Related link: Technical Guide for Subbasin Planners provides more detail on how to develop a subbasin plan
Subbasin plans are to be developed in an open public process that includes the participation of a wide range of state, federal and tribal governments, local managers, landowners, local governments, and other stakeholders. The final subbasin plan adopted by the Council should enjoy a wide range of support from all interested parties. The plans must be consistent with provisions contained in the Northwest Power Act, and the Council's Fish and Wildlife Program. These plans contain the measures that drive program implementation at the subbasin level. The Council's subbasin plans will not duplicate the plans developed or soon to be developed by others, including states, tribes, or the federal government. Wherever possible and scientifically warranted, the Council will adopt existing plans into the subbasin plans. Planning in any subbasin will stem from the information contained in subbasin summaries and existing plans and documents.
Below are the key elements of a subbasin plan followed by a description of each.
An assessment forms the foundation for developing the subbasin vision, biological objectives and strategies. The initial assessment is based on existing information about the environmental conditions and fish and wildlife populations in the subbasin. A key element of the assessment will be information on the current and potential conditions in each subbasin. From this assessment, the subbasin plan will identify limiting factors and factors for decline for key fish and wildlife populations in the subbasin, including ESA-listed populations. Where the assessment identifies significant data gaps, the subbasin plan should identify the data need and measures necessary to meet those needs. The assessment should address the question, "What are the problems that keep fish and wildlife populations within the subbasin from reaching full potential?"
Examples of limiting factors and factors for decline
- Water quality problems in the lower river (temperature and sedimentation)
- Passage barriers at culverts and falls (late summer)
- Lack of adequate screening
- Overwinter habitat is insufficient
- Lack of juvenile rearing habitat
- Low fish or wildlife abundance
- Reduced biological function of habitat above blockages
The intention of the Council's subbasin planning effort is to define the environmental and biological goals specific to fish and wildlife within the Columbia River Basin. The Council anticipates a 10-15 year timeframe as the planning window. A vision statement is qualitative, and should reflect the policies, legal requirements and local needs, given the ecological realities within a subbasin. The vision will provide the guidance and priority for implementing actions in the future. The vision for the subbasin should address the question, "What are you trying to achieve overall?" -- a collective desire to accomplish certain things.
Examples of collective goals forming the vision
- Restore fish runs
- Maintain genetic integrity
- Protect and restore wildlife habitat
- Increase harvestable populations of fish
- Increase escapement to the spawning grounds
- Rebuild fish runs to achieve ESA delisting
3. Biological Objectives
Biological objectives have two components: (1) biological performance, describing responses of populations to habitat conditions, described in terms of capacity, abundance, productivity and life history diversity, and (2) environmental characteristics, which describe the environmental conditions or changes sought to achieve the desired population characteristics. Objectives should be specific, measurable and quantifiable. The initial assessments along with the vision will guide the focus of the biological objectives. For each major limiting factor, there should be a biological objective that describes the extent of improvement that the plan will call for. In addition, for each key population, specific biological objectives should describe the improvements planned for that population. These objectives will serve as a benchmark to evaluate progress toward the subbasin vision, and should have measurable outcomes. The questions that should be addressed through the biological objectives are "What target species need to be addressed?" "What number is achievable, and in what time frame?" Immediate, interim, and long-term biological objectives should be considered.
Examples of biological objectives
- 2,700 summer steelhead return to spawn by 2006;
- 5,000 spring Chinook return to harvestable levels by 2008.
- Increase winter rearing habitat by 10%.
Strategies describe the actions needed to address the limiting factors and therefore achieve the biological objectives. The strategies identified in the subbasin plans form the basis for Council funding recommendations to Bonneville. Implementation strategies will vary depending on the current condition of the populations and habitat, and the biological objectives identified for the species and life stages of interest. Strategies should be formulated to address the question, "What are the generic or overarching actions needed to address the limiting factors?"
Examples of strategies
- Improve water quality in the lower river
- Restore passage through a particular barrier
- Restore riparian habitat in a particular stream reach
Strategies will be implemented through specific projects and/or actions. Projects proposed for funding will not be identified within the subbasin plan. When a plan is approved, it will form the basis for project selection within the subbasin. Projects will be developed through the regional project funding process. Projects proposed for funding will undergo independent scientific review as to how they fulfill the strategies and biological objectives in the subbasin plan.
An example of a strategy with related projects
|Strategy||Projects (submitted through province review)|
|Restore fish ||Build a fishway at Sunny Creek|
|Passage||Increase instream flows - upgrade Sunny Farm diversion|
5. Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation
Each subbasin plan will contain a monitoring and evaluation plan that will show whether the actions taken to implement the subbasin plan are achieving their objectives. Each monitoring and evaluation plan should answer the questions "How will we evaluate progress toward the biological objectives?" "How will it be measured?" "Who will conduct the monitoring and evaluation work?" and what is the timeframe for such work?" The information gained through monitoring and evaluation allows for the examination of the effectiveness of actions taken so that actions may be refined over time.
In addition, each subbasin plan will contain a set of research questions (agenda) that will address critical uncertainties related to stated goals, biological objectives, and strategies that will become part of a larger research plan for the basin. The research agenda recognizes conditions and situations identified within a subbasin that will require specific research in order to help resolve specific management uncertainties.
The background information and supporting documentation used in subbasin plan development can be included as technical appendices to the plan. Components of the technical appendices should include:
- Assessment and limiting factors data and information;
- Project listings and summaries -- inventory of existing projects, program and past accomplishments;
- Subbasin summaries developed for the Council;
- Maps, excerpts, and other relevant documents.
This document is an overview of a subbasin plan. A Technical Guide for Subbasin Planners has been developed for subbasin planning technicians and others who may be involved in the specifics of drafting a subbasin plan.