New NMFS Research: More Water May Mean Less Fish
 Bush And New Biop: An Iffy Situation At Best
 Crapo Calls For More Time To Improve BiOp
 Corps Research Review Unlocks More Salmon Secrets
 Bristol Bay Forecast May Signal Regime Shift
 Johansen To Leave BPA For Private Sector
 BPA Tries To Smooth Flows For Chums
 NEW NMFS RESEARCH: MORE WATER MAY MEAN LESS FISH
New research federal scientists reported last week has thrown more cold water on the notion that augmented spring flows improve fish survival in the Snake River.
A report by NMFS scientists at last week's four-day marathon research review in Portland actually found an inverse relationship between spring flows and fish survival, said Doug Marsh, from NMFS' Seattle Fish Ecology division. The results clash with proposed flow augmentation strategies in the agency's draft BiOp for hydropower, which is scheduled to be finished by the middle of December.
Marsh exhibited a graph indicating that smolt-to-adult return rates (SARs) for 1998 inriver migrating juvenile spring chinook were both the highest and lowest when flows averaged only 60 kcfs.
Another graph that tracked inriver SARs from the 1995 outmigration showed survivals declined as flows increased; the research showed lower Columbia River flows correlated with transported SARs in 1995, but not in 1998.
The latest results also indicate that fish transported early in the season do poorly, but after May 1, survivals increase drastically. "We're assuming something is happening in the ocean," Marsh told researchers Nov. 15. He said two possible explanations for the phenomenon are that predators may be munching on early fish, or that a lack of ocean upwelling in April may affect survival of the early transported chinook from the Snake River. Inriver migrating fish take about two weeks to reach the estuary; barged fish only a few days.
With three-ocean returns (fish that spend three years at sea) from the 1998 outmigration not due back until next year, the NMFS scientists found that two-ocean transported fish of hatchery origin have survived 30 percent better than two-ocean inriver migrants overall, but wild inriver migrants are surviving at a rate 60 percent better than their transported brethren. Since many wild fish usually return after three years at sea, that rate could easily flip-flop next year. Wild SARs from both 1995 and 1996 were 50 percent higher for transported fish, according to the NMFS data.
This information was sent to NMFS policymakers in an Oct. 26 memo. "The preliminary results suggest that little or no benefit accrued from transportation early in the spring migrations," it said. "Further, flows did not influence smolt-to-adult return rates (SAR) of inriver migrants in either year, but correlated with transport SARs in 1995."
The memo pointed out that in the new study, NMFS only used inriver fish that were not detected in bypass systems at collector dams below Lower Granite Dam, which means they passed Little Goose or Lower Monumental dams via spillways or turbines. Critics of earlier NMFS research had questioned results that included fish that went through the bypass systems. They claimed that bypassing fish, especially those bypassed more than once, were subject to greater stress than inriver migrating fish that went over spillways.
The NMFS memo pointed out that lower than expected ratios of returning transported to inriver fish were "primarily explained" by the low survivals of fish transported in April of 1995 and 1998. Researchers said the difference in survivals was abrupt--about eight days. After that, the fish did remarkably better. "However, during the second halves of the migrations in both years, transport SARs were nearly always at least twice as high as inriver-migrant SARs."
The memo suggested that predators, such as extremely mobile Pacific jack mackerel, might be responsible for the high April mortalities. It also pointed out that no relationship was found between Snake River flows and inriver migrants in 1995 and 1998.
"This follows the same trend documented for juveniles over the past several years," the memo said.
The results seem to fly in the face of the proposed hydro BiOp, which calls for augmenting spring flows in both the lower Snake and upper Columbia rivers to aid the survival of ESA-listed fish during their juvenile migration.
NMFS policymaker Brian Brown--from the agency's Portland office, where the new BiOp is being written--recently told other Columbia Basin policymakers that regional input had not changed NMFS' mind about the direction of the new document.
