For 35 years, the Council has supported a diverse range of research to clarify assumptions critical to the strategies and scientific foundation and principles of the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program (Program). The Program, as directed under the Northwest Power Act, contains strategies that organize the various measures to protect, mitigate and enhance fish and wildlife, including spawning grounds and habitat in the Columbia River, affected by the development, operation and management of hydroelectric projects. In its 2014 amendment to the Program, the Council continued its commitment to an adaptive management approach that uses research and monitoring data to understand, at multiple scales, how Program projects and measures are performing, and to assess and report on the status and trends of focal species and their habitat.
To that end, the Program includes a plan to organize research; identify critical uncertainties, priority areas and future needs for research; inform adaptive management of strategies and actions that implement the Program; and guide the Council’s future project-funding recommendations to the Bonneville Power Administration.
The research plan, though not a part of the Fish and Wildlife Program, serves as guidance to the federal agencies with legal responsibilities under the Northwest Power Act in implementing the research measures and priorities of the Program. The Bonneville Power Administration has a particular obligation in the Act to use its fund and authorities “in a manner consistent with” the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program, power plan, and purposes of the Act. The Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation and FERC have a separate obligation to take the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program into account to the fullest extent practicable at every stage of decision-making. With advice from the Independent Scientific Review Panel (ISRP) established under the Act, the Council reviews projects proposed for implementation by state and federal fish and wildlife agencies, Indian Tribes and others.