On January 12, 2000, the Council requested that fish and wildlife agencies, Indian tribes and others submit recommendations for amendments to the Council's Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. The Council received nearly 3000 pages of recommendations from 55 entities.
In August 2000, the Council released for public review and comment a draft revised Fish and Wildlife Program. After reviewing the recommendations and the comments, the Council revised the draft and adopted substantive amendments to the program in November 2000. In this section of the program, the Council provides written findings explaining its disposition of the amendment recommendations. When the Council rejected a recommendation, or any part, these findings explain how the rejection comports with Section 4(h)(7) of the Northwest Power Act. References to the 2000 Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program are to what is called the "Pre-Publication Copy," Council Document No. 2000-19 (November 30, 2000), except for references to the Appendices, which were organized as referenced here following the release of the pre-publication copy of the revised program. There are also a few typographical or editorial errors in the pre-publication copy of the program which are noted at appropriate places.
These amendments begin, but do not conclude, what will eventually be a comprehensive revision of the Fish and Wildlife Program. In its January 2000 notice calling for amendment recommendations, the Council explained that the purpose of this first phase of the amendment process was to restructure the fish and wildlife program around a comprehensive framework to include a vision (or long-term goal), biological objectives, strategies and implementation standards, an explicit scientific foundation and geographical organization for implementing the program, and other programmatic or basin-wide elements. In later phases of the amendment process the Council intends to call for recommendations for more specific objectives at the basin and ecological province level and, especially, for specific objectives and measures to be adopted into the program in integrated subbasin plans or in a separate mainstem plan, consistent with the program framework elements adopted in this first phase. For a description of the next steps in the fish and wildlife program amendment process, see Section VIII of the 2000 Fish and Wildlife Program.
Many of the recommendations for this first phase of the program amendment process contained recommendations for specific objectives, standards, strategies and measures more appropriate to later phases of the amendment process. As noted below, the Council did not adopt or reject these recommendations at this time, deferring consideration of them until the appropriate amendment phase, when they may be resubmitted in the same or modified form.
To be able to consider a very large volume of recommendations and prepare findings, the Council summarized the recommendations and organized the summaries around the proposed program framework. So far as is possible, the summaries use the language submitted by the recommending entities, but by necessity some editing and paraphrasing occurred. On occasion it has been necessary for the Council to add a note of explanation to the summary of a recommendation to clarify how it has been summarized.
In many instances a recommendation applied to more than one program area. Each recommendation has been summarized and addressed under in just one section of these findings, even if an overlap existed, to avoid duplication and cross-referencing.
Two developments after the Council's call for recommendations help explain the nature and content of the recommendations. First, for further guidance to recommending parties, the Council released, on February 24, 2000, a staff-produced "Strawman" providing an example of a fish and wildlife program organized around this framework concept, and an April 11, 2000, letter and form containing additional details on the framework structure and the phased amendment process. Many of the recommendations responded directly to these documents, especially the Strawman, as will be evident below.
Second, the staff and some of the agency and tribal representatives of the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority (the association of the basin's state and federal fish and wildlife agencies and tribes) circulated a draft set of recommendations in the hope of achieving a consensus agency and tribal recommendation. The attempt at consensus was not successful, but one result was that many of the agencies and tribes prepared their own recommendations on the basis of the CBFWA draft. As will be seen below, this resulted in recommendations from a number of agencies and tribes that were quite similar. These recommendations were grouped, considered together and responded to collectively. Treating them all separately would be repetitive, possibly misleading, and make these findings even much longer than they already are. On the other hand, grouping the recommendations together made it hard to display what differences there were between the recommendations. Explanatory notes in the recommendation summaries attempt to highlight the main differences among similar recommendations.
In the section of the program following these findings, the Council summarized and responded to the comments received by the Council on the draft program. The findings and response to comments, together with the original January 12, 2000, notice calling for recommendations, the February framework "Strawman," and the April 11, 2000 letter and form, satisfy the federal Administrative Procedure Act's requirement of a statement of the basis and purpose for the amendments.