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ROCKY REACH WILDLIFE HABITAT MANAGEMENT PLAN


ROCKY REACH HYDROELECTRIC PROJECT


FERC Project No. 2145


July 14, 2009




Prepared by

Public Utility District No. 1 of Chelan County

Wenatchee, Washington

TABLE OF CONTENTS




EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1

SECTION 1:INTRODUCTION 1

SECTION 1:BACKGROUND 4

SECTION 2:STUDIES AND EVALUATION OF PROJECT EFFECTS 5

1Relicensing Studies 5

2Ongoing Studies 6

SECTION 3:PROTECTION, MITIGATION, AND ENHANCMENT MEASURES 9

1Habitat Restoration on WDFW lands 10

2Habitat Restoration on BLM Lands 19

3Habitat Restoration on USDA Forest Service Lands 19

4Integrated Noxious Weed Control Program 23

5Sun Cove Property Conservation Easement 23

6Wildlife Surveys 23

SECTION 4:LITERATURE CITED 25


LIST OF FIGURES



Figure 1: Rocky Reach Project Area 3

Figure 2: Chelan Butte Wildlife Unit, WDFW 15

Figure 3: Swakane Wildlife Unit, WDFW 16

Figure 4: Entiat Wildlife Unit, WDFW. 17

Figure 5: Entiat Ranger District Habitat Improvement Projects, 2010-2015. 22

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


Under the direction of the Natural Resources Working Group (NRWG), numerous studies were conducted during the Rocky Reach Project (Project) relicensing process, including mapping of rare, threatened, and endangered wildlife and cover-type, a survey of botanical resources, surveys of Canada goose nesting, surveys of bald eagle overwintering abundance, and a study of overwinter mule deer mortality. The Wildlife Technical Group (WTG) representatives developed the measures included in this revised Rocky Reach Wildlife Habitat Management Plan (WHMP) to provide benefit to local wildlife and botanical resources.


The goal of the WHMP is to protect and enhance wildlife populations and habitat in the vicinity of Rocky Reach Project. Chelan PUD has agreed to implement several Protection, Mitigation, and Enhancement measures (PMEs) for wildlife as part of the Rocky Reach Comprehensive Settlement Agreement, February 3, 2006 (Settlement Agreement). The objectives of these PMEs are to: 1) restore, maintain, or improve Chelan Wildlife Area (CWA) lands and 2) restore, maintain, improve, or increase habitat for key indicator wildlife species.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order on Offer of Settlement and Issuing New License (License) for the Rocky Reach Hydroelectric Project No. 2145 (Project) was issued February 19, 2009 to the Public Utility District No. 1 of Chelan County (Chelan PUD). Article 403 of the new Project License requires Chelan PUD to revise and submit to FERC a Wildlife Habitat Management Plan by February 19, 2010. This plan has been revised and describes the location, methods, and schedule proposed to implement habitat improvements in the Rocky Reach Wildlife Area, as specified in the License articles, and the Settlement Agreement. Included in this plan are provisions for:

1) Funding to restore and improve habitat on the Chelan Wildlife Area;


2) Funding for habitat restoration on US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands;
3) Funding for habitat restoration on USDA Forest Service lands;
4) Providing a conservation easement on Chelan PUD Sun Cove property;
5) Funding for an integrated noxious weed control program;
6) Conducting wildlife surveys;
Projects proposed do not require maintenance or monitoring to ensure success, rather, most projects are one-time treatments or a series of one time treatments or annual surveys. Therefore, none of these lands need be incorporated into the Project area.


    1. INTRODUCTION


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order on Offer of Settlement and Issuing New License (License) for the Rocky Reach Hydroelectric Project No. 2145 (Project) was issued February 19, 2009 to the Public Utility District No. 1 of Chelan County (Chelan PUD). Article 403 of the new Project License requires Chelan PUD to revise and submit to FERC a Wildlife Habitat Management Plan by February 19, 2010. As with the original plan, the purpose of this WHMP is to protect and enhance wildlife habitat within the Rocky Reach Wildlife Area (RRWA). The RRWA is defined as public lands in Chelan and Douglas Counties within approximately a 6-mile corridor of the Rocky Reach Reservoir (Reservoir). This WHMP supersedes and is a revised version of Chapter 7: Wildlife Habitat Plan of the Rocky Reach Comprehensive Plan that was submitted as part of the Rocky Reach Settlement Agreement. Revisions include a rewrite of the WHMP consistent with terms contained in the Rocky Reach Comprehensive Settlement Agreement to: 1) provide the FERC with proposed actions, schedules, and methods; 2) provide the FERC with as much detail as possible regarding future plans for implementing wildlife and habitat license measures for Rocky Reach; and 3) to preserve the background and intent of the Settlement Agreement in order to guide the RRWF during the later years of license implementation.


