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NWF.116/Jan.18.2001
[1] BPA Blinks At New BiOp
[2] Region Races To Court Over Fish
[3] Council Hears Briefing On BiOp
[4] Chum's The Word: NMFS Tries To Balance Listed ESUs
[5] Skagit Chum, Chinook Take Possible Hit
[6] Unhappy Legislators Help ODFW Director Out The Door
[7] Water Forecast On Low Side
[8] Wenatchee Chinook Numbers Excellent
[9] New Faces On Council

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[1] BPA BLINKS AT NEW BIOP

Though the Bonneville Power Administration hopes to sign off on the new hydro BiOp within a month, it may not be able to pay for all the strategies that NMFS has designed to keep the federal dams from jeopardizing the existence of listed salmon and steelhead. Dan Daley, the power agency's representative to the IT , delivered that message to fellow members at last week's policy meeting of state and federal agencies.

The new 10-year BiOp spells out 199 different "Reasonable, Prudent Alternatives [RPAs]" to current hydro operations that the feds have included to improve fish passage, modify hatcheries, build new transmission lines to allow for a more flexible spill program at federal dams, and pay for extensive off-site mitigation efforts to restore habitat.

Nearly 80 RPAs deal with direct improvements at dams to aid both juvenile and adult fish, though previous NMFS analyses suggested that further improvements at the dams may wring little in the way of increasing survivals. Survival of migrating juveniles has doubled since the lower Snake dams were completed in the late 1970s.

Daley said BPA might be tied to default spending caps for fish and wildlife in order to meet its annual Treasury payment, especially in light of ongoing negotiations over increases to power rates. "Particularly in a year like this," he noted, referring to the low water year that seems to be shaping up, in the 80 MAF range.

He also warned that funding for Corps and BuRec RPAs is tied to Congressional budgets, which means there is "a certain amount of risk" associated with it.

"If BPA can't afford everything, a robust discussion will take place," said NMFS assistant regional administrator Brian Brown, "to see if this BiOp will hold up." Brown said his agency maintains that all RPAs must be completed to keep the hydro system's "no-jeopardy" ruling.

Brown told the group that the major changes to hydro operations were made in the 1995 BiOp and that there is an "inherent" assumption that "we improved things with the 95 BiOp." He noted increases in fish survival throughout the system and cuts in harvest in accordance with NMFS-mandated policy, but he also admitted the region was "lucky" about improvements in ocean conditions that have boosted fish numbers lately.

The new BiOp is expected to cost BPA an extra $100 million annually, on top of the $250 million the agency now shells out every year for the fish and wildlife plan. Added to that is another $175 million to $190 million for habitat and hatchery improvements in FY 2001, to which BPA would contribute, but not completely fund.

The habitat and hatchery improvements would be spelled out by action agencies--BPA, COE, BuRec--that are charged with developing a 5-year implementation plan that includes off-site mitigation efforts for improving listed fish populations. This new wrinkle has drawn the Power Planning Council into the fish recovery equation, along with its revamped fish and wildlife program.

One significant element of the NWPPC's new program involves examining all proposals from a costs and benefits perspective--which includes any action's potential effect on power generation.

Bob Lohn, head of the Council's fish and wildlife division, participated in the meeting by phone to explain his agency's position. He used the example of the extra fall and winter flows fish managers have requested at Bonneville to protect newly colonized areas for both fall chinook and ESA-listed chum salmon, and said the Council could decide that the flow strategy was "too big a hit" on the power system. After some discussion, the issue was clarified to mean that the Council would like operating agencies to estimate reliability and costs for operations beyond direct BiOp recommendations.

BPA's Daley concurred. "There's no sound reason not to..."

Some wondered if the Council wanted to get involved in the TMT/IT process from a decision-making standpoint, but Jim Litchfield, Montana's rep on the IT, tried to explain. "They're looking for balance of costs to power and fish benefits." Lohn agreed.

But figuring costs, especially after the huge run-up in spot market power prices, could be hard. Daley said BPA had different ways of calculating them. "We go back and forth on how we calculate costs."

Besides the cost issue, others had more fundamental disagreements with the Council's new effort, which is directed at sub-basin planning with BiOp mandates. "The action agencies [BPA, Corps, BuRec] are limited to what they can do," said Idaho representative Jim Yost. "They must talk to the state."

"Washington had some of those same concerns," said WDFW's Jim Nielsen. Pointing to off-site mitigation actions, he said there needs to be additional funding available to the states.

