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The Colville Tribes celebrate the arrival of the first salmon

posted May 26, 2017

It was a beautiful spring day as the sun rose over distant peaks and people gathered to watch members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation use dip nets, a traditional fishing technique, to harvest the first salmon of the season. On this day, May 19, the Colville Tribes hosted their annual First Salmon Ceremony at the Chief Joseph Hatchery in Bridgeport, Washington, where the ceremony has been held since 2013.

In attendance were tribal members and elders from the Colville Tribes, Coeur d’Alene Tribe, and the Okanagan Nation Alliance; representatives from the Upper Columbia United Tribes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Council member Guy Norman and Council staff; and school children from the Inchelium Elementary School. Randy Friedlander, Fish and Wildlife Director for the Colville Tribes, hosted the ceremony. Leroy “Chaz” Williams led a prayer and song, the first Chinook was captured, and there was time devoted to honoring elders who attended the ceremony and listening to their stories about the importance of salmon to the tribes.

There was a series of presentations about hatchery production of salmon, suitability studies regarding reintroducing of salmon into habitat above Grand Coulee, and adult salmon returns, and a tour of the hatchery completed the ceremony, which had been originally planned for the previous week. The ceremony was rescheduled because spring Chinook have taken longer than usual this year to arrive in the upper Columbia River. At the time of the ceremony, only 18 Chinook had passed Wells Dam, and five of those had been seen in the ladder at the hatchery the day before the ceremony. It took some time, but eventually a Chinook was caught. Members of the Colville Tribe fished with a dip net from a platform above the fish ladder. Colville staff members smoked the first-caught Chinook for the luncheon, which was fileted and prepared by Friedlander.


Once the first Chinook was caught, Randy Friedlander (CCT Fish and Wildlife Director) did the honors of fileting the fish and preparing it to be smoked

The Chief Joseph Hatchery, funded through the Colville Tribes’ Columbia River Fish Accord with the Bonneville Power Administration, was completed in February 2013 and operates to increase spring, summer, and fall Chinook salmon in the Okanogan and Columbia Rivers. The goal of the hatchery is to produce 2.9 million juvenile fish each year.

The fish caught for this year’s First Salmon Ceremony was a hatchery fish from the 2013 release. The Colville Tribe has estimates that 1 percent of each year’s hatchery releases of juvenile salmon will return to support both tribal and recreational harvest.


Columbia River Chinook smoking in the morning sun

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation include twelve bands: Wenatchi, Entiat, Chelan, Methow, Colville, Okanogan, Nespelem, Sanpoil, Lakes, Moses-Columbia, Palus, and the Chief Joseph Band of the Nez Perce. Their reservation totals 2,100 square miles (1.4-million acres) and is bordered by the Columbia River on the east and a large portion of the south border. The Colville Tribes co-manage Lake Roosevelt, the reservoir behind Grand Coulee Dam, with the Spokane Tribe and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The Colvilles also co-manage Lake Rufus Woods, the reservoir between Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams, with WDFW.

On the Colville Tribes’ Fish & Wildlife Department website you can find information for the Tribes’ programs and their quarterly newsletter.

(see full story)

U.S. Court Of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Hears Oral Arguments on Challenge to the Council's 2014 Fish and Wildlife Program

posted May 23, 2017

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Photo by Tony Grover

On May 11, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in Seattle from the attorneys representing the Northwest Resource Information Center, Inc. and the Council. 

The Council, an interstate agency of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, is required by the Northwest Power Act to develop a program to protect and enhance fish and wildlife adversely affected by hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River and its tributaries while assuring the region an economical and reliable power supply. 

The Council adopted the most recent version of its Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program in 2014. The NRIC filed a petition in the Ninth Circuit challenging the program, asserting that the Council's decision on program measures and objectives was both contrary to the requirements of the Act and arbitrary and capricious, and seeking a remand of the program from the Court to the Council. The NRIC, the Council, and a number of intervenors in support of the Council’s decision filed briefs with the Ninth Circuit in 2016. Oral argument before a panel of judges just assigned to the case was the last step prior to a decision from the Court. 

Representing NRIC, Earthjustice attorney Todd True argued that the Council wrongly equated Endangered Species Act compliance with its legal requirements under the Act and that "...apart from the Council's improper conflation of its legal duties under the Power Act with the requirements of ESA, the Council also failed to provide a rational account of why the measures in the 2014 Program are adequate to actually meet the requirements of the Power Act itself...." In this regard, True argued that the Council must find that the measures adopted into the program collectively meet the Act’s requirement to protect and enhance fish and wildlife affected by the hydrosystem, and adopt additional biological objectives on which to base such a finding. 

