The nature of scientific research, Idaho’s top fish and wildlife official told the Northwest Power and Conservation Council this week in Boise, is that answers are never black and white, but even in the face of uncertainty research must continue because over time we learn, adapt, and ultimately find support for changing procedures, policies, theories.
Virgil Moore, director of the Idaho Department of Fish & Game, pointed to the Idaho Supplementation Studies as an example – an experiment that has been ongoing for nearly 30 years in the Clearwater and Salmon rivers, and which has shown the strengths and weaknesses of using hatcheries to rebuild naturally spawning runs.
“This project shows it is important to have continuity and fidelity for what we do, Moore said. “We learned a lot as we moved forward.”
Moore, IDFG’s director for the last five years, pointed specifically to two areas of recent progress as examples of the long-term commitment and determination needed to protect, preserve, perpetuate, and mange fish and wildlife – the department’s mission. One is the Southern Idaho Wildlife Mitigation Agreement and the other is the continuing work to maintain fish screens that help juvenile fish stay in rivers and out of irrigation pumps and canals.
The Southern Idaho agreement provides Bonneville Power Administration money to fund a trust that will pay for projects that mitigate the impacts of hydropower dams on wildlife in that part of the state. Moore said he anticipates beginning work soon on a similar agreement to mitigate the wildlife impacts of Albeni Falls Dam in northern Idaho. Meanwhile, Moore said paying for the ongoing maintenance and operation of thousands of fish-diversion screens is critical to the future of salmon and steelhead mitigation efforts.
“The value of those facilities is unquestionable,” he said, adding that he was pleased that Idaho, the Council, and Bonneville have been working together to assure ongoing funding to keep the screens up to date and operating correctly.
In the longer term, Moore said issues like the renewal of the Columbia River Treaty with Canada, the future of the Federal Columbia River Power System Biological Opinion, and the future of the Columbia Basin Fish Accords all are issues that will involve the region’s fish and wildlife agencies and tribes in collaborative discussions.
“These all are important to the future proper management of fish and wildlife in the Columbia River Basin,” He said.
Moore also took a moment at the end of his remarks to congratulate Bill Maslen, who retires this month as Bonneville’s fish and wildlife division director, thanking him for his long tenure at Bonneville and for the collaborative working relationship he helped create and maintain between IDFG and Bonneville.
Bill Maslen, left, and Virgil Moore.