"There's nothing in the comments yet to suggest we've got it wrong," Brown said at a Nov. 1 Implementation Team meeting in Portland. He said state, tribal and other agency comments revealed big disagreements over the value of dam breaching and flow augmentation, but evidently he did not see fit to share his own agency's latest memo with the rest of the group.
The NMFS White Paper on flow management, a document written to show the "best available science" on the issue, also admitted the agency had not detected a flow/survival relationship for the spring fish. But responding to criticism of the White Paper from Idaho water users, NMFS hedged its bets. The water users had taken issue with NMFS' qualitative remarks about the "likely" benefits of flow, when the agency had failed to quantify a relationship between added flow and improved fish survival.
"In ecological studies," NMFS said in response, "it is rare that one can be certain beyond a doubt about any conclusion. Scientific judgment involves accumulating information through time and determining which conclusions are supported by the preponderance of evidence. It would be unfair to characterize something as certain when it is not.
"At the same time, lack of 100 percent certainty does not indicate that relationships do not exist. It is clear that salmon migrating downstream through the hydropower system do so under flow conditions that are different than those under which they evolved. This is particularly true once the fish get below Bonneville Dam. Suggesting more natural flows are better for fish is not inconsistent. It is not the role of science to make the management decision of when the costs of flows are too high to outweigh presumed benefits for the fish." -Bill Rudolph
 BUSH AND NEW BIOP: AN IFFY SITUATION AT BEST
With George W. Bush likely to move into the White House in January, the potential effect of a Republican Administration on Northwest salmon recovery efforts is still being weighed.
The irony of the situation is not subtle. Ralph Nader, the only major candidate for president who supported breaching the lower Snake River dams, may have siphoned enough votes away from Al Gore to ensure that Bush, who was plain about his continued support for keeping them, was elected.
Democrat Gore has promised the region a salmon summit if he is elected. It's also been reported that DC Democrats have already picked a likely successor to head the regional NMFS office, recently vacated by Will Stelle. Though no names were mentioned, it is clear the present Administration and White House CEQ head George Frampton want someone with high-level political savvy and connections to the Beltway to keep the new BiOp and other region-wide salmon recovery efforts on track.
But with its release slated for Dec.15, NMFS may not meet that deadline, said one federal official, who suggested the potential delay may have something to do with who ends up in the White House. NMFS acting regional administrator Donna Darm was in DC last week to meet with legislators and federal executives to discuss the situation. A staffer from Sen. Slade Gorton's (R-WA) office indicated that Darm didn't say anything about changing the BiOp deadline.
Environmental groups have already stepped up a campaign to keep breaching Snake River dams in the public eye, with a call for constituents to e-mail President Clinton to persuade him to add a new element to the proposed hydro BiOp. If weak runs haven't improved significantly in the next five years, they want the document to call for breaching the four dams.
A press release last week from Trout Unlimited rehashed their position. "The draft Biological Opinion again ignores what the vast majority of fisheries scientists in the region have found to be the leading culprit in the decline of wild Snake River salmon and steelhead, the four federal dams on the lower Snake. It delays any potential decision to remove these four dams for a period of up to 10 years in favor of the same old fixes like fish barging and trucking that have done nothing to improve the fate of wild salmon."
"We're cautious," said Tim Stearns, from the regional office of the National Wildlife Federation. He said Bush supports fish-friendly turbines and cooperative restoration projects, but Stearns feels the Republicans would undoubtedly back off on federal protection for the environment and reverse most of the actions recently taken to protect federal lands.
Stearns also thinks a Bush Administration would not scale back commercial harvest--especially in Alaska, where some harvest of local ESA-listed stocks takes place. He said regional efforts to save weak runs have clearly failed up to this point. "The only substantial element in the new BiOp is the possibility of removing lower Snake dams, and it's been moved off eight years."
The environmental groups failed to acknowledge a Nov. 3 peer-reviewed article in Science magazine by NMFS scientists, reporting that improvements to the hydro system--including barging juvenile fish--have greatly increased fish survival and kept weak runs from going extinct.
