Review of draft Willamette Wildlife Monitoring Plan

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In response to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s request of January 5, 2017, the Independent Scientific Review Panel (ISRP) reviewed the draft Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program Monitoring Plan (December 2016) and supporting material for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW) Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program (WWMP, project #2011-003-00). ODFW’s submittal is intended to address ISRP qualifications recommended in a 2012 review of the program (ISRP 2012-21).

The Monitoring Plan’s stated purpose is “to track progress towards meeting WWMP acreage goals established through the 2010 Willamette River Basin Memorandum of Agreement Regarding Wildlife Habitat Protection and Enhancement between the State of Oregon and the Bonneville Power Administration (MOA); to ensure compliance with terms established in each site’s conservation easement and management plan; to evaluate effectiveness at protecting or enhancing habitat conservation values on WWMP-protected lands; and to inform adaptive management and direction of the WWMP, including how WWMP implementation fits into broader landscape conservation efforts.”

The ISRP found that the draft Monitoring Plan and documents provided for review are generally responsive to the items identified in the 2012 ISRP review. They show improved organization, content, and detail. Several items of positive note include a much-improved outline for developing a Monitoring Plan, a comprehensive Program Administrative Manual, an improved project selection process and associated selection criteria, workload assessments for various Plan components, strong Program linkage with the Oregon Conservation Plan, development of an initial online application form, and initial thoughts on how to develop­ an associated database and data management system.

Although there has been improvement, the Monitoring Plan is untested and the data management system is incomplete. Additional work is needed to create a monitoring plan that will fully meet the ISRP’s qualifications. The ISRP’s review suggests areas needing improvement, and qualifications include:

  1. Completion dates are needed for (a) the Monitoring Plan, (b) establishment of Program databases, and (c) a fully operational data management system. This schedule should include pilot testing, evaluation, and refinement of current efforts.
  1. Reports will be needed to document the results of pilot testing for various monitoring components and for the Program database.

The ISRP looks forward to discussing and reviewing a response on the status of these items during the Council’s upcoming Wildlife Project Review, April 2017. The ISRP appreciates that ODFW shared a draft plan that can be revised to reflect consideration of ISRP comments.