At the Council’s July 2008 request, the ISRP reviewed the Shoshone Bannock Tribes’ Yankee Fork Floodplain Restoration Project Implementation Plan for 2008 - 2018. This Plan was developed to address the Council’s recommendations for the FY 2007-09 proposal for the Yankee Fork Salmon River Dredge Tailings Restoration Project (2002-059-00). Because of the significant scale and cost of the project, the Council recommended that the project be subject to the Council’s Three-Step Review Process, and on-the-ground implementation is conditioned on a favorable Step review. Although the Council and ISRP have a substantial history of Three-Step reviews for hatchery projects, this is the first habitat restoration project to undergo Step review.
The Yankee Fork of the Salmon River is located in central Idaho in the Salmon-Challis National Forest east of Stanley, Idaho and is one of the larger watersheds (190 square miles) within the Upper Salmon River Basin. The goal of the Yankee Fork project is to restore natural river channel characteristics, floodplain function, hydraulic and sediment regimes, and aquatic habitat within the Yankee Fork’s dredge reach.
The ISRP finds that the Yankee Fork restoration plan does not meet scientific criteria. The ISRP states that although the Plan's emphasis on restoration of ecosystem function merits praise, there remain three major areas of critical deficiency. The ISRP recommends that to address these deficiencies, the following is needed:
- Completion of missing proposal components – the project sponsors should provide study results on fish populations and fish habitats; establish and justify quantitative biological objectives; outline M&E sufficient for Step 1; and address mercury and selenium contamination. If any elements above cannot be established at this stage because of inadequate information, then that information should be gathered, analyzed, and incorporated in the next Project Implementation Plan submittal.
- Resolution of land access and conservation easement issues.
- A benefits analysis demonstrating the proposed alternatives are favorable to fish and wildlife resources.