YOU ARE LOOKING AT THE FIRST ISSUE OF NW FISHLETTER, a newsletter reporting news and accessing documents on policy and science issues related to fish & wildlife mitigation in the Pacific Northwest. This publication is produced under grants described below as a demonstration project of Energy NewsData, an energy publishing company with offices in Seattle and San Francisco.
The Pacific Northwest has the world's greatest system of hydroelectric generation, and here energy production and fish & wildlife mitigation issues are interrelated. Energy NewsData's weekly newsletter Clearing Up has covered fish & wildlife policy development because of its increasing energy impacts since 1990.
But coverage in a corner of an energy industry newsletter does not do justice to the range of Columbia Basin policy and science issues concerned with the mitigation of fading salmonid stocks and runs, particularly those involving wild fish. This demonstration newsletter attempts to cover, with the resources of the World Wide Web and fax, an enormous management and mitigation enterprise that has never been reported in a sustained and systematic way.
The interests concerned with these issues are extensive and varied, and our intention is to create a report that answers the policy information needs of fish professionals and scientists, public and private fish managers, energy industry decision makers, environmentalists and fish advocates, river users, state and federal regulators, tribal leaders and industrial representatives.
We are starting slow and small, picking policy issues related for the most part to initiatives of the Northwest Power Planning Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service and moving along into issues involving state and tribal agencies. Available documents are provided as hot links. All linked documents are also listed at the end of NW Fishletter in the Document Annex.
The first issues will come approximately every two weeks. To receive a fax copy, fax us at 206/281-8035 or send e-mail to NW Fishletter Staff with "Subscribe NW Fishletter" in the body. To make comments or suggestions please e-mail our editor, Lynn Francisco, email@example.com or fax to 206/281-8035 [Cyrus NoŽ].
 180-DAY REVIEW COULD PRODUCE MAJOR CHANGES IN FISH AND WILDLIFE POLICY :: The first step in what could be a major rewrite of Columbia River fish management policy takes place in February, as the Northwest Power Planning Council hosts a workshop on proposals designed to bring more regional control to fish recovery efforts. Acting under a mandate from Congress, the NWPPC has drafted five alternatives to reform fish and wildlife decision-making. The workshop, set for Feb. 1 and 2 at the downtown Portland Hilton Hotel, is designed to debate, dissect and possibly rewrite the five alternatives, although participants are being asked not to take positions.
Council staff prepared a lengthy memo on the five alternatives. Briefly, the five are as follows:
- A commitment from all agencies and tribes to follow the NWPPC Strategy for Salmon, with a formal interagency process set up to implement the plan;
- Amendments to the Northwest Power Act that would require all federal agencies follow the NWPPC plan;
- Replace the NWPPC with a 10-member state/tribal/federal council that administers Northwest Power Act and Endangered Species Act obligations;
- Change fish recovery focus from species-based to watershed-based;
- Focus fish recovery efforts toward restoring fish to harvestable numbers.
The council intends to use the results of the workshop to write a draft recommendation, which will be put out for public comment until early April. The final council recommendation to Congress is due May 16 [Lynn Francisco].
 GAS BUBBLE DISEASE EXPERTS WILL EVALUATE NMFS SPILL PROGRAM :: Nine scientists are gathering Feb. 1-3 at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle to evaluate the federal government's program to spill fish and water over Columbia River dams. The group of spill experts will critique the National Marine Fisheries Service's beefed up monitoring program, which has been criticized by spill opponents. NMFS claims that spill protects fish from turbines; opponents claim the nitrogen gas generated by spill kills fish. The nine gas bubble disease experts will be asked to sanction NMFS' monitoring efforts, which last year showed more benefit than harm from spill. The meeting begins on Thursday, Feb. 1, with a public session and continues through Saturday, Feb 3.
Earlier in January, NMFS requested water quality waivers from Oregon and Washington for the spill program. Both states promised decisions by late February. One Washington state lawmaker reacted to NMFS' request by introducing a bill that would curb the state's role in spill. Rep. Gary Chandler (R-Moses Lake) wants to mandate formal hearings 30 days before water quality waivers are granted and he wants the state Department of Ecology to scientifically evaluate spill. House Bill 2815 has its first hearing before the House Agriculture and Ecology Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 31, in Olympia [Lynn Francisco].
 AL WRIGHT BIO-OP REVIEW COULD YIELD $16 MILLION IN SAVINGS :: A long-awaited report suggesting ways to decrease costs of the hydro biological opinion is nearly complete. Al Wright, a Portland policy consultant, said he will recommend changes in fall and winter hydro operations that could save the Columbia River system as much as $16 million a year. Wright led a months-long effort to discover alternatives to the 1995 BioOp operations, a federal salmon recovery scheme that BPA said cost the region more than $100 million. Last year federal operators hoarded water for spring and summer salmon migrations, forcing BPA to buy significant amounts of power. "Some of those operations didn't provide much in the way of flow augmentation," said Wright, adding that his report will identify which ones did help augment flows and which didn't. The report will also suggest ways to keep reservoirs fuller during summer recreation months. Wright will submit his report, which was paid for by Bonneville, to the National Marine Fisheries Service the first week of February [Lynn Francisco].
 MITCHELL ACT HATCHERIES FACE SEVERE FUNDING PROBLEMS IN CONGRESS :: Expected budget cuts could slash salmon and steelhead production by nearly 40 percent in Columbia River hatcheries operated by state and federal fish agencies. The Mitchell Act production goal of 102 million fish would be reduced by 39.1 million. Winter steelhead and upriver bright fall chinook production would remain stable under the reduced-budget proposal, but coho salmon would be cut by 8.3 million, tule fall chinook by 39.8 million and summer steelhead by 372,000. Cutthroat trout production would be totally eliminated.
Mitchell Act hatcheries, built as compensation for fish runs lost due to dam construction, have been on shaky ground for several years. Until now, Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-OR) has been able to salvage budgets and keep the hatcheries running. But this year, the National Marine Fisheries Service told hatchery operators to prepare for cuts that could total $15 million. The cuts could also dismantle plans to screen irrigation diversions, a key element of federal and Northwest Power Planning Council salmon recovery plans [Bill Bakke].
DOCUMENTS FROM NW FISHLETTER 001 :: Below are listed available documents referred to in the text of NW Fishletter issue 001.
NW Fishletter is produced by Energy NewsData with grants from the Montana and Idaho offices of the Northwest Power Planning Council, the Bonneville Power Administration, the National Marine Fisheries Service, Chelan County PUD, Douglas County PUD, Grant County PUD
and Direct Services Industries, Inc.
Publisher: Cyrus Noë, Editor: Lynn Francisco,
Assistant Editor & Fish.NET Web Manager: Whitney Dickinson; Contributing Editor: Bill Bakke.
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Last modified: February 6, 1996