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Idaho Praises 'Mountain Snake' Project Funding by BPA

by Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - July 26, 2002

Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and Bonneville Power Administrator Steve Wright on Wednesday announced plans to spend $23 million a year for the next three years in carefully selected fish and wildlife projects in Idaho.

The ratepayer funds will support 12 new projects and continue work on 52 already under way. Most of the projects help sockeye, steelhead and spring chinook salmon, all species listed under the Endangered Species Act. They are part of a larger wildlife and fish recovery effort in the Mountain Snake Province - an area that covers most of central Idaho. These projects will help BPA meet its requirements under the Endangered Species Act and the Northwest Power Act to mitigate for the impacts of the federal hydropower dams.

"I applaud the efforts of Idaho's resource managers, be they state, local or tribal, in successfully competing for these funds," said Kempthorne. "Idaho thanks the BPA for their renewal of this partnership and commits to using these funds to produce the biggest bang for the buck. I told Administrator Wright we will work quickly and efficiently to get these dollars on the ground where they can pay dividends for Idaho's salmon and steelhead."

Wright said that BPA, the NWPPC and the state are making every effort to maintain the momentum of the salmon recovery effort during tight financial times.

Idaho's senior U.S. senator, Larry Craig, lauded all for jobs well done.

"This is great news and a common sense approach to assist salmon and other endangered fish recovery in Idaho," Craig said. "I commend Gov. Kempthorne and Idaho's resource managers for their success in attaining these competitive funds. This approach, using sound science, research, and technology, is the best way for our great state to recover endangered fish populations.

"Those who favor tearing out the dams and throwing a regional economy into turmoil must understand that breaching is no longer a viable option," Craig added. "I commend BPA's sensible strategy and thank them for this much needed and generous funding."

The projects are designed to mitigate for the effects of federal hydropower dams by improving and acquiring natural habitat, building and operating hatcheries and conducting research. An example of such a project is the Lower Red River Meadow Restoration Project, which will provide high quality habitat for Chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout and other resident species. The project comprises four land parcels and about 4.5 miles of river channel near Elk City in north central Idaho.

The projects were selected from among many proposed in the Mountain Snake Province, consisting of the Salmon and Clearwater watersheds. BPA and the Council solicited proposals in 2001, which were then reviewed by an independent scientific review panel. The Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority also reviewed the proposals.

The NWPPC in April recommended that $24 million in projects be funded during fiscal 2002 in the province ($25 million in 2003; $24 million in 2004). The funding decision announced this month by BPA defers decisions on a number of the projects recommended by the Council.

Three wildlife habitat acquisition projects are on hold until BPA can determine whether they qualify for funding as responses to NMFS' 2000 biological opinion. Bull trout projects are also deferred until Bonneville can determine the level of responsibility the federal hydrosystem might have for that resident fish's plight. Bull trout are listed under the ESA.

Funding for a set of research, monitoring and evaluation projects has also been deferred to see how they might fit in with an effort to develop a regional RM&E plan.

Related Sites:
For more information on all the projects and their locations, go to

Idaho Praises 'Mountain Snake' Project Funding by BPA
Columbia Basin Bulletin, July 26, 2002

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