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NWF.107/Aug.1.2000
[1] Clinton Administration Says Snake Dams Will Stay For Now
[2] 400-Page BiOp Hits The Streets
[3] NW Governors Agree On Salmon Recovery Principles
[4] GAO, IEAB Find Fault With Corps' Lower Snake EIS
[5] Power Council Considers Standards For Hatcheries

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[1] CLINTON ADMINISTRATION SAYS SNAKE DAMS STAY FOR NOW

Barely a week before government agencies went public with the new draft hydro BiOp, Clinton Administration officials declared the lower Snake River dams will stay in place--for the next decade, at least. Touting analysis of the "best available science" for any decision regarding salmon recovery, the administration made use of its best available politician, George Frampton, acting chair of the While House Council of Environmental Quality, to announce some elements of the new BiOp.

Frampton planned to deliver his remarks at a July 19 Senate subcommittee hearing
Photo of Patagonia Save the Dams petition
Resource center at Patagonia's Seattle store.
in Washington DC last week, but the session was postponed at the last minute by Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK) over a procedural matter. Murkowski wanted senators at his own hearing on other, unrelated legislation. However, Frampton's remarks were leaked to the press July 18.

Frampton built on words from federal judge Malcolm Marsh, who threw out the NMFS 1994 hydro BiOp for being "too heavily geared towards a status quo that has allowed all forms of river activity to proceed in a deficit situation--that is, relatively small steps, minor improvements and adjustments--when the situation literally cries out for a major overhaul."

Frampton said Marsh "had it right. The situation cries out for a major overhaul." He pointed to federal laws such as NEPA, ESA and CWA, calling them "powerful tools to tackle the job."

Frampton did mention that ocean conditions have improved, but discounted the strong hatchery fish returns this year "as anything like evidence that the problems are behind us," noting that wild runs are way below historic levels. "Moreover, the strong hatchery runs may actually present increased problems because some hatchery fish may stray into habitats of wild fish and compete for food and spawning areas."

Frampton failed to mention more evidence that indicates even bigger fish runs may be just around the corner. According to jack counts in many parts of the Columbia Basin, huge numbers of returning fish are expected next year, far beyond the good numbers seen so far in 2000. It's more evidence that indicates a major ocean regime shift may have occurred.

"The ocean turned around in 1998," University of Washington researcher Nate Mantua told NW Fishletter recently. Another possible sign: wild smolt indexes for Snake River spring chinook have climbed steadily since 1997 (1997--160,000; 1998--640,000; 1999--1.8 million).

Frampton said the wild stocks are "on the brink," but that the feds will not recommend breaching the four lower Snake dams at this time. "Let me say quite clearly that the draft proposed strategy will not recommend an immediate petition to Congress to authorize breaching of the Snake River dams. This document will not subscribe to the premise championed by some that the region faces a simple, binary choice between breaching and not breaching these dams, and that salmon recovery hinges on that decision. That is not the choice and this binary approach is not a scientifically supportable framework for addressing the challenge of recovering listed Columbia River runs.

"Dam breaching is one step among many that holds promise for recovering the Snake River runs. All our modeling and predictions indicate that it would be very helpful to four of the listed runs that migrate up the Snake River--although no restoration of this type has ever been attempted, and there are certainly major uncertainties and risks that would be involved."

Frampton said breaching may not be essential to recovering the Snake runs "and probably would not be sufficient." He also pointed out that if breaching were chosen, it would take a decade or perhaps much longer to complete the cycle of Congressional authorization, funding, planning and execution of the strategy. "And it could divert extensive resources from other actions."

Frampton pushed the performance standards idea for evaluating efforts to improve salmon numbers in all Hs--hydro, harvest, hatcheries, and habitat--and he called for an independent peer review of the standards so "they will command broad scientific consensus" before actions would be measured five to ten years from now to see if overall salmon life-cycle survival is "moving in the right direction, or not." If not, then "reconsideration of the strategy and the possibility of seeking authorization for dam breaching may well be necessary."

