BPA Ponies Up to Keep Cattle Out
by Associated Press
The agency pays two Idaho ranchers $145,000 for waiving their U.S. Forest Service grazing permits
STANLEY, Idaho -- Northwest electric customers of the Bonneville Power Administration are paying to keep livestock out of a sensitive salmon stream.
The administration last week compensated Kuna ranchers Rollin Baker and A.D. Watkins $145,000 for waiving their U.S. Forest Service grazing permits on Elk Creek in the Bear Valley Basin, northwest of Stanley.
The Forest Service retired the permits and closed the grazing allotment. The amount -- less than half of earlier estimates -- was based on a federally approved appraisal.
State and federal officials praised the project as an innovative and cost-effective way to reduce the effect of livestock grazing on fish habitat in the Bear Valley Basin.
"This is a novel approach to protecting salmon, and we're pleased with this project," Bonneville Power's Administrator Judi Johansen said in a prepared statement. "We recognize this project represents a major change in the way of life for the local rancher, Rollin Baker, and we appreciate his willingness to work with us to make this happen."
But the project swings on three key requirements, said Allyn Mueleman, the BPA fish and wildlife coordinator for Idaho. The project requires a willing permittee. Also, Bonneville Power Administration and the Northwest Power Planning Council must be willing to spend the money, and the Forest Service must approve the project.
The BPA funds projects to improve fish and wildlife habitat as part of its effort to make up for the effects of federal dams in the Northwest. The Northwest Power Planning Council makes recommendations on proposed projects, and the BPA pays for them.
The power council last year approved the project designed by Idaho Department of Fish and Game Shoshone-Bannock officials to protect habitat for endangered salmon and bull trout.
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