Logo for the HEP webpage

StreamNet provides access to these Habitat Evaluation Procedures (HEP) documents in support of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s (NPCC) Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program (FW-Program).

On November 17, 2015, the HEP project was closed out following an NPCC recommendation. The extensive volume of documents, photos, and reports compiled by the Regional HEP team has been transferred to the StreamNet website. These documents will remain available for future reference as needed. See NPCC decision on HEP from:

Background

HEP was originally implemented following adoption of the NPCC’s 2000 F-W Program. The region found the HEP process very helpful in establishing mitigation credits against the initial baseline losses indexed by habitat units (HUs) derived from HEP. As the Program matured, the region shifted to agreements to address wildlife mitigation and the HEP process was no longer applied.

The below sections provide information about HEP and how it was applied to inform wildlife mitigation under the NPCC’s Fish and Wildlife Program.

What Are Habitat Evaluation Procedures (HEP)

HEP evaluated and documented habitat losses and habitat gains. HEP was used to quantify the impacts of development, protection, and restoration on terrestrial and aquatic habitats by assessing changes, both negative and positive, in habitat quality and quantity.

HEP analysis generated Habitat Units (HUs), which are a form of currency used to document the losses and gains, such as losses from hydro projects (dams) and the gains from habitat protection/enhancement measures (mitigation projects). HEP documented changes in HUs through use of a habitat suitability index (HSI). The HSI value is derived from an evaluation of key habitat components and the life requisites of selected wildlife and fish species.

Wildlife managers developed estimates and documented the impact of the construction of FCRPS dams throughout the Columbia Basin region. HUs served as the ledger of habitat gains and losses for the region.

Regional HEP Team

The Regional HEP team (RHT) was an evaluation team that conducted HEP evaluations and ensured a consistent application of HEP models and survey results (i.e., HUs). In addition, RHT staff identified and, when possible, resolved inconsistencies in past HEP evaluation results.

The RHT, with support from Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), worked directly with project proponents including state and federal natural resource agencies, tribes, and non-government organizations to conduct HEP surveys and develop new, innovative approaches to assess habitat.

From 2004 through 2014, the RHT conducted HEP surveys on thousands of acres throughout the Columbia Basin region for:

  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW)
  • Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG)
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
  • Kootenai Tribe of Idaho (KTOI)
  • Kalispel Tribe of Indians (KTI)
  • Coeur D’ Alene Tribe of Indians (CDAT)
  • The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (CTWS)
  • Burns Paiute Tribe (BPT)
  • Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR)
  • Spokane Tribe of Indians (STOI)
  • The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (CCT)
  • Yakama Nation (YN)

The Role of HEP for NPCC and BPA

Under the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act, BPA has a duty to protect, mitigate, and enhance fish and wildlife and their habitats affected by the development and operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System.

The NPCC’s FW-Program’s Wildlife Mitigation Strategy assesses losses associated with hydropower construction and habitat inundation using HUs [see FW-Program Appendix C, Table C-4].

NPCC endorses HUs as the preferred unit of measurement for mitigation accounting and the HEP methodology as the preferred method for estimating HUs lost and acquired. Parties to a wildlife mitigation agreement with BPA may develop and use another method for evaluating potential mitigation actions if, in the NPCC’s opinion, that alternative method adequately takes into account both habitat quantity and quality adequate to mitigate for the identified losses.

During the NPCC 2013 Resident Fish / Data Mgmt / Regional Coordination project review process, discussions with the Fish and Wildlife managers during the Program Evaluation and Reporting Committee indicated the importance of preserving the vegetation data collected in the standardized HEP surveys initiated in 2000 by the HEP team. This need to preserve these data in a central repository was recommended to occur prior to the 2014 retirement of the HEP team leader, Paul Ashley. In implementing the NPCC recommendation, BPA determined StreamNet would fulfill the recommendation of preserving the HEP data and documents.

HEP File Explorer

Navigate, search, and view most HEP files in a familiar folder system layout by opening the HEP File Explorer

HEP Perspective Papers

Paul Ashley, who for many years was the manager of the Regional HEP team, wrote a series of “perspective papers” on the use of HEP in the Columbia Basin before his retirement. These document Paul’s views on the history of the Regional HEP program. These papers reflect the opinions and views of Mr. Ashley only.

FileDescriptionFile Date
RHT Final Assessment and Analysis of the NW Power Act Funded by BPA (HEP Overview)

The purpose of this document is to identify and discuss technical variances in the application of Habitat Evaluation Procedures (HEP) tenets that were supported by Columbia River Wildlife Mitigation Program management agencies and tribes. In addition, changes to HEP protocols that were not agreed to by all parties involved in program wildlife mitigation will also be addressed. Discussion is limited to technical aspects and ramifications rather than political or philosophical arguments. Opinions held by the Regional HEP Team (RHT) are noted.

2015
RHT Final Assessment And Analysis of the NW Power Act Funded by BPA – Upper Columbia Sub-region

The purpose of this document is to identify and discuss HEP protocol and crediting issues encountered by the Regional HEP Team (RHT) in the Upper Columbia River Sub-region (UCRS) and to share the RHT’s perspective regarding the factors that contributed to creating the issues. This report also fulfills the Crediting Forum’s recommendation that the RHT identify inconsistencies in technical HEP applications throughout the Region (NPCC 2011).

2015
RHT Final Assessment And Analysis of the NW Power Act Funded by BPA – Lower Columbia River Sub-region

The purpose of this document is to identify and discuss HEP protocol and crediting issues encountered by the Regional HEP Team (RHT) in the Lower Columbia River Sub-region (LCRS) and to share the RHT’s perspective regarding the factors that contributed to creating the issues. This report also fulfills the Crediting Forum’s recommendation that the RHT identify inconsistencies in technical HEP applications throughout the Region (NPCC 2011).

2015
RHT Final Assessment and Analysis of the NW Power Act Funded by BPA Southern Idaho Sub-region

The purpose of this document is to describe HEP protocol and crediting issues the Regional HEP Team (RHT) encountered in the Southern Idaho Sub-region and to share the RHT’s perspective regarding the factors that contributed to creating the issues. Furthermore, this document fulfills the Crediting Forum’s recommendation that the RHT identify inconsistencies in technical HEP applications throughout the Region (NPCC 2011).

2015