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200718800 - Lower Willamette River Fish Passage and Floodplain Reconnection at Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

Sponsor: City of Portland

Budgets: FY07: $390,000 | FY08: $765,000 | FY09: $45,000

Short description: This proposal is to design and implement a fish passage and floodplain reconnection/restoration project at Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. The primary features include replacement of a culvert, excavation of tidal sloughs, and riparian restoration.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

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

Comment:

ISRP final recommendation: Response requested

Comment:

The case is convincingly made that actions to restore flood plain and off-channel habitats are needed in this area that has been degraded by fill, invasive species, and other disturbances. A good history for the Oaks Bottom Ecosystem Restoration Project is provided. Limiting factors and restoration priorities are linked to the subbasin plan. Issues of habitat diversity, chemical contamination, and habitat quantity are discussed. The problem is adequately identified regarding the lack of access to potential rearing habitat, but documentation/references are generally lacking. Abundance, vegetation cover, water quality, habitat structure and value, invertebrate diversity sounds like a good list, but monitoring procedures and frequency need to be explained. The priority measures recommended in the subbasin plan are consistent with the objectives for environmental characteristics included in the 2000 Fish and Wildlife Program, specifically to restore appropriate habitats to facilitate the recovery of potentially highly viable populations of the salmonids. The Oaks Bottom Project principally addresses habitats for high priority protection, as directed in the 2005 Willamette Subbasin Plan. It addresses limiting factors identified in the subbasin plan for the lower Willamette River: habitat quantity and diversity, and water quality. The project is geographically related to a number of adjacent projects, identified on a map, and is sequentially related to previous work funded by the US Army Corps of Engineers and City of Portland. Linkage to other related projects in this area are fairly well described (an extensive list is provided). Four objectives are specific and measurable. Each has an M&E component. They are clearly stated and are generally tied to the Willamette Subbasin Plan objectives. Methods are presented in summary form as tasks under each objective; this part of the proposal is the weak link. They sound reasonable, but are not described in detail. For example, Objective 4 is to “Increase habitat diversity for native fish and wildlife.” Task 4.8 is to “Create Tidal Channels/Slough System.” The method for this is 4.8.1. “Create tidal channel/sloughs to connect new culvert inlet and existing ponds. Tidal channels will be inundated daily and allow fish ingress/egress for rearing and refuge opportunities.” Details are needed of how the tasks will be done, at what locations, following certain specifications. What species of native plants will be used in the re-vegetation, where will large woody debris be placed? This kind of detail needs to be included to ensure that this project will be following sound scientifically based techniques. Monitoring and evaluation will take place pre and post construction. Components of monitoring are: fish passage, fish presence and abundance, bird and wildlife presence and abundance, vegetation cover, water quality, habitat structure and value, invertebrate diversity. This sounds like a good list, but monitoring procedures and frequency are not explained. All facilities and equipment to be used on the project will be provided by the City of Portland or their subcontractors. This equipment shall include field supplies/equipment, vehicles, laboratory and office space and equipment, life support systems for organisms, and computers. The City of Portland is the logical entity to do this project on city land. Information transfer includes draft and final bid packages, an implemented restoration project, and ongoing volunteer stewardship and public education at a City of Portland Natural Area Park. Species benefits include reclaiming critical off-channel juvenile rearing and refuge habitat to federally listed Lower Columbia River and Upper Willamette River Chinook, Lower Columbia River coho, and Lower Columbia River and Upper Willamette River Steelhead. All anadromous fish are likely to realize benefits from the increased off-channel habitat. Non-focal species will benefit from the creation and enhancement of rearing, resting, and nesting habitat for native wildlife including bald eagle, blue heron, osprey, western pond turtle; and other amphibian, waterfowl, shorebirds, and Neotropical migratory songbird species. These species are likely to realize long-term benefit form the increase in aquatic habitat.

State/province recommendation: Not fundable due to budget constraints

Review group: OSPIT - Estuary

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

Comment: Though OSPIT believes this is important work, the budget will not accommodate this project.