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NW Fishletter #380, April 2, 2018

[10] Power Council To Begin Process To Amend Fish And Wildlife

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council is gearing up to amend its 2014 Fish and Wildlife Program--a process required under the Northwest Power Act that will take more than a year to complete.

Amended every five years, the program is a framework used to help determine which projects are funded to help protect, mitigate and enhance fish and wildlife impacted by hydropower dams in the Columbia River Basin.

A tentative schedule for the process will be drawn up after the Council's Fish and Wildlife Committee receives a review by the Independent Scientific Advisory Board of its 2014 Fish and Wildlife Program, expected March 23. The committee will then consider the ISAB's report and draft a letter to the region to be adopted by the full Council, inviting recommendations for amendments to the program.

"This will be your life for the next year and a half," Tony Grover, the Council's Fish and Wildlife Division director, told the committee March 13. "About a year from now, you'll be doing consultations and public hearings around the basin," he told them.

Patty O'Toole, NWPCC's program implementation manager, outlined the process for the full Council on March 14. The formal letter calling for recommendations can include topics suggested by the Council, she said. Some recent developments that could be included in the letter include the federal court-ordered spring spill over eight federal dams, court decisions on the Federal Columbia River Power System BiOp, development of an environmental impact statement for mitigating impacts of the FCRPS, and BPA's five-year strategic plan.

O'Toole said after calling for recommendations, the Council generally gives the public--including government agencies, tribes, BPA customers and others--90 to 120 days to submit recommendations. Amendments to the Fish and Wildlife Program must be adopted within one year after closing the recommendation period, she said.

The process also includes a comment period for submitted recommendations, a draft amendment from the Council, and a comment period for the draft amendment before a final amendment is drafted and adopted by a supermajority of the Council. -K.C. M.

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