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NW Fishletter #251, September 4, 2008

[4] Power Council Finishes Draft 2008 F&W Program

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council voted Aug. 28 to release its latest draft of the region's fish and wildlife plan for public comment. Staffers were finishing up final edits and expected to have the plan posted on the council's Web site by Sept. 2.

The council voted 6-2 in favor of releasing the document, the latest step in an amendment process that began last October. Oregon members voted against releasing the document. A final version will be released after a 60-day public comment period.

"In this draft program, the Council brings together federal, state, and tribal actions to protect and enhance fish and wildlife in the Columbia River Basin," Council Chair Bill Booth said. "This will ensure that the region's significant investment in fish and wildlife is focused, coordinated, and scientifically credible."

According to an Aug. 29 Council press release, the latest plan will emphasize the implementation of fish and wildlife projects based on needs pointed out in subbasin management plans and also on recent BiOps dealing with hydro, harvest and hatchery operations, along with a commitment for the scientific review of all projects, including those included in the recent agreements between federal agencies, Indian tribes, and the states of Idaho and Montana.

Oregon members declined to support the draft because their state is entering litigation that opposes some of the dam operations outlined in the recent 2008 hydro BiOp. They also said the draft doesn't defer enough to recommendations from the region's fish and wildlife managers.

BPA and other action agencies released a Record of Decision Aug. 13 for the new hydro BiOp that included the expanded costs of the new fish and wildlife plan, beginning in 2010. BPA expects the annual cost of the direct program to rise to about $233 million from around $140 million, once costs to fund BiOp actions and fish agreements with states and tribes are included.

BPA also estimated that annual costs of power purchases and foregone revenue from the new BiOp actions would add up to $354 million a year.

Other annual costs associated with implementing the new BiOp included: $5 million for the NWPCC; $24 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; $41 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; $8 million for the Bureau of Reclamation; and $137 million in depreciation and interest on capital investments. It all adds up to $802 million a year. -B. R.

The following links were mentioned in this story:

Northwest Power and Conservation Council draft report

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