Libby, Montana — The Council agreed today to reinvigorate the oversight board for the Fish Passage Center, a small public agency that collects and analyzes data on migrating salmon and juvenile steelhead in the Columbia and Snake rivers.

The Council’s action follows the recent decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled that the Bonneville Power Administration had erred in following non-statutory congressional direction to close the FPC and transfer its functions to other entities. The District Court’s opinion emphasized that the FPC is an integral component of the Council’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program, developed under the authority of the 1980 Northwest Power Act.

The Council’s action reformulates the membership of the oversight board by ensuring that members have a scientific or technical background in disciplines related to the functions of the FPC. The new board will include:

  • One member or representative from the Council who will serve as chair
  • Two tribal members representing upper and lower Columbia River Basin tribes
  • Two representatives from state fish and wildlife agencies
  • Two members from the scientific community, one of whom will be the designee of NOAA Fisheries

The board will conduct an annual review of the performance of the FPC and ensure that the database of fish passage information conforms to appropriate standards of data management.

“The court’s decision has sent a clear signal that the Council’s program needs to be enforced,” said Council Chair Tom Karier. “We intend to ensure that the Fish Passage Center’s operations are consistent with the highest standards of scientific integrity, including transparency and parity for all basin interests.”

The information and analysis provided by the FPC are used primarily by state, federal, and tribal fish and wildlife managers in making operational recommendations for the federal hydroelectric system to improve salmon and steelhead survival in the Columbia and Snake rivers.