the film
Commentaries and editorials

BPA Gives $32 Million for Plans to Improve Fish Runs, Habitat

by Linda Ashton, Associated Press
Seattle Times, March 31, 2002

YAKIMA -- In an effort to further improve fish runs and fish habitat, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) says it is providing $32 million for projects in Washington and Oregon.

Under the Northwest Power Act, the BPA is required to pay for minimizing the damage to fish and wildlife caused by hydroelectric generation.

"We're making an investment to ensure we're meeting our Endangered Species Act obligations," BPA Administrator Steve Wright said Friday.

Of the $32 million, $18 million will pay for 14 new projects and support 25 projects under way in Washington. In Oregon, $14 million will pay for 12 new and 24 projects under way.

The projects are sponsored by government agencies, local water and irrigation districts and Indian tribes, and include things like flow restoration in the Walla Walla River and eliminating gravel dams in the North Fork of Oregon's John Day River.

"These projects will make valuable long-term contributions to our water resources," Gov. Gary Locke said.

Some of the projects will set up screens in irrigation canals to prevent migrating fish from detouring and getting stranded.

"It's a win-win for both agriculture and fish," Locke said. "It's important that people who farm not live in fear of protecting salmon."

Since the Northwest Power Act became law in 1980, BPA has spent about $3.4 billion on required fish mitigation, said Larry Cassidy of Vancouver, chairman of the Northwest Power Planning Council.

About $1.4 billion of that is the equivalent of lost electricity from spilling water for fish that could otherwise have been used for power generation.

"It's a big amount of money," Cassidy said, but it represents only 5 to 7 percent of total power sales by BPA.

The state of Washington has spent more than $100 million on fish-recovery efforts since Locke took office in 1997.

But Locke, Wright and Cassidy all said they believed the region has more to show for its fish money these days.

The state's 2-year-old Salmon Recovery Funding Board approves only projects that show the greatest promise, Locke said.

"We're demanding accountability," he said.

Wright said that chinook and coho runs have improved dramatically in recent years, allowing a sport fishery last year for the first time in decades.

He also noted that many variables are involved in successful fish returns, including ocean conditions.

In the Yakima River, about 21,000 adult spring chinook crossed Prosser Dam last year and headed upstream to spawn, compared with about 1,000 a decade ago. It was the largest return run since the 1950s.

Related Pages:
Habitat Projects Could Get $26.3 Million Lewiston Tribune, 4/1/2

Linda Ashton, Associated Press
BPA Gives $32 Million for Plans to Improve Fish Runs, Habitat
Seattle Times, March 31, 2002

See what you can learn

learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs
discussion forum
salmon animation