"It'll be a done deal by the time a new President is in office," one Northwest attorney said of the BiOp.
But Columbia River Alliance director Bruce Lovelin thought otherwise. "The BiOp will be DOA if Bush becomes president," he said recently. According to Lovelin, a new Republican Administration would likely "elevate" the Power Planning Council to a higher level of importance, and irrigators--with unaccustomed clout--would call for any BiOp-mandated flow augmentation policy to be first validated for biological benefits.
"If George Bush is elected," said eastern Washington water consultant Darryll Olsen, "the NMFS 'no net loss' water policy will totally unravel, and you'll see Gary Locke become a water rights advocate." Olsen pointed out that both Washington's Democratic governor and attorney general mentioned water rights in their election night victory speeches.
Tribal interests have adopted a wait-and-see attitude toward a future Bush Administration. "We're looking forward to what he will do. So far, he's only said what he won't do," said Charles Hudson, spokesman for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. -B. R.
 CRAPO CALLS FOR MORE TIME TO IMPROVE BIOP
Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo called for an official time out at a Senate hearing held last Monday in Boise on the proposed hydro BiOp. The Nov. 20 hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water was the last of several days of testimony that began in September and was postponed twice because of other Senate business. After hearing testimony from three panels of scientists, state and federal officials, Crapo, who chaired the meeting, said the BiOp should be delayed two to six months to develop a more inclusive policy than the one pursued by federal agencies.
NMFS has scheduled the BiOp for a Dec. 15 release, but Crapo said it should be re-worked. "In fact, we have enough information--right now--that we should be able to develop a much better policy than is currently proposed, a policy that takes immediate action that is known to benefit the fish while providing an agreed-upon mechanism for monitoring and subsequent mechanisms."
Biologist Charles Paulsen, who worked on the PATH process as a BPA consultant, testified that recent empirical studies have shown that PATH had underestimated survival rates of both inriver and barged fish, and that estimates of "extra mortality" may disappear as ocean conditions keep improving.
He said the proposed BiOp, with its reliance on unproven benefits of flow augmentation and off-site mitigation efforts, would take a huge monitoring effort. He worried that such an effort might be too diffuse, with the end result being that in five or 10 years, policymakers and scientists have the same old arguments. Instead, he recommended a set of closely monitored management experiments "to see what works and what doesn't."
Paulsen said in written testimony that NMFS, with 12 ESUs to analyze in a single year, could not have achieved the level of collaboration of PATH scientists. He said it took PATH almost five years to study only two ESUs-Snake River spring/summer and fall stocks. But he had some concern about the new NMFS analysis from their CRI [Cumulative Risk Initiative] group.
"For anyone trying to follow their analysis from the outside," Paulsen wrote, "the many changes over the past year make it very difficult to be certain what version of the model is being used in any given version of the BIOP. For example, substantial changes in extinction estimates occurred between the July release of the BIOP and the current (September) version. In addition, the so-called "lambda criteria" in the draft BIOP (section 188.8.131.52) - that the population growth rate must be at least 10% per year, or consultation will be re-initiated - may lead one to believe that growth rates can be estimated very accurately. In fact, as noted above, the growth rates are very imprecise and noisy, because population abundance varies widely from year to year. This makes decision criteria based on growth rates extremely problematic. In fact, for some stocks it appears that even if populations reach recovery levels - several hundred to several thousand spawners - within a decade, the 10% growth rate may still not be met."
Paulsen said the region's ability to forecast the future is very limited. "We need to be humble in the face of our ignorance." -B. R.
 CORPS RESEARCH REVIEW UNLOCKS MORE SALMON SECRETS
Northwest scientists met last week in Portland for their annual marathon review of hydro-related salmon research with somewhat buoyed spirits. A recent article in Science by federal scientists said fish passage improvements in the mainstem Columbia and Snake rivers have increased juvenile survival rates from 10 percent to 50 percent. They credited the improvements for keeping weak runs from going extinct.
