This is the ISRP's review of documents supporting the Nez Perce Tribe (Tribe) and Nez Perce Soil and Water Conservation District’s (District) projects in Lapwai and Big Canyon creeks. These documents are the Strategy for the Ecological Restoration of Lapwai Creek Watershed and Big Canyon Creek Ecological Restoration Strategy. These were submitted for review in response to the Council’s FY 2007-09 recommendations on the Tribe’s projects:
- 1999-016-00, Protect & Restore Big Canyon Creek Watershed
- 1999-017-00, Protect & Restore Lapwai Creek Watershed
And the District’s projects:
- 1999-015-00, Big Canyon Fish Habitat
- 2002-070-00, Lapwai Cr. Anadromous Habitat
The Council’s and Bonneville’s funding decisions were to fund the projects in FY 2007 to complete reports on abundance, habitat status, and a comprehensive presentation of prioritized restoration projects and that Fiscal Year 2008 and 2009 funding for restoration actions is contingent on “favorable ISRP and Council review of a revised proposal linked to completed reports (per ISRP comments).”
The ISRP understands that the Lapwai and Big Creek strategy documents constitute the project sponsors’ submittal to address the Council and BPA’s conditions and ISRP’s previous concerns. That is, the documents in concert with the original FY 2007-09 proposals serve as justification for their proposed actions. Revised proposals were not submitted.
For the two Lapwai Creek projects (199901700 - Protect & Restore Lapwai Creek Watershed; 200207000 - Lapwai Creek Anadromous Habitat) the ISRP finds that they Meet Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified). The qualification is based on the need for revising the strategy document to incorporate:
- biological objects for the focal species (abundance and productivity for O. mykiss),
- an evaluation of how and to what extent project actions will specifically ameliorate steelhead limiting factors by life-stage and lead to achieving abundance and productivity objectives,
- separate prioritizations for both preservation and restoration, and
- basic yet meaningful monitoring of stream habitat and steelhead responses to project actions. Such a revision could take the form of an addendum to the document and be reviewed prior to initiating restoration actions.
For the two Big Canyon Creek projects (199901500 - Big Canyon Fish Habitat; 199901600 - Protect & Restore Big Canyon Creek Watershed) the ISRP finds that they Do Not Meet Scientific Criteria. Reviewers feel the expressed goal of improving 400 stream miles to good or excellent condition is highly unrealistic. The strategy document does not attempt to identify and ameliorate the factors limiting steelhead. It does not incorporate or address the requirements of the three life stages (adult spawning, summer rearing, winter rearing) the fish spend in the watershed, and consequently there is no clear basis to conclude that improved environmental conditions that might result from restoration actions would yield demonstrable benefits.