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200703500 - UPA Project - Methow Basin Riparian Enhancement

Sponsor: Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation

Budgets: FY07: $252,464 | FY08: $197,243 | FY09: $158,932

Short description: MSRF proposes to partner with Bureau of Reclamation and Methow Conservancy to identify and prioritize riparian enhancement projects that will add value to passage, access and conservation projects. All projects will focus on TES species and habitat.

view full proposal

Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $202,880 | FY08: $202,880 | FY09: $202,880

Comment: Third year of funding is contingent on negotiating three additional landowner agreements as per ISRP comments.

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable in part

Comment:

Overall this proposal seems justified, but agreements with landowners for three of the nine sites should be completed before the project is fully fundable. The projects without a landowner agreement also are not fully described in the proposal. The projects for which a landowner agreement has been reached are presented in sufficient detail to warrant funding. The project also would benefit from a stronger monitoring plan. The ISRP recommends that only those projects for which agreements have been secured be funded at this time; funding for other sites can be requested as new agreements with landowners are obtained. In addition, the ISRP requests that project sponsors consider the following concerns and questions. Technical and scientific background: Much of the background material is excerpted from other sources and is not really required to support the proposed projects. The proposal would have been more effective if the pertinent information from the other documents was summarized. Appropriate justification is not provided for all the proposed projects. The proposal identifies six fencing and riparian revegetation projects in the Methow subbasin, with three additional projects pending landowner agreement. Some of the projects appear justified in that they are associated with previous restoration projects. Other projects appear to be simply taking advantage of a willing landowner. Specific information about the significance of each project would have made this a stronger proposal. Table 1 provides a prioritization scheme based on biological significance, cost and probability for project success. This process is a logical way to rank riparian projects. However, it is never indicated where the proposed projects fall on this prioritization scheme. Quantitative vegetation surveys from the project sites showing the extent of vegetation loss or change due to grazing would have helped to justify the projects, although the photographs indicated that past grazing practices have significantly altered the sites. Specific effects of the grazing on habitat conditions in adjacent fish spawning rearing areas are not described. Rationale and significance to subbasin plans and regional programs: Riparian restoration was indicated in the Methow Subbasin Plan as a priority element. As noted above, however, it is difficult to determine the priority of the specific riparian projects proposed. Are these projects being applied in locations with the highest probability for success and focal species response? The proposal also indicates links the objective of restoring riparian areas to the Fish and Wildlife Program and BiOp. Relationships to other projects: There are a number of riparian restoration efforts being pursued in the basin. The project is associated with two Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB) projects, a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) landowner grant, and a locally supported conversion project. The projects in this proposal would augment some of these efforts or apply similar treatments at other locations. Objectives: The general objectives are appropriate but very generic and the same objective is repeated for each project. The only quantitative aspect of the objectives was an estimate of the miles of riparian habitat treated. There should be specific objectives for each proposed project. The background discussion indicates the actual objectives are related to improvements in aquatic habitat such as reduced water temperature, reduced sedimentation etc. No objectives are stated for these desired outcomes. At a minimum there should be specific objectives established for the survival of the planted vegetation at each site. It also would have been helpful if all the proposed project sites were displayed on one map in relation to other protected areas to determine the extent to which these new projects may help restore connectivity along the riparian corridors of the mainstem Methow and its two large tributaries. Of the nine areas proposed for fencing and/or riparian planting, landowner agreements for three sites have not been finalized so there is no guarantee that those projects can go forward at this time. These projects should be removed from the proposal. Tasks (work elements) and methods: In general, the work elements and proposed methods appear to be appropriate for revegetating the project areas. The fencing and riparian planting methods seem sound. Irrigation, protection from browsing and control of invasive weeds are all addressed. Placing tubes around seedlings to prevent browse damage can be effective for some tree species but difficult to properly implement for others (e.g., western red cedar). Quite often tubes need to be repaired to maintain their effectiveness, so project planners need to be prepared for this eventuality. Pole fencing, using live trees for posts, and other fencing methods involving wood structure can be damaged by wildfire - a significant ecosystem process in this area. Monitoring and evaluation: There is limited discussion of monitoring for these projects. As this type of treatment will be applied widely throughout the region, there should be some attempt to assess effectiveness to make future projects more successful. The proposal does mention that a contractor will be hired to establish photopoints and ensure that fencing remains functional. Presumably the photos will provide some indication of vegetation survival. However, much more could be learned about the success of plant establishment by treatment type, species, and location in the riparian area. It would be very helpful to include some quantitative vegetation surveys at some of the sites to determine whether the fencing and replanting efforts are producing desired effects. It would also be helpful to know what types of seedling protection devices (i.e., boxes, tubes, etc.) are most effective. Facilities, equipment and personnel seem reasonable. Information transfer is through local website updates and public outreach. It would be helpful to have a data acquisition and storage system for these projects. Benefits to aquatic species and riparian-associated wildlife seem likely, providing the riparian projects are in locations key to Chinook and steelhead production in the Methow. Regardless, the benefits will take some time to be expressed as many of the desired functions of the riparian vegetation will require trees to reach considerable size. These projects may be more beneficial, at least in the short term, for some of the species listed as "other" in the proposal, especially the birds. The benefits for some of these species may be achieved relatively rapidly once native vegetation begins to reoccupy the project sites. One potential negative effect is that the deer exclusion fencing may interfere with deer travel routes. There was no discussion of this potential issue in the proposal.

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: Washington

Review group: Washington list

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

Comment: See Washington guidance