As one biologist put it, "Some of that $3 billion wasn't wasted after all." Three billion dollars is the grand sum that's generally accepted as BPA's fish and wildlife costs since the late 1970s, although the figure has actually climbed another half a billion dollars since the last tally a couple of years ago. The research highlighted last week represents about $29 million in spending last year, according to Corps spokesman Jim Athearn.
The four-day review was chock full of good news. Consultant Al Giorgi reported that juvenile salmon were surviving passage through some mid-Columbia dams at high rates--around 95 percent at Chelan PUD's Rock Island Dam, including travel through the reservoir upstream from the dam. Passage at the dam itself, primarily by spillway, was over 98 percent for both hatchery and run-of-river chinook, while reservoir survival was about 96 percent for both categories. Run-of-river steelhead fared a bit worse at the dam, with 95 percent survival, but over 98 percent survived the reservoir before the dam.
Giorgi said survival estimates for Rocky Reach Dam were confounded by radio tags that expired before many fish had been detected. Researchers had expected 15 days of output from the tags, but many of them only performed for eight to 10 days before they quit working.
Radio-tracking fish detective
at Lower Granite Dam.
"It was frustrating," Giorgi said after the review, "but that's the breaks. We couldn't tell whether fish died or the tags failed." Reliable estimates of survival could not be produced for passage at Rocky Reach this year. Meanwhile, a prototype surface collector to guide juvenile fish at Rocky Reach is in the final design stage
But in the lower river beyond the last dams, NMFS scientists have detected PIT-tagged juveniles from the mid-Columbia region. According to Dick Ledgerwood from the agency's lab at Hammond, OR, preliminary results show that juvenile spring chinook tagged above Wells Dam had about a 50 percent survival rate past nine mainstem dams.
He also reported that juvenile spring chinook from Snake River hatcheries show about a 35 percent survival rate to the estuary where the NMFS pair trawling detection effort was conducted off Jones Beach for 16 hours a day. The preliminary survival estimate for spring chinook from the Lower Granite tailrace to below Bonneville Dam was about 53 percent, with 60 percent survival for spring chinook in the Yakima and about 80 percent survival for fish at The Dalles.
Ledgerwood said his group plans to work on a detection effort that will enable them to track fish in the lower estuary and salt water to develop survival estimates for that later part of the juvenile inriver migration.
Birds' Menu Expands
That last inriver stretch takes young chinook past the infamous collection of Caspian terns that has munched on millions of smolts since colonizing the area in the late 1980s.
Dan Roby from Oregon State University reported on a largely successful effort to move the colony downstream from Rice Island (580 pair) to East Sand Island (9,000 pair), where it was hoped the terns' diet would expand to other prey, thus allowing for improved survival of young salmonids. The researchers expected salmonids to make up only 41 percent of the terns' diet at the new location, compared to 91 percent at Rice Island.
The birds are feasting on anchovies at their new nesting site, a species "that has come back in a big way," Roby said. They also eat juvenile herring, surf perch and shiner perch, along with small salmonids.
Researchers estimated that by relocating the colony, the terns' salmonid consumption has dropped by more than four million smolts this year, down to 7.4 million from around 12 million last year.
If the birds had stayed on Rice Island, said Roby, it was estimated the terns would have eaten 14 million smolts this year. He said the terns ate less chinook this year, but not less coho and steelhead.
Roby said the overall bird numbers are increasing, and areas outside the Columbia Basin are being investigated for future nesting sites. One possible method of relocation would borrow techniques being developed by Canadians, who have been successful at getting terns to nest on rafts. For now, the East Sand terns have been spotted foraging up to 50 miles away, along the coast and up to Grays Harbor, where they were thought to have come from in the 1980s.
