At the Northwest Power and Conservation’s February 24, 2015 request, the ISRP reviewed a response from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) to the ISRP’s April 2014 review of a revised proposal (ISRP 2014-3) for Project #2000-031-00, Enhance Habitat in the North Fork John Day River. The proposal was revised in 2014 to address the Council’s recommendation and the ISRP’s qualifications from the Geographic Review (ISRP 2013-11; August 15, 2013) which asked the project proponent to develop a strategic framework to guide the restoration project. The ISRP provided six specific issues for the proponent to address in developing the strategic plan. The proponent’s 2015 response and the ISRP’s review are organized by these six issues.
This project’s purpose is to protect, enhance, and restore functional floodplain, channel, and watershed processes to provide sustainable and healthy habitat and water quality for aquatic species in the North Fork John Day River subbasin.
Recommendation: Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified)
The ISRP was greatly pleased to see significant progress in development of a strategic framework for the CTUIR North Fork John Day Project (NFJD). Restoration is a complex business, both ecologically and socially. The proponent recognizes this and has crafted a strategic framework that may work well in their situation. Social components, at the core of the strategic framework, acknowledge the daunting challenges for meeting on-the-ground restoration actions while maintaining the effectiveness of those actions. A particularly positive note is the effort to coordinate and utilize a strategic approach for restoration on public lands.
The proponent provides forthright and comprehensive responses to the six qualifications. While there has been significant progress in responding to the previous ISRP Qualifications, additional clarifications are needed for Qualification 2 (major findings and lessons learned from past projects), Qualification 4 (roles and responsibilities of various entities), and Qualification 6 (data management). Responses to the Qualifications detailed below should be incorporated into the project’s annual progress reports to BPA. The ISRP will review this documentation as part of the next Council/ISRP review process (i.e., the next version of the Geographic Review).The ISRP is confident that the project is on the right path, and the proponent should move forward with activities while the qualifications are being addressed.
- Lessons Learned: The proponent is requested to provide a more comprehensive summary of lessons learned. This documentation should be provided in annual project reports to BPA.
- Roles and Responsibilities: Given the scope and complexity of the NFJD project, additional emphasis on coordination is likely to reduce project costs and to make the best use of the wide array of skills available to the project—both within the subbasin and from the region. It would be particularly useful to have a written, initial framework that identifies broad roles and responsibilities among key partners and players. It could start by addressing the CTUIR organization, with a focus on Natural Resources, and then progress through discussions/agreements with key partners. These discussions should be useful for the long term success of the project. Documentation does not need to be detailed but should be sufficient to capture major agreements and responsibilities among participants. It should be included in the next annual progress report to BPA.
- Data Management: The primary concern is how data will be managed during the 2-3 years while development of the CTUIR data management system is being completed. Additionally, it does not appear that there are contingency plans to deal with possible delays in full implementation of the data management system. Does the completion of the data management system by 2018 mean that temporal analyses cannot occur before then? Is there a priority list for bringing modules on line? These are important concerns from the perspective of program effectiveness. A written response to these concerns should be included as part of the project’s next annual report to BPA.
While several of the responses to the previous qualifications continue to raise concerns with the ISRP (e.g., removal of monitoring from the NFJD program by BPA, a lack of monitoring and analyses prior to 2007, no reference sites), the responses were forthright—and that is greatly appreciated. It seems that little can be done by the NFJD program to rectify prior oversights, nor to ameliorate the monitoring constraints. The focus should be on the future, and this research team appears to have the necessary components in place to move forward in a positive manner.
See the full ISRP memo for details.