The WHMP was developed in consultation with the Rocky Reach Wildlife Forum (RRWF), which includes the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Yakama, Nation, Alcoa, City of Entitat, U. S. Departent of Ecology and Washington Department of Parks. Documentation of the consultation that occurred during development of this plan is attached as Appendix A.
State lands owned adjacent to the project include those owned and maintained by the WDFW and WDNR. WDFW owns and operates the Chelan Wildlife Area (approximately 30,221 acres, WDFW 2006) which is comprised of the Swakane (11,273 acres), Entiat (9,851 acres), and Chelan Butte (9,097 acres) Wildlife Units. Federal lands in the Rocky Reach Wildlife Area include those of the USFS, BLM, and USFWS. As directed, priority should be given to habitat improvements within or immediately adjacent to the project boundary.
As directed by Article 403 in the License, this WHMP includes (1) a detailed description of the habitat improvement measures, including the methods to be used, (2) a detailed description of the location where the improvements will occur, including maps and drawings, (3) a description of any annual or periodic maintenance and monitoring needed to ensure the success of the measures, and (4) a detailed implementation schedule.
The goal of the WHMP is to protect and enhance habitat for wildlife in the RRWA. Chelan PUD has agreed to implement the following wildlife and botanical PME measures as part of the Agreement to meet the following objectives:

Objective 1: Restore, maintain, or improve habitat in the RRWA;


Objective 2: Restore, maintain, improve, or increase habitat for key indicator wildlife species.
These objectives would be accomplished through: 1) Funding to restore and improve the Chelan Wildlife Area; 2) Funding for habitat restoration on US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands; 3) Funding for habitat restoration on USDA Forest Service lands; 4) a conservation easement on Chelan PUD Sun Cove property; 5) noxious weed management; and 6) wintering bald eagle and nesting Canada goose surveys.


Figure 1: Rocky Reach Project Area

SECTION 1:BACKGROUND


Before European settlement, the vegetation of the area surrounding the Project was largely shrub-steppe, which was maintained by frequent wildfires. A number of factors have altered the historic vegetation in the vicinity of the Project. Before the Project was constructed in 1961, the area had already been altered to some extent by grazing, fires and fire suppression, farming, residential development and exotic weed invasion. These factors continue to affect current conditions.


Existing botanical resources closely resemble the historical botanical resources in the vicinity of the Project, consisting mainly of shrub-steppe communities. Subsequent to inundation of the reservoir, new riparian and aquatic plant communities have developed on the present day shoreline. There are also some areas of riparian vegetation along streams or rivers and some wetland communities within the Project Boundary. In addition, there are some habitats with distinct vegetation communities; these include areas with gravelly or sandy soils, shallow and/or stony sites; and sand dunes near the Columbia River (Franklin and Dyrness, 1973).
Much of the area surrounding the Project has been developed or cultivated with a variety of crops or is grazed by livestock. Irrigated cropland and orchards dominate the river corridor lands around the Project and Reservoir.
In the mid-1960s, as part of the originals license, Chelan PUD provided funds to the Washington Department of Game (now the WDFW) for the purchase of 20,397 acres of land along the Columbia River between Swakane Canyon and Chelan Butte, collectively referred to as the Chelan Wildlife Area (CWA). These lands were purchased to mitigate the loss of the wildlife habitat that was inundated by original Project construction. These lands are important mule deer winter range within Chelan County. In addition to WDFW lands, the CWA is intermingled with lands administered by the BLM, USDA Forest Service, and DNR, along with some private land in-holdings (Figure 1). These lands provide additional benefit to wildlife resources.
Mule deer (Odocoileus virginianus) bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), cougar (Felis concolor), bobcat (Lynx rufus) and coyotes (Canis latrans) inhabit range in the mid-Columbia region. These species are present near the Reservoir, and have been recorded occasionally within the Project Boundary. Upland game birds that use the Reservoir shorelines and Rocky Reach Wildlife Area lands include ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus), California quail (Lagopus californicus), chukars (Alectoris chukar) and mourning doves (Zenaidura macroura).
An important component of the WHMP is to convert approximately 1,400 acres of agricultural lands on CWA lands into self-maintaining shrub steppe-habitat vegetated by bunchgrasses and shrubs such as snowy eriogonum, lupine, balsamroot, big sage, bitterbrush, serviceberry, elderberry. Restoring and preserving existing habitat would provide benefit to a variety of wildlife. Noxious weed control would also be an important part of management of these lands.

SECTION 2:STUDIES AND EVALUATION OF PROJECT EFFECTS


Under the direction of the NRWG, numerous studies were conducted during the Rocky Reach relicensing process, including the Rare Plant Survey of the Rocky Reach Reservoir (Calypso Consulting, 2000), Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Wildlife and Cover-Type Mapping Study (DES, 2000), historic and ongoing Chelan PUD monitoring studies, and Mule Deer Mortality Study (Myers, 2003).


