Bob Lohn revealed that work done by NOAA Fisheries shows salmon recovery can be achieved without removing dams. Thus, dam breaching has been taken off the table and the BiOp includes dams in the environmental baseline.
NOAA Fisheries will soon release its Biological Opinion (BiOp). The BiOp governs how the Bonneville Power Administration, the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation operate the hydroelectric system in order to minimize harm to protected salmon. Required under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the plan’s intent is to balance the energy and water needs of the Northwest and the commitment to salmon with proposed actions that will not be likely to jeopardize 12 Columbia River basin salmon and steelhead species listed under the ESA.
According to NOAA Fisheries, the BiOp contains the following
Commenting on the draft BiOp, NOAA Fisheries Northwest Regional
Administrator Bob Lohn revealed that work done by NOAA Fisheries shows salmon recovery can be achieved without removing dams. Thus, dam breaching has been taken off the table and the BiOp includes dams in the environmental baseline. Following input, a final BiOp will be issued on or before November 30, 2004.
- Nearly all ESA-listed populations of salmon and steelhead have significantly improved from the numbers counted in 2000 and are well above the 10-year average returns.
- Improved salmon numbers are the result of “federal, state, local and tribal funding to restore hundreds of miles of in-river and estuary salmon habitat, state-of-the art technological upgrades to hydroelectric dams and other facilities, and recent favorable ocean conditions. These efforts will continue in the future, including
a request by the Bush administration for an additional $100-million in the president’s 2005 budget request for hundreds of collaborative, locally-driven projects.”
- The BiOp provides for “significant commitment of future resources
by federal agencies operating the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS). It will include a commitment to boost fish survival through the FCRPS (including efficient spill and removable spillway weirs and other similar improvements) over the next 10 years.”
- Performance standards will require federal agencies operating the dams to achieve specific levels of survival for both juvenile and adult fish passage through the dams, but are allowed flexibility
on how to achieve these survival levels.
- Major salmon efforts already underway will continue. These include predator control and habitat improvements.
- The draft identifies “remedial actions necessary for each species and provides the tools to measure results.” It also defines “in greater detail the specific hydropower, habitat and hatchery actions that need to be taken and will provide specific performance
standards for these actions.” This detail is provided in response to Judge James A. Redden’s opinion that measures relied upon to help endangered species are certain to be carried out.
Glen W. Squires
Draft BiOp Removes Dam Breaching from Table
Wheat Life, November 2004
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