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200300700 - Lower Columbia River and Estuary Ecosystem Monitoring

Sponsor: Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership (LCREP)

Budgets: FY07: $1,557,223 | FY08: $2,277,718 | FY09: $1,734,127

Short description: This project creates a consistent approach to protocol development and status and trends monitoring of estuarine habitats. The goal is to develop an ecosystem based monitoring program focused on increasing the survival of juvenile salmonids.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $411,000 | FY08: $411,000 | FY09: $411,000

Comment: Budget reductions not specific. Project to be implemented as proposed with reduced scope. Fund consistent with ISRP comments - prioritize the completion of tasks associtated with finalizing the classification system. Regional M&E Programmatic Issue.

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable (Qualified)


The sponsors provided thorough responses to most of the ISRP’s comments. They provided additional details to clarify most of the concerns the ISRP raised. It is gratifying to see a well thought-out approach to sampling the neglected freshwater tidal habitats of the Columbia River. The presentation of results related to contaminant monitoring in the lower Columbia River and estuary was especially well done. Of particular importance is the close cooperation of this project and Project # 200301000 “Historic Habitat Opportunities and Food-Web Linkages of Juvenile Salmon in the Columbia River Estuary and Their Implications for Managing River Flows and Restoring Estuarine Habitat.” Both projects should benefit considerably from this collaboration. Some concerns were not addressed very well by the sponsors, specifically those dealing with salmonid survival-habitat relationships and plans for publications. The sponsors adequately responded to the question of contaminant effects on survival, as the sponsors described models that would be used to forecast survival given body burdens and physiological limitations. A comparable response was not given on the relationship between survival and physical habitat/food supply. It is unfortunate that this powerful team of researchers seems to be approaching the survival-habitat issue in oblique and indirect ways (through models, inference, etc) instead of trying to obtain some empirical data on juvenile salmonid survival in the Columbia River estuary. Perhaps the close cooperation with Project # 200301000 will help close the gap. Possibly, the current proposal could be refocused to increase critical mass on #200301000. Survival in relation to habitat factors is notoriously difficult to assess in estuaries, and a large team with good funding is required to make progress, especially in large systems like the Columbia River estuary. The proponents make the statement, "The Ecosystem Monitoring Project is an ongoing monitoring project in the lower Columbia River and estuary whose goals are to create a consistent approach to protocol development and status and trends monitoring of estuarine habitats." In reality, therefore, the Project is really a research program to develop monitoring tools. The real monitoring program is yet to be set up. Although a substantial amount of work has been completed, some tasks defined in the original proposal are still in progress (see pages 19-21 of the sponsor’s response). A major concern is that delays in completion of the tasks in the original proposal would set back completion of the work proposed for 2007-2009. Completion of some of these tasks is apparently contingent on finalization of the Lower Columbia River and Estuary Ecosystem Classification System. New technologies and approaches will always arise that allow refinement of the habitat classification system, but the classification is so crucial to the habitat work that it should be completed as expeditiously as possible and submitted for peer review in the early stages of the project. Qualification: The sponsors should finalize the classification system as soon as possible so that it can used to complete the tasks contingent upon it.

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: OSPIT - Estuary

Recommended budgets: FY07: $1,423,385 | FY08: $1,777,718 | FY09: $1,564,127

Comment: The overall estuary budget will not accommodate a monitoring project of this breadth and scope, but OSPIT supports the project if it is scaled back to the proposed budget. This would require removing some tasks for the FY07-09 period.

State/province recommendation: Washington

Review group: Washington list

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

Comment: See Washington guidance