Frampton said the new program would be demanding. "Under the biological opinion, the federal hydropower system probably will be called upon to make major operational changes, including increased flows. The system probably will have to make major structural changes, as well, in order to improve juvenile fish passage. The federal hydropower system will probably serve as one of the primary sources of funding to achieve many of the restoration-related measures."

As he intimated in a conference call with state officials last month, Frampton said the administration intends to continue planning for breaching the lower Snake dams if performance standards are not met.

NMFS, BPA and other action agencies are locked in deep disagreement over the standards to apply to the hydro system, and it seems unlikely that action agencies will settle for such standards willingly. It was reported that NMFS is still holding out for a standard that reflects estimated pre-dam fish survival.

It is the nature of those estimates in which much of the disagreement lies. In a draft released last February,
Photo of Save the Salmon Beer
Northwest six-pack with salmon message.
NMFS policymakers were embracing the concept of using juvenile fish survival data from PIT-tagged fish in the free-flowing Snake and extrapolating it throughout the length of the hydro system. But NMFS' own scientists have told agency policymakers such a leap is not scientifically justified. They also went on record months ago with the recommendation that another 10 years' worth of fish transportation research is needed to resolve critical uncertainties regarding survival benefits.

Uncertainty was a theme echoed by NMFS regional administrator Will Stelle, who stressed the importance of "dramatically reducing hatchery production" to benefit basin-wide listed stocks, "although it is not possible to quantify the benefit with precision." But reducing hatchery production may clash with recent and future attempts by basin tribes to supplement runs and increase harvest with hatchery fish.

With the region aware that federal authorities will call for more sacrifice from all parties, water users have already taken serious notice. The Spokesman-Review reported recently that the state of Idaho has offered NMFS its present amount of Snake water for flow augmentation, 427 kcfs, for the next 20 years if the Nez Perce Tribe and USF&WS drop claims for state water rights that are now in mediation, with all parties sworn to secrecy. The state, however, said it has made no offers to NMFS.

Greg Nelson of the Idaho Farm Bureau told NW Fishletter that the secretive nature of the talks makes it hard to track down any of these allegations, but if the story is true, "around here, all hell would break loose." Others reported that the governor's office is quietly shopping a new water plan around the state, but no details were forthcoming.

Meanwhile, in Washington state, municipal water authorities from the east side met in Richland recently to tackle a common problem--where to get water for future growth. The state Department of Ecology recently ruled that a water application from Quad Cities (West Richland, Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco) was invalid on a technicality and that the cities would have to start over. The application, in the works for years, will have to be submitted again.

NMFS, the state Fish and Wildlife Department and even the Fish Passage Center in Portland had submitted comments against granting the cities' request for more water. They said further water withdrawals would be detrimental to salmon and steelhead.

The muni water authorities heard from Seattle attorney Joel Merkel, who told them NMFS' "no net loss" water policy for the Columbia River is a violation of state water law no matter what the Washington Department of Ecology thinks about it. "The 'no net loss' water policy lacks any sound basis or scientific justification in terms of proven benefits for fish. The plan is to spend billions of dollars on an unproven strategy that would use water for instream flows that is now used to grow crops and meet human needs. This is a half-baked scheme," he said.

Meanwhile, environmental groups were livid with the Clinton Administration's announcement. Trout Unlimited spokesman Jeff Curtis said the 10-year delay in breaching would likely result in the extinction of some Snake River stocks.

