The Northwest Power and Conservation Council has recommended the Bonneville Power Administration continue funding 48 projects in its Fish and Wildlife Program that the Independent Scientific Review Panel reviewed.

The Mainstem and Program Support Project Review was the second of four reviews the Council expects to complete in four years. Many of the projects in the category review involve restoration or research on the mainstem Columbia River.

“This is a very varied set of projects,” Lynn Palensky, the Council’s project review manager, told the Council Aug. 14. She said the projects included some basinwide research, large-scale data repositories such as the Fish Passage Center, lamprey recovery projects, an ocean survey, an enforcement project and some large-scale habitat work.

The review also recommended one more year of funding for the Columbia Basin Bulletin at a total cost of $74,206 through 2020—which is half of its previous funding—while it transitions to a self-sustaining publication through subscriptions.

In adopting the project review, the Council considered recommendations from the ISRP along with impacts of ocean conditions and cost-effectiveness. “Collectively, work recommended is intended to support and implement the Program and is also integrated with the requirements of the Federal Columbia River Power System Biological Opinion and the commitments made by Bonneville with the parties to the Columbia Basin Fish Accords,” the decision memorandum states.

Palensky said that the ISRP identified several issues in its review. Some of those are being addressed through different work groups or processes. But with the funding recommendation, the Council is also recommending specific requirements of some of the projects, she said.

One of those requires reports from three hatchery research projects to be submitted by September 2020 so the research can be used in a Habitat and Hatchery Review.

Another recommendation is for the Council to convene a Data Management and Information subcommittee to address overall needs for data sharing, efficient flow of information, identification of primary regional databases to house documents, and communication of the role of the databases in providing public access to Program-funded projects.

Other recommendations involve the sharing and reporting of information, and improving methods to ensure projects are meeting their objectives.

The Council plans to host a webinar for project sponsors about developing objectives and an adaptive management plan.

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.