More Spill Studies
Considerable effort is still being expended to understand various flow regimes at different dams to improve survivals. For instance, work at John Day Dam has found that chinook leaving the bypass system were significantly delayed when spill levels were 60 percent, rather than 30 percent, a level that improved egress for spilled fish. The time difference was only 15 minutes or so, from 10 to 26 minutes, but researchers hypothesize that it's enough time for predators to pick off the juveniles.
Research at John Day, also found that 24-hour rather than 12-hour spill reduced the median amount of time radio-tagged yearling chinook spent in the forebay by 3 hours to 1.5 hours. Also, during the 24-hour spill episodes, a higher percentage of fish passed the spillway (83 percent) than during 12-hour spill (66 percent). Other hydroacoustic research found that a higher peak of fish passed during midday when spill was 0 percent, rather than at 30 percent spill during daytime hours that researchers also studied, along with 60 percent spill at night.
Hydroacoustic research at The Dalles Dam showed that 32 percent spill allowed nearly 90 percent of the juvenile migrants to pass the dam without encountering a turbine--about 75 percent went over the spillway and about 14 percent passed the dam via a sluiceway.
Preliminary analysis of 3-dimensional fish behavior at Bonneville Dam has shown that the prototype surface collector being tested is more effective during daylight hours, suggesting that fish may use visual cues as they approach the collector.
Radio-Tagged Adults Reduce Mysteries
University of Idaho researcher Ted Bjornn and his group spent an entire morning describing preliminary results of their intense work with radio-tagged adult salmonids. The level of information they gathered from new depth/temperature tags is stunning. The tags can record up to half a million data points for each fish tracked by the group.
So far, one important preliminary finding is that fall chinook don't seem to mind warmer river temperatures as much as steelhead, who sometimes sought refuge in cooler river mouths of tributaries for nearly two weeks at a time. The falls generally stayed less than a day before they resumed their migration.
Bjornn's group has also studied counting discrepancies between John Day and McNary dams, where fish numbers, especially those of steelhead, don't seem to add up.
Noting the percentage of radio-tagged adults that were logged at each dam, Bjornn said most of the discrepancy probably comes from a fence that was improperly installed at a counting window at McNary Dam, which caused personnel to undercount the fish passing the window. This year, over 40 percent of the steelhead counted at John Day were not tallied at McNary, but Bjornn's tagged steelhead showed only a 17 percent discrepancy, according to their preliminary analysis.
Other findings by the group showed better than 98 percent survivals for adult spring and summer chinook in the lower Snake (Ice Harbor to Lower Granite) and close to that for fall chinook. In the lower Columbia, adult survival from Bonneville Dam to The Dalles was pegged at about 95 percent for spring/summer fish, and about 92 percent for fall chinook.
Bjornn's group found that salmon which fell back at dams through spillways only to pass fish ladders again were less likely to make it to home tributaries.
Other researchers have investigated how much energy the adult fish use up during their trip to spawning grounds. Scientists have measured energy consumption of migrating salmon and found that when fish exhibit "burst swimming" to increase speed above normal cruising range, they use 18 times as much energy, using white muscle tissue (found in the belly area) more than the more prevalent red muscle of the fish.
USGS researchers from the Cook, WA lab say that energy consumption from fallback at dams and other delays to migration could sap energy reserves salmon need for digging redds and helping eggs to mature. They indicate salmon may use up just as much energy spawning as they do migrating, but their lab work is just the first step at estimating energy use by fish in the wild. -B.R.
 BRISTOL BAY FORECAST MAY SIGNAL REGIME SHIFT
The sockeye will still return to Alaska's Bristol Bay in the millions next year, but fish managers in the frozen north and forecasters at the University of Washington say the numbers will probably be down considerably from this year's run. Climate researchers say it could be another signal that an ocean regime shift is upon us--a good news/bad news situation: good for West Coast stocks, bad for Alaska in general.