BPA said it might have a Record of Decision signed in a month, but other action agencies didn't seem as anxious to sign without an implementation plan yet developed.

Daley suggested a simple letter accepting the BiOp, with a note that the plan will follow. Once the ROD is signed, the BiOp goes into effect.

But state reps admitted that the current TMT/IT forum created by the 1995 BiOp is less than ideal. Washington and Oregon are represented by fish and wildlife personnel, while Montana and Idaho have representatives who report to the governor and confer with each state's representatives to the Power Planning Council.

With his own state's water and agriculture agencies not represented, Washington's Nielsen admitted that he didn't speak for them all--and that there are not only differences of opinions among agencies within one state, but also within the agencies themselves. He said it would be difficult to speak with a single voice.

Brown said it was the same with the feds.

The IT began as a policy-level forum, whose duties included settling disputes raised at the weekly TMT meetings between fish and hydro managers. The two forums now contain so many of the same people that there "is an appearance of impropriety," said facilitator Donna Silverberg, who encouraged members to work toward a better way to represent all state interests.

CRA's Bruce Lovelin was encouraged by the meeting. "For the last eight years, NMFS has had the Clinton Administration's ear. Now we can see maybe a little more parity among BPA , the Bureau [BuRec] and the environmental agencies."

After the meeting, Daley said BPA was "working furiously to have a 1-year implementation plan by March." He said it will be a chore to integrate the 1-year BiOp schedule with the new Council program since some of its elements won't be reviewed for two more years. "We're going to do our best to implement the BiOp." -Bill Rudolph


[2] GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ATTORNEYS: REGION RACES TO COURT OVER FISH ISSUES

The new 4(d) rules that took effect last week should concern anybody on the West Coast whose activities might harm ESA-listed salmon or their habitat. But some folks think the rules will create even better habitat for attorneys than for fish. Many jurisdictions have been scrambling to complete habitat plans acceptable to the feds, and some proposals, like the two-year effort by Puget Sound's three largest counties, will not be completed for several more years--and it's already under attack.

Other groups have recently filed intent to sue notices on additional fish-related issues. The Tulalip tribe put NMFS on notice to protect its harvest opportunities, and Washington Trout is going after Puget Sound Energy for cutting flows on the Baker and White rivers. With the 4(d) rules now in place, the group says it will be ready to head off future fish-killing activities (see story 5).

Two Idaho conservation groups made good on their promise to go after ranchers and state agencies, filing three lawsuits in late December that will try to halt irrigation practices that allegedly harm fish. They promise to challenge "antiquated diversion methods" with many more court cases in the future.

"If ranchers and farmers are not willing to protect endangered fish from the impacts of their water diversions, they can expect to face similar ESA enforcement cases from us," said Jon Marvel of the Idaho Watersheds Project.

Just last week, the Olympia-based Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission took on the state of Washington, saying that it's not replacing fish-blocking culverts fast enough--the tribes admit it's the first step in an attempt to have more say in development and environmental decision making.

Few rules are yet in place to guide local governments and the private sector. But the man who wields the big federal club, NMFS' Washington state policy lead Bob Turner, has said his agency has discretion in enforcing the "take" provision of Section 4(d) against jurisdictions and private parties, depending on whether local governments or other groups are working with NMFS to craft an acceptable plan that exempts their activities from the ESA.

Also last week, the law firm of Preston, Gates and Ellis hosted breakfast briefings on the ESA in Seattle and Portland, for anybody in government or business who was interested in "exploring options further."

Last September, the firm hired then-regional NMFS administrator Will Stelle. In announcing Stelle's new job, Preston Gates partner Eric Laschever said his firm believed that the ESA will be the dominant environmental legal issue of the next decade. With Stelle on board, said Laschever, his firm would be better able to help its clients, both private and public, deal with ESA issues.

Before he left for the private sector, Stelle touted federal efforts to create plans that would relieve entities from future ESA worries over fish. If third-party lawsuits were filed after an entity had a plan in place, Stelle said NMFS would weigh in with defendants. He said the burden of proof would remain with complainants, the logic being that NMFS has used the best available science to judge the value of each plan.

In June, when NMFS announced 4(d) rules for West Coast steelhead, Stelle explained that once his agency OK'd a plan and it became a local or state ordinance, any take of the listed stock would not hurt its chances for recovery. Therefore, Stelle said at the time, any third-party lawsuit based on an ESA taking would have "no legs".