1Relicensing Studies

1.A.1RTE Wildlife and Cover-type Mapping

The Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Wildlife and Cover Type Mapping report assessed 13 cover types in the vicinity of the Project (DES, 2000). The study determined that approximately 57 percent of lands near the Project are comprised of disturbed, developed, or modified cover-types. Of all cover-types within the study area, orchards occupy the largest area (25.2 percent), shrub-steppe is the second largest (22.3 percent), and residential/industrial is the third largest area (15.6 percent). The residential/industrial cover-type increased more than any cover-type from 1991 to 1999 (approximately 230 acres), followed by the recreational cover-type (increase of approximately 59 acres). Residential and industrial development results in the conversion and permanent loss of native wildlife habitats. Collectively riparian and shoreline wetland habitats constitute a small portion of all habitats in the area (9.2 percent).
The primary conclusion of the report was that “suitability of wildlife habitats within the Rocky Reach study area are influenced by current human activities, past land-use practices, and physical landform characteristics.” One significant habitat feature identified by this study and the Rare Plant Survey (Calypso Consulting, 2000) was the dramatic increase in riparian vegetation within the Project boundary, and the associated increase in wildlife species diversity.
1.A.2Botanical Resources Survey

During a rare plant survey in 1999–2000 (Calypso Consulting, 2000), botanists located 14 populations of six rare plant species within the Project boundary, including four currently state-listed species: porcupine sedge (Carex hystericina), giant helleborine (Epipactis gigantea), adder’s-tongue (Ophioglossum pusillum) and Ute ladies’-tresses (Spiranthes diluvialis). One of these, the Ute ladies’-tresses, is also federally listed as a threatened species. Due to their rarity in the state, two other species that were located during the course of surveys can be expected to be added to the Washington National Heritage Program list and tracked in the future. These species are little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium montanum).
Noxious weeds such as purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), diffuse knapweed (Centaurea diffusa), Russian knapweed (Acroptilon repens), perennial pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium), Dalmatian toadflax (Linaria dalmatica), Yellow Starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis), Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus), Camelthorn (Alhagi maurorum), Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), common St. John’s-wort (Hypericum perforatum), and hoarycress (whitetop) (Cardaria draba) pose a particular risk to native and rare plant populations in the vicinity of the Project. Other weeds such as Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum), yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus) and reed canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacea) may also be problematic.
Besides direct destruction of habitat, increases in weedy plant species probably poses the highest threat to rare plant populations and native plant communities (Calypso Consulting, 2000). The higher the level of disturbance within a habitat, the greater the probability that non-native weedy plant species will become established and potentially out-compete native and rare plant species.
Similar to noxious weed invasion, populations of giant helleborine (Epipactus gigantea) and porcupine sedge (Carex hystericina) have increased dramatically since 1990 (Calypso Consulting, 1990, 2000). The increase in populations of these species indicates that current Project operations result in maintaining riparian vegetation through providing a stable reservoir elevation and by reducing flood scour.
1.A.3Mule Deer Overwinter Mortality Study

This study, conducted by WDFW, was designed to provide baseline information concerning the most effective and efficient use of funds to enhance mule deer habitats (Myers 2003). Chelan PUD provided partial funding for this project, with an objective to determine the habitat quality on the existing wildlife lands in the Swakane, Entiat, and Chelan Butte units.
Bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata), the preferred winter forage species by mule deer when present, was reduced dramatically during the 1988 and 1994 fires. The loss of this important winter forage species very likely had severe impacts to deer numbers, since the quality of digestible winter forage affects survival. The logical step for enhancing mule deer winter ranges in Chelan County would start with restoring bitterbrush stands to a level that could help the mule deer population recover from a combination of severe winters and wildfires. Determining areas with consistent mule deer use will focus restoration of bitterbrush stands to areas important for mule deer. Given these considerations, the goal of this study was to provide deer managers in Chelan County with information on winter habitat use by mule deer so that those areas can be enhanced.
As determined by this study, the primary causal agent to mule deer population decline is loss of winter habitat due to fire. The information gathered regarding habitat quality on existing wildlife areas will be valuable in determining where habitat enhancement efforts will likely be the most successful in terms of benefiting mule deer, and other wildlife species associated with mule deer habitat.

