Response Request for the Upper Columbia Programmatic Habitat Project (2010-001-00)

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Attached is the ISRP’s preliminary review of the Upper Columbia Programmatic Habitat Project (#2010-001-00) which is designed to replace 14 Biological Opinion (BiOp) non-Accord habitat projects from the FY07-09 solicitation cycle that represent approximately $3.5 million in annual funding. The Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board (UCSRB) is the project proponent, and the Upper Columbia Regional Technical Team (RTT) provides guidance ranging from identification of reach-specific limiting factors through quantified evaluation of project proposals and analytical workshops. The programmatic approach is intended to maintain an effective habitat protection and restoration effort in the Upper Columbia (Columbia Cascade Province) and address BiOp objectives.

The ISRP requests a response so it can complete a scientific assessment of the proposal.

The ISRP notes that the UCSRB has produced an ambitious proposal for how a single project would subsume and coordinate 14 current habitat projects in the Upper Columbia. The narrative provides a generally understandable description of the planning process; however, it is lacking in detail with regard to specific restoration actions. At this point, the narrative does not give scientific details, nor does it provide a summary of what has been learned from the 14 existing habitat projects that would be folded into this new umbrella project.

In order for the ISRP to provide useful input into this project’s development, the ISRP requests:

  1. a concise and brief description of how existing habitat projects have been implemented and how well they are working in the subbasins of interest
  2. details about the objectives, work elements, methods, and metrics [see pages 27-36 in the narrative, especially work element F3. Work Element 174], and
  3. a completed BiOp RM&E plan [see pages 41-44 in the narrative].

Once this information is received, the ISRP can give the scientific feedback needed for proceeding to the next steps. The comments in the attached memo provide additional context on what the ISRP is looking for in the response.

Providing improved coordination to the projects that have already been approved for funding makes sense, but the part that is of concern to the ISRP is the assumption of technical review responsibilities for future projects by the Upper Columbia Regional Technical Team (UCRTT). This group may be eminently qualified to perform this function; however, no information on the criteria or personnel who would be involved in the review was provided. The ISRP would like more details about the review process and how potential conflicts of interest with regard to project prioritization and funding will be avoided.