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Don Pedro Project Special-Status Plants Study Plan


STUDY PLAN TR-1
TURLOCK IRRIGATION DISTRICT

AND

MODESTO IRRIGATION DISTRICT
DON PEDRO PROJECT

FERC NO. 2299
Special-Status Plants Study Plan
October 2011
Related Study Requests: USFWS-01
1.0 Project Nexus
Certain aspects of operation and maintenance (O&M) of the Don Pedro Project (Project) may have the potential to affect special-status1 plants. These effects may be direct (e.g., result of ground-disturbing activities, such as mechanical or chemical clearing of vegetation or trampling of plants), indirect (e.g., due to recreation activity that results in erosion of adjacent land), or cumulative (i.e., caused by a Project activity in association with a non-Project activity, such as loss of habitat due to the introduction of invasive plants from a non-Project vector). This study evaluates Project O&M and recreation activities to assess their potential to impact special-status plants.
Plants listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) or the State of California Endangered Species Act (CESA) are addressed in a separate study plan. Only special-status plants otherwise not listed as FT (federally threatened), FE (federally endangered), ST (state threatened), and SE (state endangered) are addressed in this Special-Status Plants Study Plan.
2.0 Resource Agency Management Goals
The U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has developed specific management goals related to the protection and management of special-status plants. In its 2008 Sierra Resource Management Plan (SRMP), the BLM provides the following guidance for management of sensitive species:
In compliance with existing laws, including the BLM multiple use mission as specified in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), the BLM shall designate sensitive species and implement measures to conserve these species and their habitats,…, to promote their conservation and reduce the likelihood and need for such species to be listed pursuant to the ESA [Endangered Species Act of 1973]…
On BLM administered lands, the BLM shall manage Bureau sensitive species and their habitats to minimize or eliminate threats affecting the status of the species or to improve the condition of the species habitat, by determining to the extent practicable, the distribution, abundance, population condition, current threats, and habitat needs for sensitive species. (BLM 2008a)
In addition, BLM’s SRMP provides general guidelines for managing habitat to assist in the recovery of listed species, and preserving and protecting species that have been given special-status by the BLM (BLM 2008a, 2008b). The SRMP also includes management guidelines for the Red Hills Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), part of which lies within the Project Boundary.
3.0 Study Goals
The goal of this study is to provide information to determine the extent to which certain Project O&M activities and/or recreational activities may have the potential to adversely affect special-status plant species. A Project effect may exist if both of the following occur:


  • A special-status plant species is found to occur within the study area as defined in Section 5.1; and

  • A specific Project O&M activity has a reasonable possibility of having an adverse effect on the special-status plant species found.

The goal of this study is to gather the information necessary to perform this analysis and evaluate the Project’s potential to adversely affect special-status plants.


4.0 Existing Information and Need for Additional Information
Existing and relevant information regarding known and potentially occurring special-status plants in the Project Boundary is available from the California Native Plant Society’s (CNPS) Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants database (CNPS 2010) and the California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) (CDFG 2010). Database queries included all U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 1:24,000 topographic quadrangles that include the existing Project Boundary and the surrounding quadrangles. Quadrangles containing the Project Boundary include Chinese Camp, La Grange, Moccasin, Penon Blanco Peak, Sonora, and Standard. Based on this information, as well as the Project’s elevation range and habitats in this region of the Tuolumne River, the Districts identified 31 plants species that are listed as special-status and may have a reasonable potential to be affected by Project O&M and/or recreation activities.
Table 4.0-1 provides for each of the special-status plant species: (1) status, (2) flowering period, (3) elevation range, (4) habitat requirements, and (5) recorded occurrences in the general Project area.

Table 4.0-1 Target list of special-status plant species for the Don Pedro Project.

