< Back to list of FY 2007-2009 projects

200203500 - Gilliam Co Riparian Buffers

Sponsor: Gilliam Soil & Water Conservation District

Budgets: FY07: $80,221 | FY08: $84,806 | FY09: $91,839

Short description: The project sponsors seek BPA funding to continue our riparian buffer position. This job entails making 10-15 year contracts with private landowners to establish riparian areas. Non-BPA monies are then leveraged to develop, maintain and enhance fish and wildlife resources.

view full proposal

Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

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

Comment:

ISRP final recommendation: Response requested

Comment:

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. Gilliam County has a high proportion of private landownership, and so needs landowner cooperation in riparian restoration. A good description is provided of the causes of riparian degradation, the relation of degradation to the decline of aquatic species, and link between riparian condition and stream flows. The Subbasin Plan is cited, as is the Thirtymile watershed assessment that will identify strategies for riparian buffers on this priority stream. The project is well connected to the priority drainage areas identified in the John Day Subbasin Plan. The restoration of these systems is linked to the strategies listed in the Subbasin Plan that in turn relate to the long-term recovery goals for summer steelhead, redband trout, and spring Chinook. The project is also linked to a range of other projects in the subbasin and to regional programs. There is information exchange with SWCDs in other subbasins. A good description of the project’s history includes assessment of the potential for further leveraging. There is also some evaluation of off-site stock watering and the cost-effectiveness of mulching options. Quantitative objectives for riparian buffer contracts enrollment are provided, as with the other SWCD proposals. The biological and habitat objectives are taken from the Subbasin Plan, with an emphasis on restoring riparian habitat in order to support recovery of focal species on private land. This project will focus enrollment efforts on Subbasin Plan priority areas but will assist in other areas as well. However, as with other riparian buffer projects it would be helpful to know the basis for these numbers, to understand how the SWCDs develop their enrollment targets or how these targeted enrollments relate to the total need. The narrative does a good job of showing how enrollment activities relate to the "improve stream flow" objective. It also is convincing as to why the NRCS cannot do the expanded enrollment alone, and how the activities to enroll landowners in the CRP/CREP programs are related to the subbasin goals. The work elements are reasonable and follow NRCS protocols. The project will monitor riparian buffer implementation and the effectiveness of livestock exclusion. Monitoring and evaluation will also 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. Does the existing information sharing with ODFW extend to collaborative monitoring? 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. The sponsors don't give themselves enough credit for the information transfer built into the proposal. They indicate that the proposal's information will be transferred and available for review on the BPA publication web site and the PISCES reporting web site. But elsewhere in the proposal they describe the joint tour of ODFW/SWCD of the riparian projects, to share information on flow requirements, passage issues, and riparian planting methods. There is also noted information sharing among projects, and among SWCDs (software, processes, USDA and SWCD personnel). They also mention teaching stream bank restoration techniques in Morrow and Umatilla counties. This project does an excellent job at information transfer. As with other riparian buffer projects the evaluation aspect could be enhanced by evaluating factors influencing enrollment and lessons learned from the development and implementation of these contracts. The ISRP recommends that the Oregon SWCDs work together to identify general findings as well as outcomes that vary by SWCD. The evaluation could identify ways to tie in outreach and education with landowner incentives and constraints. Additional thinking might be developed on how to target new audiences. The ISRP requests a response clarifying the following issues identified in the review: 1. The potential to develop a cooperative effort with ODFW to monitor fisheries and stream habitat response to the implementation of riparian buffers. 2. How enrollment objectives are determined. 3. 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? 4. 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.