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Habitat Projects Could Get $26.3 Million

by The Associated Press
Lewiston Tribune, April 1, 2002

BOISE -- The Northwest Power Planning Council is recommending $36.3 million in projects next year to improve fish and wildlife survival in central Idaho, southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon.

The Nez Perce Tribe, Asotin County Conservation District and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game were all awarded funding to help improve fish and wildlife habitat in Clearwater, Salmon and Snake River basins.

The money comes from the federal Bonneville Power Administration as part of a 1980 congressional mandate to protect, mitigate and enhance fish and wildlife affected by the construction and operation of hydropower dams in the 259,000-square-mile Columbia River Basin.

The council recommended 20 continuing and eight new projects in the Blue Mountain area of eastern Oregon totaling $12.4 million.

Those projects include watershed habitat improvement on Asotin Creek; master planning for the Northeast Oregon Hatchery, where the Nez Perce Tribe will work to restore chinook salmon and steelhead populations; acquisition of wildlife habitat at Ladd Marsh near La Grande, Ore., by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; and restoration of Grand Ronde River salmon and steelhead habitat by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation.

The Asotin County Conservation District will receive $271,000 this year to continue its effort to assess and restore steelhead, chinook and bull trout habitat in Asotin Creek. The district also will receive $241,000 for similar work in Couse and Tenmile creeks.

The council also recommended 38 ongoing and 21 new projects totaling $23.9 million in central Idaho. They include work by the Nez Perce Tribe to restore the Lapwai Creek watershed and by Custer County, the Idaho Office of Species Conservation and others to restore habitat on nonfederal lands in the upper Salmon River watershed. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will receive funding for several projects including evaluating Pacific lamprey in the Clearwater Basin, study the effectiveness of steelhead supplementation efforts, develop a captive brood stock program for sockeye and chinook salmon and continue to screen irrigation diversions to keep young fish from being stranded in fields.

Both sets of projects were reviewed and approved by the Independent Scientific Review Panel -- 11 scientists appointed by the council -- and by the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority, which is an association of the region's state, tribal and federal fish and wildlife managers. The projects were also recommended for funding in 2003 and 2004. The Bonneville Power Administration still has to approve each of the projects before it will receive funding.

Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne praised the council for its decisions.

"We're not talking about spending money on further studies. We're talking about action. These funds will lead to projects on the ground that will produce results," he said.

The Northwest Power Planning Council is made up of two members each from Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

The Associated Press
Habitat Projects Could Get $26.3 Million
Lewiston Tribune, April 1, 2002

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