Alaska Fish and Game recently announced its estimate of the return--around 24 million fish-- and suggested the number shows the region may be entering a period of lower productivity, "more similar to the pre-1978 return year era" of cooler-than-average ocean temperatures. If the prediction pans out, it would mean that fishermen could catch about 17 million sockeye next year
Cooler temperatures in the North Pacific have been evident lately, said University of Washington researcher Nate Mantua. He noted that researchers have noticed species that favor cooler temperatures like capelin have reappeared in the Gulf of Alaska.
UW forecasters from the Fisheries Research Institute have predicted a return of about 22 million fish to Bristol Bay, with a harvest of about 14 million sockeye. That's down from the 30 million fish that returned this year, five million shy of last year's forecast. Fishermen caught almost 21 million sockeye when it was finally over, but the value of the catch has declined considerably in recent years.
With a prediction that's nearly 40 percent lower than the 20-year mean, prices for Bay driftnet permits have plummeted, worth about one-third of the $200,000 or so that fishermen once plunked down for the right to fish on some of the most lucrative and combative fishing grounds in the world.
The fleet had modernized as catches made millionaires out of many fishermen--the 32-foot length limit for Bristol Bay gillnetters made for a new class of extremely wide, high-horsepower aluminum boats that cost as much as $300,000. Barges full of them headed for Alaska every spring until a sagging Japanese economy and pressure from farmed fish lowered prices all around and dried up the market for new boats.
New boats headed for Bristol Bay in 1993.
The forecast for next year may extend the poor luck of Bay fishermen who saw reduced catches in 1997 and 1998, about half of predicted runs. The smaller returns were generally attributed to odd high temperature anomalies in the North Pacific and caused an economic debacle in the region. Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles declared the region a disaster area so local residents could qualify for federal assistance. -B. R.
 JOHANSEN TO LEAVE BPA FOR PRIVATE SECTOR
BPA Administrator Judi Johansen has announced she is leaving the federal agency to become senior VP of regulation and external affairs at PacifiCorp. Johansen, who has served as BPA administrator since June 1998, will start her new position at PacifiCorp on Dec. 1, 2000.
"I wasn't planning to leave BPA for another year or so," Johansen said at a press conference last Thursday. But after some "good constructive conversations" with PacifiCorp president and CEO Alan Richardson, the move seemed like a "good fit for me, my family and PacifiCorp," she said. "The stars lined up a little more quickly than I expected."
Meanwhile, BPA deputy administrator Steve Wright became acting administrator as of Nov. 17, when Johansen departed. "I'm pleased to hand the baton over to Steve," Johansen said. "He brings to this job tremendous knowledge of the industry and its issues," especially--after his years as head of BPA's DC office--the political issues in which the agency will be entangled. She also thanked BPA employees, "who have been tremendous," adding they will be partners in a different way.
Johansen reviewed BPA's record during her tenure, including the recent completion of Subscription contract signings, the agency's leadership in green power purchasing and marketing, and the financial condition of the agency. BPA is "very financially healthy, very financially stable," with the highest reserve levels--"a great tribute to the people who work here."
"Plus, we've kept the lights on," she continued. "It's no secret that the West Coast grid is old, brittle and stressed," but BPA experts have helped maintain reliability in the region, she said, although there will be continuing challenges.
Johansen warned of other challenges, too, and urged the region to "focus on reunification" and set aside differences over allocation of the benefits of the federal power system. "I implore the region to rally around BPA," she said, and work with Steve Wright "to preserve what we've got."
Johansen said a "test of the region's enlightened self-interest" will be how the DSI survivability issue is resolved. "It's important to keep them around." Another test, she said, is a unified plan for saving endangered salmon. "The region needs to pull together on this."
Johansen also acknowledged the agency's announcement earlier in the week of a 15 percent proposed rate increase and expressed hope that the proceeding goes smoothly and is not made into a "regional civil war."
Regional energy folks were almost universally surprised by Johansen's announcement--or at least the timing of it--and complimentary about her accomplishments at BPA. Many stressed the numerous challenges the agency has navigated during her tenure, as well as the spate of difficult issues it will face in the near future.