But two lawsuits have already been filed that challenge the NMFS 4(d) policy. Last August, a coalition of California water users sued the federal agency, challenging NMFS over its designations of "critical habitat" on procedural grounds.

In September, environmentalists and commercial fishermen, including the Washington Environmental Council and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, challenged NMFS through the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund. Their lawsuit against the NMFS 4(d) effort was filed last September. They said the deals NMFS was making with the timber industry, urban governments and suburban cities were not legal because the feds were using the 4(d) rule to "authorize habitat-destroying activities" rather than to conserve threatened species. They took special aim at Washington's Forest and Fish agreement and exemptions being developed for urban, suburban and industrial development, like Puget Sound's Tri-County salmon recovery effort.

By December, Jim Jesernig, head of Washington state's Agriculture Department, told eastside fruit growers that filing lawsuits against the ESA could lead to a "litigation Armageddon." He said as long as the battlefield stayed in the watersheds, with sound science to back them up, growers had an advantage.

Stelle was there as well, pushing for a cooperative effort between federal agencies and local groups, and noting the ESA effort had to focus on improvements in freshwater habitat for recovery to succeed.

But on watershed battlefields like northeastern Washington's Methow Valley, home to endangered spring chinook and steelhead, combatants are at a stalemate over what constitutes sound science. A prospective memorandum of understanding between Okanogan County, NMFS and the state's Department of Ecology has been hammered out over the past year. But the county wants to reserve the right to sue the agencies if target flows are set too high, said Dick Ewing, volunteer lead for the Methow's watershed planning unit.

The agencies want the county to give up the right to sue, said Ewing, who noted their message was clear. "If we litigate on target flows, they would walk." He said a substantial portion of county residents would not support county commissioners if they signed an agreement that gave up the right to sue.

Ewing also said it's the agencies' contention that naturally occurring low flows in the Methow are not acceptable and that irrigation diversions in the region accentuate those low flows. The county believes the diversions actually recharge the river, especially in late fall, when higher flows are most needed.

Ewing said the county and agencies have generally agreed upon a workplan to improve flows and study water issues, but another sticking point is the agencies' call for benchmarks to measure "sufficient progress."

"Since we hire the consultants and find the money to get the work done," said Ewing, "we want to determine the marks." He said Methow residents are in a holding pattern, waiting for a NMFS response to their draft MOA.

The sound science issue plays a big role in efforts on the west side of the Cascades as well. The years-long arguments over the width of stream buffers that occurred while the Timber and Fish agreement was being negotiated have been resurrected in suburbia, where developers and environmentalists are at odds over how much riparian habitat is enough to protect fish.

A major bone of contention around Puget Sound, where chinook stocks are listed under the ESA, is whether 150-foot or 115-foot options are adequate, with different ranges of development associated with each one. A recent study suggests that it will take a long time to come up with the right answer. The report, sponsored by the U.W.'s Forest Research Center, calls for better monitoring of salmon populations to measure habitat improvements, but also says it may be tough to assess the difference between the buffer options. The authors say it could take 30 years to see effects of buffer manipulation, if at all.

"... It is unlikely that a change in riparian buffer width from say 15 to 25 meters will produce detectable changes in salmon populations," says the report, "especially in the short term, although there may in fact be a change. It is more likely that broad-scale differences in a watershed land use, such as agricultural versus urban versus forested, will result in quantitative differences at a level of resolution that is detectable."

The buffer issues have also been discussed in the ongoing Ag-Fish-Water talks between state farmers, agencies, tribes and environmentalists. But insiders don't see any breakthroughs soon that could lead to an agreement like the one carved out for the timber industry. Some regulators want mile-wide buffers to protect streams from farm chemicals and animals, Jesernig said recently.

Mike Poulson of the Washington Agriculture Legal Foundation said Ag folks went to the table with the position that it's time to get things done, "so what do we need to do?" He said it's been tough to get agencies to be more specific. As for sticky water issues, Poulson said farmers don't really think there's a shortage. "It's a management issue," he said. "We need to do a better job."

Mainstem Columbia and Snake irrigators have already taken the state to court, trying to free up more water for irrigation. They say the state is supporting the NMFS "no net loss" water policy, a flawed approach that has no basis in sound science. The state has suggested settlement talks, but so far little progress has been reported. -B.R.