Sen. Slade Gorton (R-WA) said no study involving the removal of Snake River dams will pass Congress "if this Senator has anything to say about it." He also took issue with NMFS over whether hatchery fish negatively influence wild runs and said the agency's science will not be credible until it resolves critical uncertainties regarding potential "delayed mortality" of transported and in-river juveniles that pass through dams, the role of the estuary, and using hatcheries to supplement wild runs. "Independent scientific review of the federal agencies' shifting conclusions may be required," Gorton said in prepared remarks. Gorton staffer Todd Ungerecht said that, with the Congressional recess through August and elections coming up, it's unlikely the Senate will revisit the BiOp issue until next year. -Bill Rudolph


[2] 400-PAGE DRAFT BIOP HITS THE STREETS

Federal fish authorities say more water, more spill and other survival improvement measures are necessary to help recover ESA-listed fish stocks in the Northwest. The proposals, which do not include breaching the lower Snake River dams, are included in the long-awaited draft hydro Biological Opinion federal agencies released last week.

But George Frampton, acting chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said if the recommended improvements to hatcheries, habitat and harvests don't do enough to help recover fish, it still may be necessary to breach the dams.

"We welcome the support and input of the region's tribes and states and are committed to forging a strong and lasting partnership with them," Frampton said at a July 27 press conference in Portland. "And if our common efforts do not achieve the progress we need, we all must be prepared to take even stronger action. Extinction is not an option."

Frampton downplayed the huge salmon returns in the Columbia this spring, pointing out that less than 10 percent are wild fish. "One or two years of good returns is not enough," he said. He gave improved ocean conditions some credit, but didn't mention the possibility that the Northwest may be in for 20 to 30 years of better salmon weather, as some regional oceanographers and climatologists have predicted.

Frampton said the science shows that breaching is the single most beneficial action for improving Snake River runs. Though he said there are uncertainties associated with the drastic strategy, it still may be necessary.

At the same July 27 press conference in Portland, the feds also unveiled their draft basin-wide recovery strategy. Until recently, it was called the All-H Paper; now it's called the "Basin-Wide Recovery Strategy." The latest two-volume iteration includes BiOp requirements and measures to improve hatcheries, limit harvest and restore habitat.

Frampton said the proposed effort is an "order of magnitude greater" than what was done to aid the spotted owl. Though some would like "bumper sticker" solutions, Frampton said it's not that simple. "Everybody's got to contribute, to keep the dams from being breached."

NMFS regional administrator Will Stelle was a bit more pointed. "If we do nothing, salmon in the Columbia will go extinct. It's as simple as that."

Stelle emphasized details of the new strategy, pointing to necessary improvements in freshwater habitat, mainstem passage corridors and the lower Columbia estuary. He also stressed another new addition to the BiOp: performance standards designed to measure survival benefits from different actions. He said there will be annual audits of hydro system performance and major examinations both five and eight years from now to see if fish populations are improving fast enough to recover without breaching the dams.

Uncertain Numbers Game For Policymakers

Using "best-case assumptions," the draft BiOp says increased survival of spring chinook from the hydro actions spelled out in the RPA [Reasonable and Prudent Alternative], "coupled with expected survival in other life stages, is sufficient to reduce the likelihood of extinction to 5 percent and to result in at least a 50 percent likelihood of recovery of three of the seven index stocks..."

Under "worst-case assumptions," only one index stock met the extinction risk, and additional survival improvements ranging from 3 percent to 1,103 percent would be necessary to reduce extinction risk and increase the likelihood of recovery for the other six index stocks.

The NMFS analysis says best-case assumptions for Snake River B-run steelhead show the need for better than a 1,000 percent improvement from one generation to the next to reach a less than 5 percent chance of extinction over the next 100 years. Worst-case assumptions show the need for a whopping 35,000 percent improvement from one generation to the next to reach a less than 5 percent chance of extinction over the next 100 years; that analysis includes a factor of reduced productivity from interbreeding with hatchery strays.

But the BiOp performance standard for steelhead calls for close to a 50 percent survival rate for juvenile passage through the system (barged plus inriver), along with another 35 percent improvement needed in the stock's lifecycle to meet the NMFS jeopardy standard. In a White Paper on passage survival, NMFS has estimated that overall inriver steelhead survival for juveniles is about 45 percent.