2Ongoing Studies

2.A.1Canada Goose Nesting Surveys

Canada goose surveys have been conducted by Chelan PUD on the Reservoir since 1983 (Fielder 2003). These surveys have been used by WDFW to assess Canada goose abundance and set harvest regulations. The Reservoir provides limited habitat for breeding waterfowl. Canada geese (Branta canadensis), mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and common mergansers (Mergus merganser) are probably the most common breeding waterfowl, although wood ducks (Aix sponsa) occasionally use the nesting boxes dotted along the Reservoir. Backwater areas probably also support a few nesting pairs of pied-billed grebes (Podilymbus podiceps) and coots (Fulica atra).
Since 1983, 30 to 80 pairs of geese have nested annually along the Reservoir. Currently, Chelan PUD maintains 31 artificial nest structures for geese along the Reservoir. Each year about two-thirds of the nests are successful in producing approximately 200 goslings.
2.A.2Bald Eagle Overwinter Abundance Surveys

Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) overwinter abundance surveys have been conducted by Chelan PUD on the Reservoir since 1982. Chelan PUD estimates that between 20 and 56 bald eagles overwinter along the Reservoir, feeding on the abundant overwintering waterfowl and deer carrion (Fielder, 1982). In 2007, following the delisting of the bald eagle, Chelan PUD began doing monthly bald eagle surveys rather than bi-weekly.

2.A.3Bald Eagle Nesting Surveys

During the relicensing studies, no active bald eagle nests were documented with in the Rocky Reach Wildlife Area. In 2005, the first occurrence of nesting bald eagles was observed along the Reservoir near Howard Flats. On August 8, 2007, the bald eagle was delisted by the USFWS. By 2009, 5 bald eagle nesting territories have been documented within the Rocky Reach Wildlife Area.


SECTION 3:PROTECTION, MITIGATION, AND ENHANCMENT MEASURES


The RRWF representatives developed the measures included in this WHMP to provide benefit to local wildlife and botanical resources. The goal of the WHMP is to protect and enhance wildlife populations and habitat in the Rocky Reach Wildlife Area. Chelan PUD has agreed to implement the following wildlife and botanical PME measures as part of the Agreement to meet the following objectives:


Objective 1: Restore, maintain, or improve Chelan Wildlife Area lands.
Objective 2: Restore, maintain, improve, or increase habitat for key indicator wildlife species.
Wildlife key indicator species for purposes of the WHMP include mule deer and bighorn sheep, rare, threatened, endangered, and sensitive species, species of concern, or priority species.
To ensure better comprehensive assessment of short and long term wildlife habitat activities and needs, the RRWF will meet at least annually to coordinate efforts, and to make recommendations regarding the expenditure of funds and other resources. It is anticipated that in some years agencies could pool resources for mutually beneficial projects. Adaptive Management is a key component of implementing the WHMP successfully during the term of the New License and any subsequent annual licenses for the Project. Therefore, the members of the RRWF with funding and management responsibilities described in this plan agree to provide to the RRWF an annual report documenting actions taken and funded during the year, accomplishments, monitoring and evaluation results of such actions, and recommendations for future actions.
An analysis of potential projects and costs to restore, maintain, or improve CWA lands, focusing primarily on WDFW lands, was conducted by wildlife biologists Marc Hallet (WDFW) and Paul Fielder (Chelan PUD) (Hallet and Fielder, 2004). The analysis identified habitat restoration projects and areas within the CWA. A similar analysis within the Rocky Reach Wildlife Area was conducted for BLM lands by John Musser (BLM), Neil Hedges (BLM), and David St. George (BLM) (Musser et al., 2004). Both analyses, Chelan PUD relicensing baseline studies, and Chelan PUD’s commitment to continue several existing license measures into the New License were used by the WTG as guidance for some of the recommended actions that follow in this section. It is not intended that future projects be limited to those mentioned in the analyses above.
A component of restoring, maintaining, and improving wildlife habitat is to implement measures that provide for compatible public use of Rocky Reach Wildlife Area lands. The Rocky Reach Recreation Resources Management Plan (RRMP) proposes to conduct a Recreation Use Assessment during the New License term. A component of the study is to include “analysis of wildlife impacts resulting from recreation use of the reservoir. This analysis shall be done pursuant to Article 406 in the new license and in coordination with the Rocky Reach Wildlife Forum established under Section 15 of the Settlement Agreement.” The RRWF intends to have the same level of coordination between the RRWF and the Rocky Reach Recreation Forum (RRRF) when habitat restoration, maintenance, and improvement projects are implemented in order to provide for such compatible public use.
Projects to restore, maintain, and improve habitat will be funded under the WHMP with direction from the RRWF, while recreation related projects will be eligible to apply to the Recreation Enhancement Fund for funding through the RRMP under direction from the RRRF.
The RRWF recommends that Chelan PUD implement the following PMEs:

