The geographic scope of the Council’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program is vast, from the Pacific Ocean to the mountains and plains of eastern Washington, northern and northeastern Oregon, most of Idaho, and a portion of western Montana. After nearly 40 years of development and implementation, the program has increased protection of fish and wildlife and mitigated the harmful effects of the Columbia River Basin hydropower system, even as significant challenges remain. The program is implemented by the Bonneville Power Administration and other federal agencies in partnership with the state and federal fish and wildlife agencies and the region’s Indian tribes.
The Council periodically reviews and revises the program, most recently in a process that began in May 2018 when the Council solicited recommendations from the region’s state and federal fish and wildlife agencies, Indian tribes, and others, as required by the Northwest Power Act of 1980, the federal law that authorized the Council and directs its work. In July 2019 the Council issued a draft 2020 Addendum in two parts: Part I on program performance, and Part II on program implementation. Based on public comments on the draft, the Council decided to proceed with Part II and take more time on Part I to allow the Council to work with the fish and wildlife agencies and tribes in a focused process to refine and revise goals, objectives, and strategy performance indicators in the program.
The Council adopted Part II in January and released a revised draft of Part I for public comment in May 2020. Following public comment and any revisions, the Council anticipates approving Part I this August, completing the amendment process. A public hearing is planned for Monday, June 15. In light of social-distancing guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our public hearing will be conducted by remote participation via webinar/telephone. Instructions for attending the hearing and commenting on the draft will be posted on the Council’s website.
The purpose of the 2020 Addendum is to identify near-term and evolving priorities in the program, and define how to evaluate program performance and then use what is learned to improve program implementation cost-effectively. Part I describes how the Council, with the assistance of others, will assess the program’s performance and improve implementation using an adaptive management approach. To that end, Part I includes a reorganization and elaboration of the program’s goals and objectives, and also a preliminary set of strategy performance indicators to track and report on progress.
Goals describe what the Council hopes to achieve, objectives are targets needed to meet the goals, and strategies are activities that contribute to reaching the objectives. For example, the program goal for anadromous salmon and steelhead is to increase total adult runs in the Columbia River to a 10-year rolling average of five million fish annually by 2025 in a manner that emphasizes fish populations that originate above Bonneville Dam. Objectives are population-specific rebuilding targets that contribute to the goal. Strategies to reach the objectives include producing fish in hatcheries and implementing projects to improve fish passage survival past dams. How the strategies perform can be measured by performance indicators.
Part I identifies strategy performance indicators, but they are not being adopted into the program. That is because they can change as new data becomes available. The Council wants to be able to revise them, as needed and in collaboration with others, without a formal program amendment.