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199206800 - Willamette Basin Mitigation

Sponsor: Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW)

Budgets: FY07: $2,816,657 | FY08: $4,000,143 | FY09: $4,012,310

Short description: ODFW's proposal provides an integrative mitigation program that protects, conserves, and restores areas containing diverse habitats that assist the life history needs and resources for multiple terrestrial and aquatic species in the Willamette Basin.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Capital

Recommended budgets: FY07: $2,000,000 | FY08: $3,250,000 | FY09: $3,250,000

Comment: Capital component, land acquisition. Fund in part: wildlife m&e programmatic issue.

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $760,657 | FY08: $694,143 | FY09: $706,310

Comment: Expense portion. Interim funding pending wildlife o&m review. See capital budget for capital recommendation.

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable in part (Qualified)

Comment:

The proposal is for a large-scale effort in habitat acquisition, enhancement, restoration and management. Consistent with the Subbasin Plan, State plans, and conservation NGO strategies, this proposal appears to be part of a well-coordinated, regional effort. This project (really a program of many interrelated projects) has been going on for 13 years. There are 13-14 ongoing projects that include routine restoration or maintenance activities, but rarely monitoring. New projects expand the scope of the program along the same trajectory. The land acquisition portion of this proposal is fundable. It defines the problem of land acquisition where only small parcels are available and the methods for prioritizing, selecting, and acquiring properties are sound. Beyond the pending acquisitions, the remainder of the proposal is fundable in part. The ISRP recommends funding for FY07 only to allow an assessment of past work. Future funding of the active management component of the budget should be contingent upon a meaningful quantitative and qualitative analysis of project accomplishments to date, in terms of benefits to fish and wildlife. Formal monitoring and informal observational results should be synthesized and analyzed in terms of lessons learned and future modifications needed in management and /or monitoring procedures. The preliminary review requested a response to concerns about monitoring and evaluation: “The project history provides some, but not sufficient, assessment of progress that the ISRP requested last year [referring to the ISRP’s review of this project in the Provincial and FY00 reviews]. The numerous objectives in the proposal will require significant administration to track progress of overall project. Timelines are not clear, nor are metrics for future assessment of accomplishments. The ISRP requests a more complete description of how progress will be monitored. Measurable objectives are not always listed. For instance, the objective ‘remove exotic vegetation’ may not be achievable by any currently known means. Work elements are often stated in terms of amount of habitat obtained or restored rather than in terms of fish and wildlife outcomes. The ISRP requests that authors address fish and wildlife responses. The ISRP believes that management plans have been completed for some sites and would like to see a description of monitoring methods. Procedures have been available during this project that should now be driving a feedback loop that is not apparent. The ISRP requests a description of how this loop functions. The proposal identifies some M&E efforts as part of work elements, but does not provide enough details to evaluate. Even implementation monitoring would be difficult given the information provided. Many proposals do not include metrics, and it appears monitoring is just now being addressed with initial development of reference sites and procedures. Objectives of the analysis, the sample design, and data to be collected should be clearly described in advance of projects. In addition to quarterly reports, strategies for sharing successes and lessons learned with others involved in similar mitigation activities is recommended. The response should describe the data to be generated, stored, or analyzed.” Monitoring is a critical element for a project of this duration. The response provided indications that the sponsors are aware of the need for effective monitoring and evaluation in terms of benefits to fish and wildlife but that they feel constrained by logistics, other reporting requirements, and by the difficulty of detecting changes to fish and wildlife during the early stages of projects and/or on small scattered parcels. The ISRP is not convinced by their argument as many other wildlife projects have set up monitoring that is consistent with what is requested by the ISRP. The Albeni Falls Monitoring Plan is one that has been reviewed by the ISRP and found exemplary. Sponsors are currently involved in development of "a revised HEP/Habitat value method that is based on structural and compositional values (ecological components) of mitigation sites and an evaluation of risk factors (such as presence and abundance of exotic invasives) to those sites." The use of HEP (revised or not) may be required for accounting purposes, but it is not seen by the ISRP as an effective monitoring tool The monitoring plans included in the response are monitoring objectives in general terms: "species population surveys or estimates will be completed each year for ...(species)." No methods or goals for a population are included or even if particular life stages or seasons are targeted for monitoring. In the case of South Meadow, monitoring includes elements such as acres treated, relative cover of weed species, but not who will do this when, where the data will go, when it will be evaluated, by whom or what will trip an adaptive management response. In the future, it may be difficult to use these data to improve restoration approaches. The sponsors are no doubt doing a difficult job with many uncertainties. The ISRP encourages the sponsors to view monitoring as a means of documenting project success and learning from projects in order to improve the success of future efforts. Reference is made to informal information sharing among project participants as an informal feedback loop. While useful, this does little to institutionalize or document lessons learned in an environment where the authors note that little validated restoration technology exists. Synthesis and publication of monitoring and evaluation data will maximize the value of project investments in terms of future benefits to fish and wildlife.

Response loop edit

See the sponsor's revised proposal from the response loop. You'll be taken to CBFWA's proposal system in Section 10 where most sponsors uploaded revised narratives or other responses to the ISRP comments.

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

Review group: OSPIT - Estuary

Recommended budgets: FY07: $766,657 | FY08: $700,143 | FY09: $712,310

Comment: OSPIT recommends reducing the budget by $50K per year, by deleting a staff position and shifting funding to other sources. We recommend the capital land acquisition portion of the budget as proposed.