Public comment on ISRP Report 2021-08
This report provides the Independent Scientific Review Panel’s (ISRP) preliminary comments and recommendations on 122 proposals submitted for the Anadromous Fish Habitat and Hatchery Review to implement the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program (hereafter “Program”). There are 124 projects identified for this review, but the ISRP’s and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s reviews of two proposals are waiting for review materials from the project proponents. In this preliminary review, the ISRP finds that 32 proposals meet scientific review criteria, 41 proposals meet scientific review criteria with conditions, and 12 proposals are not amenable to scientific review and thus received “not applicable” recommendations. The ISRP requests responses on 37 proposals to determine if they fully meet scientific review criteria. Project proponents are provided an opportunity to respond to the ISRP's concerns. The deadline for responses is November 22, 2021. The proponents’ responses will inform the ISRP's final report to the Council, scheduled to be completed by February 10, 2022.
This review is limited to projects that are currently being funded under the Program. Although new project proposals were not solicited, proponents of ongoing projects could describe new work elements, phases, or objectives for their projects based on adaptive management or new priorities, within existing budget constraints. Most of the 124 projects in this review have been the subject of numerous past reviews. Consequently, in the Council’s guidance document to project proponents, the Council stated that important functions of this review are to evaluate:
- project results and accomplishments; the degree to which project objectives are being achieved
- how each project has adapted proposed future work based on those results; specifically, the degree to which project objectives, actions, and methods reflect new information gained from those results
- clear delineation of progress towards completion
- how well the project proponents have responded to the scientific and management issues identified in previous Council reviews and recommendations
- the collective progress of particular groups of projects that have a similar focus
Although the ISRP is recommending conditions or requesting responses on 78 proposals, this does not reflect poorly on the projects or the Fish and Wildlife Program. In fact, the ISRP is impressed with the proponents’ commitment to the objectives of the Program as evident in their many accomplishments, the effort they devoted to the proposals and presentations, and their constructive approach toward scientific review. The ISRP is using this preliminary review to continue dialogue with the project proponents to improve clarity on the projects’ objectives, methods, and results as well as the scientific foundation.
Based on the proponents’ responses, the ISRP's final report will provide final recommendations on each project and a full discussion of programmatic issues that apply across projects to inform Program development and performance. Programmatic topics will likely include integration of projects within geographic areas, particularly between monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and habitat restoration projects; future review processes; habitat assessment and prioritization methods; climate change; the dire conditions of some salmon and steelhead stocks; alignment of genetic stock identification (GSI) and viable salmonid population (VSP) analyses; uncertainties about long-term fitness effects on natural populations resulting from hatchery supplementation and straying; and other issues identified during the response review. To aid the proponents in developing responses, the ISRP includes a brief programmatic discussion of integration of M&E and habitat restoration projects. Additionally, the ISRP includes some preliminary thoughts on future project review processes because the ISRP understands the Council and Bonneville Power Administration staff are beginning discussions on the next review process.
The ISRP strives to ensure that its multi-year recommendations for the projects and the Program have a sound, well-documented scientific foundation.