In November the Council will begin a year-long public process to amend its Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program, one of the biggest fish and wildlife recovery efforts in the United States.
Through the program, the Council and the Bonneville Power Administration direct more than $140 million per year to projects that mitigate the impacts of hydropower dams on fish and wildlife. The projects address a wide range of impacts, including improving spawning and rearing habitat for fish, raising fish in hatcheries and releasing them in the wild, acquiring land as wildlife habitat, and funding research into key scientific uncertainties. The program is unique because it is funded largely by electricity ratepayers and addresses all fish and wildlife affected by hydropower, including threatened and endangered species.
Under the authority of the Northwest Power Act of 1980, the Council develops the program based on the recommendations of state, federal, and tribal fish and wildlife managers, and interested citizens. Bonneville implements the program and funds it with a portion of the revenue from the sale of hydroelectricity generated at 31 federal dams in the Columbia basin. The Power Act requires that the Council review the program at least every five years. The last review and amendment occurred in 2003-2005 when the Council incorporated into the program specific recommendations for mainstem dam operations and 57 subbasin plans. Subbasin plans will guide future implementation of the program.
The next amendment process begins on November 1 with a formal call for recommendations, as required by the Power Act. The deadline for submitting recommendations is February 1, 2008. The Council then will review the amendment proposals, prepare a draft amended program for public review and comment, and finalize the new program by November 2008.
Information about the amendment process is posted at www.nwcouncil.org/amend.
The Council is an agency of the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington and is directed by the Northwest Power Act of 1980 to prepare a program to protect, mitigate and enhance fish and wildlife of the Columbia River Basin affected by hydropower dams while also assuring the region an adequate, efficient, economical and reliable power supply.