1Habitat Restoration on WDFW lands


Consistent with the Settlement Agreement, Chelan PUD shall make available funding to WDFW, for the term of the New License and any subsequent annual licenses, to restore approximately 1,400 acres in the CWA, as identified in the WHMP, previously under cultivation or in need of restoration to self maintaining shrub-steppe habitat vegetated by bunchgrasses, forbs, and shrubs such as snowy eriogonum, lupine, balsamroot, big sage, bitterbrush, serviceberry, elderberry.
This WHMP includes wildlife habitat restoration and related projects on three major management units within the CWA, including: the 9,097 acre Chelan Butte Unit (Figure 2) located between Lake Chelan and the Columbia River, the 11,273 acre Swakane Unit (Figure 3) located about 3 miles north of Wenatchee, and the 9,851 acre Entiat Unit (Figure 4) which includes lands west and northwest of the town of Entiat and in Oklahoma Gulch, Navarre coulee and Knapps Coulee.
In the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Rocky Reach License issued in September 2006, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission states, “A number of cumulative factors are placing greater importance on remaining shrub-steppe habitat within the Chelan and Rocky Reach Wildlife Areas.” Furthermore it states “…lands within the Chelan Wildlife Area are not currently functioning at the level that was present at the time of purchase, due to factors unrelated to continued project operations.” As a result, in the DEIS, the FERC states that converting acreage under cultivation to native shrub-steppe habitats would benefit mule deer populations and other wildlife dependant on these habitats.
The FERC also states in the DEIS that lack of specificity in the current plan would make it difficult for the FERC to ensure compliance to ensure that measures implemented would benefit project resources. Article 403 of the new license requires the licensee to revise the plan to specifically define the actions to be undertaken. In order to meet the terms in the Rocky Reach Settlement Agreement and the FERC requirement for more detailed information in the Rocky Reach Wildlife Habitat Management Plan, the following provides more information to better define measures that would be implemented in the Rocky Reach Wildlife Habitat Management Plan if approved by the FERC.
As prescribed, this WHMP will cover a five year period. Due to the dynamic nature of the RRWA environment (e.g., wildfires, development, or unforeseen circumstances) a variety of land management practices will be proposed that may or may not be implemented in the first 5 years. While the objective will be to adhere to the plan as best possible, modification may be made in accordance with the RRWF as environmental conditions change. These modifications will be documented in the 5 year status report required by the FERC.
Habitat improvement measures described in this section do not require annual or periodic maintenance to ensure their success; rather they are a progression of one-time treatments to increase the potential for success, therefore, no lands need be brought into the project boundary
Chelan Wildlife Area Lands Restoration

The major restoration project in this plan will consist of converting approximately 1,400 acres of abandoned fields on the Chelan Butte and Swakane Units to self-sustaining shrub-steppe habitat which should benefit big game present in the area as well as a variety of other wildlife species dependant on shrubsteppe habitat. Other projects are proposed for all three wildlife units consistent with the terms of the Settlement Agreement. Portions of lands located within the CWA (Chelan Butte, Swakane, and Entiat Units) have previously been under cultivation are in need of restoration where past agricultural and grazing activities have aggravated the weed problem resulting in a degradation of habitat (WDFW 2006). Decades of inadequate weed control resulted in a serious infestation of a variety of weeds in most fields and a very large weed “seed bank”. These include perennials (Russian Knapweed, Morning glory etc) and aggressive annuals (goatgrass, cereal rye, cheatgrass, etc). Morning glory is by far the most ubiquitous perennial weed in the fields and its control will be difficult. An aggressive weed control program over several years will be necessary to suppress this weed and ensure a successful seeding.


The current schedule calls for a progression of land restoration activities to begin in 2010 and continue through 2019. Areas to be restored will be divided into 200 acre (approximately) parcels to be treated annually in a phased approach. Progressive one-time treatment actions for each of the approximately 200 acre parcels will likely include the following:
Year 1: Disk parcel and suppress perennial weeds

Year 2: Suppress remaining weeds and fallow the parcel.

Year 3: Fallow parcel and a fall seed shrub-steppe grasses.

Year 4: Treat weeds with a selective herbicide (remove weeds but not affect planted grasses). Establish a native grass stand to limit invasion of noxious weeds.

Year 5: Treat weeds as needed.

