Final Review of the Proposed Scope Expansion of the Project Restore Potlatch River Watershed

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This is the ISRP’s final review of information supporting a scope change for the Latah Soil and Water Conservation District’s (Latah SWCD) project Restore Potlatch River Watershed (200206100). The Conservation District requested the addition of select work elements to the existing project to address significant limiting factors as outlined in the Potlatch River Watershed Management Plan. The work elements are designed to address upland issues as well as instream habitat and riparian issues.

The work elements include:

  • WE#27 – Remove Debris
  • WE#29 – Increase Instream Habitat Complexity
  • WE#30 – Realign, Connect, and/or Create Channel
  • WE#33 – Decommission Road/Relocate Road
  • WE#84 – Remove/Install Diversion
  • WE#181 – Create, Restore, and/or Enhance Wetland
  • WE#184 – Install Fish Passage Structure
  • WE#186 – Operate and Maintain Habitat/Passage/Structure

This action is addressed in the recently signed Memorandum of Agreement between the State of Idaho and the FCRPS action agencies. The ISRP finds that the proposal Meets Scientific Review Criteria (In Part).

Although the ISRP realizes that considerable habitat degradation has occurred in the lower Potlatch River watershed and that restoration is needed, the Latah SWCD proposal to add eight work elements to its existing BPA contract did not provide sufficient information in response to our request for more details on some of the projects. Several of the work elements appear reasonably justified, including: WE 27, WE 33, WE 186, and probably WE 84 (although the benefits expected from replacing old culverts with "fish friendly" culverts were not adequately justified). The other work elements – Big Bear Creek cascade fish passage improvement, WE 29, WE 30, WE 181, and WE 184 – were not described in such a way that the ISRP could fully appreciate and support the ecological justification for the bioengineering approach that has been or will be employed. In addition, the M&E program was presented as a collection of separate monitoring efforts without explaining how they would be coordinated (with specific respect to this proposal) and results incorporated into future management actions for the Potlatch watershed.