At the request of the Council and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), the ISRP reviewed the revised FY 2006 proposal “Estuary RM&E Pilot Project (2005-001-00)” and the project sponsor’s response to the ISRP’s initial review of the proposal. The ISRP’s initial review, dated November 30, 2005, raised many concerns with the proposed work and regarded the proposal as not fundable. The sponsors submitted a revised proposal on December 19, 2005. The attached memo is the ISRP’s review of the project sponsor’s revised proposal.
The Estuary RM&E Pilot Project is intended to address the ecological importance to Snake River fall Chinook salmon of shallow water habitats in the 100-mile tidal freshwater reach of the Columbia River downstream of Bonneville Dam. BPA initiated this new project to achieve specific goals in the Action Agencies’ Implementation Plan for the Updated Proposed Action relating to research, monitoring, and evaluation (RME) mandates in the lower Columbia River and estuary (LCRE; RM 0-146).
The revised proposal is an improvement over the previous proposal. The objectives are clearer and more focused, and objectives that clearly were not achievable were removed, particularly reference to action effectiveness research. In spite of the improvements in the revised proposal, the ISRP recommends that the revised proposal not be funded. Some of the ISRP’s criticisms of the original proposal have not been adequately addressed and the changes in the sampling design have resulted in new technical problems. These problems are summarized below. Overall, the sponsors did not clearly describe in specific terms how the results from this study would be used to design a RME program for the upper estuary.
The ISRP reiterates the need for a larger scale investigation of habitats and their use by fish in the upper estuary. This investigation should document the array of potential habitats available in the upper estuary, their physical characteristics, and their use by fish. As a first step, this approach would be preferable to one focused solely on a single site that may not be representative of the array of potential habitats within the upper estuary.