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200726200 - Enhanced Landscape Classification to Improve Assessment of Conservation Restoration and Mitigation Projects

Sponsor: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Budgets: FY07: $295,911 | FY08: $306,851 | FY09: $291,753

Short description: Integrated landscape analysis and hydrologic modeling will be applied to spatially define ecosystem attributes used to quantify the contribution/influence of land parcels to riparian and watershed function and fish and wildlife productivity.

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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 proposal is well written and clearly describes the objectives and work elements. The project goal is to develop decision support tools (primarily maps) that will assist in forecasting restoration action effectiveness. Most of the techniques involve recently developed geospatial mapping programs and models. The personnel are extremely well qualified to complete the tasks associated with the work elements. The proposal makes a number of assertions, yet it was not clear how the classification system would satisfy those assertions. It is also not clear what the benefits are going to be for fish and wildlife. Does enhanced landscape classification result in improved assessment of projects? The links between enhanced landscape classification, the assessment of improvement of limiting environmental attributes identified in each subbasin’s EDT analysis, and the benefit to fish and wildlife are not clear. Additionally, the sponsors should address whether the classification will be spatially hierarchical and, if so, how the hierarchy will be developed. If the classification is not hierarchical, then the sponsors should address how smaller-scale activities and impacts will be assessed. Development of landscape classification components may be worthwhile, as long as the products are truly new (and do not duplicate existing coverage). The futuring exercises - estimating land use change impacts and cumulative effects, sensitivity to climate change, exploring optimal scheduling, for example - should be more fully developed in concert with others engaged in similar exercise. There also was an almost total lack of reference to existing landscape-scale datasets. For example, the extensive GIS coverage that resulted from the ICBEMP project aren't mentioned until a parenthetical reference under the methods for Work Element E, yet these data constitute a major effort to assemble many of the land, water, and focal-species coverage throughout the entire Columbia Basin. Furthermore, there are up-to-date geospatial databases in many of the tribal, national forest, and state agency offices throughout the region that could help this project, but are not mentioned. There are general references, mostly to the 2005 ISRP Retrospective Report, but the proposal lacks specific reference to subbasin plans, especially Yakima and John Day, where the proof-of-concept work will be done. A stronger discussion of how the objectives of the project would help in implementing the subbasin plans is needed -- e.g., how can the results be used to prioritize in-stream restoration needs? It appears that the mapping work will be most useful to identifying priority areas for wildlife mitigation and less useful for deciding where streams need more structure, but it was hard to tell from the general description given. More details are needed to justify some of the models. For example, the erosion models are based on surface erosion models from the American southwest, but there are a number of erosion models from the Pacific Northwest. Why weren't these used? On the other hand, the DHSVM hydrology-soil-vegetation model is quite good and offers a lot of promise for the Columbia Basin. Lettenmeier and his colleagues used it to model flow changes in response to climate warming. The results for this project are maps, decision support tools, and meta- and derived data. Milestones are stated, although the proposal does not make explicitly clear how delays in completing one task might delay the completion of others. Nevertheless, it is assumed that progress will be adequately monitored. One concern with using existing datasets is that the accuracy of the data may be unknown. Some geospatial data might be out of date or inadequately ground-truthed, and the proposal should detail how accuracy of these underlying data will be verified.

State/province recommendation: MS: Do Not Fund

Review group: MSRT

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

Comment: More cost share would be appropriate with this project. The purpose of the model goes beyond BPA responsibilities. With the completion of Subbasin Plans and comprehensive subbasin assessments, this project seems out of sync with the Program implementation.