As for Snake River spring chinook, the performance standard for juvenile passage for barged and inriver is about 57 percent, with up to 45 percent additional improvement in lifecycle survival for two index stocks, the Imnaha and Minam runs, in order to achieve the jeopardy standard. The NMFS passage survival White Paper has estimated recent inriver survivals of juvenile spring chinook (1997-1999) from 43 percent to 59 percent.

According to the draft BiOp, Upper Columbia juvenile spring chinook and steelhead need a survival rate through the hydro system of 66 percent, with a 31 percent boost from additional lifecycle survivals for chinook and 13 percent for steelhead to achieve the jeopardy standards.

But the BiOp performance standard for steelhead calls for close to a 50 percent survival rate for juvenile passage through the system (barged plus inriver), along with another 35 percent improvement in the stock's life cycle, to meet the NMFS jeopardy standard.

Stelle admitted to many uncertainties in the analyses that led to the new standards. "You might be surprised," Stelle said, "but there are a lot of things we don't know." He said more research would be completed to reduce uncertainty about the disputed value of barging fish and the possibility of a delayed mortality effect from both barging and the hydro system in general.

Other regional scientists have criticized elements of the new NMFS analysis in public forums and Senate hearings this year. They have said NMFS' extinction model is too simple to capture the natural variability of salmon populations and also noted that some data sets are run reconstructions rather than actual counts. Without adding numbers from this year's returns, they say, the analysis leads to overly-pessimistic conclusions.

Stelle, meanwhile, also pushed for more flows--both in the main migration corridors and tributaries--and cited BPA talks with Canada over the possibility of scoring more water from the north. He said by improving instream flows, fish populations would get an immediate boost.

BiOp Costs Barely Mentioned

The draft BiOp also directs BPA to study development of new transmission and generating capacity that would allow additional daytime spill at lower Snake dams. The cost would be "billions of dollars," according to one source, who noted the new BiOp could de-rate the power system by up to 500 aMW. The system has already lost about 1000 aMW in capacity for fish concerns, with total capacity at around 8750 aMW, according to BPA spokesman Ed Mosey.

BPA VP Steve Wright said his agency is committed to spending up to $700 million-plus per year for fish recovery, as per the new rate case; better estimates are not available.

Reaction was swift, and some of it came before the BiOp was even released. In a July 26 Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission press release, basin tribes said the draft federal plans "purposefully and consciously violate federal laws and treaties. These plans as written will doom more stocks of salmon."

Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund attorney Todd True said the Administration's direction ignores the science and flouts the law. "The only option we have to protect the endangered species is to turn to the courts," he warned.

According to Washington Gov. Gary Locke, the BiOp places primary responsibility for recovering the stocks "upon state and local governments, tribal governments, citizens and stakeholders working together on fish recovery at the local and state level." He said Washington will insist that the Power Planning Council's sub-basin and planning processes, from which federal recovery funding will come, defer to the state's salmon recovery strategy--"to prevent duplication, confusion and frustration."

Washington's US senators weighed in as well. Republican Slade Gorton called the salmon plan a political document that will allow Vice President Gore to duck the dam removal issue. "It's absolutely unbelievable that the Administration is boldly defying the latest scientific findings that recommend against dam breaching," he said in a statement.

Democrat Patty Murray had a different view, saying the Administration has clearly moved beyond the "false debate of dams or no dams."

But others were concerned that the performance standards are too high for the hydro system to reach. Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative spokesman Scott Corwin said his group of rural utilities was watching closely.

Columbia River Alliance spokesman Bruce Lovelin credited the new BiOp with being "comprehensive" rather than focusing on hydropower and reservoirs alone. Though officials failed to make a biological case for breaching, he believes election-year politics forced officials to defer a decision on the radical strategy. And he doesn't think the new BiOp will be around for long.

