable for the development of conservation easements, but more detail should be provided. Work elements pertain to the objectives but are also quite general. More information should be provided as to the specific of developing and implementing conservation easements. No detail on monitoring and evaluation is provided. Added to these concerns are the following specific questions: 5. How are conservation easement targets (size, locations) determined? 6. What are the likely constraints? 7. What is the function of the HEP reports - do the conservation easements then become associated with wildlife credits? 8. What monitoring and evaluation of the conservation easement process – both development and post-implementation – will be done? More information should also be provided as to why the John Day Basin Trust is the best entity to perform this work and how the information produced by this project will be shared. Information transfer is only generally described. It would be helpful to have more specifics as to how this will be done, especially given the potentially controversial nature of this activity.

State/province recommendation: Not fundable due to budget constraints

Review group: OSPIT - Plateau

Recommended budgets: FY07: (n/a) | FY08: (n/a) | FY09: (n/a)

Comment: Budgetary restrictions.