At the Council’s August 10, 2010 request, the ISRP reviewed the Idaho Office of Species Conservation’s revised proposal and response for the project titled Lemhi River Acquisitions (2010-088-00). The Idaho Office of Species Conservation letter explains that the original narrative for this project was submitted as the Upper Lemhi River Acquisition Project (2008-601-00). Since that version was submitted, however, BPA combined funds from that project number, 2008-601-00, with funds from Lower Lemhi Habitat Easements Project (2008-605-00) to form this new project. The response is to the ISRP’s January 2010 review of the Upper Lemhi River Acquisition Project (2008-601-00) (ISRP 2010-5).
The project intends to permanently protect in-stream and riparian habitat, improve river flow in the Lemhi River, and assist in reconnecting tributary streams to the Lemhi River to benefit all life stages of Snake River spring/summer-run Chinook and Snake River steelhead. Conservation easement and fee simple acquisitions are being pursued on approximately 9,086 acres of the Tyler Ranch, 1,354 acres of the Cottom Ranch, the 1,000 acre Beyeler Ranch, and the 608 acre Kenney Creek Ranch in the Lemhi River watershed.
The ISRP’s review is organized by the items requested in the preliminary review (bulleted and italicized below).
Meets Scientific Review Criteria
The ISRPappreciates the level of detail and organization provided in the response, and we commend the project proponents for targeting the response (largely via the cover letter) so that clarifications could be quickly analyzed. The proposed acquisition program now clearly represents an excellent opportunity to improve anadromous stocks in the LemhiRiver by improving headwater flow and habitat.
- A set of maps that clearly indicates the location of the project properties and the location of the restoration projects to be implemented on the properties
The maps now provided are in excellent detail and clearly show project locations and how the parts fit together in the Upper Lemhi.
- More detail on the guidance given to those who participated in prioritizing acquisition/easement projects
The detail provided in the response clearly shows that a good mix of groups and agencies were involved in the prioritization. The revisions to the proposal now make the process that was used to rank the projects very clear. The use of “best professional judgment” in making estimates of project benefits is certainly a method that has been used widely, and the method used in this case was very well documented and as quantitative as possible. The ISRP would urge the project proponents to continue to upgrade the ranking system as additional information becomes available. The rankings will become more robust as more quantitative relationships between habitat and fish population performance can be integrated into the procedure. The relationship with the ISEMP project should enable considerable enhancement of the process over time.
- A list of scores for all properties assessed and an explanation why the selected properties were considered the best options
The addition of the score sheets for all the projects fully addresses this issue.
- More detail on how improvements in Chinook and steelhead egg-smolt survival rates were estimated
The manner in which these estimates were made is clearly identified in the response. As noted above, the relationship with ISEMP provides a great opportunity to improve the process for estimating fish response to improved habitat conditions.
- A description of how the proportion of a limiting factor within the watershed addressed with the application of each restoration action was estimated and how these improvements are translated into benefits for the fish
Inclusion of the report “Guidance from the Habitat Technical Subgroup of the BiOp Remand Collaboration for Providing Columbia Basin Tributary Habitat Action Information April 11, 2006” in the appendices and the discussion of the ranking procedure in the revised proposal provided adequate information to understand how these values were estimated.
- A better description of the linkage between this project and ISEMP and other ongoing M&E efforts in the Lemhi watershed
Linkages were adequately clarified.
- A clear description of the role each participating organization plays in this project
The various participating organizations’ roles are now well defined. The collaboration involved is very commendable.