This report provides preliminary comments and recommendations of the Independent Scientific Review Panel (ISRP) and Peer Review Groups on Mainstem and Systemwide projects submitted for Fiscal Year 2003 funding. The Mainstem and Systemwide review is the final segment of the rolling review process, which began in the spring of 2000 and covers all projects funded through the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. This preliminary report provides project sponsors and the public an opportunity to respond to ISRP concerns before the ISRP makes its final recommendation to the Council on October 23, 2002. This report also provides information to the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority (CBFWA) for its use in project prioritization and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Action Agencies' (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Bonneville Power Administration) Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Group in its project review and potential revision efforts.
The review process to develop these preliminary recommendations and comments included several elements. Three or more ISRP reviewers were assigned to review each proposal. During the week of July 15, 2002, proponents of each proposal gave presentations to the ISRP. Each presentation was followed by a question and answer session. Once again, the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority and project sponsors provided a well-organized workshop with informative presentations and discussions, which were invaluable in identifying potential issues and clarifying the nature of the proposed projects. On the last day of the presentation workshop, the ISRP met on its own to discuss the proposals and reach consensus preliminary recommendations and comments on each proposal. These comments, with some general comments on sets of proposals, are provided below and are arranged by topic area.
Importantly, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), in coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Council, added a new review element to the rolling review process for the Mainstem and Systemwide. This revised process includes a front-end projects review by the Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation (RME) group, comprised of scientists from the Action Agencies and NMFS. For the solicitation, special emphasis was placed on requesting projects that would meet the Action Agencies? responsibilities under the National Marine Fisheries Services? FCRPS 2000 Hydro Biological Opinion (BiOp), especially those responsibilities associated with Reasonable and Prudent Alternative (RPA) actions 179-199. The purpose of the RME group review is to provide some preliminary information to the ISRP and project sponsors on the ability of proposals to meet the RME needs identified in the Biological Opinion or as further defined by the RME group efforts. This process is intended to aid in the development, selection, and funding of a suite of integrated projects that will meet the intent of these BiOp RPA actions in the most effective, economic way possible.
For its review, the RME group identified a set of proposals (43 of the 104 submitted) that potentially addressed implementation of the RME BiOp RPA action items. For these proposals, the RME group provided written comments (PDF format) that describe how well the proposed project would meet the RME requirements of the BiOp. Some of the comments identify shortcomings in the proposal relative to BiOp requirements and/or how the proposals might be modified to more directly meet the intentions of the RPA actions. The RME group comments were first released to the ISRP and the project sponsors during the week of July 22 and are included in this report with the relevant proposal following the ISRP comments.
Among initial concerns with this approach was that the RME group and the ISRP would provide inconsistent comments requesting divergent approaches from the project sponsors in the response loop; consequently, the ISRP agreed to review the RME group comments for consistency with the ISRP review team comments. In this preliminary report, the ISRP remarks on the RME group comments are provided with the 43 projects the RME group commented on. For the most part, the ISRP and RME group comments are consistent or address different criteria and are not in disagreement.
Unlike most ISRP rolling review reports, this preliminary report does not include a programmatic section with identification of general issues that have systemwide implications; however, the final report will likely include a programmatic section bringing mainstem and systemwide issues into the set of issues discussed in recent ISRP provincial reviews. The ISRP is especially interested in providing feedback on this first round of rolling reviews and the future review process. In addition, the ISRP intends to update its previous comments on efforts to establish regional research, monitoring, and evaluation programs and protocols.
How to comment on this report
[Comment period ended August 23, 2002]
The Council staff will verify that responses were received and successfully downloaded via email. If you have any questions regarding the response process or ISRP comments please contact Erik Merrill at (503) 222-5161 or 1-800-452-5161, firstname.lastname@example.org. For RME group comments, sponsors should contact Chris Jordan, NMFS, Chris.Jordan@NOAA.gov. If you need assistance incorporating graphs or maps in your response, please contact Eric Schrepel at email@example.com.
Concurrently, CBFWA, with the ISRP and RME Group's technical reviews in hand, will generate a list of projects recommended for funding and finalize the program summaries as part of its draft annual implementation work plan. The work plan is scheduled for release October 9, 2002. For more details on the CBFWA process and province reviews in general see www.cbfwa.org.
The ISRP will then review the responses and CBFWA's recommended list of projects and provide a second and final report to the Council by October 23, 2002. Thereafter, the Council will make its funding recommendations to Bonneville. It is anticipated that the Council's funding recommendations will be made in December 2002.