What are High Level Indicators?
The Council adopted high level indicators to track the progress of fish and wildlife efforts in the Columbia Basin. The collective efforts of many entities, including the Council, contribute to improving habitat and fish migration while protecting and enhancing fish and wildlife. These measures cannot be interpreted as a performance measure for any single entity but instead provide a high level overview of outcomes that reflect regional headway.
Currently, the Council is tracking progress using three high-level indicators. Posed as questions, they are:
- Are Columbia River Basin fish species abundant, diverse, productive, spatially distributed, and sustainable?
- Are operations of the mainstem Columbia and Snake River hydropower dams meeting the fish-passage survival objectives of the Program?
- What is being accomplished by projects that implement the Council's Fish and Wildlife Program?
Finally, it is important to note that this is a work in progress. The initial indicators are based on available data and do not include a comprehensive set of indicators or species. But over time it is expected that the Council will augment and refine these indicators to provide a more comprehensive picture of fish and wildlife in the Columbia Basin. For example, at this point all of the indicators for Council Actions are related to habitat work. As more information becomes available, this indicator should be expanded to better reflect the breadth of Council Actions. We also anticipate being able to provide better links to the underlying data, especially those related to fish populations. While this information stops short of providing evidence of the effectiveness of the Council's Program or individual projects, the Council is separately pursuing additional approaches to shed light on this issue as well. The Council also recognizes that actions identified in the high-level indicators are not representative of all actions implemented in the Columbia River Basin and are not the only ones to have contributed to changes in fish abundance and survival. The effectiveness of all actions is being assessed as part of project implementation.
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council, an interstate compact of Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Washington, is charged by the Northwest Power Act of 1980 to prepare a plan to assure the Pacific Northwest region an adequate, efficient, economical, and reliable electricity supply while also protecting, mitigating, and enhancing fish and wildlife affected by hydropower dams in the Columbia River Basin. In response, the Council developed and periodically updates its Northwest Power Plan, which includes the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program as a component.
The Council develops the Program, but under the Power Act it is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, which sells the output of 31 federal hydropower dams in the Northwest, and implemented by fish and wildlife agencies, Indian tribes, non-government organizations, scientists, and others. These partners of the Council periodically submit project proposals to implement the Program. Project proposals are based on needs identified in plans for each of the tributary watersheds, or "subbasins," of the Columbia River. There are 58 subbasin plans in the Program. These were developed collaboratively by citizens, government agencies, and tribes in each watershed.
Project proposals are reviewed by the Council's Independent Scientific Review Panel (ISRP), a group of 11 scientists whole role is to ensure the projects are scientifically sound and consistent with the goals and objectives of the Program. After reviewing the ISRP's reports on the proposals and information submitted by the project proponents, the Council makes funding recommendations to Bonneville. The 2014 budget for the program is about $232 million. (See: The Annual Report to Northwest Governors on Bonneville Power Administration Costs.)
This report on Program progress is a companion to the Council's annual report to the Northwest governors on Bonneville's expenditures to implement the Program.