the film
Economic and dam related articles

BPA VP for Fish/Wildlife: Projects Based on Council's
Basin Mitigation Program Showing "Real Results"

by Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin, April 12, 2013

. . . producing survival rates near or above targets outlined by federal agencies
to assure ESA-listed salmon and steelhead stocks aren't jeopardized.

Graphic: Snake River Chinook and Steelhead Survial Estimates 1964-2011 "We're making the basin better," Lorri Bodi, the Bonneville Power Administration's vice president for Environment, Fish and Wildlife, said Tuesday during a look back, and a look forward, at the work being done throughout the Columbia-Snake river system at the direction of the 1980 Northwest Power Act.

The federal power marketing agency funds much of that work aimed at mitigating for impacts on the Columbia basin's fish and wildlife resulting from the construction and operation of the region's hydropower system.

Much is channeled through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, a creature of the Power Act that has just begun the process, for the seventh time, of updating the goals and objectives for its Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. That amendment process will be fueled, for the most part, by the recommendations of fish and wildlife managers from federal and state agencies and tribes that implement work funded through the program.

The NPCC seats two members each appointed by the governors of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Their charges from Congress through the Power Act are to develop, and amend at roughly five-year intervals, 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.

Bodi told the Council during its meeting in Spokane, Wash., that the program is making the basin better for people, as well as fish and wildlife, through habitat restoration, fishery revivals that include hatchery programs and improved hydro system fish passage conditions. She called it the largest ecosystem restoration program in the United States, "and maybe the world."

"We use the program for an umbrella" to cover BPA's obligations ranging from the Power Act and the Endangered Species Act to tribal trust and treaty responsibilities. She said that BPA now issues about 500 fish and wildlife contracts, and spends $450 million per year to fund on-the-ground activities and research through the program, as well as operations and maintenance and debt service for past construction of fish facilities at hydro projects.

BPA had late last year announced the intention to hold program expenses to $492 million for the fiscal year 2012-2013 period, a total that does not include capital spending for construction projects and habitat acquisitions. The agency plans to spend an average of $257 million per year in fiscal years 2014 and 2015 in expense, and an average of about $50 million per year in capital expenditures.

"We've made great progress," Bodi said, as a result of significant ratepayer investments in the program that are "having real results for fish, wildlife, and their habitat."

In the hydro system realm, water management has been improved over time to better answer the needs of anadromous fish such as salmon and steelhead, resident fish, upstream-downstream resources, juvenile and adult, year-to-year release and refill, she said.

And surface passage and surface spill now being implemented are producing survival rates near or above targets outlined by federal agencies to assured ESA-listed salmon and steelhead stocks aren't jeopardized. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation operate most mainstem Columbia and Snake river hydro projects. Efforts are also being focused on easing lamprey passage.

Bodi also noted:

She said about $90 million is now being spent per year on habitat projects.

The implementation of legally mandated hatchery production as mitigation for hydro impacts is also well at BPA -- the Council, tribes and others seek that balance between providing fish for harvest while working to minimize impacts on naturally produced fish, many of which are ESA protected.

"I think we have a good track record there," Bodi said of efforts to conserve a Snake River sockeye population on the brink of extinction, and use hatchery programs to re-introduce species such as coho and spring chinook salmon in areas where those species had long been extinct.

She called the up-and-running amendment process "an excellent forum" for considering issues, coordinating our actions and making sure best use is made of those investments.

"It's important that we keep working together," Bodi said.

The Council released its request for recommendations to amend the 2009 Fish and Wildlife Program on March 26. Recommendations to amend the Program are due July 19.

Fish and Wildlife Program amendment information can be found at

As the schedule now stands, the Council aims to consider recommendations and develop a draft program for public review by December, and potentially adopt a new program in May 2014.

The Council adopted the current version of the program in 2009. It 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 subbasin plans developed for nearly 60 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 power plan. The Northwest Power Act requires that all recommendations are to be accompanied by detailed information and data in support of the recommendations.

Related Pages:
BPA Paid $644 Million for Fish-wildlife in 2012 by Staff, Spokesman-Review, 5/3/13

BPA VP for Fish/Wildlife: Projects Based on Council's Basin Mitigation Program Showing "Real Results"
Columbia Basin Bulletin, April 12, 2013

See what you can learn

learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs
discussion forum
salmon animation