Common Name /

Scientific Name

Status1

Flowering Period

Elevation Range

(feet)

Habitat Requirements

Occurrence in area surrounding Project2,3

Henderson’s bent grass

Agrostis hendersonii

CNPS3

Apr-Jun

200-1,100

Valley and foothill grasslands, vernal pools

New Melones Dam

Jepson’s onion

Allium jepsonii

CNPS1B BLM-S

Apr-Aug

950-4,500

Chaparral, cismontane woodland, lower montane coniferous forest

Sonora, Tuolumne

Three-bracted onion

Allium tribracteatum

CNPS 1B

Apr-Aug

3,600-10,000

Chaparral, lower montane coniferous forest, upper montane coniferous forest, volcanic soils

Columbia SE, Twain Harte

Rawhide Hill onion

Allium tuolumnense

CNPS 1B, BLM-S

Mar-May

950-2,000

Cismontane woodland, serpentine

Sonora, Chinese Camp, Moccasin

Nissenan Manzanita

Arctostaphylos nissenana

CNPS 1B, BLM-S

Feb-Mar

1,400-3,650

Closed-cone coniferous forest, chaparral

Sonora

Big-scale balsamroot

Balsamorhiza macrolepis var. macrolepis

CNPS 1B, BLM-S

Mar-Jun

290-3,500

Chaparral, cismontane woodland valley and foothill grassland, sometimes serpentine

Hornitos

Hoover’s calycadenia

Calycadenia hooveri

CNPS 1B

Jul-Sep

200-1,000

Cismontane woodland, valley and foothill grassland

La Grange, Snelling, Merced Falls, Cooperstown, Keystone

Red Hills soaproot

Chlorogalum grandiflorum

CNPS 1B, BLM-S

May-Jun

800-4,250

Chaparral, cismontane woodland, lower montane coniferous forest, serpentine, gabbroic and other soils

Chinese Camp, Sonora New Melones Dam, Keystone

Small’s southern clarkia

Clarkia australis

CNPS 1B

May-Aug

2,600-6,900

Cismontane woodland, lower montane coniferous forest

Tuolumne, Twain Harte, Coulterville, Hornitos

Mariposa clarkia

Clarkia biloba ssp. australis

CNPS 1B, BLM-S

May-Jul

1,000-3,500

Chaparral, cismontane woodland, serpentine

Sonora, Tuolumne, Twain Harte, Coulterville, Hornitos

Beaked clarkia

Clarkia rostrata

CNPS 1B, BLM-S

Apr-May

190-1,700

Cismontane woodland, valley and foothill grassland

Penon Blanco Peak, Moccasin, New Melones Dam, Cooperstown, Snelling, Merced Falls, Coulterville, Hornitos

Hoover’s cryptantha

Cryptantha hooveri

CNPS 1A

Apr-May

0-500

Inland dunes, valley and foothill grassland

Cooperstown

Mariposa cryptantha

Cryptantha mariposae

CNPS 1B, BLM-S

Apr-Jun

600-2,200

Chaparral, serpentine

La Grange, Chinese Camp Sonora, Keystone, Coulterville, Hornitos

Dwarf downingia

Downingia pusilla

CNPS 2

Mar-May

0-1,500

Valley and foothill grassland, vernal pools

La Grange, Cooperstown, Snelling, Merced Falls

Tuolumne button-celery

Eryngium pinnatisectum

CNPS 1B

May-Aug

700-10,000

Cismontane woodland, lower montane coniferous forest, vernal pools, mesic

Standard, Sonora, Chinese Camp, Moccasin, New Melones Dam, Columbia

Spiny-sepaled button-celery

Eryngium spinosepalum

CNPS 1B

Apr-May

250-900

Valley and foothill grassland, vernal pools

La Grange, New Melones Dam, Snelling, Merced Falls

Tuolumne fawn lily

Erythronium tuolumnense

CNPS 1B, BLM-S

Mar-Jun

1,600-4,200

Broadleafed upland forest, chaparral, cismontane woodland, lower montane coniferous forest

Standard, Columbia, Columbia SE, Tuolumne, Twain Harte

Stink-bells

Fritillaria agrestis

CNPS 4

Mar-Jun

0-5,200

Chaparral, cismontane woodland, pinyon and juniper woodland, valley and foothill grassland

