On May 17, 2004, the Council requested the ISRP to review the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' proposal: Review and evaluate the success and relevancy of the Chief Joseph Dam wildlife mitigation program. The proposal is to conduct an assessment or re-evaluation of the ongoing wildlife mitigation approach taken by the Corps at Lake Rufus Woods above Chief Joseph Dam. This review is under the ISRP purview because the project is funded through the Bonneville Power Administration's 'reimbursable' program; i.e., funding for the project is appropriated by Congress, expended by the Corps, and reimbursed by Bonneville.
In 1998, the U.S. Congress' Senate-House conference report on the Fiscal Year 1999 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill directed the ISRP to review the fish and wildlife projects, programs, or measures included in federal agency budgets that are reimbursed by the Bonneville Power Administration. The review is to use the same standards and make recommendations as in its review of the projects implement in the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program (Program).
The review was requested by the Corps partly at the request of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, who are familiar with the ISRP's review of proposals for the Council's Fish and Wildlife Program. This proposal is not part of a competitive process. Instead, the ISRP advice was sought to help best develop an assessment approach.
This proposal appears to be a sole source Request For Proposal (RFP) from an independent consultant who will be paid by the contract to develop the proposal and methods for review and evaluation of the success and relevancy of the Chief Joseph Dam wildlife mitigation program and be paid to conduct the work. The proposal is very thin and lacks an adequate discussion of methods. It is not a technical proposal that can be evaluated for its scientific merits or the possible benefits to wildlife or wildlife habitat. Further, the objectives of the work are not clear. It appears that the significant goal has to do with developing a more clear coordinated regional approach? If so, that could be of value if done in a generalized way and the outcomes shared and disseminated. However, the goals and approaches are so vaguely described that reviewers felt they could only infer that this could be a useful project. The consultant may very well do a good job, but it is not possible to judge the quality of the proposed work without review of the consultant's technical proposal and final agreed statement of work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ' Seattle District (Corps).
Bottom-line, this seems harmless, but, if it is to of use, more thought should be given to defining clear, measurable objectives. Perhaps the literature review should be done first and reported (though still with a bit more clear guidance as to objectives), and the additional survey work (which seems minor) and program evaluation/consideration of modification done separately. This seems to be a small project, but one cannot be sure what the proponents have in mind. The document we were given is essentially a proposal for a proposal from a subcontractor, which is not adequate for ISRP review, as the science is not specified.
Regardless of the ISRP's comments on the lack of specifics in the proposal, the ISRP offers a few comments that will increase the likelihood that the project will provide useful information to the Corps. This ISRP review is limited to the proposal. The ISRP did not review the supplemental documents provided. Perhaps answers to some of the suggestions below could be pieced together by a review of the supplemental documents, but the proposal itself should be a stand-alone document with adequate information to allow for scientific review.
Specific Suggestions to Improve the Proposal
- The relationship of this work to regionwide goals and approaches should be more clearly articulated.
- If there are specific concerns (i.e., diversity, target species), these should be stated.
- Nothing in the proposal suggests a need for additional field survey data. In fact, it is not clear how one would best sample, since the research questions and objectives are so unclear.
- A literature search for current best approaches should go beyond internal documents to infuse the knowledge that can be found in recent literature (peer-reviewed) on wildlife and habitat restoration as well as on biodiversity conservation and land use.
- The ISRP reviewed the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes' Habitat Acquisition and Restoration Plan (19910600) to determine whether it provided scientifically sound criteria and protocol to prioritize habitat acquisitions (see review). The ISRP found that the document described a good plan for habitat acquisition and restoration of wildlife habitat in mitigation for lost aquatic and riparian habitat due to the Kerr Project No. 5 located on the Flathead River and could serve as a useful model to other habitat and restoration proposals with some minor revision of the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) component of the plan. This is one of the primary ISRP reports that should be required for review in the apparent RFP.
- In a report dated September 19, 2001, the ISRP reviewed the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes' Habitat Acquisition And Restoration Plan FWIS Appendix D, dated September 25, 2000. The ISRP found that the document is a good plan for habitat acquisition and restoration of wildlife habitat in mitigation for lost aquatic and riparian habitat due to the Kerr Project No. 5 located on the Flathead River. As in the point above, this document should be considered in review and evaluation of the success and relevancy of the Chief Joseph Dam wildlife mitigation program.
- Starting with the 1987-1989 Habitat Evaluation of Wildlife Mitigation Sites at the Chief Joseph Dam Project, metadata for collection of canopy cover, use by various species, and other data collection should be carefully documented with references to printed material in the apparent RFP. Exact locations of transects, existence of certain species, etc. should not be included in public documents, but availability of metadata for project biologists and consultant should be documented.
- HEP procedures should probably be required as part of the Monitoring and Evaluation program. However, the ISRP is in agreement that monitoring work should be conducted for specific species, as referenced in the 1999 Habitat Evaluation. We note that references to metadata for these surveys should be included in the apparent RFP.
- New technology exists beyond HEP procedures for evaluation of the value of different parts of wildlife mitigation sites for benefit to wildlife. For example, development of Resource Selection Functions (Manly et al. 2002) and Resource selection probability functions (Marzluff et al. 2004) may allow better quantification of changes in value of wildlife habitat to wildlife. If the Corps wishes to have these procedures, or others considered in the review and evaluation, then specific reference to them should probably be made in the sole source RFP.
Potential Concern with Contracting Process
Although the ISRP is not aware of the particulars of the contracting process for this proposal and such matters are beyond the ISRP's responsibility, the ISRP has concerns with the efficacy and propriety of paying an apparent sole source independent contractor to apparently develop the methods for a proposal and then paying the contractor to conduct the work.
Manly, B.F.J., L.L. McDonald, D.L. Thomas, T.L. McDonald, and W.P. Erickson. 2002. Resource selection by animals: Statistical design and analysis for field studies, Second Edition. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht. 221 pp.
Marzluff, J.M., J. J. Millspaugh, P. Hurvitz, AND M.S. Handcock. 2004. Relating Resources To A Probabilistic Measure Of Space Use: Forest Fragments And Steller's Jays. Ecology, 85: 1411.1427.