The Council closed the formal comment period on the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program recommendations on November 20. The end of the formal comment period on the recommendations does not mean the end of the Council’s public process for amending the Fish and Wildlife Program. The Council will now begin to assess the recommendations and comments and prepare draft program amendments. Interested persons may continue to make their views known to the Council on any issue associated with the program amendment process. At some point in the first half of 2014 the Council will release draft program amendments for another formal public review and comment process.
Under the 1980 Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation 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 2009, 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 subbasin plans 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.