ITEM: CONSENT CALENDAR 9. CONSIDER EXPENDITURE OF BUDGETED FUNDS TO CONTRACT WITH VENTANA WILDLIFE SOCIETY FOR CARMEL RIVER AVIAN HABITAT MONITORING Meeting Date: March 15, 2010 Budgeted:  Proposed for FY 2010-2011 From: Darby Fuerst, Program/ General Manager Line Item No.: 2-1-3.B Prepared By: Thomas Christensen Cost Estimate: $3,100 General Counsel Review: N/A Committee Recommendation: The Administrative Committee reviewed this item on March 9, 2010 and recommended Board approval. CEQA Compliance: N/A SUMMARY: The Board will consider authorizing staff to retain the Ventana Wildlife Society (VWS) to continue the District’s avian (bird) habitat monitoring program on the Carmel River during calendar year 2010. 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 bird migration and breeding seasons. This monitoring is conducted in accordance with the Mitigation Program for the District’s Water Allocation Program EIR. The proposed scope of work, costs, and schedule are as shown in Exhibit 9-A. RECOMMENDATION: District staff recommends that the Board authorize the General Manager to enter into a contract with the Ventana Wildlife Society for avian habitat monitoring work along the Carmel River at a cost not to exceed$3,100 with the scope of work, costs and schedule as shown in Exhibit 9-A.  If this item is adopted along with the Consent Calendar, staff will execute a contract with Ventana Wildlife Society for this work.

BACKGROUND:  Avian 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 9-B.  An example of the data collected from 1992 through 2009 at the Schulte Restoration Project is shown in Exhibit 9-C.  The two major declines 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 declines indicate a recovery of the extent and health of the riparian habitat.  More recently diversity has trended downward, which may be the result of below normal rainfall years with a rebound in 2009.

The VWS sampling will span the nesting and fledgling period to assess patterns of wildlife use in District planting areas.  Long-term monitoring of the same sampling locations provides an indication of the overall changes in wildlife habitat values resulting from the District’s planting, irrigation, and erosion protection efforts.  The Avian Point Count Census (nesting and fledgling observations of birds at nine locations along the Carmel River and calculation of the Species Diversity Index for each location) has been carried out annually from 1992 through 2009.  Tasks 1, 2, and 3 are to conduct the Species Diversity Index (SDI) monitoring.

Work under this contract will include collection and analysis of Species Diversity Index data as well as the preparation the 2010 results.

IMPACTS ON STAFF AND RESOURCES:  Estimated costs for the scope of work as shown in Exhibit 9-A total \$3,043.  Mileage expenses are included in this amount.  Although one of the tasks under the contract (Task 1:  Transect monitoring: Nesting Period 2010 for Avian Point Count Census) will begin in June of the current fiscal year, billing for all work done under the contract will be submitted during Fiscal Year (FY) 2010-2011.  Staff will propose that funding for this project be included in the FY 2010-2011 budget.  The work will be performed under the direction of the District’s Riparian Projects Coordinator.

EXHIBITS

Proposal for Professional Avian Monitoring Services from Ventana Wildlife Society

9-B      Location Map Showing Monterey Peninsula Avian Monitoring Sites

9-C      Schulte Restoration Project Species Diversity Index

U:\staff\word\boardpacket\2010\20100315\ConsentCal\09\item9.doc