Sonora, Chinese Camp, Penon Blanco Peak

Delicate bluecup

Githopsis tenella

CNPS 1B

May-Jun

3,500-6,500

Chaparral, cismontane woodland

Chinese Camp

Bisbee Peak rush-rose

Helianthemum suffrutescens

CNPS 3

Apr-Jun

100- 2,800

Chaparral, often serpentine, gabbroic or Ione soils

Sonora

Parry’s horkelia

Horkelia parryi

CNPS 1B, BLM-S

Apr-Sep

250-3,500

Chaparral, cismontane woodland, Ione formation

Coulterville

Tuolumne iris

Iris hartwegii ssp. columbiana

CNPS 1B

May-Jun

1,200-4,700

Cismontane woodland, lower montane coniferous forest

Columbia, Columbia SE

Knotted rush

Juncus nodosus

CNPS 2

Jul-Sep

0-6,600

Meadows, seeps, marshes, swamps

La Grange, Cooperstown

Congdon’s lomatium

Lomatium congdonii

CNPS 1B, BLM-S

Mar-Jun

900-7,000

Chaparral, cismontane woodland, serpentine

Sonora, Chinese Camp, Moccasin, New Melones Dam, Keystone

Stebbins’ lomatium

Lomatium stebbinsii

CNPS 1B

Mar-May

4,000-6,500

Chaparral, lower montane coniferous forest, gravelly, volcanic clay

Twain Harte

Shaggyhair lupine

Lupinus spectabilis

CNPS 1B, BLM-S

Apr-May

800-2,800

Chaparral, cismontane woodland, serpentine

Sonora, Moccasin, New Melones Dam, Groveland, Coulterville, Hornitos

Slender-stemmed monkeyflower

Mimulus filicaulis

CNPS 1B, BLM-S

Apr-Aug

2,800-6,000

Cismontane woodland, lower montane coniferous forest, meadows and seeps, upper montane coniferous forest, vernally mesic

Groveland

Pansy-faced monkeyflower

Mimulus pulchellus

CNPS 1B

Apr-Jul

1,900-6,700

Lower montane coniferous forest, meadows and seeps, vernally mesic, often disturbed areas

Standard, Angels Camp, Groveland, Twain Harte

Veiny monardella

Monardella douglasii ssp. venosa

CNPS 1B

May-Jul

150-1,500

Cismontane woodland, valley and foothill grassland, heavy clay

New Melones Dam

Merced monardella

Monardella leucocephala

CNPS 1A

May-Aug

100-500

Valley and foothill grassland

La Grange, Cooperstown

Red Hills ragwort

Packera clevelandii

CNPS 1B, BLM-S

Jun-Jul

800-1,400

Cismontane woodland, serpentine seeps

Chinese Camp, Moccasin

1 Special-status:

BLM-S: Bureau of Land Management Sensitive Plant Species

CNPS: California Native Plant Society listed species

1A: Species presumed extinct in California

1B: Species considered rare or endangered in California and elsewhere

2: Species considered rare or endangered in California but more common elsewhere

3: More information needed about this species

4: Limited distribution; watch list



2 Occurrence in area surrounding Project was based on a nine-quad CNPS quadrangle search.

3 Quads that are fully or partially included within the Project Boundary are indicated by bold font; quads surrounding, but not included within the Project Boundary are listed in regular font.
There were CNDDB records for 30 special-status plant occurrences located within a one-mile buffer of the Project Boundary. There were nine occurrences of Rawhide Hill onion, six occurrences of Red Hills soaproot, four occurrences each of Congdon’s lomatium and Red Hills ragwort, two occurrences each of shaggyhair lupine (Lupinus spectabilis), Mariposa cryptantha (Cryptantha mariposae), and stink-bells (Fritillaria agrestis), and one occurrence of Tuolumne button-celery (Eryngium pinnatisectum). Congdon’s lomatium, shaggyhair lupine, Rawhide Hill onion, Red Hill ragwort, Red Hills soaproot and Mariposa cryptantha are all BLM-S. The dates on the reports ranged from 1937 to 2007 (CDFG 2010).
A botanical survey of the Red Hills Management Area (now the Red Hills ACEC) was completed in 1984. The surveys located Rawhide Hill onion (Allium tuolumnense), Congdon’s lomatium (Lomatium congdonii), Red Hills soaproot (Chlorogalum grandiflorum), and Red Hills ragwort (Packera clevelandii) (BLM 1985).
Few of the available reports are from surveys within the Project Boundary and, of those that are, many are outdated.2 Additional information needed to address the study goal is the specific location of special-status plants in relation to Project O&M activities, Project-related recreation, and other Project-related activities that might affect special-status plants.
5.0 Study Methods
5.1 Study Area
The study area consists of the area within the Project Boundary that is subject to Project-related O&M and/or recreation activities, including high-use dispersed recreation areas. The study area is described in Attachment A of this study plan, and includes the following specific areas within the Project Boundary:


