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199607702 - Protect & Restore Lolo Creek Watershed

Sponsor: Nez Perce Tribe DFRM Watershed Division

Budgets: FY07: $675,877 | FY08: $693,099 | FY09: $634,355

Short description: Protect and restore the Lolo Creek Watershed to provide quality habitat for anadromous and resident fish. This will be accomplished by watershed restoration projects such as culvert replacement, road obliteration, and streambank stabilization.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $260,722 | FY08: $260,722 | FY09: $260,722

Comment: 2007 Revised Budget: 1) Reduced budget associated with riparian revegetation and noxious weed treatment; and 2) eliminate budget associated with culvert designs/replacements (work element 3a-q) and education component (work element 2b).

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable

Comment:

General comments concerning Nez Perce Tribe proposals to “protect and restore” various watersheds: Justifications need to address several questions for each individual project: 1. What was the historic and current status and importance of the focal species population(s) in this watershed? 2. What was the historic and current condition of the habitat? 3. What is the potential to restore this watershed? 4. And if restored, what contribution will this project make to the focal species’ future? The sponsors are encouraged to formulate a separate proposal to monitor and evaluate all such projects together with the entire budget devoted to this activity. This would provide consistency across projects, facilitate discovering the best methodologies to implement and monitor such projects, ensure the foundation for successful adaptive management, and reduce the monitoring burden on implementation teams. Linking to the Nez Perce Tribal Fish Hatchery monitoring would be an efficient way to deal with fish response while habitat factors could be evaluated separately, thus accounting for the fact that single habitat projects alone may be difficult to link to future fish response. The exception to this would be the relatively simple before/after monitoring of fish use and abundance above and below current passage barriers, which could be monitored as part of the individual habitat projects. Removing passage barriers can - but not necessarily will - result in increased fish production. Thus the ISRP seeks justification of each specific project based on the quality and quantity of habitat above a barrier (not just miles of stream) and the potential increase in fish use and benefit. Risks associated with exotic fish species should also be included. A quantitative evaluation of habitat quality and quantity above each barrier should play a major role in prioritizing barrier replacement/removal projects. Similar logic can be followed for other projects (such as road decommissioning or weed management). Several proposals included weed control, but no species or strategies were included. The only identifiable budget items were herbicide-related, which alone does not constitute a supportable strategy. Establishment or improvement of desirable alternative vegetation was not described. The sponsors should ensure that integrated pest management practices are followed and include quantifiable population or species distribution goals. Projects should employ a landscape level perspective. Developing such a program may require a cooperative effort with other landowners and agencies involved in invasive species control. ISRP comments specific to this proposal 199607702: The project’s purpose is to rehabilitate stream and riparian processes in the Lolo Creek watershed that were damaged by human activities: logging, road building, mining, farming, and grazing. Chinook salmon and steelhead are the focal species that are to benefit from improved habitat. Five other salmonid species are involved. The sponsors see disrupted sediment regimes as a major problem. To resolve it, they will focus work on road obliteration and streambank stabilization. The latter involves bioengineering methods and riparian plantings. They also will replace culverts that block fish passage. The ISRP agrees that the project will benefit the focal and non-focal species and recommends that it is fundable. Note: Some of the sponsors’ response to ISRP comments was done in ways that required much time-consuming further review. The main problem was brief reference to lengthy attached documents instead of writing direct answers. The ISRP found that the proposal adequately analyzed problems and showed significance to regional programs and relationships to other projects. The proposal’s project history section was inadequate. It did not include quantified evidence of the project’s physical and biological results. The ISRP asked for a response on effectiveness of project activities in terms of habitat created or improved and in terms of fish produced. The sponsors did not rewrite the project history but instead attached a 94-page report on (rather preliminary) physical and biological monitoring of Lolo Creek—and asked for ISRP comments on it. The report contains much data and some brief analyses from measurements of 11 parameters, covering the years 2003 to 2005, apparently the first period in which this monitoring was done for the 10-year-old project. Therefore, little or no time-trend information exists, but it was helpful to see the report’s methods. In the future, it would be more helpful for the sponsors to summarize pertinent material from such reports in the proposal itself. The sponsors added that their project is minimally funded for biological M&E, and they referred to fish population monitoring being done under project #198335003. It would be appropriate for the sponsor to present and interpret data from that other project in the present project’s proposal. In addition, the sponsors attached reports on monitoring of the road decommissioning effort and of culvert replacement (41 pages in total). Again, the results embodied in these reports should have been incorporated in the narrative proposal’s project history. The ISRP commented that the general thrust of the objectives is sound, but their organization and clarity could be improved. The difference between certain objectives was unclear and needed to be rethought and reorganized and clarified in a response. The sponsors did this in editing their revised proposal. (But instead of describing the changes in the response document, they just said there that they had done it, forcing reviewers to spend much time and expense searching and comparing texts of the original and revised proposals to find out what the changes were.) The proposal inadequately described monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plans. In particular, the methods for biological M&E were unacceptably sketchy. ISRP asked sponsors to present a thorough M&E program, including the appropriate statistical design. In response, the sponsors pointed to lack of direction and agreement within the Columbia Basin on monitoring strategies, again referenced the monitoring report for 2005, and said they would appreciate ISRP “input.” They say that the NPCC limitation of 5% of project budget for M&E will prevent them from implementing “the monitoring plan in the future, to its full capacity.” Review of their attached monitoring reports indicates that judicious sampling design improvements by statistical consultants (possibly including omission of some parameters) might reduce the M&E program’s size without hampering effectiveness. This project’s M&E value may be much reduced by lack of pre-construction measurements. The ISRP recommended that, in the response loop, the Nez Perce Tribe prioritize and rank the numerous proposals submitted under “protect and restore” titles. This was covered in response attachments.

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: Snake

Recommended budgets: FY07: $260,722 | FY08: $260,722 | FY09: $260,722

Comment: 2007 Revised Budget: Reduced riparian reveg, eliminate culvert designs & culvert replacements, reduce noxious weed treatment, eliminate education component.