[3] COUNCIL HEARS BRIEFING ON BIOP

As rolling power blackouts hit northern California yesterday, members of the Northwest Power Planning Council heard from NMFS policymakers on details of the new BiOp, including the fact that it would derate the Columbia River hydro system by about another 60 megawatts, bringing the total system derating from operations to improve fish survival to about 980 megawatts, or around 10 percent.

NMFS hydro operations chief Brian Brown reiterated cost numbers floated at the BiOp's coming out part in December--$100 million more annually for the direct fish and wildlife program, another $175 million to $195 million to fund habitat and hatchery improvements in FY 2001 and future costs that could double, "depending on the effectiveness of the measures," Brown said.

When pressed by Oregon Council member Erich Bloch to describe where the increases were coming from, Brown admitted he had no details on the costs. He said the numbers were used to give Council members "a sense of scale."

NMFS harvest guru Larry Rutter said his agency supports an effort to develop selective fisheries, but explained some of the difficulties getting the effort off the ground. One important factor is simply because the Basin's tribes "haven't embraced selective fishing as a policy issue." Rutter said.

Idaho Council member Mike Field was concerned that next year's big spring run will be wasted, but Rutter pointed out that only one study proposal (a joint WA/OR effort) has been developed to look at selective fishing techniques. -B. R.


[4] CHUM'S THE WORD: NMFS TRIES TO BALANCE LISTED ESUs

Columbia Basin fish managers have asked for help from hydro managers to keep chum redds below Bonneville Dam from drying up. On Jan. 3 they requested more flow at the dam, saying that three salmon redds had been dewatered and six more were on the verge. With the region girded for a lousy water year, it seemed an audacious request.

The ESA-listed fish have colonized an area along the north shore of the river and complicated demands on the hydro system, especially during this fall and winter season of low rainfall and half-normal snowpack. WDFW's Columbia River policy lead Jim Nielsen said biologists have counted between 132 and 389 chum redds in the area.

Before the decision was made, Scott Bettin of BPA's Power Scheduling office said concern over power generation would likely keep the agency from honoring the fish managers' request that BPA keep the lower river flowing at least 142 kcfs with a tailwater elevation at Bonneville of 13.0 feet. When the redds were found dewatered, the tailwater height was almost 12 feet, with a flow of 136 kcfs.

NMFS policymakers made the final call at the Jan. 10 TMT meeting in Portland. Worried that a low water year would leave them short for spring flow augmentation, they supported less flow (130 kcfs) and a tailwater elevation of 11.8 feet to aid chums. And they called for monitoring the redds next week.

The next day, at the monthly IT meeting, NMFS hydro operations spokesman Jim Ruff said his agency was in the difficult position of balancing evolutionarily significant units of salmon (ESUs). He said there have only been two years in the historical record that began with as little snowpack as this year. He also told fish managers that NMFS needs better information on the redd counts and how they would be affected by the tailwater elevation at Bonneville--a situation compounded by tidal effects and Willamette River flows.

BPA's Bettin told NW Fishletter that Canadian storage is presently keeping the hydro system in business. Without it, the Columbia would be rolling along at less than 60 kcfs and there would be no spawning habitat directly below Bonneville for chums and fall chinook to colonize. In addition, the Canadian snowpack that melts into the Columbia River is in better shape than snowpack south of the border. BC Hydro reported at the TMT meeting that it was 85 percent of average.

Several thousand chums have returned to the lower Columbia River this season, causing some to wonder why the fish are listed under the ESA anyway. The Columbia River chum were listed in March 1999, but the stock spawns at several other spots in the lower river. A new colony of about 90 fish has been reportedly spawning in the vicinity of the I-205 bridge across the Columbia River just east of Portland. -B. R.


[5] SKAGIT CHUMS, CHINOOK TAKE POSSIBLE HIT

Concern over another chum stock made the news recently, after hydro operations on the Baker River, a tributary of the Skagit in northwest Washington, inadvertently dewatered several hundred chum and chinook redds near the town of Concrete. Flows in the river slowed to a trickle after Puget Sound Energy began refilling a reservoir over the Thanksgiving holiday when power demands were down. Redds near the confluence of the Baker and Skagit Rivers and some length downriver were possibly affected.

The state Department of Ecology told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that mostly chums were affected, but a DOE spokesman said more than 220 ESA-listed chinook redds were de-watered as well. Biologists were not able to tell whether the eggs were destroyed. Environmentalists have threatened to sue over the issue, saying that PSE had "previously exhausted its reservoir to take advantage of high power rates in California."

PSE spokesman Roger Thompson said the notion that high market prices are the reason for the lack of water is not accurate. "The region has been faced with a serious lack of rain," said Thompson, who noted that streams in the Skagit Basin have been at half to one-third of their average flows. The Baker River only normally contributes about 15 percent of the flow to the Skagit below the town of Concrete, Thompson said.

Since PSE has only enough generating capacity for about 20 percent of its customers, he said it's not fair to characterize his company as profiting from the problems in California. "We have a commitment to keeping the lights on for our own customers first," he said.

Thompson said PSE and Seattle City Light have been pulsing water from their projects in an attempt to keep redds wet and confer on an almost daily basis with fish management agencies on their operation. He also noted that PSE will defer project maintenance at the Baker facility that would have cut flows even further until March.

WDFW biologist Pete Castle told NW Fishletter that one-quarter to one-half of the redds below Concrete could be lost, but he said about 85 percent of the salmon spawn above the town. He also noted that a "mostly tribal" fishery harvested about 15,000 chums bound for the Skagit last fall. "In hindsight," Castle said, "maybe they should not have fished." -B.R.


[6] UNHAPPY LEGISLATORS HELP ODFW DIRECTOR OUT THE DOOR

Increasing demands for tough decisions on fish and wildlife protection, compounded by budget problems, set the stage for Jim Greer's exit as director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. When the state legislature threatened to hold the agency's budget hostage until he resigned, the embattled Greer made his move.

"I am in a position where I will not be able to effectively represent the agency," he said on his way out, earlier this week.

The Republican-controlled Legislature has been critical of the agency and Greer for years, taking issue over ODFW's protection of ground squirrels and wild salmon rather than a more balanced approach to fish and wildlife management.

Two years ago, many politicians became incensed after state hatchery workers were videotaped clubbing hatchery coho instead of letting them spawn in the wild, which led to a public debate about the relative merits of hatchery versus wild fish.

The legislative leadership successfully participated in removing Doug DeHart, the Chief of the Fish Division, for what they considered his strong wild salmon stance.

"Competing interests, shrinking habitat, social, political and economic pressures have placed …exceptional burdens… on the department. I believe the role of government is to try to balance conflicting interests," Greer said.

But his balancing act didn't go far enough for legislators, and now there is a bill in the works to change the method of selecting the agency director. If passed, the authority to choose a director would move from the fish and wildlife commission to the governor's office with confirmation needed by the state Senate.

OR Gov. John Kitzhaber supports the change, and some environmental groups are on board as well.

"I hope the Governor makes the right decision because there is no time for more mistakes," said Jim Myron of Oregon Trout. " We need a fish protection agency not just a fishing agency."

Tom Wolf of Trout Unlimited slammed the commission's choice of Greer to head the department. "They picked a person who has never shown much toughness, to take a position that demands the ability to make tough decisions, good leadership and administrative skills and a thorough understanding of the salmon issues in Northwest. Jim Greer, although a nice guy, had none of the needed qualities. So the commissioners picked an unqualified person who was doomed to failure--showing true lack of wisdom on their part."

Both Myron and Wolf are supporting the bill that would let the governor pick the department head.

But others oppose the change. "Having the governor select the new fish and wildlife director would politicize the process too much," said Phil Donovon, a lobbyist for the Oregon Guides and Packers. -Bill Bakke


[7] RUNOFF FORECAST ALARMS NW WATER WATCHERS

A runoff forecast of just over 80 million acre-feet has alarmed managers of the Columbia River power system, as they struggle with one of the lowest forecasts in the region's history.

The year's earlybird forecast from the Northwest River Forecast Center pegged the January-to-July runoff at The Dalles at 79.6 MAF, or 75 percent of the normal runoff volume of 106 MAF. The Jan. 10 final forecast bumped it up a hair to 80.4 MAF or 76 percent of normal.

At Grand Coulee, runoff also measured 77 percent of normal, at 48.8 MAF. Lower Granite on the Snake River is expected to show runoff totaling 23.6 MAF, or 79 percent of average. Runoff predictions for Hungry Horse total 71 percent of average, while at Libby, streamflows are set at 76 percent. Mica, in British Columbia, shows streamflows that total 85 percent of average.

But Bonneville is not overly concerned by the early forecast, according to BPA trading floor manager David Mills. Agency meteorologists predict heavy rains in the next few months, he said, with streamflow volume at The Dalles likely reaching close to 100 million acre-feet by the end of the season. But even if the rains fail to come, Mills said his agency is prepared.