"A plan based on election-year politics will likely not survive in 2001 regardless of the election outcome," said Lovelin. Instead, he said it will be up to a new President, Congressional delegation and the region's governors to develop a successful plan. -B. R.


[3] NORTHWEST GOVS AGREE ON FISH RECOVERY RECOMMENDATIONS

Two days before the feds went public with the new draft BiOp for the hydro system, the four Northwest governors released a joint communiqué from the salmon recovery front that called for more coordination with federal agencies.

"We wanted to influence the BiOp," said Idaho NWPPC member Mike Field. Although initial attempts to get the four states together on recovery consensus began two years ago, Field indicated the effort intensified after June 1. Reaching an agreement took longer than they expected, but Field said the states will still be able to comment on the technical aspects of the BiOp for the next month.

The governors' July 25 joint press release called the proposal an "historic agreement" and listed some of its general recommendations for recovering salmon. These include creation of salmon sanctuaries to protect key habitat, reforming hatcheries, and even investigating the possibility of re-introducing salmonids above fish blocking dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

The governors also recommend the President pick one official to oversee federal fish recovery efforts in the Columbia basin to speed collaboration between feds and other regional entities, including tribes, private landowners and state and local agencies.

The agreement leaves the dam breaching issue off the fish recovery menu. "As we all know," said Washington Gov. Gary Locke, "the most polarizing and divisive issue we face is the fate of the lower Snake River dams. This document is an agreement to set aside the breaching option for now. We have made that key agreement, and I applaud the other governors' willingness to work with us on these recommendations."

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, who has formally endorsed breaching the dams while the other three governors have opposed the strategy, said other things should be done now to aid fish. He told the Oregonian that the agreement represents the first regional consensus "at least on the part of the governors of the Pacific Northwest on a meaningful plan to benefit the restoration of the Columbia River ecosystem."

Kitzhaber had earlier spearheaded creation of the Columbia River Basin Forum, a regional forum designed to bring federal, state and tribal parties to a common restoration plan. But some tribes never joined, and the group has languished without much direction of late. Montana representative Stan Grace didn't even bother to attend meetings last spring. The Forum is not mentioned in the governors' joint message.

Predictably, tribes were not happy with the new effort, which calls for marking all hatchery fish and reducing some commercial fishing on their part. But the governors also recommend increasing terminal area harvests for both treaty and non-treaty fishermen to reduce adverse effects on weak stocks, while maintaining current levels of ceremonial and subsistence (C&S) harvests for the basin's tribes.

Charles Hudson, spokesman for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, told NW Fishletter the plan is a "poor start" and shows a "fundamental lack of understanding by the governors. It's not up to them to decide how much of the treaty harvest goes for C&S and how much goes to commercial," Hudson said.

The governors also support exploring ways to reduce ocean harvests by using more selective fishing techniques and buying back licenses "that can reduce the current excess fishing capacity." Canada recently whittled the size of its offshore salmon fleet considerably with a buyback program of its own.

The agreement also states that any performance standards developed by the feds should be subject to scientific peer review and be "reasonably attainable." Many worry privately that standards developed by NMFS policymakers for fish survival in the hydro system will be impossible to reach.

The four states ask for federal assistance to boost water quality improvements. They also want the feds to document benefits from flow augmentation; and "where the benefits of flow augmentation have been documented," the Governors say, "migrating fish should be left in the river to benefit from it."

For now, they support fish transportation as a short-term strategy until research shows fish survival would be better in an improved river environment. "Quite frankly," said Idaho Power Council member Mike Field, "we don't know the benefits from increasing flows for fish." He pointed out there is increasing evidence that inidicates boosting summer flows in the Snake with southern Idaho water may actually harm migrating fall chinook by increasing water temperatures.

