Feds Propose $2.1 Billion Fish Planby Steven Johnson
Electric Co-op Today, May 25, 2012
Improving the survival rate of four species of salmon and steelhead along the lower Columbia River will cost $2.1 billion during the next 25 years, under a plan offered by the federal government.
The NOAA Fisheries Service proposed a series of steps that include improving the habitat for the fish, changing management of hatchery and hydropower programs, and controlling predators, such as sea lions and birds.
The goal, the agency said in a May 16 announcement, is to restore populations of the four fish in the waters between Oregon and Washington to the point where they can be removed from the Endangered Species List.
Of the $2.1 billion, about $614 million is expected to be needed in the first five years, primarily for improvements in the Columbia River estuary that are expected to benefit all salmon and steelhead.
Fish and wildlife programs account for about 30 percent of the wholesale power costs of the Bonneville Power Administration, which markets hydroelectricity from federal dams to co-ops and other utilities.
Some progress already is underway, the fisheries service reported. Harvest rates of the Lower Columbia River Chinook salmon, Lower Columbia River steelhead, Lower Columbia River coho salmon and Columbia River chum salmon are dropping.
"However, considerable additional work is needed to meet the goals of this plan. Habitat activities in particular need to be scaled up if they are to provide the needed benefits," the agency said.
It added that it will look into additional ways to improve survival rates of fish that pass through Bonneville Dam.
The plan was developed after consulting with state, tribal and federal representatives, as well as local communities and other stakeholders. The agency is taking comments through July 16.
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