# ITEM:CONSENT CALENDAR

4.         CONSIDER AUTHORIZATION OF FUNDS TO CONTRACT WITH VENTANA WILDERNESS SOCIETY FOR CARMEL RIVER AVIAN HABITAT MONITORING

Meeting Date:           April 21, 2003             Budgeted: Yes

Program/Line Item No.: 2.1.3-B

Staff Contact: Thomas Christensen              Cost Estimate: $13,500 General Counsel Approval: N/A Committee Recommendation: The Administrative Committee reviewed this item at its April 14, 2003 meeting and recommended approval. CEQA Compliance: N/A SUMMARY: The Board will consider authorizing staff to retain the Ventana Wilderness Society (VWS) to continue the District’s avian monitoring program on the Carmel River during calendar year 2003. This work will continue the monitoring of bird life along the river conducted since 1992, including the collection of data on the use of the Carmel River riparian corridor during migration and breeding seasons. Work will be as shown in Exhibit 4-A. RECOMMENDATION: Authorize the General Manager to enter into a contract with the Ventana Wilderness Society for avian monitoring work along the Carmel River at a cost not to exceed$13,500.  The Administrative Committee considered this matter at its April 14, 2003 meeting and recommended approval by a vote of 3-0.

IMPACTS ON STAFF AND RESOURCES:  Funds to conduct the District’s 2003 wildlife monitoring program are proposed to be included in the draft FY 2003-2004 budget under Project Expenditures for Program 2.1 (Riparian Habitat Mitigations, Wildlife monitoring).  Estimated costs for the scope of work as shown in Exhibit 4-A total \$13,500.  Mileage expenses are included in this not-to-exceed amount. This work will be performed under the direction of the District’s Riparian Projects Coordinator.

BACKGROUND:  Avian (bird) use of riparian habitat provides an excellent indicator of wildlife habitat value.  In 1992, the District established permanent sampling locations for avian species monitoring at several sites along the Carmel River.  The purpose of this program is to  measure bird use at the monitoring sites, thus providing an indication of changing patterns of habitat values in the District’s restoration project areas.  Information on bird populations and avian species diversity collected as part of the District’s Mitigation Program has assisted in documenting trends in the response of wildlife populations to habitat enhancements implemented by the District.  Locations of the monitoring sites are shown in Exhibit 4-B. Data collected from 1992 through 2002 are summarized in the graphs shown in Exhibit 4-C.  The two major dips in bird counts that can be seen in the graphs are likely the result of the reduction and disturbance of riparian habitat caused by the high river flows and erosion in 1995 and 1998.  The higher bird counts following the two dips indicate a recovery of the extent and health of the riparian habitat.  The District’s riparian vegetation planting and irrigation activities promote growth and health of riparian vegetation, and are a likely reason for the higher bird counts.

In addition to continuing the bird counts and avian species diversity index monitoring protocols established in 1992, the VWS will continue monitoring a series of mist netting sites within District riparian habitat enhancement areas.  The VWS sampling will span the spring, summer and fall migration and breeding seasons for a comprehensive look at patterns of wildlife use in District planting areas.  Long-term monitoring of the same sampling locations will provide an indication of the overall changes in wildlife habitat values resulting from the District’s planting and erosion protection efforts.

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