At the Council’s July 6, 2011 request, the ISRP reviewed a second response for the Tucannon River Programmatic Habitat Project (#2010-077-00). This project is proposed by the Snake River Salmon Recovery Board. The goal of this project is to restore habitat function and channel processes in priority reaches of the Tucannon River to improve spring Chinook productivity, as identified in the 2008 FCRPS Biological Opinion.
The ISRP found that the proposal, augmented by the two responses, meets scientific review criteria (qualified). Many of the issues raised during previous reviews have been addressed in this response and during a May 2011 field trip. However, there remain areas of concern that have not yet been addressed. The ISRP qualification is based on these remaining items. First, the criteria that will be used to prioritize future projects need to be developed. The response indicates that this information is being developed this summer. The success of this program will be dependent on the process and criteria used to prioritize projects; there are many high priority restoration actions listed in Table 1 of the proposal, but the list is presented without a strategy, rationale, timetable, and description of the expected benefit for sequencing these actions. Second, a comprehensive restoration strategy and associated prioritization process should be developed before implementation of on-the-ground restoration activities. The ISRP suggests that a report to the Council (reviewed by the ISRP) on the prioritization process and its application, the status of habitat assessments, identification of reach-scale plans, implementation of plans, and evaluation of monitoring data on habitat conditions, including coordination between program objectives and current understanding of problems with Tucannon salmon production, be produced by the project proponents by spring 2013.