The Council has received 51 sets of recommendations in response to its request for revisions to its Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. The request was issued last May and the submittal deadline was in mid-December.
Responses sometimes varied widely and some entities recommended mostly minor changes, the Council’s fish and wildlife staff reported to the Council this month in Portland. However, there are some major policy issues to consider, such as understanding how the program is performing over time, improving the monitoring and evaluation of projects that implement the program, and the reintroduction of anadromous fish to areas blocked by dams.
The Council is now accepting public comments on the recommendations through February 8 (click on any recommendation on the webpage linked above to provide a comment).
Under the Northwest Power Act of 1980, the federal law that authorized the four Northwest states to create the Council, the Council reviews the Fish and Wildlife Program for revision at least every five years. The current version of the program dates to 2014. Once recommendations are received, the Council has one year to complete the program revision.
In response to its solicitation, the Council received amendment recommendations from 11 state and federal agencies, 16 tribes and tribal organizations, four federal agencies, three electric utilities and utility groups, and eight environmental, fishing, or other groups. Five entities that implement parts of the program and four individuals also submitted recommendations.
The Council reviewed the recommendations and began discussing how to go about producing a draft program, which the Council hopes to have ready for public comment and hearings around the Northwest in July.
The recommendations addressed a number of specific areas in the program. Key among them were:
- Developing objectives for rebuilding fish populations – geographic, biological
- Restructuring the program to better address adaptive management and monitoring and evaluation of projects that implement the program
- Incorporating the effects of climate change by creating a climate-change vision and taking specific actions
- Rethinking the allocation of funding among types of projects (anadromous fish, resident fish, and wildlife) and geographic areas
- Better defining the program goal of increasing salmon and steelhead abundance in the Columbia River Basin to 5 million fish, a goal that has been in the program since 1987
“We have a lot of really good recommendations in terms of restructuring the program, developing objectives -- things we have struggled with for years,” Council Chair Jennifer Anders said.