  • The Blue Oaks, Fleming Meadows, and Moccasin Point Recreation areas and related facilities, including the 3.5 mile Don Pedro Shoreline Trail;

  • High-use dispersed recreation areas as described in Attachment A;

  • Lands within the Project Boundary designated as part of the Red Hills Area of Critical Environmental Concern;

  • Don Pedro Dam, Powerhouse, and Switchyard, including related maintenance and storage facilities and the powerhouse access road;

  • The Don Pedro Spillway channel and related access roads;

  • The Gasburg Creek diversion dike and related access roads;

  • Districts Employee Housing near Don Pedro Dam;

  • Don Pedro Recreation Agency headquarters and visitor center;

  • Dikes A, B, and C in the vicinity of Don Pedro Dam; and

  • The Wards Ferry take-out.

The study area also includes habitats adjacent to each of these project features to the extent they could reasonably be affected by Project O&M and/or recreation, generally understood to be less than 100 feet. If special-status plant occurrences are located, the study area will be expanded to the full extent of the occurrence or the Project Boundary, whichever is less.


5.2 General Concepts
These general concepts apply to the study:


  • Personal safety is an important consideration of each fieldwork team. The Districts and their consultants will perform the study in a safe manner.

  • Field crews may make minor modifications in the field to adjust to and to accommodate actual field conditions and unforeseeable events. Any modifications made will be documented and reported in the draft study report.


5.3 Study Methods
The study approach will consist of the following five steps:
Step 1 – Gather Data and Prepare for Field Effort. The Districts will identify and map known occurrences of special-status plants within the study area, and prepare field maps for use by survey teams. The maps will include aerial imagery, Project features, and known special-status plant occurrences. Survey timing will be planned based on blooming periods and herbarium collection dates.
Step 2 – Conduct Field Surveys. The Districts’ surveyors will conduct special-status plant surveys that generally follow BLM survey protocols required for National Environmental Policy Act/ESA compliance and the CDFG’s Protocols for Surveying and Evaluating Impacts to Special Status Native Plant Populations and Natural Communities (CDFG 2009).3 Field surveys will be conducted at the proper times of year when special-status plants potentially occurring in a given survey area and are both evident and identifiable. Surveys will use a random meander technique, and focus additional efforts in high-quality habitats or those with a higher probability of supporting special-status plants (e.g., serpentine outcrops). Surveys will be floristic in nature, documenting all species observed; taxonomy and nomenclature will be based on The Jepson Manual (Hickman 1993) or the second edition of the Jepson Manual if available at the time surveys are conducted.
Surveys will be conducted when special-status plants are identifiable, generally during their flowering period. For vernal pool grasses, this is most often in June. Appropriate survey methods generally require multiple survey passes of suitable habitats. Surveys will also collect data on occurrences of Sambucus spp. occurrences in support of Districts’ TR-5 study of Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle.
In the event special-status plants are found within the study area, surveyors will collect the following data, to the edge of the occurrence, or to the edge of the Project Boundary, whichever is less:


  • Digital photographs, if needed, to describe the occurrence, its habitat, and any potential threats (at least one digital photograph will be collected for each occurrence, with other photographs to document potential threats, or as needed).

  • Estimated area (approximate length and width) covered by the special-status plant population and estimated number of individual plants in the population. If plant population is estimated to cover an area greater than 0.1 acre, surveyors will delineate the occurrence boundary using a handheld GPS, collecting either polygon data, or sufficient point data that a realistic occurrence polygon can be constructed from the point data using GIS.

  • For occurrences less than 0.1 acre in size, location of the approximate center of the occurrence taken as point data using a handheld GPS unit.

  • Dominant and subdominant vegetation in the area, and topographic features.

  • Estimated distance to nearest Project facility, feature, or Project-related activity.

  • Activities observed in the vicinity of the population that have a potential to adversely affect the population (e.g., recreational trails and uses).

  • Estimated phenology and descriptions of reproductive state.

