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If the four Lower Snake River (LSR) dams are breached...

  • Q. What is current mitigation plan?

  • A. The Lower Snake River Fish and Wildlife Compensation Plan (excerpts below) was established in June 1975, very shortly following the completion of Lower Granite Dam.

    Syllabus and Authority of Lower Snake River Compensation Plan (June 1975)

    The purpose of this special report is to evaluate impacts on fish and wildlife resources caused by construction of the four Lower Snake River dams, Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite, and to recommend measures for compensating project-incurred losses to fish and wildlife. The report is submitted in compliance with the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, PL 85-264, 85th Congress, 12 August 1958, which requires the head of a construction agency responsible for losses to fish and wildlife through construction of a project to compensate for those losses to the fullest extent possible.

    The four lower Snake River dams, constructed by the Corps of Engineers, impact upon the natural upstream and downstream migration of anadromous fish, inundate certain spawning grounds, flood riparian habitat supporting a variety of wildlife species and convert some 140 miles of stream-type habitat and fisheries to those associated with reservoirs.
    . . .


    This is a special report of the Walla Walla District, U.S. Army, Corps of Engineers, on the impact of the Lower Snake River Project on fish and wildlife resources of the Project area. The Project was authorized by Public Law 14, 79th Congress, 1st Session, approved 2 March 1945, and consists of Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite Locks and Dams. The Project is located in Washington and Idaho as shown on Figure 1. The applicable portion of the Act reads as follows:

    ". . . Snake River, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho: The construction of such dams as are necessary, and open channel improvement for purposes of providing slack-water navigation and irrigation in accordance with the plan submitted in House Document 704, 75th Congress, with such modifications as do not change the requirement to provide slack-water navigation as the Secretary of War may find advisable after consultation with the Secretary of the Interior and such other agencies as may be concerned: Provided, that surplus electric energy generated at the dams authorized in this item shall be delivered to the Secretary of the Interior for disposition in accordance with existing laws relaring to the disposition of power at Bonneville Dam; provided further, that nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as conferring the power of condemnation of transmission lines; . . ."
    Neither the Act nor the general plans presented in House Document 704, 75th Congress, made any mention of fish and wildlife measures needed to prevent or offset losses or damage to these important resources; therefore, fulfillment of the requirements of the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, PL 85-624, 85th Congress, enacted 12 August 1958, becomes the basic reason for submission of the compensation plan presented in this report. Sections 2(c) and 2(g) of the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act provide necessary directive to the Corps of Engineers for funding and constructing justifiable compensation measures at the Lower Snkae River Project, and Section 3(c), which requires authorization by Congress for acquistion of fish and wildlife lands, provides authority to the Corps for recommending such acquistion. This report recomends means to compensate for project-incurred losses to fish and wildlife based on a 100-year project life for each separable component.

    Management Principles and Legal Mandates (from Artificial Production Review 1999)

    Artificial production policies and decisions must be consistent with the array of legal mandates that relate to fish and wildlife management in the Columbia River Basin. These include, for example:

    • Treaty fishing rights and other rights of Indian tribes such as those in the U.S. v Oregon litigation,

    • The obligation in the Northwest Power Act to protect, mitigate and enhance the basin’s fish and wildlife affected by hydropower development,

    • The requirements of the Endangered Species Act,

    • Various mitigation obligations in law and agreement, such as the Mitchell Act, or John Day Dam mitigation, or the Lower Snake River Compensation Plan,

    • Wild fish policies of the states.

    Management objectives associated with these mandates -- such as for harvest opportunities, or for in-kind, in-place mitigation, or for protection of specific natural populations -- are equally important. Acting in a manner consistent with all these mandates is not easy -- some are regional in scope and some are local, some objectives overlap, others conflict unless managed carefully. But they cannot be ignored even when inconvenient.

    On this basis, all of the purposes for artificial production described below are considered legitimate and plausible management choices in the future. The Council understands its task as did the Scientific Review Team -- to describe scientific ecological principles and associated policies that need to be considered when decisions are made on the use of artificial production. These principles and policies must be addressed for there to be a reasonable chance of achieving multiple management objectives that managers will identify out of their legal mandates, such as producing fish for harvest while protecting naturally spawning populations.

    The Five Purposes of Artificial Production
      Rationale Implications
    Purpose Biological
    Motivation Duration Assumption or
    Augmentation . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Mitigation Habitat has been permanently blocked or altered by human activities resulting in a decline in survival and/or capacity, or elimination of the fish population Replace or compensate lost habitat capacity of naturally produced fish with artificial produced fish (anadromous or resident) for harvest or some other reason. This includes
    1. Artificial propagation to increase production of the affected resident or anadromous fish population
    2. Introduce or increase production of another anadromous fish species for the loss of anadromous fish or resident fish; and
    3. Substitution of a resident fish species for the loss of anadromous fish in irrevocably blocked areas.
    Permanent for the foreseeable future, but changes in the environment may make mitigation unnecessary
    • No prospect for restoration of habitat that is being replaced by artificial production, at least not in other than long-term
    • Harvest, ocean capacity, mainstem habitat does not limit production, therefore, there is excess capacity in other life stages
    • Artificially produced population can coexist with and not jeopardize fitness of natural populations
    Restoration . . . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Research . . . . . . . . . . . .
    . . .
    Production for harvest is a legitimate management objective of artificial production. However, to minimize the particular adverse impacts on natural populations associated with harvest management of artificially produced populations, harvest rates and practices must reflect or be dictated by the requirements to sustain naturally spawning populations.

    Mitigation Risks

    1. Harvest management plan to protect weak populations where mixed population fisheries exist.
    2. Do not exceed the carrying capacity of fluvial, lacustrine, estuarine, and ocean habtats.
    3. Assess detrimental genetic impacts among hatchery vs. wild where interation exists.
    4. Upredictable egg supply leading to poor programming of hatchery production.
    5. Production cost of program outweighs the benefit.
    6. Cost effectiveness of hatchery ranked lower than other actions in subregion or subbasin.
    7. Will not achieve within-hatchery performance standards.
    8. Evaluate habitat use and potential detrimental ecological interactions.
    9. Avoid disease transfer from hatchery to wild fish and vice versa.
    10. Evaluate haitat use and potential detrimental ecological interactions.

    In July 1997, the U.S. Senate directed the Northwest Power Planning Council, with the assistance of the Independent Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB), to “conduct a thorough review of all federally funded hatchery programs operating in the Columbia River Basin…” with the intent to ensure that federal dollars are spent “wisely” and “in a cost-effective manner that maximizes the benefits to the fish resource.”

    LSRCP Comprehensive Report (from Independent Scientific Review Panel 2012)

    Conclusion 1. Available evidence suggests that the SAS, SAR, and overall mitigation goals established and the assumptions behind them were overly optimistic. The goals are probably unobtainable even with substantial improvements in Snake and Columbia River environmental conditions.

    Breaching is reversible, extinction and ecosystem collapse is not.

    The concept of sustainability has been increasingly brought into focus as we have become convinced that all systems on earth are interrelated and that many of today’s problems were the solutions of yesterday. Sustainability is, however, a very old concept. Most American Indian cultures understood the importance of sustainability and sustainable development, living in harmony with all things.

    Many people are familiar with the Seventh Generation philosophy commonly credited to the Iroquois Confederacy but practiced by many Native nations. The Seventh Generation philosophy mandated that tribal decision makers consider the effects of their actions and decisions for descendents seven generations into the future. There was a clear understanding that everything we do has consequences for something and someone else, reminding us that we are all ultimately connected to creation.

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