John Shurts, the Council's general counsel, argued that the Council developed and approved the 2014 program in accordance with the Power Act, noting that the statute is particularly clear that the Council must develop the program largely on the basis of recommendations of the federal and state fish and wildlife agencies and the region's Indian tribes.

Shurts also noted that in 1994, the Ninth Circuit vacated the Council's decision to adopt the fish and wildlife program precisely because the Council did not properly rely on the program amendment recommendations, particularly those of the agencies and tribes, and that the Council has worked carefully ever since to comply with that ruling, including in its decision to adopt the measures and objectives in the 2014 Program.

Shurts also noted that the Council did not equate Endangered Species Act compliance with the requirements of the Power Act; the Council explained clearly that while the substantive requirements of the two acts are different, certain measures recommended to the Council under the Power Act and included in the program are also reviewed by federal agencies for compliance with the ESA. 

Judge M. Margaret McKeown presided over the panel. Judge McKeown is based in San Diego and was appointed by President Clinton. The other judges are Carlos Bea from Northern California and N. Randy Smith of Idaho, both appointed by President George W. Bush.

A decision from the court is not expected for several months.

(see full story)

Efficiency Exchange 2017 Recap

posted May 23, 2017

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The Efficiency Exchange conference, held in Portland, Oregon in May, has become the largest gathering of energy efficiency professionals in the Northwest. It's an opportunity for program managers, policy analysts, and vendors to share information and discuss their successes and challenges in improving energy efficiency.

We were there and talked to some people about what they're doing to help move energy efficiency forward.

(see full story)

Wet Winter

posted May 17, 2017

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Sign along the Columbia River near Troutdale, Oregon. Photo: NOAA.

The record-setting wet winter and spring in the Pacific Northwest resulted from an unusual but not unprecedented series of weather events, including “rivers” of moisture in the atmosphere, a typically cool La Nina in the northern Pacific Ocean, and an unusually heavy snowpack in Siberia, weather experts told the Northwest Power and Conservation Council at its May meeting in Boise.

Beginning last October, the Northwest was slammed with storm after storm bringing record snowfalls in the mountains – particularly in northern California and in Idaho – and drought-ending rains that left nearly all storage reservoirs in the region full or nearly so. Oregon has its best water supply outlook since 2011. The Columbia River has flooded in some places downstream of Bonneville Dam. Rivers in southern and central Idaho have gone over flood stage several times, damaging homes and farms.

At the Boise meeting, weather experts from NOAA’s National Weather Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service provided context to the unusual winter. The Council is interested in the water supply and river runoff because water is the fuel for hydropower, which provides more than half of the region’s electricity. The weather also affects how much electricity is used.

Jay Breidenbach, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Boise, pointed out that just last summer during extreme dry conditions a wildfire raged in Idaho from July into September, but then in October everything changed. Pacific Ocean temperatures along the Equator shifted colder, signifying a cool La Nina event. This contributed to weather pattern changes in the north Pacific and caused what weather experts call atmospheric rivers of moisture to flow from southwest to northeast across the Pacific and slam into the West Coast more than 40 times from northern California north to British Columbia. These atmospheric rivers resulted in record and near-record precipitation, much of it snow in the mountains. Just six months after the Idaho wildfire, heavy snowfall crushed outbuildings on farms in December and January, causing millions of dollars in damages to the state’s onion industry, Breidenbach said.

The Pacific Northwest winter also was affected by snow and cold in Siberia, where the snowpack is greater than usual. This means the extent of cold surface temperatures is greater than normal, and the cold is picked up by the North Pacific jet stream, a high-altitude river of air, as it flows across Siberia on its way to Canada and the Pacific Northwest. If weather conditions are just right, this cold Siberian air express can cause snowfall all the way into the southern states.

Seasonal precipitation is well above normal in the Pacific Northwest.

High-elevation snow remains in the Northwest in late May, and this will play an important role in the summer water supply and river runoff, he said. This could be good news for summer-migrating salmon in the Columbia River, particularly sockeye. Breidenbach estimated some 30-50 inches of water equivalent remains in snow in some parts of the Columbia River Basin.

