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NMFS Releases BIOP for Upper Snake Projects

by Mike O'Bryant
Columbia Basin Bulletin - June 1, 2001

The National Marine Fisheries Service recently completed the last piece of its 2000 biological opinion for operations of dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers -- a plan guiding flow augmentation from Upper Snake projects.

But that piece is only temporary.

NMFS had released its biological opinion and Basinwide Recovery Plan for Columbia River federal hydroelectric system operations Dec. 21, 2000 (2000 BiOp), but it left out the huge chunk of the Snake River basin upstream from Brownlee Dam until mediation was complete on a longstanding lawsuit.

Although the region is still awaiting a decision in the Snake River Basin Adjudication, NMFS decided to go ahead and release a one-year BiOp for U.S. Bureau of Reclamation dams in the upper Snake River. That's the section of the basin that in a normal water year would supply 427,000 acre feet of water to augment flows in the lower Snake River. The Adjudication pitted the BOR, NMFS, the Department of Interior and the Nez Perce Tribes in Idaho District Court against the State of Idaho and Idaho water interests to resolve tribal and federal water claims in the basin.

According to Brian Brown of NMFS, the BiOp is simply a rollover of the previous operations outlined in the 1998 Supplemental BiOp.

Mike O'Bryant
NMFS Releases BIOP for Upper Snake Projects
Columbia Basin Bulletin, June 1, 2001

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