For all special-status species observations, the appropriate CNDDB form or spreadsheet will be completed. A copy of the CNDDB form or spreadsheet will be provided to BLM if the occurrence is on or immediately adjacent to federal lands.


Step 3 – Compile Data and Perform Quality Assure/Quality Control. Following field surveys, the Districts will develop separate GIS maps depicting special-status plant and noxious weed occurrences, Project facilities, features, and specific Project-related activities which have the potential to affect the special-status species (e.g., dispersed use camping) and other information collected during the study including the complete floristic list. Field data will then be subject to QA/QC procedures, including spot-checks of transcription and comparison of GIS maps with field notes to verify locations of special-status plant occurrences.
Step 4 – Threats Assessment. Once the location of special-status plants in the study area is determined, Districts will assess all potential threats to these species, including noxious weeds, Project operations, and Project-related recreation. In particular, Don Pedro Recreation Agency staff will be consulted to identify Project O&M and recreation activities that occur in the area of the plant occurrences that have a potential to affect special-status plants.
Step 5 – Prepare Report. The Districts will prepare a report that includes the following sections: (1) Study Goals, (2) Methods, (3) Results, (4) Discussion, and (5) Conclusions. The Districts will make the report available to Relicensing Participants upon completion.
6.0 Schedule
The Districts anticipate the schedule to complete the study as follows assuming FERC issues its Study Plan Determination by December 31, 2011, and the study is not disputed by a mandatory conditioning agency:


  • Planning (Step 1) January 2012 – March 2012

  • First Study Season (Step 2) March 2012 – July 2012

  • QA/QC Review (Step 3) August 2012

  • Threats Assessment (Step 4) August 2012

  • Study Report Preparation (Step 5) September 2012 – December 2012

  • Report Issuance January 2013


7.0 Consistency of Methodology with Generally Accepted Scientific Principles
This study is consistent with the goals, objectives, and methods outlined for FERC relicensing efforts in California and uses standard botanical survey methods as defined by the CDFG.
8.0 Deliverables
The Districts will prepare a report, GIS-based maps showing findings and, if applicable, submit records to the CNDDB.
8.0 Level of Effort and Cost
Study Plan implementation cost will be provided in the Revised Study Plan.
9.0 References
California Department of Fish and Game. 2009. Protocols for Surveying and Evaluating Impacts to Special Status Native Plant Populations and Natural Communities. Available online at: .
——. 2010. Biogeographic Data Branch. California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB). Available online at: Accessed July 6, 2010.
California Native Plant Society. 2010. Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants (online edition, v7-08a). California Native Plant Society. Sacramento, California. Available online at: . Accessed July 6, 2010.
Hickman, J.C., editor. 1993. The Jepson Manual, 3rd Edition. University of California Press, Berkeley, California.
U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 1985. Final Red Hills Management Plan and Environmental Assessment. Bakersfield, California.
——. 2008a. BLM Manual 6840 - Special Status Species Management.
——. 2008b. Sierra Resource Management Plan and Record of Decision. February 2008. Folsom, California.

ATTACHMENT A
SPECIAL-STATUS PLANTS STUDY AREA


1 For the purposes of this Relicensing, special-status plants are considered those plants that are: (1) found on BLM land and formally listed by BLM as Sensitive (BLM-S); (2) listed under the federal ESA as Proposed or a Candidate for listing as endangered or threatened or proposed for delisting; (3) listed under the CESA as proposed for listing; (4) found on the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) Inventory of Rare Plants and formally listed as a CNPS 1, 2, or 3 plant (CNPS 1, CNPS 2, CNPS 3); or (5) found on the California Department of Fish and Game’s (CDFG) list of California Rare (SR) species listed under the Native Species Plant Protection Act of 1977. Special-status plants do not include plants that are listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA or CESA.

2 Annual or short-lived perennial species may require annual monitoring to accurately document population conditions, while long-lived perennials may only require surveys at five-year intervals (CDFG 2009).

3 For the purpose of this relicensing and differing from the CDFG 2009 protocol, ESA- and CESA-listed plants are not considered special-status and are addressed in separate study proposals.

Updated Study Plan, October 2011 Study Plan TR-1 - Page FERC Project No. 2299


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