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200300600 - Effectiveness Monitoring of Estuary Restoration in the Grays River and Chinook River Watersheds

Sponsor: Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST)

Budgets: FY07: $163,946 | FY08: $163,946 | FY09: $163,946

Short description: This project will evaluate the effectiveness of a suite of estuary restoration projects in the Grays River and Chinook River watersheds.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

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

Comment:

ISRP final recommendation: Not fundable

Comment:

The sponsors did not provide a systematic and explicit response to the ISRP's comments. Instead, they submitted a revised proposal that was only marginally improved over the original proposal. They provided more data describing results but very little interpretation as requested by ISRP. Although the sponsors organized the results of past work (project history) according to the objectives of the original proposal as the ISRP recommended, the results should have been better explained. The sponsors simply re-iterated the results of their baseline data gathering but did not add any further interpretation or show how the data would be used to evaluate success or failure of the restoration. The abundance and residence of hatchery and naturally spawning fish were not distinguished, as called for in the original objectives, nor did the sponsors differentiate results from pre- and post restoration activities. The data given in several graphs were not interpreted adequately (e.g., water quality graphs) and some graphs received no interpretation at all. The narrative of the main proposal has errors in figure numbering, making the document difficult to follow. The sponsors did not adequately present overall conclusions derived from the first three years of work. Based on the results presented by the sponsors, it does not appear that the objectives of the original proposal were achieved satisfactorily. The objectives of the current proposal are improved somewhat over the original proposal, but essential information is still missing. For example, the sponsors appear to be evaluating fish use of restored sites by comparison with reference sites, although they do not say so explicitly. If this is the case, the sponsors should have provided a more complete description of both the restoration and reference sites to demonstrate that the reference sites are similar in physical characteristics to the restored sites prior to initiation of restoration activities. They refer to the reference sites as “undeveloped” but do not describe what “undeveloped” means. Does it mean relatively pristine or disturbed with no restoration actions taken? The sponsors propose to compare fish use of mainstem sites with wetland sites. It is unclear what this comparison will reveal since fish could move regularly between the mainstem and wetlands. The rationale for selection of the trapping and seining sites is not given. The information given on some key elements such as characteristics of the habitat to be restored is sketchy. The broad vegetation types are provided, but important data are lacking. The description of Devils Elbow, one of the areas to be restored, is not put in the context of the main proposal. The sponsors propose to measure prey utilization by fish and prey abundance in the wetland areas, but they do not describe the analytical methods that will be used to link the two. The proposal has no objective for measuring physical changes in the habitat. The sponsors rely on the assumption that, "Restoration of historic habitat diversity will restore life history diversity within populations (salmon will occupy restored estuarine habitats and derive survival benefits from that use)." The sponsors proposed possible life history patterns of salmon in the Chinook River but did not explain these patterns or describe how they were derived. Overall, the objectives and approach do not appear to have been adequately thought through; therefore, it is doubtful whether meaningful results can be obtained from this work.

State/province recommendation: Not fundable

Review group: OSPIT - Estuary

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

Comment: Project did not rank high enough in the local or LCRFB prioritization to merit moving forward, but if elements of it can be incorporated in 200715000 to keep Bi-op designation, OSPIT would support that incorporation.

State/province recommendation: Washington

Review group: Washington list

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

Comment: See Washington guidance