At the Council’s September 15, 2009 request the ISRP began a review of the Yakama Nation’s Columbia River Fish Accord proposal titled Columbia Cascade Province MOA Habitat Projects (2009-003-00). The project’s goal is to improve habitat for salmonids in the Wenatchee, Entiat, and Methow subbasins to a degree capable of supporting sustainable populations. This proposed project is specifically intended to restore ecological functions to stream habitat in the three identified subbasins to contribute to recovery of salmon, steelhead, and bull trout. In addition, the project is intended to be holistic in nature and thus improve habitat for other fish and aquatic as well as terrestrial species present in these areas.
On October 16, 2009, the ISRP requested a response because the proposal did not contain sufficient technical detail for a scientific review (ISRP 2009-42). On December 2, 2009, the Council forwarded the Yakama Nation’s response and requested our review.
The ISRP finds that after considering the response, the proposal does not meet scientific review criteria.
The Yakama Nation provided a thoughtful response, and the ISRP realizes that the approach to identifying candidate sites for restoration and the kinds of restoration actions employed to address specific limiting factors is similar to what other organizations are doing in other tributary systems to remedy habitat problems that were flagged in the subbasin planning process. However, the reason in this instance that the ISRP is unable to state that the Columbia Cascade Province MOA Habitat projects proposal meets scientific criteria is that the project proponent has made it very clear that the Tribe will conduct no post-treatment monitoring of habitat restoration actions carried out as part of this project, and the likelihood that the implemented restoration actions will be monitored by another entity is uncertain. The value of habitat projects identified through the process described in the proposal may appear to be obvious and compelling. But unless the habitat work will be accompanied by a reasonably explicit monitoring plan, important learning opportunities will be lost and the adaptive management value of the actions will be compromised. It is primarily because of the absence of monitoring that the ISRP finds this plan does not meet scientific criteria as specified in the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Plan.
The ISRP acknowledges that cooperative monitoring agreements with other organizations may take shape as this project goes forward (the Entiat IMW work in 2011 is an excellent example). In the event that similar agreements are reached with other groups, and the Yakama Nation wishes to have these plans reviewed, the ISRP will be happy to do so.