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Part Six: How the Program is Implemented

I. Program measures

The Council’s fish and wildlife program consists of a number of different types of “measures.” The Northwest Power Act (and thus the program, too) uses the term “measures” [see Sections 4(h)(2), (5), and (6)] in a way that means the actions or things to be done to benefit fish and wildlife affected by the Columbia River hydroelectric facilities.

Basinwide measures

Some of the program measures are broad strategies that apply basinwide or program-wide. Examples include the ecosystem function and hatchery strategies, with broad overarching principles and strategies to guide the development and implementation of more specific measures across the program to boost natural spawning and allow for hatcheries. These broad program-wide or basinwide strategies are found primarily in Part Three, Section IV (strategies).

Specific measures

More specific measures are also found in the program. These are found in various strategies organized by topic and species in Part Three, Section IV (strategies) and in Part Five – Subbasin Plans.

Mainstem

Specific measures for implementation in the mainstem Columbia and Snake rivers are found in the Mainstem Hydrosystem Flow and Passage Operations strategy in Section IV.

The details of most of these measures are found in other documents, including the mainstem actions in five biological opinions, or Columbia Basin Fish Accords that have been incorporated by reference at the appropriate places in the program. Many of these actions are built on the mainstem protection and mitigation foundations developed in the Council’s program over the past 30+ years, beginning with the water management and passage measures in the original 1982 Program. The Council recognizes these actions as measures that the Bonneville Power Administration (Bonneville) and the other federal agencies have committed to fund and implement under Sections 4(h)(10)(A) and 4(h)(11) of the Act, even as these measures also address needs under other federal laws as well, such as the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Note that the Council is not adopting these biological opinions into the program in their entirety, and the Council expresses no opinion as to their sufficiency for satisfying the requirements of other laws, such as the ESA. What they are for the program are a catalog of actions that will be implemented as part of the program’s specific measures, along with the other specific measures directly described in the program.

Subbasins

Specific measures can be found in the management plan sections of the 59 subbasin plans adopted into the program in 2004-05 and 2010-11. These are specific to the relevant subbasin, estuary or mainstem reach, but are often general, long-term strategies rather than specific near-term actions. Examples include the habitat and production strategies for the Yakima, Umatilla, and Clearwater tributaries in the respective Yakima, Umatilla, and Clearwater subbasin plans; the habitat strategies for the estuary in the Columbia River Estuary subbasin plan; or the habitat and production strategies in the subbasins in the Grand Coulee/Lake Roosevelt area collected into the Intermountain plan. The subbasin plans are referenced in Part Five of the program.

The Council also received recommendations containing extensive lists of specific action measures for implementation in the next 5-10 years in these tributary subbasins, specific mainstem reaches, and the estuary. These specific measures cover an extensive array of habitat, production, and monitoring, evaluation and research activities. A few examples include specific habitat actions across the program’s dozens of tributary subbasins and the estuary, the ongoing production programs in the Hood, Yakima, Klickitat, Umatilla, Walla Walla, and Clearwater subbasins, and the estuary habitat actions [see the 2014 and 2009 measures in Appendix O].

As with the specific mainstem measures, some of these measures are distinct to the program; others are collected in other plans and programs, including biological opinions, Columbia Basin Fish Accords, and ESA and watershed recovery plans. The Council has recognized that the actions in these other plans and documents are built on the offsite-mitigation planning and implementation foundations developed in the Council’s program over the past 30+ years and are consistent with the subbasin plans and broader elements of the program. Thus the Council includes the actions as program measures under Section 4(h) of the Northwest Power Act, even as they may also address needs under other laws as well. The Council has not adopted these other plans and documents in their entirety into the program.

These specific action measures are referenced in the Estuary and Subbasin sections in Part Three and Part Five. The measures are associated with specific subbasins (or mainstem reach or the estuary). Subbasin dashboards list each specific measure and, when possible, link to the relevant limiting factor(s) from the subbasin plan assessments.

Many of these specific measures are already being implemented. Some are part of ongoing projects that have been implemented for years. Recent implementation commitments have occurred through multi-year commitments made by the federal agencies in the biological opinions and Columbia Basin Fish Accords and through recent project review processes at the end of which the Council has recommended sets of projects (both from the biological opinions and accords and from outside of those commitments) for multi-year funding and implementation by Bonneville and the other federal agencies. Other measures have not yet been implemented, and stand as a pool of possible measures for implementation in future years.

Even so, the program is not a vehicle to guarantee funding for a particular project, entity, or individual. The fact that a specific measure is included in the program, even as referenced in a biological opinion or accord, does not by itself constitute a funding obligation for the associated project without further definition for implementation and review under Section 4(h)(10)(D) of the Act. Final project funding recommendations for projects in any particular year or multi-year period still depend on the outcome of independent scientific review, a program consistency review, public comment, and a Council recommendation to Bonneville. This process converts the priority measures in the program into detailed project recommendations for implementation that provide specific guidance for Bonneville to ensure that its actions are consistent with the program. The program’s implementation provisions describe the conditions under which all such measures will be implemented, including:

  • All measures must be developed into detailed project proposals subject to review under Section 4(h)(10)(D) of the Act. All projects at some point receive an independent scientific review of proposed work and, if ongoing, of past performance. Projects and the scientific review report are subject to public review. The Council then develops funding recommendations for Bonneville based on the proposed projects, the program, the scientific review and the public review. The Council will review the project proposals carefully to ensure consistency with the program’s basinwide, mainstem, estuary, and subbasin plans and provisions, and to ensure that projects show demonstrable results for the program measures to receive continued support.
  • Those responsible for implementing these projects must regularly report the results of implementation. Reporting must be sufficient for the purpose of evaluating the success of the projects, facilitating the science and performance review, and contributing appropriately to the program’s broader monitoring and evaluation framework and reporting of program results. Reporting requirements must be included in the Bonneville contracts, and must include reporting in terms of performance metrics required by the Council.
  • Implementation of these measures must allow for an ongoing adaptive management approach and for future program amendment processes in which measures are modified or discontinued if not performing or no longer identified as a priority.
  • The Council recognizes that Bonneville and the other federal agencies have already made funding commitments to certain measures. Those commitments must not come at the expense of sufficient funding for other program priorities.

Tracking measures

It is important to track progress of measures that implement the program to understand whether they are having the desired outcomes. To help track progress of program implementation:

  • Bonneville, the Corps, and the Bureau, in collaboration with federal and state agencies and tribes, shall report annually to the Council and the region on the implementation of program measures.

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II. Investment strategy →

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