"We certainly didn't see this coming," said Puget Sound Energy VP of energy supply Bill Gaines. Johansen, he added, "has had an administration during a very challenging time. With industry restructuring, volatility in the power markets...she's done an admirable job in managing the agency through that. She should be given a lot of credit for her work to resolve tough issues and build consensus in the region--to the extent it's possible," Gaines said. "But there's still a lot left to be done."
"We've got a lot of difficult issues in front of us," agreed PNGC Power's Pat Reiten, who added the NMFS BiOp and "the very contentious rate case underway to determine exactly who gets what from BPA" to the list of regional challenges on the horizon. "You always want somebody of Judi's energy and skill around to help work through these issues. But we don't begrudge her an opportunity to pursue her interests with PacifiCorp."
Reiten also characterized incoming acting administrator Wright as "someone who clearly has a lot of knowledge and competence, and trust built up around the region...So if Judi has to go, it's nice knowing Steve is there."
Meanwhile, folks on the fish side of the business also lauded Johansen's leadership. "We wish Judi well," said Don Sampson, executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. "We are losing one of the great partners the tribes have had. It's been a tough job, but she's done remarkably well."
Bruce Lovelin of the Columbia River Alliance agreed that Johansen's job has been a tough one. "But the leadership she provided in support of a comprehensive fish and wildlife plan has been important to the region." He said she understands the restraints from operating a power system while being a steward of the environment. "She's done a real good job in the short time she has been at BPA."
The big question, of course, is who will be next to assume the title of BPA administrator. This time around, the selection process will no doubt be complicated by the shifting Northwest and national political landscapes. "There are a lot of moving pieces to the game right now--given the unresolved presidential election and the continuing vote count in the Washington Senate race," said PNGC's Reiten.
Johansen indicated the election of Bush or Gore may have less impact on the agency's future than what happens at the Congressional level. In terms of extra-regional assaults on Northwest preference, the House is "where some of our biggest trouble came from" this session, Johansen pointed out. But the result of the Washington senate race "could be more pertinent than the presidential election." Incumbent Slade Gorton (R) holds significant sway on the Senate Energy Committee. His re-election bid pronounced dead at one point, Gorton was locked in a race with former Washington Rep. Maria Cantwell (D) that was still too close to call. At press time, Cantwell had a slight lead.
A staunch defender of Northwest energy interests, the prospect of losing Gorton's seniority and plum committee assignments had some in Northwest energy circles on edge last week. But in addition, there was suggestion that Gorton's fate--in combination with the ultimate disposition of presidential ballot-counting controversies in Florida--could have some effect on determining Johansen's successor. The Northwest delegation--particularly its most senior members--have traditionally played a role, albeit somewhat mysterious at times, in selection of the BPA chief. -Jude Noland, Angela Becker-Dippman, Cyrus Noë, B. R.
 BPA TRIES TO SMOOTH FLOWS FOR CHUMS
Fish managers called for higher flows in early November to aid ESA-listed chum stocks below Bonneville Dam. They requested instantaneous flows be boosted to 140 kcfs on Nov. 8, with another bump to 150 kcfs on Nov. 15. Flows would be maintained at that level until the end of the month.
Fish managers said spawning surveys showed the chum were being negatively impacted in Hamilton Creek below Bonneville Dam. A lack of rain has kept streamflows in tributaries below normal levels.
Scott Bettin, BPA's representative to the TMT group that manages hydro operations, said operators would "shoot for 130," but a lack of rainfall is making it hard for the system to come up with much extra water.
By Nov. 6, biologists had counted 16 fish and 12 redds in Hamilton Slough, but were worried that low flows were making it hard for fish to enter Hamilton Creek. They reported that four more feet of water were needed for fish to be able to enter the creek. They also reported that a gravel patch near the I-205 bridge where chum like to spawn was still out of the water. -B. R.
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