The agreement also calls for considering off-river storage for more water "if flow augmentation is going to continue to be a key strategy." That's a strategy that has irrigators and municipalities worried, especially in eastern Washington, As for now, states like Washington will endorse the present NMFS "no net loss" water policy for the mainstem Columbia. Sandi Snell, spokesperson for Gov. Gary Locke, said it's "Yes, for now, but we do have questions." She called for federal fish authorities to better document the benefits of their water policy, which has both municipal and agricultural water users ready to sue the state for its support of the NMFS policy. The water users claim that NMFS has not proved the "no net loss" policy has any scientific merit. Irrigators contend that studies show there are several million MAF available for use without detrimental effects on fish.

The plan also suggests a neutral entity be responsible for contracting fish and wildlife projects that are now overseen by BPA fish and wildlife managers. "Transferring contracting authority to a neutral entity also would avoid complicated, time-consuming federal contracting procedures." Such a change could improve efficiency, reduce the potential for conflicts of interests and improve public accountability, the governors indicate.

Columbia River Alliance director Bruce Lovelin called the document a good first start--one that acknowledges salmon recovery can occur without breaching the dams. "CRA has long supported the NW Power Council in an expanded role in salmon recovery; the Governors are the key individuals that can make this happen."

Less sanguine was water consultant Darryll Olsen, who felt the agreement was nothing to crow about. "It's sort of a pre-endorsement for the NMFS BiOp," said Olsen. "Secondly, it's a blueprint for the Council's 2001 fish and wildlife program, and last, it shows no resolution or leadership role on the flow issues." -B. R.


[4] GAO, IEAB CRITICIZE CORPS EIS ON BREACHING

Critics are lining up against the Army Corps of Engineers' analysis of breaching the four Lower Snake River dams. The General Accounting Office, a Congressional investigative agency, last week faulted the Corps for inadequate assessment of two key issues: the air quality impacts of breaching and the cost of transportation to replace barging. Another panel, commissioned by the Northwest Power Planning Council, was kinder in its critique, but still called the Corps' economic analysis "woefully inadequate."

The Corps' draft environmental impact statement, released last December, offered four alternatives to restore salmon runs but made no recommendations. Senators Slade Gorton (R-WA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) asked the GAO to investigate the most controversial of those alternatives, dam breaching. In its report, the GAO called the EIS "questionable because of an incomplete analysis of air quality effects, including the Corps' failure to consider air quality effects from breaching on certain local populations, and of the effect of exposing potentially contaminated river sediments."

The GAO said the Corps failed to consider potential pollution from several sources, including new generating plants built to replace power lost when the dams are breached. Additional trucks called into service to move products that formerly moved by barge also could contribute to air pollution, as could sediment exposed when the dams are torn down, said the GAO; and none of these was adequately analyzed by the Corps.

The Corps fared better with the Independent Economic Analysis Board, a review group commissioned by the Power Council to analyze the economic elements of the EIS. The IEAB calls the Corps document "balanced and professional," but also cautions that it contains "several weaknesses.

"We want to be clear that some estimates in the economic appendix are woefully imprecise," reads a June 21 memorandum sent to the NWPPC, "especially the estimated benefits of recreation and the estimated [intrinsic] value of salmon and rivers under the dam breaching alternative." The IEAB went so far as to say that "the information on the benefits of dam breaching is not accurate enough to provide useful guidance for the momentous decisions that might be based on [it].

"What is most significant about the estimated benefits of the dam breaching alternatives is not their most probable level, but the extreme uncertainty," said the review group. The EIS pegged the benefit at $154 million per year, but said it could range between $79 million and $1.6 billion per year, primarily due to the huge range of potential recreational benefits on a natural Lower Snake River.

The IEAB acknowledged that economic and recreational benefits, especially tribal benefits, are extremely difficult to measure, which detracted from the reliability of the EIS. "[T]he estimated tribal benefits from salmon runs and the natural environment, and future environmental and treaty requirements, are uncertain enough to render the analysis inconclusive," concluded the group.

