Oregon, Idaho members will lead Council in 2016

posted Jan 19, 2016

The Council this month elected Oregon and Idaho members to lead the four-state energy and fish and wildlife planning agency in 2016.

Henry Lorenzen, Chair

The Council elected Oregon Member Henry Lorenzen as chair. Mr. Lorenzen, of Pendleton, is an attorney, licensed professional electrical engineer, and third-generation dry land wheat farmer. He was appointed to the Council in August, 2012 and reappointed and unanimously confirmed by the Oregon Legislature in April 2015.

Prior to joining the Council, he was a partner in the law firm of Corey, Byler, Rew, Lorenzen & Hojem, LLP, and continues to serve the law firm on an “of counsel” basis. Mr. Lorenzen has served as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the United States Department of Justice, a member of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, and a member and chair of the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission. He has also served as a member and president of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education.

He received his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Oregon State University, his MBA from Harvard University, and his law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School.

Bill Booth, Vice Chair

The Council also re-elected Idaho member Bill Booth as vice chair. Mr. Booth previously served in several Council leadership positions including two terms as chair, in 2008 and 2009. He previously chaired the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Committee and was elected vice chair in 2015.

Mr. Booth, of Coeur d’Alene, was appointed to the Council in January 2007 by Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and also serves as a member of the governor’s cabinet. He is entering his fourth, three-year term on the Council.

Mr. Booth is a former U.S. Air Force Captain, serving as a missile combat targeting officer. Previously, he was a senior minerals industry executive overseeing environmental and government affairs and an instructor of economics at North Idaho College. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Idaho and earned a master’s of business administration degree from the University of North Dakota while serving in the Air Force.

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Research: Water Chemistry, Internal 'GPS' Are Key to Salmon Homing Instinct

posted Jan 12, 2016

Photo: National Park Service

Behold the remarkable wild salmon.

Born in freshwater, salmon migrate to the vast Pacific Ocean, dwell there for up to five years, then find their way home to the precise place they were born. There, they spawn and die.

How do they do that?

It’s one of the fundamental fisheries research questions, and the answer, as far as it is understood today, has biological as well as policy implications for the future management of these Northwest icons.

It’s a question researchers at the Oregon Hatchery Research Center are pursuing. The Center is a cooperative effort between Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and is funded by the state. The goal of the Center is to answer questions related to fish recovery and hatchery programs, including the differences between hatchery and wild fish.

Currently, scientists at the Center are looking into several critical issues, including the remarkable homing instinct of the fish.

“Salmon are defined by the fact that they show a homing instinct," Dr. David Noakes, director and senior scientist at the Center, told the Council at a meeting this week in Portland. “They get to do it once, and then they die. They don’t get to learn from experience. If they don’t do it right, all sorts of things get messed up.”

How they do it appears to be twofold: An acute sense of smell, and salmon GPS.

“Juvenile fish imprint on the chemical nature of the water they are raised in before they go to the ocean,” Noakes said. “We raised fish in water from different creeks, and it turns out they do imprint on the water they incubate in. That’s how they come back to a stream, and to a particular part of the stream.”

This has implications for salmon hatchery management. Hatcheries often use well water – it’s cleaner, disease-free, and often colder than stream water. But well water doesn’t have the unique chemical characteristics of stream water. Streams provide habitat for wild fish – the broodstock for hatcheries.

“You could say this is a problem with hatcheries,” Noakes said.

Raising fish in well water leads to straying, he said, because the fish haven’t imprinted on a birth stream. Experiments at the Center point to a possible solution – introducing unique amino acids and chemicals from streams into the well water at hatcheries to help the fish imprint on the places where managers want them to spawn in the wild as adults.

Photo: NOAA Fisheries

But what about their lives in the ocean, where any scent of a unique water chemistry would be undetectable across thousands of miles of open sea?

That’s where salmon GPS comes in. Salmon are born with it, and tests at the Center prove it.

“Geomagnetic orientation. It’s a big idea,” Noakes said. “How do they do it? Do salmon have a GPS? Turns out they do. This is a very important issue for fish management.”

At the Center, scientists have raised fish in tanks surrounded by magnetic fields, which can be manipulated to represent literally any place on Earth. That research shows that from the time they are born, salmon can detect the unique magnetic field of their birth place. Then in the ocean, they sense changes that help them navigate and find their way home.

“They’ve never been anywhere in their lives, but they know how to get there and make corrections along the way,” Noakes said.

