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200726000 - Acquisition of a Conservation Easement over 1084 acres of Upland Prairie and Oak Habitat, Willamette Subbasin

Sponsor: Nature Conservancy

Budgets: FY07: $4,969,000 | FY08: $10,000 | FY09: $0

Short description: The project sponsors propose to cost-share on acquisition of a conservation easement over focal habitats within priority areas identified in the Willamette Subbasin Plan and subsequent FY07-09 Guidance to benefit focal species and address BPA's wildlife mitigation need.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Capital

Recommended budgets: FY07: $4,900,500 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $0

Comment: Capital component.

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $68,500 | FY08: $10,000 | FY09: $0

Comment: Expense (O&M) portion of project. See capital budget for capital component.

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable

Comment:

The Nature Conservancy proposes to acquire a conservation easement on 1084-acres in the Coburg Ridge Conservation Area. The parcel is well integrated with other efforts, including 32 adjacent acres already under easement. The proposed acreage is approximately 10% of the annual average lost to development in the Valley, yet is a comparatively large parcel in the network. The biological objectives are to improve the population trend for at least 26 focal species and habitat for two listed species, through protection and long-term ecosystem management. Preliminary terms of the easement have been negotiated with the landowner and a preliminary appraisal completed. Objectives are related to Program and Subbasin plans. The intent to “improve population trend for all species" assumes what is good for one species is good for all; this is unlikely for specialist species. As a management plan develops, it may need to be ecosystem - rather than species-focused. Current work elements are procedural and reflect realistic understanding of the easement process. It appears M&E will be part of the management plan to be developed after acquisition. Collection of baseline data is a good start. Given that the project is only requesting funding for 1 cycle, they should state explicitly what future monitoring will occur. There should be some central place to store and aggregate data from all the multiple Willamette projects. This might be an additional role for the Nature Conservancy on some sort of contract basis, or perhaps ODFW? The Nature Conservancy has a well-recognized, positive track record in easement acquisitions and subsequent management. Overall, this is an excellent proposal. Properly managed, this easement will provide long-lasting benefits in itself and as part of a growing network of conservation lands in the Valley. Inclusion of a management endowment (~150 k/yr) anticipates future needs and long-term active stewardship, and further strengthens the investment value of the proposal. At an estimated $2490/HU, this is an effective and efficient proposal. The ISRP strongly encourages funding when M&E questions have been addressed, which should not be difficult.

State/province recommendation: Fundable

Review group: OSPIT - Estuary

Recommended budgets: FY07: $68,500 | FY08: $10,000 | FY09: $0

Comment: Fund as proposed. Acquisition costs have been designated by BPA as capital.