Feds Plan to Boost Salmon StocksBy Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer Published: August 29th, 2013
In their latest effort to balance fish survival and hydro production in the Northwest, three federal agencies have laid out a 300-page plan aimed at boosting stocks of endangered salmon and steelhead.
The proposal outlines steps that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration plan to take on behalf of 13 species of salmon and steelhead.
Among the actions are careful monitoring of the water flow in the Columbia and Snake rivers, modifying spillways that enable fish to avoid hydro turbines and improving estuary habitats.
Upgrading hatcheries and managing salmon predators, such as sea lions and cormorants, are also on the list, the agencies said.
The agencies released the document Aug. 23. It covers the period from 2014 to 2018 and came in response to a 2011 federal court order. A federal judge directed the agencies to identify specific habitat improvements as part of a long-running court case involving salmon protection and recovery.
Electric utilities have a lot at stake in salmon protection efforts. Fish survival initiatives cost $644 million in 2012, while fish and wildlife expenditures account for about one-third of BPA’s wholesale power costs.
In a statement, BPA said the latest proposal is part of a 10-year plan that represents “the largest effort of its kind ever undertaken in the Columbia River Basin and is based in sound science.”
BPA said projects already in place along the lower Columbia and Snake rivers are on pace to meet targets of 96 percent survival for spring migrating fish and 93 percent survival for summer migrating fish.
“The action agencies have forged unprecedented partnerships with tribes, states, landowners, irrigators and watershed councils throughout the region,” BPA added.
The plan is available for public comment through Sept. 23 at www.bpa.gov/comment.