200201500 - Provide Coordination and Technical Assistance to Watershed Councils and Individuals in Sherman County, Oregon
Sponsor: Sherman County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD)
Budgets: FY07: $112,352 | FY08: $116,360 | FY09: $118,799
Short description: One watershed council coordinator and three planner/designers will provide support to four watershed councils in Sherman County. All future conservation projects will be based on watershed plans and individual ranch plans developed by these positions.
Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)
Funding category: Expense
Recommended budgets: FY07: $0 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $0
ISRP final recommendation: Response requested
The SWCD projects as a group continue to be cost-effective approaches to leveraging a large amount of USDA money in CCRP/CREP contracts that would probably not be implemented without the funding of these development positions. The riparian buffer contracts have the potential for strong benefits to aquatic habitat, and so aquatic species, as well as to non-aquatic riparian species. This project will directly benefit focal species of the Deschutes and John Day Subbasin Plans. Benefits will persist for at least as long as the riparian buffer contracts, and maybe longer if contracts are renewed or if landowners discover additional benefits of riparian buffers that encourage them to maintain them. The proposal provides a good description of riparian habitat problems in the Deschutes and John Day Subbasins and their linkage to problems of aquatic habitat (stream flows, water quality) and upland conditions. The proposed work is clearly linked to regional programs and to the priority rankings and associated restoration strategies for particular watersheds in the John Day and Deschutes Subbasin Plans. It is also linked to the Sherman County SWCD work plan. However, the proposal would be improved by also demonstrating the relation to other SWCD riparian projects and to the range of riparian projects in the John Day and Deschutes subbasins. The proposal makes the point that there is a growing demand for conservation projects and an associated need for coordination and implementation. It lists work tasks accomplished since 2002, but without evaluation of the impact of these actions. Evaluation of what has happened in the buffers implemented in 2002 and the key factors affecting enrollment would be informative and helpful. NRCS protocols require that CREP contracts be given three annual reviews post-enrollment. What are the outcomes of these reviews? Enrollment objectives are measured by number of stream miles. An explanation of the source and derivation of these enrollment objectives would provide useful explanatory information. Methods described are reasonable to accomplish the objectives of implementing riparian buffer contracts and coordinating watershed councils. Monitoring and evaluation includes indicators and performance standards, which is a step toward more thorough evaluation of the process. Monitoring and evaluation will be conducted through the application of NRCS protocols, in which a baseline visual stream assessment is followed by subsequent periodic assessments to assess terrestrial change within the riparian buffer. The ISRP recommends that to more completely assess post-project results and effectiveness, a cooperative effort be implemented with ODFW to also monitor fisheries and stream habitat response to the implementation of riparian buffers. Information transfer is built into the outreach and education objectives. The proposal also describes the transfer of project results (metrics) to the BPA Pisces system. However, the sponsors should clarify whether the conservation plans developed as part of CREP enrollment are kept confidential or are reported as part of the project results. If conservation plans are not reported, can they be synthesized in a way that will allow monitoring of progress toward meeting their objectives? The issue of project data provision vs. USDA confidentiality requirements should be addressed. Given the growing body of experience in the implementation of these USDA contracts, it would be timely and useful to assess what works, what doesn't work, and nature of the constraints facing voluntary habitat improvement programs. The ISRP recommends that SWCDs collaborate in developing a report assessing the determinants of successful implementation processes for these USDA programs. The ISRP requests a response clarifying the following issues identified in the review: 1. The relation of this project to other SWCD riparian projects and to the range of riparian projects in the John Day and Deschutes subbasins. 2. How enrollment objectives are determined. 3. The potential to develop a cooperative effort with ODFW to monitor fisheries and stream habitat response to the implementation of riparian buffers. 4. Whether the conservation plans developed as part of CREP enrollment are kept confidential or are reported as part of the project results. If conservation plans are not reported, can they be synthesized in a way that will allow monitoring of progress toward meeting their objectives? 5. The potential for SWCD collaborative development of a report assessing the determinants of successful implementation processes for riparian buffer contracts and other USDA voluntary conservation programs.
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: OSPIT notes the importance of the CREP projects to DEQ and their ability to draw matching funds. However, budgeting restrictions will not permit us to fund these projects.