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199801700 - North Fork/Mid-John Day Fish Passage Improvement

Sponsor: Monument & Wheeler SWCDs

Budgets: FY07: $516,795 | FY08: $498,720 | FY09: $313,249

Short description: The project sponsors will replace problematic irrigation diversions and culverts in the Lower North Fork and Mid-mainstem John Day Watersheds with fish-friendly structures that ensure fish passage and improve riparian habitat while efficiently meeting land managers' needs.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Capital

Recommended budgets: FY07: $423,666 | FY08: $405,591 | FY09: $320,120

Comment: Capital component.

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $93,129 | FY08: $93,129 | FY09: $93,129

Comment: This work will be funded as part of project 199801800. Expense portion of project. See capital budget for capital component.

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable

Comment:

This well-written project proposal describes activities to improve habitat connectivity and riparian habitat conditions in selected tributaries to the North Fork and Mid-mainstem of the John Day River by replacing between 18 and 25 problematic irrigation diversions, culverts, and other artificial structures with fish-friendly structures. The culverts were identified through a prioritization process. The focal species include Mid-Columbia Summer Steelhead, redband trout, specific life histories of Mid-Columbia Spring Chinook, and Pacific Lamprey. This is a solid proposal that demonstrates its activities are linked to priority needs from regional and subbasin planning documents and that is making steady progress toward achieving its objectives. Much of the proposal and planned work is straightforward with simple monitoring planned to document that anticipated results are actually achieved. No termination date is identified for the project even though sponsor comments indicate that approximately 10-13 years work will be needed to address passage issues in the John Day Basin. Even though such a termination date is uncertain and is some years out, a termination date should be identified for projects, rather than leaving them open-ended. The ISRP has a programmatic concern on all projects proposing culvert replacement. 1. Prioritization of specific culvert? 2. How much habitat is made available? 3. What is the "quality" of the habitat? This project has addressed these concerns within its proposal. Technical and scientific justification: Fixing fish passage barriers is the focus of this project. Primary barriers are culverts and push-up dams. Excellent descriptions of problems with push-up dams and culverts at the specific watershed sites to be addressed by this project are included in the proposal. These are effectively illustrated with maps, graphs, and photographs of problem areas and fish-friendly alternatives. Push-up dams and old makeshift diversion dams are to be replaced with removable flashboard dams and/or rock step-pool weirs, while poorly-installed culverts and other problematic road crossings (collapsed log bridges, etc) will be replaced with properly-sized culverts, bottomless arch culverts or small bridges. Funding is requested for $1,328,764 over the 3-year project period. Priority areas are consistent with those identified in the John Day Subbasin Plan. Fish passage has been identified in the subbasin plan as a high-priority limiting factor. Relationship of activities under this project to the Fish and Wildlife Program and to the subbasin plan is clear. The actions in this project are directly tied to specific priority restoration strategies in the subbasin plan. The proposal also discusses relationship to the draft recovery plan (not yet released) for Mid-Columbia steelhead. Project actions relate to RPA 149 in the 2000 BiOp. Relationships to other projects: Examples are given of other projects this group works with: ODFW fish screens, multi-agency riparian habitat restoration, Oregon Water Trust irrigation efficiency projects, other SWCD upland conservation. The project will build on previous passage work of these SWCDs and others. Project history: To date, this project has replaced 15 problematic irrigation diversions with fish friendly alternatives, with another 8 scheduled for replacement in 2006 (Map G). This represents over 60% of the problematic diversions in the initial project area. As initially developed, the project focused on eliminating push-up dams on the lower mainstem of the North Fork John Day. In 2003, sponsors started to emphasize works in tributaries, as low-flow passage barriers typically have much more impact in small streams that do provide summer habitat to salmonids. Objectives: Five project objectives are clearly specified with quantitative measures of progress. Brief but clear descriptions of the intent of each objective are included. Timelines are not included. Tasks (work elements) and methods: Work elements are specifically described. Methods have previously demonstrated effectiveness. Note is made of the need for voluntary cooperation of landowners, and that this may limit project success. However, a history of positive working relationships of the SWCD and landowners make failure unlikely. Monitoring and evaluation: The project includes basic monitoring of effectiveness of actions -- habitat response to project implementation. Population response monitoring is done by other projects (ODFW, NOAA/BOR). Work elements are included for project effectiveness monitoring to collect data on: site changes (photopoints) and stream temperature. Monitoring, data collection, and analysis are done in collaboration with Monument SWCD. Primary use of project-generated monitoring is to assess effectiveness and guide project implementation. The project also includes a monitoring component, which aims to 1) document the changes at project sites over time through photo monitoring, and 2) determine whether in fact push-up dams result in warming of downstream flows. Photo documentation has show gradual riparian recovery at the sites of old push-up dams. The temperature monitoring that has been collected has documented that specific types of push-up dams (in particular, ones that create long artificial side-channels in summer low flow conditions) can elevate water temperatures. Other types of push up dams do not have as clear a temperature signal. Facilities, equipment, and personnel: Facilities are reasonable. A history of collaboration among SWCDs and among SWCDs and landowners make these groups uniquely qualified to implement these types of projects on private lands. Information transfer: Project results to be reported in SWCD newsletters, reports and other publications of the SWCDs and watershed councils, local and regional media. If monitoring shows broadly applicable results, sponsors intend to summarize in more broadly distributed reports.

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

Review group: OSPIT - Plateau

Recommended budgets: FY07: $300,000 | FY08: $300,000 | FY09: $300,000

Comment: OSPIT recommends slowing the pace of implementation to seven projects per year, flatlining the outyears. The project will continue to focus on the most important tributaries that were identified in the John Day subbasin plan.