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NW Fishletter #385, Sept. 4, 2018

[6] BPA, Idaho Reach $24 Million Settlement For Albeni Falls Dam Impacts

The Bonneville Power Administration has agreed to pay the State of Idaho $24 million to compensate for the operational impacts of Albeni Falls Dam on fish and wildlife habitat, permanently resolving any interests by the state for at least 30 years.

BPA Administrator Elliot Mainzer and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter met in Sandpoint, Idaho, Aug. 30 to announce the settlement, under which Bonneville agrees to offset construction and inundation impacts of the 1955 dam resulting from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations.

The dam is among the 31 in the Federal Columbia River Power System that generate power for sale through BPA, which is obligated to mitigate for impacts under the Northwest Power Act of 1980.

Details of the deal were presented in February to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. In a presentation, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game noted Bonneville has been paying about $600,000 annually to offset damages caused by the dam, mostly from erosion in the shoreline on Lake Pend Oreille.

The agreement provides that $7 million of the $24 million will be invested by the Idaho Endowment Fund Investment Board, and interest from the fund will be used for future care of the lake's shoreline. The state has already purchased more than 4,200 acres in northern Idaho with BPA funding.

Another $13 million will be used to restore wildlife habitat at the delta of the Clark Fork and Priest rivers to complement prior restoration efforts. Those projects will restore more than 2,000 acres of wildlife habitat.

In a joint news release, Otter said the agreement was good for Idaho and for BPA customers throughout the Northwest. "That is because with this agreement, BPA's payments to Idaho for wildlife mitigation are on schedule to stop in just 10 years, and once that happens, wildlife mitigation with the State of Idaho will no longer add to people's power bills," he said.

Mainzer, calling it an "historic agreement," added, "The habitat protected in this agreement will have long-lasting benefits for wildlife, Idaho residents and the citizens of the Northwest." -K.C. Mehaffey

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Publisher/Editor-in-Chief: Mark Ohrenschall, Editor: K.C. Mehaffey
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