Starting May 16, 2018, the Council will begin an amendment process for its Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. Recommendations are due by 5pm PST, September 14, 2018.
Stay tuned to this page for updates throughout the Program amendment process.
May 16, 2018 | document 2018-06
To state and federal fish and wildlife agencies, the region’s Indian tribes, and other interested parties:
The Council seeks recommendations to amend the region’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program (Program). This letter and its attachment describes the expectations, requirements, and schedule for the amendment process.
Please submit your recommendations online at www.nwcouncil.org/amend where you can either fill out the online form with your recommendations or attach your recommendations in a separate file. The deadline for submission is 5pm Pacific time on September 14, 2018. All recommendations will be made available for public review and comment. This letter, associated materials, news, and updates regarding the amendment process will be posted at www.nwcouncil.org/amend.
Legal Background and Requirements for Recommendations
Under the 1980 Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act (Act), Congress charged the Council with developing and periodically amending a fish and wildlife Program for the Columbia River Basin to protect, mitigate, and enhance fish and wildlife affected by the development and operation of hydroelectric facilities, while assuring the Pacific Northwest an adequate, efficient, economical, and reliable power supply. The Council adopted the current version of the Program in 2014, which consists of the Program framework; basinwide objectives and strategies; provisions relevant to the mainstem, estuary, ocean, and subbasins; and implementation guidelines. Also part of the Program are the 58 subbasin plans for tributaries and mainstem reaches adopted in 2004-05 and 2010-11.
The Act requires the Council to call for recommendations to amend the Program at least every five years prior to its review of the Northwest Power Plan. The Council must begin a Program amendment process with a formal request in writing to the region’s Indian tribes and state and federal fish and wildlife agencies for recommendations for:
The Act also allows recommendations to be submitted by federal and state water management agencies, regional electric power producing agencies and customers, and the public.
Once the Council calls for recommendations, it must allow a minimum of 90 days to receive recommendations. The Council is currently providing 120 days for interested parties to submit recommendations. Those submitting recommendations may propose amendments to any part of the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program. All recommendations must be accompanied by detailed information and data in support of the recommendations. Under procedures and standards specified in the Act, the Council must act on the recommendations and amend the Program within one year of the date set for submittal, which in this case is September 14, 2018. The Council must allow for extensive public review, public comment, and consultations on both the recommendations and the draft Program.
After the Council adopts its Fish and Wildlife Program, the Bonneville Power Administration is obligated under the Act to fund fish and wildlife recovery efforts “in a manner consistent with” the Council’s Program. All federal agencies operating or regulating Columbia River hydroelectric facilities have a separate obligation under the Act to take into account the Council’s Program “to the fullest extent practicable” when exercising their authorities.
The Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program will subsequently become part of the Council’s regional Northwest Power Plan. Bonneville has a separate obligation under the Act to acquire sufficient resources consistent with the Council’s Power Plan not only to meet electricity load demands, but also to assist in meeting the fish and wildlife protection and mitigation requirements in the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program.
As the region develops recommendations, the Council suggests consideration of the information in Attachment 1: Program background and current status; important recent regional developments; and a set of questions based on this information. The Council suggests that the amendment process could be used to focus and make progress on a few key issues rather than revise all of the Program elements.
The Independent Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB), per the Council’s request, recently completed a review of the 2014 Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program (ISAB 2018-3). The ISAB’s review includes answers to seven questions posed by the Council, as well as discussion of strengths and weaknesses in the current Program, and suggestions for changes to the Program. The Council invites the region to consider the ISAB’s review when developing recommendations for the 2018 Program amendment process.
Jim A. Yost, Chair
Under the authority of the Act and the associated Fish and Wildlife Program, actions are funded and implemented to protect, mitigate, and enhance fish and wildlife adversely affected by the development and operation of the Columbia River hydrosystem. These actions include both “on-site” and “off-site” actions. Improved water management, passage improvements, and spill are examples of on-site efforts to improve the survival of anadromous fish through the mainstem hydrosystem. Improving the habitat of anadromous fish in tributaries, the estuary, and mainstem, or producing fish in hatcheries, are examples of off-site enhancement actions that compensate for the remaining impacts not addressed on-site.
Thirty-six years of Program development and implementation has yielded:
Recent regional developments
There are a number of recent regional developments that will be influenced by or may influence the region’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program and its implementation in the near future:
On-site mitigation questions
Off-site mitigation questions