Troy Lindquist, senior hydrologist at the Boise office of the weather service, said the Columbia River is running a little more than twice its normal volume for this time of the year, measured at The Dalles. Flows should drop back to near normal for the remainder of May and through June. Still, he said, the river volume forecast through September is well over 100 percent of normal.

“We’re not done melting yet,” he said.

Flooded trail along the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington.

(see full story)

Efficiency Exchange Conference Highlights Energy Efficiency in a Changing Environment

posted May 8, 2017

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The Bonneville Power Administration and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, in partnership with the Northwest Power and Conservation Council and utilities throughout the Northwest are hosting the fifth annual Efficiency Exchange conference.

The region-wide event focuses on promoting innovation, discussing emerging trends and sharing new ideas on how utility energy efficiency programs can adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace. This year’s event will be at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland on May 9-10, 2017.

“BPA is proud to be a partner in this excellent event where cutting-edge ideas, technologies and research are shared for the benefit of the people of the Northwest,” said Richard Génecé, BPA vice president of Energy Efficiency. “Efficiency Exchange provides a vibrant forum for people, products and policies that make our region a national trendsetter in the efficient use of energy.”

This year’s conference kicks off with a keynote from Shane Snow, an award-winning journalist, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. Snow is co-founder of the content technology company Contently, which helps creative people and companies tell great stories together. Shane serves on the board of the Contently Foundation for Investigative Journalism, and is the author of Smartcuts: The Breakthrough Power of Lateral Thinking. Snow's writing has appeared in Fast Company, Wired, The New Yorker, and dozens more top publications.

The second day of the conference will feature Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy. The Alliance, a premier non-governmental organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., has worked for nearly four decades to advance energy efficiency worldwide to achieve a healthier economy, a cleaner environment, and greater energy security. Under Callahan’s leadership, the Alliance conducts policy, communications, research, education, and market transformation initiatives in the U.S. and abroad.

“The Northwest has a rich history of leading innovation in energy efficiency through region-wide collaboration,” said NEEA’s executive director, Susan E. Stratton. “Efficiency Exchange brings together thought leaders and program experts to surface ideas and new insights that help shape our energy future.”

In addition to the two keynotes, energy efficiency experts from around the Northwest will present on a range of topics, such as green load building, emerging technologies, and driving energy efficiency through digital engagement.

“Energy efficiency is the region’s second largest resource after hydropower, and it continues to be our largest least-cost new resource. These savings have also lowered ratepayers’ electricity bills by $4 billion a year,” said Henry Lorenzen, chair of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

“Events like the Efficiency Exchange play a critical role in helping to nurture its development and advance the next generation of energy efficiency. The Council strongly supports the conference and looks forward to working with our partners to build on the region’s success.”

Between sessions, attendees can visit the Conduit Lounge and register, post and share information on Conduit, an online community that facilitates collaboration and coordination among energy efficiency professionals in the Northwest.

View the full agenda of the conference at efficiencyexchangenw.com.

About the Bonneville Power Administration BPA is a not-for-profit federal agency that markets renewable hydropower from federal Columbia River dams, operates three-quarters of the high-voltage transmission lines in the Northwest and funds one of the largest wildlife protection and restoration programs in the world. BPA and its partners pursue cost-effective energy savings in all sectors of the economy, and together they have saved enough electricity through energy efficiency projects to power four large American cities. www.bpa.gov

About the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance is an alliance of more than 140 utilities and energy efficiency organizations working on behalf of more than 13 million energy consumers. NEEA is dedicated to accelerating both electric and gas energy efficiency, leveraging its regional partnerships to advance the adoption of energy-efficient products, services and practices.

Since 1997, NEEA and its partners have saved enough energy to power more than 900,000 homes each year. As the second-largest resource in the Northwest, energy efficiency can offset most of our new demand for energy, saving money and keeping the Northwest a healthy and vibrant place to live. www.neea.org

About the Northwest Power and Conservation Council The Northwest Power and Conservation Council is an agency of the four Northwest states of Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Washington. Under the Northwest Power Act of 1980, the Council develops a Northwest Power Plan to assure the region an adequate, efficient, economical, and reliable power supply while protecting, mitigating and enhancing fish and wildlife that have been affected by the construction and operation of hydropower dams in the Columbia River Basin. Through the power plan the Council sets strategies and establishes targets for energy efficiency in the region, and through the Regional Technical Forum (rtf.nwcouncil.org) the Council and other Forum partners work to verify that efficiency measures implemented by utilities produce real savings.

