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Economic and dam related articles

Council Earmarks Over $1 Million for more Subbasin Plans

by CBB Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - February 21, 2003

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council on Wednesday earmarked more than $1 million for the development of 15 subbasin plans in Washington and one -- the Snake River/Hells Canyon subbasin -- that includes territory in three of the four states that have Columbia River Basin acreage.

The Council on Wednesday also shifted back a bit, from May 1, 2004, to May 28, 2004, its final deadline for submittal of subbasin plans that the NPCC expects guide the project selection process in its fish and wildlife program. The Council, in its Aug. 12, 2002 request for recommendations (subbasin plans), called for the submittal of plans between May 1, 2003 and May 1, 2004.

Only one plan, for the Clearwater River subbasin in central Idaho, has been submitted thus far and no other submittals are expected before May 1.

"We now have more than half of the subbasin work plans approved by the Council," said Lynn Palensky, NPPC subbasin planning coordinator. The Council's authorization of 16 new subbasin plan development scopes of work means that about $7.5 million in spending has been approved by the Council to-date, though much of that work has yet to be contracted. The Council expects to spend $15.2 million over two years for the development of subbasin plans.

The deadline shift is intended to allow the maximum amount of time to develop the recommendations while still allowing for the Council amendment proceeding to adopt plans by the end of 2004, according to a staff memo. It is envisioned that a subbasin plan for each of the Columbia Basin's 62 subbasins will be adopted as an amendment to the Council's fish and wildlife program. The Council, and program, were created via 1980's Northwest Power Act. The program is funded by the Bonneville Administration as mitigation for impacts on fish and wildlife from construction and operation of the federal hydrosystem.

The Council has one year from the work plans' submittal to adopt them into the program. The plans are being developed by fish and wildlife managers and other stakeholders in the individual locales and states. NPCC senior counsel John Ogan said Tuesday that staff does not feel it would take a full year for the Council to adopt the plans through a public process.

The Council this week also shifted the entry point for exposure of the plans to independent scientific review.

"The Council has decided that it will offer scientific review of final draft subbasin plans before they are formally submitted to the Council as recommendations," according to a staff memo. That will allow the subbasin planners to take the input from the Council's Independent Scientific Review Panel and make any necessary changes before submitting the final plan.

The Council had originally intended for the ISRP review to take place after submittal of the final subbasin plans.

The Council on Wednesday authorized NPCC executive director Steve Crow to negotiate contracts for the development of: