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NW Fishletter #382, June 4, 2018

[7] Northwest Power And Conservation Council Begins Amendment Process For Fish And Wildlife Program

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council sent a "letter to the region" on May 16, calling for recommendations for changing the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.

The letter marks the beginning of a formal, year-long process to amend the Council's 2014 document guiding the region's comprehensive program for fish and wildlife projects to mitigate impacts from Columbia and Snake river hydroelectric dams.

The Council's Fish and Wildlife Committee and its staff have been developing the letter to ask interested parties to offer their thoughts on improving the current document. Required under the Northwest Power Act, the amendment process occurs every five years, and must be complete before the Council begins reviewing its next Northwest Power Plan.

Under the proposal presented to the Council, recommendations will be accepted until Sept. 14, followed by two months of public comment on those recommendations. The Council will then prepare a draft for a new Fish and Wildlife Program, which could be released as soon as next February. That release will be followed by more public comments, hearings and consultations before the Council develops and adopts its final amended program. The letter notes that the Independent Scientific Advisory Board--at the Council's request--reviewed the 2014 Fish and Wildlife Program and offered a discussion of its strengths and weaknesses. It invites those making recommendations to consider the ISAB review.

The letter is accompanied by a two-page attachment outlining the Fish and Wildlife Program's impact over the last 36 years, and noting recent developments that could influence amendments. Among those developments are BPA's strategic plan that calls for managing fish and wildlife costs at or below inflation; a federal court order to spill more water over eight dams; the ISAB's report on density dependence for salmon in the Columbia River Basin; an upcoming National Environmental Policy Act review and EIS evaluating alternatives for operating federal dams; and the quantitative and qualitative goals for fish recovery being developed by the Columbia Basin Partnership Task Force.

Patty O'Toole, the Council's program implementation manager, told the Council the amendment is not designed to limit recommendations, but instead to lay out some issues that could be considered. -K.C. Mehaffey

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NW Fishletter is produced by Energy NewsData.
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief: Mark Ohrenschall, Editor: K.C. Mehaffey
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