Bonneville Power Administration Project 2000-027-00
Malheur River Wildlife Mitigation
Haying and Mowing
Haying is used to control weeds, remove decadent material, and improve foraging opportunities for avian species and ungulates. Likewise, mowing allows for the reduction of noxious weed in native vegetation stands, provides accelerated growth for native vegetation, and provides foraging opportunities for wildlife.
Irrigation is a seasonal activity used to provide quality forage for big game species. Irrigation also benefits migrating waterfowl and neo-tropical bird species by inundating seasonal ponds and meadow grass fields. The Malheur River diversion dam constructed in 2015 is a stanchion-type dam that includes a fish passage structure capable of passing anadromous fish. It is the only dam with such a fish passage structure along the Malheur River.
The BPT often works with local cattle owners to graze areas of the property. Benefits of cattle grazing include reduced thatch layers and decadent material while adding nutrients back to the soil.
Noxious Weed Control
Under previous ownership this site was subject to high cattle stocking rates, lack of ecologically sound grazing, and an introduction of invasive weeds that has impacted wildlife habitat on the property. The BPT expends a large amount of time and funds to control noxious weeds, not only to restore the property to a desirable ecological condition but to reduce the chance of spreading the invasive species. Weeds in the area include tumble mustard, perennial pepperweed, scotch thistle, rush skeletonweed, and Russian olive trees.
Juniper encroachment is one of the leading threats identified to sage grouse, which have adapted to life in conifer-free sage-steppe habitat. In 2013, the BPT enrolled in a program sponsored by the Natural Resource Conservation Service to treat encroaching juniper on tribal and state lands. Brush management will continue into 2018 to benefit greater sage-grouse populations.
Native Species Plantings
The BPT plants native species on the Malheur River Property to combat weeds and provide habitat and forage for big game and birds. Examples of plantings include 300-500 black greasewood and fourwing saltbush as well as 13 fruit bearing apple, pear, prune, and cherry trees north of Highway 20. Native grass seed that has been planted consists of Great Basin wild rye, western wheatgrass, Idaho fescue, and Blue Bunch wheatgrass, as well as black greasewood and spiny hopsage near the new diversion dam.
Greater Sage-Grouse Monitoring
The BPT collaborates with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct greater sage-grouse surveys on Tim’s Peak Reservoir, Roy’s Reservoir, Upper Deacon Flat, Antelope Swale, Wildhorse Basin, and Lake Ridge #1 and #2. Many of the active leks have experienced an increase in attendance by grouse in the last few years. In 2016, a long-term study was initiated to document movements, lek selection, brood rearing habitat section, and winter/summer range of female greater sage-grouse.
Migratory Bird Surveys
Since 2006, the BPT has conducted point count bird surveys on the Malheur River site. The species surveyed is based on dependence on their respective habitat types and the potential to increase or decrease in numbers based on management actions. Abundance trends of these species serve as indicators of habitat degradation or improvement. Bird surveys have detected a suite of species currently listed as sensitive or of concern to state and federal entities.
Waterfowl Brood Surveys
In 2016 the BPT began to conduct brood surveys (i.e., number of chicks per brood and number of broods per water body, and water depth) on the Malheur River site to monitor waterfowl brood use and number in association with water management activities that include a new culvert, moist soil management, disking, and burning.
In 2015, surveys were conducted for Columbia spotted frog (CSF) in the property’s wetland habitats and adjacent ditch systems in preparation for a wetland expansion project. Ascertaining the scale of the CSF population in the wetland habitat is guiding management actions to improve habitat quality for the CSF, as well as for wading birds and waterfowl.
Small Mammal Surveys
The BPT conducts small mammal surveys to determine species presence and extrapolate populations. Commonly detected species include the deer mouse, montane vole, Great Basin pocket mouse, and meadow vole.
Revised Step Test Invasive Weed Monitoring
The BPT uses a step test method to evaluate and monitor the efficacy of noxious weed treatments. During a step test, the surveyor walks along a transect and records plant base and ground cover at every 18 meters. Hits are classified as: 1) bare soil, 2) grass, 3) forb, 4) weed, 5) rock, 6) litter, 7) shrub, and 8) fabric matting. Weeds are further classified to species, if known. Photo surveys are implemented to more accurately replicate on-the-ground surveys and to have visual documentation of each site for future reference.
Aspen Stand Assessment Survey – Sidehill Spring
The BPT surveys the Property’s aspen stand to maintain a long- term photo monitoring system of the stand as well as document new growth/stand expansion via aspen “suckers.”
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)
In 2007, the Tribe entered 345 riparian acres into CREP for a 15-year period, agreeing to protect riparian corridors from activities detrimental to the establishment of riparian plants, stream structure, and soil profiles. In 2009, 47,057 tree and shrub seedlings were planted along the Malheur River within the CREP boundary for water quality improvement, long-term erosion control, and to provide wildlife habitat. The BPT now maintains these trees and shrubs using tree protectors, mulch fabric, and fencing. Additional willow cuttings and aspen were planted.
Beginning in 2007 with enrollment in the CREP, stream photos have been taken annually at nine index locations along the Malheur River to monitor vegetative components and changes in stream structure. To date, more native bunch grasses and less encroachment of invasive noxious weeds have been observed. Stream photos are not taken to quantify changes. Instead, photos are used for qualitative analyses and visual historic references. Click here to view changes throughout the years.
The objective of the BPT’s planting of native milkweed is to increase, in the project area, the breeding population of federally threatened monarch butterfly. Other species that have been identified during the study include swallowtail, western white, common wood nymph, sylvan hairstreak, and morning cloak.