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NW Fishletter #394, June 3, 2019

[10] Idaho Highlights Fish Accords In NWPCC Overview

Ed Schriever, director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, told the Northwest Power and Conservation Council on May 7 that his agency depends on Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) funds for many of its important programs, ranging from fish screens and hatcheries to monitoring and recovery programs for salmon, steelhead, burbot and white sturgeon.

"We're joined at the hip with our other partners," Schriever said in his first presentation to the Council since becoming director in January. "These long-standing partnerships and projects--it's like pushing rope uphill. You can't stop."

The agency--which receives no funds from the state's general funds--will get $11.4 million from BPA this year, about 11 percent of its total budget. That doesn't include wildlife mitigation funds from prior settlements for impacts from federal dams, including Albeni Falls, Dworshak, and five smaller dams in southern Idaho.

Schriever said the Columbia Basin Fish Accords have been very important to Idaho, providing certainty in funding to complete important work that will aid Idaho's salmon, steelhead and resident fish.

Major work is ongoing in the Potlatch River basin, and the upper Salmon River's Lemhi River.

In the Potlatch basin's East Fork Potlatch River, the agency has treated 9 miles of rearing habitat with large woody debris and improved riparian areas. The work is also fixing culverts at three locations to open new steelhead habitat. Models show the work increased smolt production by 39 percent to 27,000 smolts, Schriever said. The project aims to increase density from 6.5 fish to 20 fish per 100 square meters.

Also in the Potlatch River basin, work will soon be underway to modify a natural barrier at Big Bear Falls, where between 50 and 350 steelhead return each year. That will open at least 15 miles of high quality habitat. And at the Spring Valley Reservoir, the agency will supplement steelhead rearing habitat through low volume water releases. Together, the three projects could increase steelhead smolts by 85 percent, Schriever said.

In the Lemhi River in the upper Salmon River basin, funds are being used to restore a floodplain, creating juvenile rearing habitat and reducing velocities.

Over the last decade, 544 restoration projects have opened 75 miles of habitat, restored 352 miles of habitat, and added 61 cubic feet per second of water. "A significant portion of the stream has been restored," Schriever said. -K.C. Mehaffey

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