U.S. District Judge Michael Simon granted a joint motion Sept. 10 that delays the deadlines for several filings by 30 days in National Wildlife Federation et al. v. National Marine Fisheries Service et al. The plaintiffs—10 environmental groups—were joined by federal defendants and intervenor-plaintiff the State of Oregon in requesting the delay, with the support of the Nez Perce Tribe. The Sept. 9 joint motion states that its purpose "is to allow the parties to the joint motion an opportunity to discuss issues that could affect further proceedings in this case."
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's June 2021 order transferring the license for the four lower Klamath River dams from PacifiCorp to Klamath River Renewal Corp. and the states of Oregon and California remains intact following a Sept. 23 order by FERC that modifies the discussion, but does not change the outcome. Siskiyou County, Calif., had asked FERC for a rehearing of its order, arguing that the transfer is a major federal action and subject to an EIS under the National Environmental Policy Act. "[W]e continue to find that there are no environmental effects for the Commission to analyze under NEPA related to the transfer proceeding itself," FERC wrote in its decision.
The four Northwest states working to launch the Columbia Basin Collaborative have convened the Integration/Recommendations Group, which begins meeting this fall. The states released a list of participants and their alternates in the group on Sept. 27. Participants include four federal agencies; four states; eight stakeholders including two each representing utilities, nontribal fisheries, river economies and conservation groups; and 16 tribes. According to the list, the representatives of five of the tribes have not yet been determined, and the Nez Perce Tribe and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have not confirmed whether they will participate.
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council appointed a new member and reappointed another to a second term on the 11-member Independent Scientific Review Panel on Sept. 15. New member Tom Turner is a professor of biology and associate dean for research at the University of New Mexico, and has researched population genetics and the evolutionary ecology of fish. Kurt Fausch, who was reappointed, is professor emeritus of fish, wildlife and conservation biology at Colorado State University and an expert in population ecology. ISRP has an annual budget of $500,000 funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, and members are eligible to serve two consecutive three-year terms.
The Bonneville Power Administration extended its northern pikeminnow reward fishing season through Oct. 17 at some registration stations on the Columbia River. The program, which pays anglers $5 to $8 for each pikeminnow caught, usually ends Sept. 30, with an annual goal of reducing the pikeminnow population by about 40 percent. Pikeminnow prey on young salmon and steelhead. The BPA-funded program is in its 31st year. Anglers have caught 68,563 pikeminnow so far—less than half of usual numbers in the past decade. In a news release, BPA said catch rates are historically the highest at this time of year.