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200727900 - Assess Stream Habitat for Salmonid Recovery in the Lower Clearwater Subbasin

Sponsor: Nez Perce Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD)

Budgets: FY07: $122,525 | FY08: $98,317 | FY09: $101,253

Short description: This project collects stream inventory and assessment data on 231.4 miles within the Lower Clearwater River basin.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

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


ISRP final recommendation: Response requested


The project goal is to complete a stream health assessment in order to identify priority areas for fish habitat restoration using the SVAP – stream visual assessment protocol (NRCS) – in six small lower Clearwater mainstem tributaries. There is a mix of land-based (plants) and aquatic elements in the proposal. The work in this proposal would do no harm, but unfortunately it would do nothing for the steelhead that spawn in at least two of the six streams. The six streams represent the extreme in terms of environmental conditions (summer flow/temp/pikeminnow predation). The fish still have a toehold, but huge improvements would be needed. Consequently the area is a low priority for an assessment. It will include private landowners, which is good. They are doing this work in Lapwai and Big Canyon creeks but are not delivering the goods for fish. They are not working closely with the fish and wildlife agencies. The technical and scientific background for the proposal is contradictory and incomplete. There apparently has been some empirical field data collected - Kucera 1983 and 1986. But this is cited in various locations rather than being summarized with a conclusion of why it is not sufficient to serve the purpose of the inventory and assessment proposed here. There has been some assessment, for example in the second paragraph, "Excellent opportunities exist for restoration and protection activities in these small streams," but no attribution of the assessment is given. It is not clear whether the assessment involved evaluating field data or professional judgment of fishery biologists. Some of the assessment rates the habitat as poor. This seems at odds with the prior statement that excellent opportunities for restoration are available. There is insufficient detail on development of an evaluation plan for a biological response. In response, please explain why the Kucera data is insufficient for the inventory and assessment proposed here. Please explain the details of your assessment and include details on how you will detect a biological response. Proponents suggest there are two elements to a stream inventory/assessment protocol; reach identification and land use identification, and measuring assessment elements (they mention 15). Some of the measured assessment elements listed are actually interpretations from some sort of data, for example hydrologic alteration, and nutrient enrichment. The SVAP assessments may be a good educational and public involvement tool, but by itself it’s a snapshot approach that has added virtually nothing to what is already known. A more complete inventory/assessment would recognize that data are collected on indicator variables, these are analyzed and interpreted to assess evidence of hydrologic alteration or nutrient enrichment, and that some method then needs to be used to infer some historic state of these variables, the current state, and a possible future state based on remediation. The inventory and assessment is adequate for BMP implementation, but without effective M&E. Inventory and assessment should use protocols adopted throughout the subbasin and endorsed by CSMEP and/or PNAMP. Site selection should be randomized. In response, please provide details to show that your proposal is consistent with the standards described in the previous two paragraphs. Additional comments: How does "Establish yellow star-thistle biocontrol agents on 50 acres of rangeland" fit into this proposal. It seems to come out of nowhere. The primary value of the project is educational, performing the sorely needed role of involving private landowners that will be pivotal in any continued rehabilitation of these six streams. An earlier demonstration project in Hatwai Creek has proven to be very effective in engaging local landowners.

State/province recommendation: Not fundable

Review group: Snake

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

Comment: Project not prioritized