Ensuring Habitat Projects Meet Scientific and Program Standards

75 projects are approved for Idaho, Oregon, Washington


Salmon, like these fall Chinook in an Oregon stream, need healthy habitat for spawning.

At its November meeting, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council recommended 75 projects in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington to improve conditions for fish and wildlife, primarily salmon and steelhead. Projects are funded by the Bonneville Power Administration to implement the Council’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.

Nearly all of the projects are ongoing, and the Council’s recommendations follow a review of the projects by the Independent Scientific Review Panel. For several years the ISRP has been reviewing groups of projects that implement the program in categories that included salmon, steelhead, and fish that don’t go to the ocean, and wildlife. The current group of projects was organized geographically by freshwater areas where salmon and steelhead spawn. Most are intended to improve habitat.

“We're making progress in rebuilding salmon and steelhead populations, but that will continue only if we support and fund effective restoration projects,” Council Chair Bill Bradbury said. “This review process helps ensure that only projects of the highest quality are approved and funded.”

Eighty-three project proposals are in the geographic review, representing nearly $80 million in potential funding. In addition to individual project reviews, the ISRP review includes a brief retrospective evaluation of habitat improvements and comments on important issues that involve most projects and apply to the program in general. Topics covered include regional research, monitoring and evaluation, a strategic restoration framework, productive partnerships, workforce support, and restoration methods and assessments.

The ISRP reviews projects to ensure they are consistent with the Council’s fish and wildlife program and 1) are based on sound scientific principles; 2) benefit fish and wildlife; 3) have clearly defined objectives and outcomes; and 4) contain provisions for monitoring and evaluation of results. The Council is required to consider ISRP recommendations when recommending projects to Bonneville to implement the program.