Year 6: Plant/seed native forbs and shrubs (e.g., lupine, eriogonum, balsamroot, big sage, bitterbrush, serviceberry, and elderberry) within the newly established grassland.
Schedule:
The Chelan Butte and Swakane fields have been divided into individual parcels as shown in figures 2 and 3. Each parcel will be approximately 200 acres or less. A six to nine year restoration cycle will be started on the first parcel during Year 1, on the second parcel during Year 2 and continue each year until the last parcel is started during Year 6. The entire process (initiation of the first parcel to completion of the last) will take 9 or more years to complete.
YEAR 1 – Primary objective: Cultivate the first 200 acre parcel and control perennial weeds.
a) Spring–summer: Mow and disk parcel (this will require at least two disking operations).
Much sagebrush and coarse weeds have invaded the fields. Mowing will be needed to facilitate disking. Disking will incorporate the vegetation in the soil and allow perennial weeds to re-emerge and be exposed to herbicide treatment. Disking is preferred since other cultivation equipment such as field cultivators and rod-weeders will aggravate the perennial weed problem.
b) Late summer-fall: Spray perennial weeds with herbicides.
Residual herbicides that remain active in the soil for several years are the most effective means of controlling perennial weeds.
YEAR 2 - Objective: Control weeds, deplete weed seed bank and prepare seedbed.
a) Spring: Evaluate success of herbicide treatment. If treatment is not adequate, treat again with herbicide as needed.
b) Spring-fall: Mechanically summer-fallow area(s) in which herbicide treatment was successful. Continue to spray weeds as needed in areas left uncultivated.
YEAR 3 – Objective: Control weeds, deplete weed seed bank, prepare seedbed and seed a shrubsteppe mix.
a) Spring through fall: Treat with herbicide as needed. Mechanically and/or chemically fallow area. Test soil for residual herbicide activity. Purchase seed if soil tests show acceptable levels of herbicide.
b) Fall: Seed in late fall if soil tests show acceptable levels of herbicide and apply non-residual herbicide as needed.
It should be noted that the kind and number of operations needed will depend on the success of herbicide treatment and precipitation.
Seeding mix:
The proposed seed mix will include but is not limited to the following species (biotype/cultivar selected by WDFW):
Grasses:

Sandberg bluegrass

Bluebunch wheatgrass

Idaho fescue

Needle and Thread

Great Basin Wildrye (additional in draws and wet areas)


Forbs:

Phlox species

Buckwheat species (Eriogonum sp.)

Balsamroot

Yarrow

Lupine
Shrubs:



Bitterbrush

Sagebrush



Year 4 – Objective: Monitor seeding and weed problem and treat as needed:
Assess the seeding and weed problem, mow and/or treat with herbicide as needed. Likely, this will at least include one herbicide application in the early spring.
YEAR 5 to 9 - Objective: Continue to monitor seeding and weed problem and treat as needed.
The estimated restoration cost is approximately $1,100/acre for this one-time restoration of 1,400 acres.

Figure 2: Chelan Butte Wildlife Unit, WDFW



Figure 3: Swakane Wildlife Unit, WDFW


Figure 4: Entiat Wildlife Unit, WDFW.


ADDITIONAL PROPOSED PROJECTS FOR THE SWAKANE, ENTIAT AND CHELAN BUTTE WILDLIFE UNITS OF THE WDFW CHELAN WILDLIFE AREA
Implementation of some of these additional proposed projects within the Chelan Wildlife Area would not require monitoring or specific goals for completion. Therefore, the areas need not be included within the project boundary.
SWAKANE UNIT
Provide wildlife watering basins along the length of the Swakane irrigation mainline and at spring developments throughout the wildlife area.
Add lateral lines to the Swakane Canyon irrigation system to irrigate habitat: Additional lateral irrigation lines will allow efficient use of the limited water supply in Swakane Canyon. This will also facilitate shrubsteppe and riparian habitat restoration efforts.
Install a small circle irrigation system in Swakane Canyon. This would allow irrigation of alfalfa and/or other wildlife food crop in the lower part of Swakane Canyon.
Establish and construct a secure fenced office and equipment storage area on WDFW property.
Develop patches of riparian habitat in north facing and moister sites of the Wildlife Area. (Irrigation water will facilitate riparian habitat development in several sites of the Swakane bottom). Riparian woody species include cottonwood, willows, blue-elderberry, chokecherry, serviceberry, and red-osier dogwood.
Develop small ponds/wetlands associated with springs and other water sources throughout the Wildlife Area.
Thin forest stands in the Swakane Unit.
ENTIAT UNIT
Suppress noxious weeds in shrubsteppe plantings on the Entiat Unit. Seed shrubsteppe habitat in areas where necessary.
Plant ponderosa pine and other trees to replace trees destroyed by fire in Oklahoma Gulch and other parts of the Wildlife Area.
CHELAN WILDLIFE AREA (ALL UNITS)
Re-establish grassland habitat along the roadside in the Swakane, Entiat, and Chelan Butte Units. This will provide wildlife cover and discourage weed infestations.
Construct barbed-wire fence to protect wildlife habitat from livestock trespass

Install guzzlers (wildlife watering cisterns).


Install bird feeders on the Swakane, Entiat, and Chelan Butte Units.
Build large brush piles to provide wildlife hiding cover.
Construct and install bluebird and kestrel nest boxes in suitable habitat on the Wildlife Area.
Seed and/or plant bitterbrush. Replace bitterbrush destroyed by fire.
Develop springs throughout the Wildlife area.

