The Council welcomes public comment on this report. The Northwest Power Act directs the Council to make recommendations to Bonneville for its funding of fish and wildlife projects, and in doing so, to take into account the advice of the ISRP. Your comments will help the Council decide how to use and consider the ISRP's advice as it develops its recommendations to Bonneville for funding fish and wildlife projects for Fiscal Years 2007 through 2009.
Note: This is not the "fix-it loop" where sponsors respond to individual proposal comments. Rather, during the week of June 19th, the Council will post a notice identifying which projects may respond to the ISRP review as part of the project response phase (aka the "fix-it-loop"). The Council will also provide guidance on the form of the project responses sought with that notice.
Executive summary of ISRP report
This two-part report provides the preliminary comments and recommendations of the Independent Scientific Review Panel and Peer Review Groups (together referred to as ISRP) on 540 proposals submitted for Fiscal Years 2007-2009 funding through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. Part 1 of this report provides comments and recommendations that cut across proposals and the program that were identified by the ISRP during the proposal reviews. Part 2 of the report includes the specific ISRP recommendation and comments on each proposal. The ISRP will provide a final report to the Council by August 31, 2006, following a review of responses to queries regarding certain proposals (see below). Thereafter, the Council will make its funding recommendations to BPA. It is anticipated that the Council’s funding recommendations will be made to BPA by October 18, 2006. The ISRP does not make funding decisions; that is the responsibility of the Council and BPA.
In this preliminary review the ISRP, considering the technical merits and potential benefits of each proposal, finds that 218 proposals are fundable or fundable in part (41%), 210 proposals need a response before the ISRP can makes its final recommendation (39%), 104 proposals are not fundable (19%), and eight proposals are primarily administrative in nature (1%). Overall, the ISRP continues to see a general improvement in the quality of the proposals and the scientific basis of the Fish and Wildlife Program. However, further directed effort is needed in certain areas especially prioritization of habitat actions, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting of results.
In this preliminary review the ISRP offers the following programmatic recommendations intended to improve the process, program, and projects:
Project and Program Review
- A sequential multi-year provincial review, with potential alterations to more efficiently address program needs through topical and targeted reviews, rather than an annual review, could provide a more meaningful review of individual projects.
- The ISRP recommends that the Council request an ISRP and ISAB review of habitat restoration strategies and actions in major subbasins on a multi-year rotating basis.
- The Council should rely on the Three-Step process for the substantive scientific review of artificial production projects.
- The ISRP continues to recommend an annual innovative proposal solicitation. Special topic solicitations should be developed as targeted requests for proposals.
- Smolt monitoring, PIT-tag, radio telemetry, coded wire tag, and sonic tag projects should undergo a comprehensive programmatic review that addresses the complex interactions between projects.
- To improve the scientific justification for proposals, education and outreach should be made available for proposal writers and sponsors.
Monitoring and Evaluation
- Projects should be required to report results at specific milestones as a condition for continued funding. Future proposals and the BPA database should be linked to enable reporting of biological results in addition to task completion.
- The ISRP suggests establishment of a statistical support facility to provide input for the projects that have limited statistical expertise. The facility would answer questions about design and analysis and provide workshops on statistical topics of common interest in the Program.
- The ISRP recommends that the Council issue an RFP to develop methods to evaluate the effects of large-scale artificial production programs for harvest on the abundance, productivity, and diversity of naturally spawning salmon populations. Additionally, the ISRP recommends the Council issue an RFP to conduct an experiment on the effects of supplementation on long-term fitness.
- The Habitat Evaluation Procedure (HEP) should be used only as an initial scoring system for the mitigation agreements that underlie the Wildlife Program.
- The ISRP recommends the Council pay close attention to the implementation of dam removals in the Columbia Basin and ensure, perhaps through targeted RFPs, that dam decommissioning and post-removal effects are properly monitored.
- The Council should consider using the Columbia Basin Water Transaction Program’s criteria to evaluate proposals for improving irrigation system efficiency to preserve instream flow.
- The Council should encourage innovative ecosystem-based research and monitoring in the estuary, with emphasis on the effects of hydrosystem operations on all components of the estuarine ecosystem.