At the Council’s July 7, 2010 request, the ISRP reviewed a revised proposal for the Upper Columbia Programmatic Habitat Project (2010-001-00) and point-by-point responses to our May 4, 2010 review (ISRP 2010-12) which requested a response. 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.
This project 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 programmatic approach is intended to maintain an effective habitat protection and restoration effort in the Upper Columbia (Columbia Cascade Province) and address BiOp objectives. Specifically, the proposal states that the recovery of Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed salmon and steelhead populations in the Upper Columbia (UC) Region is dependent on the implementation of habitat restoration and protection actions identified in the Upper Columbia Spring Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan (Recovery Plan) and the Upper Columbia Regional Technical Team’s (UCRTT) Biological Strategy (UCSRB 2007; UCRTT 2008).
In the ISRP's preliminary May 2010 review, the ISRP requested a response on three scientific issues and asked for more information on the proposed project selection process. The ISRP's attached memo is organized by these four issues.
The ISRP is generally satisfied with the response documents and recommends Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified). The qualification is that the project proponents prepare retrospective reports for ISRP review in years 3 and 6 of this 7 year project in order to verify that assumptions about administrative streamlining, project selection efficiency, and action effectiveness are proceeding as anticipated. The retrospective summary report in year 3 should address actions outlined in Figure F-1 (page 52): Watershed Action Team(s) developing Multiyear Action Plans with the Regional Technical Team and Implementation Team subsequently developing targeted solicitations. The retrospective report in year 6 should summarize the implementation of restoration activities following the targeted solicitation, and update the ISRP on monitoring and effectiveness evaluation of restoration actions. Given the dependence on other RM&E efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of this process, these retrospective reports also should summarize results from research efforts in the project area that are relevant to project restoration plans and indicate how these results have been incorporated into the project prioritization process.
Additionally, the ISRP would like to emphasize the need for a strong adaptive learning component, especially because the project covers a variety of restoration efforts, each of which can yield important lessons. Because there is no formal M&E element in this umbrella project, we recommend that an M&E coordination plan be formalized with organizations engaged in monitoring fish populations and watershed conditions in the area. The plan should ensure that population and habitat trends are being monitored with sufficient precision that responses to restoration can actually be measured so that success or failure can be determined.