2Habitat Restoration on BLM Lands


Consistent with the Settlement Agreement, Chelan PUD shall make funds available to the BLM for the term of the New License and any subsequent annual licenses, to restore, maintain, or improve intermixed BLM lands within the Rocky Reach Wildlife Area. Funding in this section may be used for native shrub-steppe habitat rehabilitation, noxious weed control, native forb replanting, water development projects, etc., on BLM lands within the Rocky Reach Wildlife Area.
Proposed BLM Projects
As prescribed, this WHMP will cover a five year period. Due to the dynamic nature of the RRWA environment (e.g., wildfires, development, or unforeseen circumstances) a variety of land management practices will be proposed that may or may not be implemented in the first 5 years. While the objective will be to adhere to the plan as best possible, modification may be made in accordance with the RRWF as environmental conditions change. These modification will be documented in the 5 year status report and update required by the FERC.
Habitat improvement measures described in this section do not require annual or periodic maintenance to ensure their success; therefore, no lands need be brought into the project boundary.

3Habitat Restoration on USDA Forest Service Lands


Consistent with the Settlement Agreement, Chelan PUD shall make funds available to the USDA Forest Service for the term of the New License and any subsequent annual licenses, to restore, maintain, or improve USDA Forest Service administered lands within the Rocky Reach Wildlife Area. Funding in this section may be used for native shrub-steppe habitat rehabilitation, noxious weed control, native forb replanting, and prescribed fire ecosystem processes, etc., on USDA Forest Service administered lands within the Rocky Reach Wildlife Area.
The following projects are proposed on the Entiat Ranger District, Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests. 2010 – 2015 adjacent to the project.


  1. Mule Deer and Big horn Sheep Key Winter Range –

    1. Improve mule deer and big horn sheep winter range within the Swakane Creek drainage with a combination of slash thinning and/or prescribed fire. There are approximately 700 acres of forested stands (non-contiguous) in different areas within the Swakane drainage that would benefit from treatment. These treatments would decrease tree density and open up areas for increased forage production. Thinning would reduce ladder fuels and also speed development of larger trees and canopies, reducing potential loss of thermal cover to fire or insects and disease. Prescribed burning benefits all species dependent on shrub steppe habitat by reducing fuels and, therefore, the severity of summer wildfires. Prescribed fire also rejuvenates plant communities that have evolved with fire, thereby improving habitat conditions for all species dependent on shrub steppe and grassland habitats within the Swakane. Portions of the thinning units are outside of the RRWA boundary. However, they are within the same drainage within key winter range and will be beneficial to the animals using that drainage in the winter. These treatments would likely be implemented over a 3 year time period, beginning in the fall of 2010.

        1. Approximately 400 acres prescribed burning @ $50/acre (see Fig. 1) for a total cost of $20,000.

        2. Approximately 300 acres slash thinning @ $25/acre for a total cost of $7,500




  1. Ungulate Mineral Supplements

    1. Ungulate mortality as a result of collisions with vehicles is an ongoing issue on HWY 97A, especially in the winter and early spring. Bighorn sheep and mule deer are repeatedly observed licking the road surface during the winter after application of de-icer on the roadway. There may be some element of the de-icer that is appealing to ungulates out of necessity, ie. fulfilling a mineral deficiency in their diet, or they may simply like it. We propose to develop a strategy to test a mineral supplement for wild ungulates. The supplement would mimic the “attractive” elements of de-icer, while providing the minerals beneficial to ungulate nutrition. The supplement will be deployed (via helicopter) in locations within the winter range to decrease the need for these animals to go down to the highway in the winter. Standard livestock “salt blocks” are often not appropriate for wildlife consumption as they can contain too much copper. We will work with experts to create a compound ideally suited for this effort. We will work closely with the WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife on this effort. Approximate cost: $3,125/year for 4 years = $12,500.




  1. Weed Control

    1. Noxious weed management in the Swakane is an ongoing effort by the USFS. Weed control is an essential mitigation to prescribed fire and enhances desired forage production. We can expand the terrain currently covered by the USFS with this additional funding. Weed control on winter range would benefit mule deer and big horn sheep, as well as carnivores dependent on these ungulates, and other species dependent on shrub steppe and grassland habitats. Approximate cost: $2,000/year for 5 years = $10,000.


Contingency Planning

Accomplishing the projects listed above depends a great deal on environmental factors and funding. As such, we have included additional contingency projects in case factors, such as wildfire, weather, etc., prevent accomplishment of the above.




  1. Road closures – Closing roads to vehicular traffic reduces disturbance to all wildlife species, weed propagation and sedimentation. Several roads have been identified within the Swakane drainage and in other areas within the study area (6 mile buffer) for decommissioning.

  2. Thinning and prescribed burning – Alternative sites for thinning and prescribed fire have been identified within key mule deer winter range north of the Entiat (ie. near Osburn Canyon, Crum Canyon, etc.)

