200725900 - Wilson Creek Relocation and Rehabilitation

Sponsor: Central Washington University

Budgets: FY07: $2,725,000 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $0

Short description: The project would daylight and rehabilitate Wilson Creek to increase the creek’s habitat value for anadromous and resident fish, waterfowl, and other riparian plants and wildlife, and control flooding to reduce strain on the Creek.

view full proposal

Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

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

Comment:

ISRP final recommendation: Not fundable

Comment:

This project is not fundable under the Fish and Wildlife Program (FWP). The proposal is to fund construction of an engineered channel approximately 1,300 ft. long by relocating part of Wilson Creek that runs under a campus parking lot. It is possible that native species could benefit from this work, but more information about access for salmonids to the site and what else is being done in the watershed to assure long-term improvements are really necessary before this project can be considered for BPA funding as part of the F&W Program. The project is very expensive ($2.7 million to restore only 0.25 mi of creek) and appears more as a landscaping project than a legitimate fisheries enhancement project. There is a fundamental question raised by this project that should be addressed at a basin level. Restoration of severely degraded systems, like Wilson Creek, tends to be extremely expensive for the biological benefit obtained. Spending the money required to restore such a system on watersheds with much lower levels of human impact would have much greater benefits to the species of interest in the Columbia Basin. These "urban stream: projects do have value from an educational standpoint but if this is the goal of these projects, this should be identified as a primary objective. Technical and scientific background: The proposal is presented as though this project will benefit native salmonids; however, no data are presented to indicate what fish species (if any) currently inhabit Wilson Creek. Steelhead and bull trout, in particular, are mentioned, but the nearest steelhead sightings in Wilson Creek were about 10 miles downstream and the channel apparently contains numerous migration barriers between current steelhead distribution limits and the project site (not the least of which is the culvert under Ellensburg through which Wilson Creek flows). Additionally, given the agricultural setting of Ellensburg, it seems likely that summer temperatures may be prohibitive for bull trout. Overall, this project will affect about a quarter mile of what is apparently a heavily altered channel throughout much of its length, and restoration of native salmonids will require substantial, and unlikely, land-use changes. Rationale and significance to subbasin plans and regional programs: The proposal describes its relationship to the Yakima subbasin plan. Four goals are mentioned, but only three are discussed, and only two (items 2 and 3) seem relevant here. The generic elements of aquatic and riparian habitat that the proposal intends to address are included in the Subbasin Plan. However, Wilson Creek is mentioned only in passing in the plan and is not highlighted as a priority for restoration in the Yakima watershed. The plan does indicate that Wilson Creek has severe water quality problems. This proposal does not address these problems. Relationships to other projects: Other improvement projects have apparently taken place elsewhere in Wilson Creek and the Kittitas County Conservation District is completing a study on the stream. Details of these projects are not provided and the interaction between this project and other efforts in the Wilson Creek watershed is not addressed. There are no other BPA-funded projects in the Wilson Creek watershed. Objectives: The objectives are very generic and are never presented in a quantitative manner. The objectives are to (1) provide natural conditions for native fish (steelhead), wildlife, and plants, (2) reduce flooding of adjacent areas, and (3) provide green space and educational opportunities. The objective to improve anadromous fish habitat is puzzling as the proposal indicates anadromous fishes cannot access the project area. No discussion of resident fish populations is presented. Wildlife objectives are not specific. Tasks (work elements) and methods: The work elements are described in only a general manner (e.g., construct a new channel, plant riparian vegetation, etc.). The proposal calls for the actual project design and implementation to be conducted by a contractor to be identified upon approval of the grant. Methods for engineering the new channel are not detailed, except for an indication that rocks, logs, and rootwads will be placed in the channel. More significantly, the proposal fails to indicate how problems impacting Wilson Creek beyond the project area will be addressed. The biological goals of this project cannot be achieved unless impaired processes affecting the system are addressed at a watershed scale. There is no indication in the proposal that such an integrated effort is being mounted. Monitoring and evaluation: The only mention of monitoring is that the CWU maintenance crew will be responsible for maintaining the riparian plantings. Essentially, no discussion of monitoring or evaluation are include in the plan, although surely there will be some in this university setting. Facilities, equipment, and personnel: The work will be subcontracted to the lowest bidder, who was unspecified. It was impossible to judge the adequacy of the facilities, equipment, and personnel. Information transfer: Educational opportunities afforded by the project for CWU students are mentioned. No formal process for disseminating information generated by the project is included in the proposal. However, without a monitoring and evaluation component, this project would not generate much in the way of information to share. Benefits to focal and non-focal species: The description of Wilson Creek provided in the proposal suggests that this project is not likely to benefit focal species (steelhead or bull trout) until other environmental problems in the watershed are addressed. Non-focal species are not discussed but impacts are not likely to be negative. The green space along the new channel may provide habitat for riparian-associated wildlife.

Response loop edit

See the sponsor's revised proposal from the response loop. You'll be taken to CBFWA's proposal system in Section 10 where most sponsors uploaded revised narratives or other responses to the ISRP comments.

State/province recommendation: Washington

Review group: Washington list

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

Comment: See Washington guidance