Federal Agencies Commit to Plan that Seeks to Balance
PORTLAND, OR -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration signed a joint Record of Decision on Monday that commits the agencies to implementing immediate and long-term actions related to the ongoing operations, maintenance and configuration of 14 federal dams that compose the Columbia River System, including Lower Granite Dam, Dowrshak Dam, Little Goose Dam and Lower Monumental Dam.
According to a press release, the plan balances the purposes of the federal dams while specifically supporting ongoing and new improvements for species listed under the Endangered Species Act. The signing of the joint decision accomplishes a priority item in the Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West issued in October 2018.
"This selected alternative provides the best balanced and flexible approach to meeting the needs of the human and natural environment in the basin, both now and into the future. Our decision benefits the public interest, treaty resources and iconic fish species of the Pacific Northwest," concluded Brig. Gen. D. Peter Helmlinger, commander of the Corps of Engineers' Northwestern Division.
Through her assessment, Reclamation Regional Director Lorri Gray has determined that, "The selected alternative meets the purpose and need of the action and a majority of the EIS objectives, balancing the co-lead agencies' abilities to meet statutory project obligations while also complying with the requirements of the ESA, Clean Water Act and other applicable laws."
Key to the EIS process was the identification of mitigation actions to offset adverse impacts of the measures in the selected alternative and operation of the Columbia River System consistent with its congressionally authorized purposes. For example, BPA will fund additional protection and mitigation actions and will include those actions in its existing Fish and Wildlife Program.
"This process reflects our commitment to understanding all of the needs and interests related to the Columbia River Basin," said acting BPA Administrator John Hairston. "We believe our decision today carefully balances the region's needs for clean, reliable energy, supports the economic vitality of the communities that depend on the rivers, and includes durable actions that offset impacts on fish and wildlife affected by the Columbia River System."
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