(see full story)

Protecting Cold Water Refuges

posted Apr 18, 2017

Fish Head Bounty

posted Mar 24, 2017

Fish Forecast: 'Not Very Good'

posted Mar 15, 2017

Fish Tools

posted Mar 13, 2017

Sea Lion Fish Feast

posted Mar 1, 2017

Lamprey Rescue

posted Feb 16, 2017

Unveiling the Estuary

posted Feb 15, 2017

Mussel Strategy

posted Jan 23, 2017

A Plan for Scientific Research

posted Jan 19, 2017

Flat Loads

posted Dec 20, 2016

Mussel Alert

posted Dec 16, 2016

Repeat Spawners

posted Dec 16, 2016

Moving Fish Over High Dams

posted Nov 16, 2016

Megawatt? A Powerful Question.

posted Oct 20, 2016

Fuel Of The Future?

posted Oct 18, 2016

Powering the Internet of Things

posted Oct 17, 2016

Storable Power

posted Oct 17, 2016

The Blob Is Back

posted Oct 11, 2016

Old Door, New Opening

posted Oct 6, 2016

Fun With Sturgeon

posted Sep 20, 2016

Cool Relief

posted Sep 15, 2016

Upper Columbia Salmon Habitat

posted Sep 14, 2016

No Gain

posted Sep 14, 2016

The Invasion Strengthens

posted Sep 13, 2016

Cold Water Refuge

posted Aug 11, 2016

Building on a Legacy Resource

posted Aug 5, 2016

Salmon Smorgasbord

posted Jul 14, 2016

Tapping Into Geothermal Energy

posted Jun 21, 2016

Fish And Warm Water Don't Mix

posted Jun 20, 2016

Going, going, almost gone

posted Jun 7, 2016

Early Warning System

posted May 27, 2016

In the (Efficient) Spotlight

posted Apr 25, 2016

The Mystery of Swan Lake

posted Apr 13, 2016

A boost for northern pike removal

posted Apr 13, 2016

They're back, and they're hungry

posted Mar 23, 2016

Warm ocean, small salmon: Why?

posted Mar 7, 2016

Seventh Power Plan Homestretch

posted Dec 15, 2015

Touring Baker Dam

posted Jul 8, 2015

Forest Fires and Fish Habitat

posted May 19, 2015

This Plan Is Your Plan

posted Apr 30, 2015

Lunch and Learn With the Council

posted Mar 31, 2015

Scenario Analysis Begins

posted Feb 11, 2015

Scenario Analysis Is Coming!

posted Jan 22, 2015

"The Objectives Process" begins

posted Dec 11, 2014

Why We Plan for Uncertainty

posted Nov 19, 2014

Why We Have a Regional Power Plan

posted Oct 29, 2014

Estimating Energy Efficiency

posted Oct 24, 2014

Seventh Power Plan 101

posted Oct 6, 2014

BPA Energy Efficiency Funding

posted Mar 12, 2014

Weathering a Cold Snap

posted Jan 17, 2014

The Seventh Power Plan

posted Dec 11, 2013

Designing for Efficiency

posted Nov 12, 2013

The Flexibility Challenge

posted Oct 30, 2013

Northwest Q & A: Robert D. Kahn

posted Oct 29, 2013

Tagging Sturgeon in Astoria

posted Aug 22, 2013

Habitat Tours Focus on Results

posted May 31, 2013

Sustainability Is Success

posted May 29, 2013

A Last Look at Condit Dam

posted Oct 24, 2011

Changing Minds, Changing the Land

posted Jul 26, 2011

Wind Power, Then and Now

posted Apr 18, 2011

The Rebound Effect: Is It Real?

posted Feb 1, 2011

An Update on Didymo

posted Jan 27, 2011

Didymo: A New Kind of Invader

posted Jan 18, 2011

A Good Year for Returning Salmon

posted Sep 30, 2010

Building a Better Battery

posted Aug 11, 2010

Using Batteries to Store Energy

posted Jul 28, 2010

Growing Summer Energy Demand

posted Jul 26, 2010

California's Energy Scene

posted Jul 23, 2010

Ensuring Efficiency

posted Jun 21, 2010

Making Wind Work

posted Jun 7, 2010

Clean Tech Draws VC Funding

posted May 3, 2010

And the Wind Came Up

posted Apr 6, 2010