Follow-up Review of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation’s John Day Habitat Enhancement Implementation Strategy (Project #2007-397-00)

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On October 4 and 5, 2017, the ISRP participated in a site visit with the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation’s (CTWSR) team, its partners, and staff of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NPCC) and Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to discuss the Tribes’ John Day Habitat Enhancement Implementation Strategy (Project #2007-397-00). The site visit was organized in response to the ISRP’s July 2017 request (ISRP 2017-8) for a meeting serving two primary purposes: (1) to open a more efficient dialogue for aligning the visions of the ISRP and CTWSR for effective restoration and enhancement, and (2) for the ISRP to learn more about specific elements of the Strategy that were not fully addressed in a May 12, 2017 response to previous qualifications on the project (ISRP 2016-13, ISRP 2016-4, ISRP 2013-11; see also ISRP 2017-2). Specifically, the site review was to address three remaining ISRP qualifications associated with the CTWSR’s May 12, 2017 response.

In summary, these qualifications include:

  1. Provide a comprehensive discussion of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) linked to a more formal process for adaptive management.
  2. Describe additional efforts supporting expanded information sharing and public involvement.
  3. Comprehensively consider upslope conditions.

The enthusiasm and hospitality of the CTWSR and staff was very much appreciated. The ISRP now has a greater understanding of progress made by the proponents in building and leveraging local partnerships, as well as the challenges and constraints facing the CTWSR in implementing and monitoring restoration actions. The improved communication and increased understanding of the program are important outcomes of the review and should not be underestimated for their long term, positive effects on the project and future cooperation.

ISRP Recommendation: Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified)

It is clear that the CTWSR are committed to restoration of aquatic habitat and fisheries in the John Day River Basin. Following the October meeting, the ISRP now appreciates that more progress has been made in the project than was evident in recent annual reports. It is apparent that restoration and coordination with other monitoring efforts are moving in a positive direction. However, despite productive discussions on a range of topics, none of the ISRP’s three qualifications were fully covered during the meeting. A number of questions and concerns remain to be addressed as the project moves forward. The ISRP feels that continued, regular communication is needed to resolve the remaining qualifications. Consequently, the ISRP requests that the proponents respond specifically to each of the three remaining qualifications in their annual report for 2018 covering fiscal year 2017. 

A detailed discussion on each of the three remaining qualifications is included in the full ISRP memo, but in summary:

Qualification 1: Monitoring and evaluation, objectives, and adaptive management

M&E: The CTWSR is clearly making progress toward addressing the M&E deficiency, but details of the program and the timeline for implementation need to be documented and articulated for peer and ISRP review. A significant issue affecting resolution of this qualification is the uncertainty of funding support for regional and project-level M&E for habitat restoration projects. The proposed, cooperative M&E plan is ambitious and requires funding and implementation by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and CTWSR. This uncertainty raises the importance of an agreement between the Council and BPA regarding appropriate multi-year funding for regional and project-level M&E.

Objectives: Although there were potential objectives mentioned in the ODFW presentation, the proponents have not yet formulated quantifiable objectives or explicit timelines for implementation of specific restoration actions or outcomes at the project and landscape scale, collectively.

Adaptive management: The 2018 annual report should provide additional information to demonstrate that adaptive management is being effectively implemented.

Qualification 2. Information sharing and public outreach

The CTWSR’s John Day Habitat Enhancement Implementation Strategy group has demonstrated strong partnerships with key agencies and some important members of the John Day community. The site visit largely resolved this qualification by highlighting a number of outreach activities that were not previously reported. Overall, there appears to be strong participation by a range of project staff, partners, and Tribal members. However, while it is clear that CTWSR is engaging with the public and forging partnerships, the ISRP remains interested in additional information regarding the following questions: (1) how are data and knowledge shared internally among project partners and with other agencies and the public, (2) what practical results have been achieved by outreach efforts to date, and (3) what is the overall strategy for public outreach in the future? These questions should be addressed in the next annual report.

Qualification 3. Considering upslope conditions in the Strategy

Efforts to integrate assessment of upslope conditions in restoration planning and implementation need to be included in the next annual report. It would be very useful, for example, to learn how priorities for restoration actions in the upslope areas are developed and coordinated as part of a comprehensive restoration effort.