Council Adopts 25 Subbasin Plans to Guide Fish and Wildlife Mitigation in the Columbia River Basin

Twenty-five locally developed plans that will guide efforts to mitigate the impacts of hydropower dams on fish and wildlife in Columbia River tributaries and parts of the mainstem river were adopted today by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

This brings to 48 the number of subbasin plans adopted by the Council since December 2004. The plans are incorporated into the Council’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program, which directs the expenditure of about $140 million annually. The money is provided by the Bonneville Power Administration from its income from the sale of electricity.

“With our decision today, we are moving steadily toward our goal of using subbasin plans to decide how to spend a limited budget most efficiently and effectively to benefit fish and wildlife of the Columbia River Basin,” said Chair Melinda Eden, an Oregon member of the Council. “I congratulate all those in the region who worked so hard on the plans in order to get to this point.”

The 25 plans adopted today address these tributary basins, or subbasins, of the Columbia River:

  • In Idaho: Boise/Payette/Weiser, Clearwater, and upper and lower middle Snake.
  • In Idaho and Oregon: Snake/Hells Canyon.
  • In Oregon: Burnt/Powder, Deschutes, and Imnaha.
  • In Washington: Cowlitz, Elochoman, Entiat, Grays, Kalama, Lewis, Little White Salmon, Lower Columbia/Estuary, Walla Walla, Washougal, Wenatchee, Wind, and Yakima.

The Council delayed action on four Washington subbasin plans to allow further work and consultation on them. Those plans are for the Methow, Okanagon, and Klickitat rivers, and for the lower middle mainstem of the Columbia.

The 48 plans adopted so far are among 59 draft plans that were submitted to the Council in May 2004 following nearly two years of work by watershed councils, local governments, and state, federal and tribal agencies. The plans respond to direction in the Council’s fish and wildlife program that successful mitigation of the impacts of hydropower on fish and wildlife will be accomplished through the selection and implementation of subbasin-level goals, objectives and strategies. Each subbasin plan has an assessment that describes historical and existing conditions, an inventory of existing fish and wildlife projects and past accomplishments, and a management plan that looks 10-15 years into the future. Additional information regarding these and other subbasin plans is posted on the Council’s subbasin planning page.

In addition to guiding implementation of the fish and wildlife program, subbasin plans may be used by NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as building blocks for Endangered Species Act recovery planning. State and federal agencies may use the plans to reconcile hatchery and harvest goals and to complete an integrated monitoring and evaluation framework for fish and wildlife projects and research.