Again, there are management implications. The concrete and steel of a hatchery, or the steel hulls of fish barges, can mask the Earth’s magnetic field, at least temporarily, and thus interfere with the homing instinct. Fish raised in a tank that blocks the Earth's magnetic field "are totally messed up,” Noakes said.

Bruce McIntosh, assistant administrator of the Fish Division at ODFW, said the work of the Center does not imply hatcheries are not needed. Far from it. The Center’s research will help improve hatchery practices over time.

“We need both,” McIntosh said. “We can’t have viable hatchery programs without wild fish.”

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Public Comments Support Draft Seventh Plan

posted Jan 11, 2016

Photo: Tony Grover, Council

Public comments on the Draft Seventh Power Plan showed strong support for energy efficiency and demand response, the two primary means of meeting the anticipated new demand for electricity over the next 20 years, Council staff reported at a meeting in Portland this week. The comment period began last October and ended in December and included eight public hearings around the Northwest.

The Council received a total of 470 comments – 380 in writing. Nearly 150 individuals submitted written comments or offered letters in support of the comments provided by others.

 In response to the comments, the Council will consider:

  • Whether to adopt a minimum goal for energy efficiency
  • Whether to include a goal for demand response (voluntary reductions in power use during periods of peak demand in summer and winter) of 700 – 1,100 megawatts by 2021
  • Consider whether to revise assumptions about the future use of new and existing natural gas-fired plants, based on comments that 1) the draft plan has an unrealistically low expectation of the need for natural gas-fired generation in the next six years, and 2) the draft plan relies too heavily on natural gas in the future
  • Review the plan’s assumptions about renewable resources that are not yet ready for utility-scale development such as energy storage, energy market improvements, smart grid applications, some types of geothermal power, and customer behavioral programs that could help integrate renewables.

Also in response to comments the Council decided not to model the removal of the four federal dams on the lower Snake River, as it did in the Sixth Plan (2010), as the scenario in the Seventh Plan that models the planned loss of a large non-carbon-emitting resource is sufficient to show how the power from the dams would be replaced if they were removed.

News media attention to the draft plan also was favorable. The Associated Press reported in a story that was picked up by news media in the Northwest and as far away as California, Texas, and Connecticut that, according to the Council, "The Pacific Northwest can meet nearly all of its power demand over the next 20 years with energy efficiency and voluntary reductions of power use during periods of peak demand."

Editorial writers praised the plan. The Oregonian commented, "The Council's plan is built on rational calculations that address inexpensively meeting power demand in the next two decades while also encouraging the development of steady-output renewables." The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, wrote: "…This is as favorable an outlook as could be hoped for: Adequate power supplies can be drawn from the least expensive and cleanest source. The Council’s projection draws credibility from the fact that the Northwest has met its electricity needs for the past 15 years through conservation." The Seattle Times commented, "The Northwest Power Act gave expression to original, long-term planning. It continues to work in the public interest, including the latest power plan."

The Council has scheduled webinars to discuss the plan on February 3 and February 4

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Climate Change Emphasizes Importance of Cold-Water Habitats for Fish

posted Dec 23, 2015

As the climate warms, fish will need cool-water refuges like this. Photo: Tony Grover, NPCC.

In the Northwest, climate modeling predicts a shift in the timing and perhaps the quantity of precipitation, with less snow and more rain in the winter and warmer temperatures throughout the year.

These changes would threaten aquatic ecosystems, alter key habitat conditions for salmon and other cold water aquatic fish species such as trout and bull trout and, potentially, warm water to lethal temperatures – as happened in the Columbia last summer, and contribute to fish disease and mortality.

Research by the U.S. Forest Service, ongoing since 1968, shows river water and summer air temperatures are warming throughout the Northwest. What can be done to protect cold-water fish as the climate warms? 

In short, the best approach will be to focus on protecting and enhancing the habitat where fish spawn, rear, and migrate, Forest Service scientist Dan Isaak reported to the Council at a recent meeting. This would include, for example, planting more streamside vegetation that shades the water in spawning and rearing areas, and perhaps providing fish passage into areas of cold-water habitat that currently are blocked by dams or natural barriers. Other approaches could include taking steps to reduce the risk of wildfires in places where streamside vegetation could be destroyed, and purchasing water rights from willing sellers to leave more water in streams and rivers. 