"During the winter and summer, we are always modeling in terms of ranges. Admittedly, 80 MAF is at the lower end of our projections, but it is well within our modeling results," he said.

But precipitation during December failed to boost water watchers' spirits. Above The Dalles, rain measured 58 percent of normal during the holiday month, although seasonal rainfall (beginning in October) totaled 68 percent of normal. At Coulee, December precipitation totaled 56 percent of average, with seasonal rainfall slightly higher, at 61 percent. On the Snake, above Ice Harbor, seasonal rainfall remains at 89 percent of average, in spite of last month's poor showing of 60 percent of normal. The Upper Snake continues to show better numbers, with December posting 93 percent of average rainfall and the seasonal number staying at 95 percent.

Snowpack and the water equivalent measurement that is key to the region's water year remain dismal, averaging close to 60 percent of normal. The Kootenai River area posted the lowest snowpack at 48 percent of average. At Pend Oreille and the Spokane River basin, measurements totaled 57 percent and 55 percent respectively. The North Cascades had a snowpack of 57 percent, with the Yakima River basin showing 61 percent.

The Clearwater River basin was slightly higher, at 58 percent, with the Salmon River basin showing 60 percent of normal. The Boise/Payette area snowpack measured 66 percent, with the eastern Oregon portions of the Snake River showing 64 percent of normal. Further west, the John Day and Umatilla regions posted snowpack that measured 68 percent, with the Deschutes showing 73 percent of normal.

The highest snowpack was found above American Falls, on the Snake River, where the snow/water equivalent measured 76 percent of normal.

The conundrum for river managers lies in operating the Columbia system within the dual constraints of flood control measures and fish mitigation mandates, which can conflict with the need to maximize power during the winter months. In addition to water for spring fish flows, the system currently needs to supply flows to protect chum redds below Bonneville Dam. All these constraints give the system less flexibility, putting managers "between a rock and a hard place," according to Don Badley of the Northwest Power Pool.

So far, however, the forecast does not seem to have hurt Bonneville in the power market. While Mills said the early bird numbers "have tightened up our margin for error," he added, "Prices have not changed that much since the forecast, so we think the market expected this." -Lynn Francisco


[8] WENATCHEE WILD FISH NUMBERS UP SIGNIFICANTLY

Biologists have finished counting spring chinook redds in the Wenatchee River and the news is good--350 were tallied this year, a vast improvement over last year's number of 54. This eastern Washington stock, listed under the ESA since March, 1999, has been highlighted by federal authorities as being in worse shape than Snake River salmon.

Chelan PUD biologist Thad Mosey said the new numbers are encouraging and show a big generational boost as well, since 84 redds were counted in 1996, one of the main parent years of the fish returning in 2000.

Nearly 1,000 redds were counted in 1985, with a previous high in 1973. During the 1990s, the run dropped precipitously when redd counts went from 589 in 1993 to only 32 in 1995. -Bill Rudolph


[9] NEW FACES AT POWER COUNCIL

Montana Governor-elect Judy Martz has named Leo Giacometto to the Northwest Power Planning Council seat being vacated by John Etchart. Giacometto will return to the Northwest and leave his current position as VP of government affairs for DC-based Washington Group International, an engineering, construction, environmental, mining and program management company.

Before joining the Washington Group in 1999, Giacometto spent four years as Sen. Conrad Burns' (R-MT) chief of staff. He previously held a cabinet position in Gov. Marc Racicot's administration, becoming director of the state Department of Agriculture in 1993. Prior to that, Giacometto served as Montana's US Marshall--appointed in 1989 by the first President Bush, the youngest ever confirmed by the US Senate--and a two-term state representative.

Idaho has a new face on the Council as well. Gov. Dirk Kempthorne has nominated state legislator Jim Kempton to replace outgoing council member Todd Maddock, who resigned last month. Kempton's appointment must be confirmed by the state Senate.

Maddock, who has represented Idaho on the Power Council since 1995 and served as chair in 1999, has indicated he may stay involved through the end of the month to help Kempton get settled at the NWPPC. Maddock, who turns 65 this year, decided early last month it was time to step down. He plans to enjoy retirement and remain involved in community activities in Lewiston, his home town.

Mike Field continues as Idaho's other NWPPC member. -Angela Becker-Dippman, Jude Noland

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