Issue 301�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� April 7, 2008

In this issue:

Tribes, federal agencies reach agreement on salmon


Tribes, federal agencies reach agreement on salmon

Three Columbia River Basin Tribes and three federal agencies today announced that they have reached a ten-year agreement on operations to meet ESA, treaty and Northwest Power Act requirements for Columbia and Snake River fish.


The agreement, which will be finalized after public comment closes April 23, builds on the draft biological opinion and would alter spill, flow, and hatchery programs for Columbia and Snake River salmon and steelhead. The final agreements will be rolled into the final Biological Opinion, which is due May 5.


The agreement includes changes to Snake River spill and fish transportation protocols in low water and provides significant funding for hatchery and habitat programs.


The federal agencies will provide approximately $900 million over 10 years to continue existing programs and to implement new projects with the Tribes. Most of this money would be provided by BPA. Because of the mix of existing and new projects, it is not yet clear how much of the $90 million per year represents an increase over current funding levels or what the impact will be on BPA ratepayers.


Among the provisions, the agencies and Tribes agreed to four major provisions of interest to the PNWA membership:

         The parties will meet to discuss the benefits or detriments of operating John Day at Minimum Operating Pool. They agree that operating John Day at MOP is a contingency action which could be considered after a comprehensive review scheduled for 2015.

         The Tribes will not support in any manner ESA, Power Act, Clean Water Act or Administrative Procedures Act lawsuits against the federal agencies regarding the FCRPS or Upper Snake BiOps;

         The Tribes agree not to request additional fish or wildlife funding from BPA during the term of the agreement; and

         The Tribes agree that dam breaching will not occur during the term of the agreement. In addition, the Tribes will not advocate for breaching dams covered by the FCRPS or Upper Snake River BiOps during the term of the agreement. There is a provision that allows the Tribes to advocate for dam breaching after 2017 if the results of the 2015 performance review demonstrate that Snake River ESUs are not improving.


"Working for the salmon is sacred work," said Fidelia Andy, chair of the Fish and Wildlife Committee of the Yakama Nation Tribal Council and chairwoman of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. "The agreements will get our governments out of the courtroom and back on the firm ground of mutual goals and collaboration."


Steve Wright, BPA Administrator, said, "These agreements should provide greater certainty for Columbia River Basin fish recovery activities and for Northwest ratepayers". Wright said, "We have spent decades arguing with each other. Today these parties are saying let's lay down the swords, let's spend more time working collaboratively to implement measures that help fish and less time litigating. I give Judge Redden credit for leading us down the path of collaboration."


PNWA Executive Director, Glenn Vanselow, said, �We hope this agreement ends the unproductive debate on dam breaching and gets down to solving real, on-the-ground problems for fish.�


The agreement and directions for submitting comments may be found at Deadline for comment is April, 23, 2008.


The agreement is among the Bonneville Power Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation (the federal agencies) and the Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama Tribes. Neither the original plaintiffs, led by National Wildlife Federation, nor the Nez Perce Tribe or the State of Oregon are parties to the agreement.


Staff Contact: Glenn Vanselow


Pacific Northwest Waterways Association