Cost estimates in the EIS also came under scrutiny. While the GAO called the Corps' replacement power cost estimates "reasonable," the IEAB faulted the Corps for failing to adequately assess expected changes in transmission, peaking capacity and ancillary services. In transportation, the IEAB said the Corps failed to include capacity expansions of rail and highway systems and the resulting increased freight costs.

Increased transportation costs also were highlighted in the GAO report, which expressed concern over the Corps' assumption that infrastructure improvements would total as much as $532 million. "However," said the GAO, "the Corps assumed that these infrastructure improvements would be made without affecting the transportation cost estimate."

Gorton, who strongly opposes breaching, issued a statement lauding the GAO study. "We've known all along that breaching the dams would ruin Eastern Washington's way of life, but now it looks as if the environmental impacts are greater than we thought," he said. "I would hope that persons on all sides of the dam breaching issue would agree that the negative impact on the environment potentially caused by breaching the dams should be carefully reviewed." -Lynn Francisco


[5] POWER COUNCIL CONSIDERS STANDARDS FOR HATCHERIES

The Northwest Power Planning Council has proposed major changes in salmon hatchery standards, both to make artificial production programs more accountable and to improve protection of wild salmon populations exposed to the hatchery fish. The draft performance standards will complete the Artificial Production Review delivered to Congress last year, said Council staffer Bruce Suzumoto. "Once these standards are adopted, they will become part of the Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans that each Columbia Basin hatchery is to develop this year," he said. Hatchery costs make up more than 40 percent of the funding of the Columbia Basin's fish and wildlife program.

Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority director Brian Allee held meetings with fish managers and conservation groups last year to develop the standards. The draft proposals were then given to the Independent Scientific Advisory Board for review and further refined by another working group that included Power Planning Council staff, as well as National Marine Fisheries Service, Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority and USFW personnel.

"It is important to get the hatcheries on a results- and performance-based management program that takes into account both benefits and risks," said NMFS policymaker Steve Smith. "Performance indicators are needed to align hatchery performance with budget requirements." Smith is saying that Congress expects funding to be tied to performance. Unless the hatchery program is managed by objective, with standards that can be evaluated, including risks and benefits, the funding will not be available.

The performance standards are designed to link hatchery funding to sound science, away from the political arena. "Performance standards will be part of the requirement the Power Council will use to determine future funding and the ISAB will use in evaluating hatchery programs," Suzumoto said, noting that the hatchery reform recommended in the ISAB's report to Congress is dependent upon adequate funding.

"Hatcheries should not operate in isolation," says NMFS' Smith. "They must be integrated with habitat and harvest programs, subbasin plans, conservation of ESA-listed fish populations, and research." According to Smith, each hatchery must be integrated into the management goals within its watershed, but should also be evaluated in terms of broader Columbia Basin goals. Smith said that performance standards and a well-funded, strong evaluation program is "critical to the successful implementation of the Endangered Species Act and good fish management."

Some of the draft standards under consideration include the following:

  1. Conduct artificial production and harvest activities in a manner consistent with policy and legal mandates.
  2. Use artificial production to stabilize and/or increase harvest rates while minimizing the impact to non-target species.
  3. Use artificial production to conserve wild/naturally-spawning populations.
  4. Use artificial production in a manner that maintains or increases bio-diversity.
  5. Implement artificial production in a manner that minimizes adverse genetic effects on underlying natural populations.
  6. Conduct artificial production research activities in a coordinated manner to acquire necessary information and data.
  7. Operate artificial production facilities in a manner that minimizes adverse impacts associated with program operation.
  8. Implement artificial production in a cost-effective manner that optimizes socio-economic benefits.

The draft will be available for public review in October or November, before final adoption by the Power Planning Council. For a copy of the performance standards contact the Council by phone at (1-800-452-5161) and request a copy. Ask for "Performance Standards and Indicators for the Use of Artificial Production for Anadromous and Resident Fish Populations in the Pacific Northwest, July 21, 2000." -Bill Bakke

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