see January 2012 Council presentation
At the request of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Council, the Independent Science Review Panel (ISRP) reviewed the Corps’ draft Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation Plan and Fiscal Year 2012 concept papers and proposals for the Corps’ Willamette Valley Project. The Plan, concept papers, and proposals represent an ambitious effort to plan and implement studies of juvenile and adult fish passage, flows, water quality, hatchery management, and habitat restoration.
In past reviews of projects in the Columbia River mainstem implemented through the Corps’ Columbia River Fish Mitigation Program, the ISRP recommended that a research plan be developed to guide efforts. The draft Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Plan for the Willamette Valley Project represents a significant step in providing this useful guidance framework. The Plan contained much useful information including substantial content on hatchery research, monitoring, and evaluation. The Plan identifies many critical uncertainties, but there are still some gaps in coverage. To improve on the next draft of the Plan, the ISRP recommends several deficiencies be addressed including prioritization of proposed monitoring and research activities, more consideration of carrying capacity of tributaries, a landscape approach, impacts of hatchery stocks on wild fish, and incorporation of a management decision framework.
The ISRP reviewed 18 proposals to implement the Plan finding that 2 proposals met scientific review criteria, 9 met criteria with some qualifications, and 7 did not meet criteria. Many of the 7 that did not meet criteria could be improved by revising, and in some cases rethinking, the proposal to add additional details on rationale and methods. Although most of the 18 proposals addressed important issues, it was unclear why these particular projects were selected for implementation whereas other projects identified in the Plan were not.
The ISRP greatly appreciates the assistance of the Corps, NOAA Fisheries, Bonneville Power Administration, and Council staff for providing context, materials, and a site visit to support the review.