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200600600 - Habitat Evaluation Procedures (HEP)

Sponsor: Columbia Basin Fish & Wildlife Authority (CBFWA)

Budgets: FY07: $341,828 | FY08: $348,308 | FY09: $364,036

Short description: This proposal is to conduct Habitat Evaluation Procedures (HEP) independently and/or with assistance from W/L managers on extant and new mitigation project lands and to provide technical oversight, review, and/or audit of current/past HEP data.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $222,000 | FY08: $222,000 | FY09: $222,000

Comment: Scope expansion not accepted. Budget at the FY 2006 level.

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable in part

Comment:

Overall the ISRP viewed the use of HEP as a policy decision. HEP has played and can continue to play a role in the Council’s program by establishing mitigation credits against the initial baseline losses that were agreed to be reasonably indexed by habitat units (HUs) derived from HEP. However, HEP is no longer considered to be a good method for evaluation of value of land to wildlife, as there have been significant improvements in both analytical methods and available data that underlie estimation of the relationships of wildlife species and assemblages to habitat. Further, HEP is not a sufficiently direct measure to support the purposes of monitoring and evaluation. Far better monitoring approaches and metrics are now available, and use of more direct approaches is required for effective evaluation of benefits to wildlife. In sum, HEP alone does not provide adequate biological M&E, and direct biological M&E is not improved by continuing HEP. If the Council continues to use HEP as the basis for initial determination of mitigation value, then a consistent approach to evaluation is desirable and a standardized HEP approach could help to achieve such consistency. In this case, the proposed project should present more clear explanation of methods to be used, including the timing of sampling and what specific HEP models would be used to evaluate the structural characteristics of habitat, and any additional needed details to allow evaluation of sampling methods. The reviewers found the CHAP portion of the proposal Not Fundable. The proposal did not provide convincing evidence that the approach of NWI would be a significant improvement over the HEP-derived habitat unit metric now in place. In particular, the methods used to determine habitat value (HV) were not clearly presented. It would have been useful for the proposal to include a more clear explanation of the calculation and use of habitat value, with an example from a subbasin of how to use the metric, habitat value, as a measure of progress towards mitigation. It seems likely that direct biological M&E will almost always be more convincing, more interpretable, and thus more useful for evaluation and application to management decision-making than would be a less direct, HEP-type measure. The proposal did not convince the ISRP that the NWI efforts to improve HEP would be as good as direct biological M&E. The ISRP also noted that actual evaluation of wildlife projects was rarely provided in proposals. The use of HEP or CHAP would imply that habitat was an adequate proxy for value to wildlife, but this proposal does not articulate habitat goals or how and when progress towards goals would be measured. The use of HEP to provide monitoring and evaluation is not considered scientifically well advised. The relationships of HEP- or CHAP- derived metrics to focal species identified in subbasin plans or to non-focal species were not defined.

State/province recommendation: MS: High Priority

Review group: MSRT

Recommended budgets: FY07: $222,000 | FY08: $222,000 | FY09: $222,000

Comment: This project provides a support tool that some, not all, wildlife managers rely on for determining mitigation benefits. Evaluating habitat credits is core to Program; if this project is not funded then more individual projects will have to perform their HEP evaluations. WDFW expressed that this project supports a Core Program function for the administration of the Program.