From the inception of this program, the Council has supported the concept of protecting some streams and wildlife habitats from hydroelectric development where the Council believes such development would have major negative impacts that could not be reversed. Beginning in 1983, the Council directed extensive studies of existing habitat and has analyzed alternative means of protection.
In 1988, the Council concluded that:
- the studies had identified fish and wildlife resources of critical importance to the region
- mitigation techniques cannot assure that all adverse impacts of hydroelectric development on these fish and wildlife populations will be mitigated
- even small hydroelectric projects may have unacceptable individual and cumulative impacts on these resources; and
- protecting these resources and habitats from hydroelectric development is consistent with an adequate, efficient, economical, and reliable power supply. The Council, relying on these studies, designated certain river reaches in the basin as "protected areas", where the Council believes hydroelectric development would have unacceptable risks of loss to fish and wildlife species of concern, their productive capacity or their habitat.
For more information and for the formal Protected Areas provisions, see the Basinwide Habitat Strategies on Protected Areas (Section II(D)(1)(e)) and Appendix B to the Council's 2009 Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. The operative Protected Areas database is not physically within the Fish and Wildlife Program. You may access it through the sidebar (right).
- 1988 Protected Areas and Response to Comments (document 88-22)
- 1989 Technical Corrections to the Protected Areas Data Base and Response to Comments (document 89-19)
- 1990 Protected Areas Summary and Response to Comments (document 90-10)
- Proposed Protected Areas Changes: 1992 Rulemaking (document 92-09)
- Response to Comments: 1992 Protected Areas Rulemaking (document 92-26)
Does the Council discourage hydropower?
No. The Council is commissioned to balance fish and wildlife needs with energy needs, and has developed the Fish and Wildlife Program and Energy Plan to reflect this balance. Hydropower is a vital clean energy source, which the Council supports while still protecting critical habitat for fish and wildlife.
To view historical documents, maps, and data for protected areas, see Streamnet's Protected Areas page, which includes a link to their interactive mapper. Draw boxes to zoom in to specific streams, then create printable maps or click streams for full detail.
miles of protected streams - click to enlarge