The Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NWPCC) on Jan. 14 elected Richard Devlin, of Oregon, to be the Council's new chair in 2020, replacing Jennifer Anders, who chaired the Council through 2019. Devlin has served as vice chair for the past year, a post that will now be filled by Montana's Bo Downen. Devlin will also chair the Council's Executive Committee, while Washington's Patrick Oshie will chair the Council's Power Committee. Guy Norman, also of Washington, will continue to chair the Fish and Wildlife Committee, and Idaho's Jeffery Allen will continue to chair the Public Affairs Committee.

The NWPCC appointed three new members to serve on the Independent Scientific Review Panel. They are Patrick Connolly, a retired lead research fish biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Columbia River Research Laboratory; James Seeb, expert in salmon genetics and research professor at the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fisheries Science; and Alisa Wade, research coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey's North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center and faculty affiliate at the University of Montana. The Council also approved new appointments of 26 scientists to the Peer Review Groups, which assists the ISRP.

Patty O'Toole has been appointed director of the Fish and Wildlife Division by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. O'Toole has worked for the Council since 2003, most recently as manager of program performance and development, and also as acting director for the F&W division since August, when Tony Grover retired. Before working for the Council, she was a biologist and fish program manager for the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, and worked for Oregon State University Hatfield Marine Science Center and Grant County PUD.

The Environmental Protection Agency was granted a 30-day extension by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether to seek a rehearing of the court's Dec. 20 ruling ordering the agency to issue total maximum daily loads for temperature in the Snake and Columbia rivers. The decision favoring Columbia Riverkeeper and other groups upheld a U.S. District Court opinion that EPA must develop the TMDLs within 30 days. EPA said in the Jan. 27 filing that it needs more time due to the complexity and importance of legal issues and the need to coordinate with other federal agencies. It now has until March 4 to file the petition.

Klamath River Renewal Corporation will file a guaranteed maximum price for removing four Klamath River dams with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by Feb. 28, according to a Jan. 27 status report. The nonprofit group has completed 60 percent of design specifications for the dam-removal project, and believes it has the legal, financial and technical capacity for the agency to transfer the dams' licenses from PacifiCorp, the filing stated. If FERC fails to act before Feb. 28, KRRC will also renew its request "that the Commission take swift action on the license transfer application to ensure that its rigid dam removal timeline is not imperiled."

Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Bradley Melton resigned on Jan. 24 because he had changed party affiliation from Republican to unaffiliated shortly before he applied for the post last September, according to a news release from Idaho Gov. Brad Little. Four commissioners are currently Republican, and state law dictates that no more than four members of the seven-member commission can be affiliated with one political party. Melton is qualified, but stepped down "in accordance with the spirit of the law," Little said in the release. Residents from the Clearwater region can apply for the post until March 13.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee reappointed Guy Norman to serve a new three-year term as one of two members representing the state on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, effective Jan. 28. Inslee first appointed Norman to the Council in 2016 to fill out the four months left on Phil Rockefeller's term after he retired, and again in 2017 for a full term that just expired. Norman's prior career included managing Columbia River fisheries for Washington and for Oregon. He also served both states in the Columbia River Compact process, and was Washington's lead negotiator with the treaty tribes in developing the Columbia River Fish Management Plan.

Roland Springer has been appointed deputy regional director for natural resources by the Bureau of Reclamation for its Columbia-Pacific Northwest Region. As deputy regional director, Springer will oversee programs related to basinwide water management and operations, natural resources, and environmental services and related programs. Springer previously served as BuRec's Snake River area manager, where he oversaw Reclamation facilities and activities throughout the Snake River basin, from eastern Oregon through western Wyoming. While in the Snake River Area Office, Springer oversaw completion of the new Minidoka Dam Spillway, served as the team lead on agencywide safety efforts, and led feasibility efforts for new storage in the Boise River basin.

K.C. Mehaffey covers fish issues for Clearing Up, and is editor of the NW Fishletter. She joined the NewsData writing team in February 2018. From lawsuits to scientific studies, she is enjoying the deep dive into the Columbia Basin's many fish topics.