The Council first developed the three-step review in response to recommendations in the first report of the Independent Science Review Panel in 1997. The Council originally conceived of the three-step review as an interim process pending the completion of a comprehensive review of artificial production policy across the basin. The Council conducted that Artificial Production Review, adopted the final report, and embedded the recommendations from the review in the 2000 Fish and Wildlife Program. Following that, the Council decided (in 2001, see Council Document 2001-29) that it made sense to continue the three-step review sequence for all new production proposed, and for other large, complex implementation projects under the program. Any three-step review is now guided as well by the subbasin plans recently adopted into the program, which provide a broader local context of subbasin objectives and habitat and production strategies. And future three-step reviews will also be informed by the results of ongoing efforts to develop quantitative biological objectives for key species at the ecological province scale and to develop a comprehensive reformed monitoring and evaluation framework for the basin.
As part of the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Project Funding Recommendations for Fiscal Years 2007-09, the Council confirmed the continued use of the three-step review process for new artificial production and other major projects. But it will also work to ensure that a new and heightened emphasis be put on timely delivery of step products — deadlines and performance reporting will be required in an effort to put an end to projects languishing within the process. Discussions with the Council indicate a need to encourage and hold accountable the projects that are placed into the step review process. The Council directs staff to make sure that each of the three steps have standardized milestones informing the Council and Bonneville of progress being made. Performance must be a criterion for justifying future funding; no project should be allowed to indefinitely strive to get to the next step.