At the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s October 1, 2014 request, the ISRP reviewed a response from the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board (UCSRB) for Project #2010-001-00, Upper Columbia Programmatic Habitat, and Project #2009-003-00, Upper Columbia Habitat Restoration. The Recovery Board developed the response to address the ISRP’s concerns raised in the review of the projects’ progress reports (ISRP 2014-5; May 2, 2014). The Bonneville Power Administration provided background information on programmatic habitat projects and associated monitoring and evaluation that the ISRP considered in this review.
This response review is part of an iterative review of the projects dating back to 2010. Our most recent review (2014-5) describes the review history in detail, but this review largely follows from the ISRP’s recommendation in the Geographic Review: Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified): “The qualification to this proposal is that project staff should submit a comprehensive report summarizing their progress to date, including areas where they have experienced difficulties and areas where they have clearly achieved their objectives. This check-in report should describe the cooperative activities taking place between the project and other regional restoration efforts ...”
The ISRP (2014-5) found that the progress report provided a “current snapshot of the effort to implement habitat improvement actions under a programmatic umbrella, and, in general, it adequately addresses progress in gaining administrative and project selection efficiencies. Their description of highlighted actions yielded enough detail for the ISRP to believe that the showcased projects were based on sound restoration principles.”
However, the ISRP emphasized that not enough information was provided to verify that “these specific programmatic efforts are on track for achieving BiOp, Recovery Plan, or Fish and Wildlife Program objectives with regard to action effectiveness.” The ISRP identified several important questions that remained unanswered in the check-in document and requested a response on those questions.
Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified)
Qualification: Quantitative evidence of fish responses and examples of how monitoring results are used to inform restoration actions are needed to show that the UCSRB projects are on track to meet Fish and Wildlife Program, Biological Opinion, and Recovery Plan objectives.
Over the course of the ISRP reviews of this umbrella project, the UCSRB has provided a comprehensive overview of their umbrella project. The documents are clearly written, thoughtful, and highly informative, especially at the process level. The UCSRB response described the coordination, adaptive management approach, and research, monitoring, and evaluation efforts that apply to the Upper Columbia projects. This qualitative description addressed a large part of what the ISRP asked for in our most recent review. However, additional scientific information on quantitative results and specific examples on the use of monitoring information to shape restoration actions were not reported directly in the response letter. Simply stated, some aspects of our questions were not satisfactorily addressed, as described in more detail below.
Answers to these questions rely on the coordinated effort of the UCSRB, the Yakama Nation, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the regional habitat research, monitoring, and evaluation effort which includes the Fish and Wildlife Program funded Integrated Status and Effectiveness Monitoring Program (ISEMP), Columbia River Habitat Monitoring Program (CHaMP), the Okanogan Basin Monitoring and Evaluation Program (OBMEP), and Bonneville’s Action Effectiveness Monitoring program (AEM). Consequently, future reviews of the UCSRB, in regard to our qualification, should include participation by those programs.
Several existing review processes are underway that provide opportunities to address the ISRP’s questions:
- As described in the Council’s programmatic recommendation on umbrella habitat restoration projects, a progress report is due January 2015 to cover “project actions to date, project cost, project title, location and short project summary, including anticipated benefits to fish and wildlife, and implementation timeline.” Existing analyses from NOAA Fisheries (Zabel and Cooney 2013) and ISEMP could be summarized and included in the report. An ISRP review role is currently not specified for this progress report.
- A progress review of the ISEMP/CHaMP/AEM programs is planned for March 2015, and a key question for that review is whether results of those programs are informing habitat restoration actions. The Upper Columbia could be used as an example. An ISRP review role is part of this process.
- Also, as part of the Council’s programmatic recommendation on umbrella projects, a conference and review is called for these projects in 2016. An ISRP review is envisioned for this process.
Finally, this is a large, complex umbrella project that deserves a more detailed and comprehensive review by the ISRP in the next few years. The review should cover the full suite of restoration and mitigation actions implemented in the Upper Columbia, including hatchery programs. The previous ISRP review also suggested that direct dialog between the ISRP, UCSRB, Yakama Nation, and others could help clarify review issues. The ISRP continues to believe this face-to-face dialog is necessary to understand such a complex program.