At the Council’s July 22, 2010 request the ISRP reviewed response documents for the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board’s project titled Willamette Bi-Op Habitat Restoration (2009-012-00). This project is a new start and is intended to be a comprehensive, programmatic approach to prioritizing and funding efforts to restore native fish and wildlife habitat in the Willamette River and its floodplain below the major federal hydro projects. The response documents were provided to address our June 23, 2010 review of their initial proposal (ISRP 2010-22). The ISRP raised three major concerns with the proposal. The ISRP's attached review memo is organized by those concerns.
The project proponents have prepared a thoughtful response to the ISRP’s questions, and the ISRP concludes that the proposal now meets scientific review criteria with a qualification: the M&E plan needs to be developed in greater detail. The ISRP was pleased to see the proposal modified to incorporate an experimental restoration approach where possible and an expanded description of the water quality monitoring efforts. The importance of close coordination with Oregon DEQ and other toxics researchers cannot be over-emphasized. Researchers examining potentially toxic compounds could benefit from using some of the same study areas that are likely to be identified in this project.
Qualifications: Within the first year of the project, the proponents should submit a fully fleshed out monitoring program to the ISRP for review, including procedures for implementation, status and trend, and effectiveness monitoring at relevant spatial scales. They should also identify specifically how this project will inform adaptive management. The ISRP is fully cognizant of the inherent difficulties in monitoring large rivers and that the full details of an M&E program are sometimes difficult to provide in the limited space available in a proposal. The proponents have made a good start at developing a meaningful M&E program for the Willamette Basin.
The ISRP would also like to see a progress report, including a summary of restoration site evaluation and prioritization, implementation results, and initial project effectiveness monitoring, late in year 2 or early in year 3, of this 5-year project. The ISRP recommends that OWEB coordinate with regional BiOp restoration programs in Columbia River estuary (e.g., CREST Estuary Habitat Restoration Project 2010-004-00) as there is spatial overlap of the lower Willamette River and Columbia River estuary in the Portland area and it will be important for these umbrella restoration projects to work together.