Columbia River salmon are trying to adapt. For example, summer-migrating salmon like sockeye are returning from the ocean to spawn progressively earlier in the year. In the summer of 2015, some sockeye migrated though the interior Columbia River Basin before water temperatures became lethal, but an estimated quarter million died between Bonneville and McNary dams in July. 

Given the uncertainty of future climate conditions – generally, an increasing warming trend, but precisely how much warmer is a guess – Isaak said it is imperative to identify and protect what are called “climate refuge habitats.” Protecting these cold-water places, generally in the upland headwaters of rivers and streams, provides a hedge against the uncertainty of climate-change risk, he said. 

The Forest Service is using geographic information system data to model stream temperatures and fish distribution to find the best possible locations in the Northwest for these risk-hedging investments, an effort identified in the Council’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. The program calls for evaluating the effectiveness and feasibility of possible actions to mitigate effects of climate change. 

Isaak said the warming future demands a different mindset, one that accepts the fact that some rivers will warm beyond our ability to slow the change, forcing us to accept that we can’t save everything. But we can commit to a determined, long-term effort to save the best places, he said.

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Preventing the Spread of Invasive Species in the Columbia River

posted Dec 17, 2015


At its December meeting, the Council was briefed on the region's efforts to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species into the Columbia River Basin.

Steven Bollens of Washington State University's School of the Environment and Tim Counihan of the U.S. Geological Survey Columbia River Research Laboratory presented recent research on Asian copepods in the Columbia River and reviewed a Bonneville Power Administration cost-shared project to enhance the region's ability to detect, and prevent the spread of, invasive quagga and zebra mussels.

Asian copepods, small plankton-like crustaceans, have already invaded parts of the basin's waters. They can affect the health of the food web in such a way that makes future invasions, perhaps by mussels, more likely.

The research project helped to implement the Council's strategy of early detection, outlined in its fish and wildlife program, as key to preventing their spread. While BPA no longer contributes funding to the project, the researchers hope to address the gap to continue the project.  

While zebra and quagga mussels have invaded other Western waters causing extensive economic and environmental damage, the Pacific Northwest remains the only region in the U.S. and Canada that doesn't have established populations. The estimated cost of an invasion exceeds $500 million annually. 


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Seventh Power Plan Homestretch

posted Dec 15, 2015

Touring Baker Dam

posted Jul 8, 2015

Forest Fires and Fish Habitat

posted May 19, 2015

This Plan Is Your Plan

posted Apr 30, 2015

Lunch and Learn With the Council

posted Mar 31, 2015

Scenario Analysis Begins

posted Feb 11, 2015

Scenario Analysis Is Coming!

posted Jan 22, 2015

"The Objectives Process" begins

posted Dec 11, 2014

Why We Plan for Uncertainty

posted Nov 19, 2014

Why We Have a Regional Power Plan

posted Oct 29, 2014

Estimating Energy Efficiency

posted Oct 24, 2014

Seventh Power Plan 101

posted Oct 6, 2014

BPA Energy Efficiency Funding

posted Mar 12, 2014

Weathering a Cold Snap

posted Jan 17, 2014

The Seventh Power Plan

posted Dec 11, 2013

Designing for Efficiency

posted Nov 12, 2013

The Flexibility Challenge

posted Oct 30, 2013

Northwest Q & A: Robert D. Kahn

posted Oct 29, 2013

Tagging Sturgeon in Astoria

posted Aug 22, 2013

Habitat Tours Focus on Results

posted May 31, 2013

Sustainability Is Success

posted May 29, 2013

A Last Look at Condit Dam

posted Oct 24, 2011

Changing Minds, Changing the Land

posted Jul 26, 2011

Wind Power, Then and Now

posted Apr 18, 2011

The Rebound Effect: Is It Real?

posted Feb 1, 2011

An Update on Didymo

posted Jan 27, 2011

Didymo: A New Kind of Invader

posted Jan 18, 2011

A Good Year for Returning Salmon

posted Sep 30, 2010

Building a Better Battery

posted Aug 11, 2010

Using Batteries to Store Energy

posted Jul 28, 2010

Growing Summer Energy Demand

posted Jul 26, 2010

California's Energy Scene

posted Jul 23, 2010

Ensuring Efficiency

posted Jun 21, 2010

Making Wind Work

posted Jun 7, 2010

Clean Tech Draws VC Funding

posted May 3, 2010

And the Wind Came Up

posted Apr 6, 2010