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200702300 - Integrated Fruit Production in Fifteenmile and Hood River Subbasin Orchards

Sponsor: Wyeast Resource Conservation & Development Area Council

Budgets: FY07: $141,860 | FY08: $141,860 | FY09: $141,290

Short description: A project to reduce the impact of Organophosphate pesticides from entering streams and rivers in Hood River County Oregon.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

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

Comment:

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable (Qualified)

Comment:

This project is creative and has much local support, and is fundable with qualifications. The project sponsors have generally addressed the issues that need to be resolved, and most farmers have bought into the concept. However, the ISRP qualifies this “fundable” recommendation because, if funded, several issues need to be addressed. The most important point remaining unaddressed is the need to develop a water sampling protocol, so they can monitor their progress. The ISRP is not requesting a response on these issues but expects that these issues could be dealt with in the Council’s selection process or in BPA contracting. The proposal could have presented a clearer argument for why these alternative production methods would be better for streams; however, reviewers understand that earlier research in the area showed serious problems (cholinesterase inhibition) with salmonids in the streams associated with organophosphate (OP) pesticides. An additional argument could have been made that some pesticides are highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates, which form the primary food source for juvenile salmonids. Harm to stream food webs might be another serious consequence of organophosphate applications. These organophosphate pesticides were sprayed in the adjacent orchards with considerable amounts entering the streams. The approach then became, “What can be done to reduce the use of toxic organophosphate pesticides in the orchards?” The Integrated Fruit Production system that was developed included a weather station grid and computer network to allow the farmers to minimize the use of pesticides in their orchards based on weather data and associated models. This system is continuing to develop with added weather stations (many different microclimates in the area), model development, and education (training sessions/meetings) taking place. The first item needing improvement in the proposal is to document the tie between fish and water quality. It is unfortunate that a water-sampling framework (for pesticide residues in the rivers) is not in place at this time and is of concern. It would certainly be a complicated sampling framework to develop because of the ephemeral nature of the pesticides being used and the unpredictable nature of the spray applications. But it should be a high priority and is the best way to monitor progress (although amounts of pesticides applied in the orchards would be a good check on the amount of pesticides found in the river water). It is not clear what additional monitoring will be done, if any, to assess the potential decrease in pesticides through the aquatic food web including the fish. This monitoring and evaluation does not necessarily need to be conducted by the project sponsors, but they need to link to projects that monitor watershed conditions especially Project 199802100, Hood River Fish Habitat, which proposes some pesticide monitoring. It would have been helpful to include a map showing where the primary fruit-producing areas are located relative to important salmon and steelhead spawning and rearing areas. The second item needing improvement concerns work previously funded as Project 20012200, the goal of which was also to reduce the use of organophosphate pesticides in the Hood River and Fifteenmile Creek. Is the current proposal only to extend geographic coverage to additional acreage? Are there new features of the proposed work? The third item is collaboration. It is unexpected that no cost-share from USDA/NRCS, EPA, etc. is described. Is it anticipated? Proposers describe past contributions from the State and industry. Is this continuing?

State/province recommendation: Not fundable due to budget constraints

Review group: OSPIT - Gorge

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

Comment: Project has strong local support and good cost share, but the budget will not accommodate the work for this funding cycle.