As prescribed, this WHMP will cover a five year period. Due to the dynamic nature of the RRWA environment (e.g., wildfires, development, or unforeseen circumstances) a variety of land management practices will be proposed that may or may not be implemented in the first 5 years. While the objective will be to adhere to the plan as best possible, modification may be made in accordance with the RRWF as environmental conditions change. These modification will be documented in the 5 year status report and update required by the FERC.


Habitat improvement measures described in this section do not require annual or periodic maintenance to ensure their success; therefore, no lands need be brought into the project boundary.
Figure 5: Entiat Ranger District Habitat Improvement Projects, 2010-2015.

4Integrated Noxious Weed Control Program


As described in section 3.1.2, noxious weeds may have detrimental impacts on rare plant species and can degrade the overall quality of habit within the RRWA. Many of the funding allocations previously described provide resource agencies with funding to manage noxious weeds on their respective lands. Therefore, consistent with the Settlement Agreement, Chelan PUD will make available $10,000 to manage noxious weeds on Chelan PUD lands within the RRWA or other areas not previously described to manage noxious weeds.

5Sun Cove Property Conservation Easement


As directed by the FERC in Article 403 and consistent with the Settlement Agreement, Chelan PUD will provide a 50-foot wide by 3,500-foot long riparian buffer zone on the Districts Sun Cove property to preserve its relatively natural condition except for two 100-foot-long access corridors to provide public access.

6Wildlife Surveys


Article 403 of the new license directs the licensee to conduce annual winter bald eagle surveys and Canada goose nesting surveys. In 2007, following the delisting of the bald eagle, Chelan PUD began doing monthly bald eagle surveys rather than bi-weekly. The delisting monitoring plan for bald eagles focuses on nest monitoring every 5 years for a 20 year period and suggests that annual winter monitoring could provide additional information on population status. Monthly monitoring of winter Bald Eagle distribution and abundance will exceed most current monitoring standards and will provide ample data to monitor trends for wintering bald eagles along Rocky Reach Reservoir. Chelan PUD will continue to conduct monthly winter bald eagle counts from November through March annually to monitor winter abundance on the Reservoir. Consistent with the bald eagle recovery plan, Chelan PUD has been monitoring bald eagle nests within the Rocky Reach Wildlife Area since the first nest was discovered in 2005. By 2009, a maximum of 5 bald eagle nesting territories have been observed along Rocky Reach Reservoir.
Canada goose nesting surveys along Rocky Reach Reservoir were initiated as a pre-implementation measure for the 1991 proposed pool raise on the Rocky Reach Reservoir. The pool raise was rejected in 1996 and never implemented, however, Canada goose nest monitoring by Chelan County PUD continued. Rocky Reach Reservoir has approximately 20 islands which are used by Canada geese for nesting. In addition, there are some 30 artificial nesting platforms which were erected as part of the 1991 proposed Rocky Reach pool raise. Many of the artificial structures are no longer used due to disrepair or vegetation overstory. Chelan PUD will continue monitoring Canada goose nesting during March and April annually for the life of the license, however, as artificial nesting platform fail over time, they will not be maintained or replaced.

SECTION 4:LITERATURE CITED


Calypso Consulting. 1990. A botanical inventory and rare and sensitive plant survey of the Rocky Reach reservoir. Calypso Consulting, 2405 West Shore Drive, Lummi Island, Washington.


Calypso Consulting. 2000. A rare plant survey of the Rocky Reach reservoir -final, Rocky Reach Hydroelectric Project No. 2145. Prepared by Calypso Consulting, Bellingham, Washington, for Chelan PUD. December 15, 2000. 49 pp.
DES. 2000. RTE wildlife and cover-type mapping - final, Rocky Reach Hydroelectric Project No. 2145. Prepared by DES, Bellingham, Washington, for Chelan PUD. December 15, 2000. 138 pp.
Fielder, P. C. 1982. Food habits of bald eagles along the mid-Columbia River, Washington. Murrelet 63:46-50.
Fielder, P. C. 2003. Canada goose nesting 2003, Rock Island and Rocky Reach reservoirs. An annual report summarizing data from 1982 - 2003. Chelan PUD, Wenatchee, Washington.
Franklin, J. F., and C. T. Dyrness. 1973. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. USDA For. Serv. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW 8. USFS, Portland.
Hallet, M. and P. C. Fielder. 2004. Memo regarding summary of meeting discussion by Paul Fielder and Marc Hallet to discuss Rocky Reach Dam mitigation funding needs to realistically achieve most basic WDF&W land management objectives for the Chelan wildlife lands.
Musser, J., N. Hedges, and D. St. George. 2004. Habitat enhancement considerations related to Rocky Reach re-license. Technical memo.
Myers, W. L. 2003. Observations of mule deer habitat use, movements, and survival in Chelan County, Washington. Prepared by WDFW for Chelan PUD. W. L. Myers, ed. June 6, 2003. 77 pp.



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