Working Towards a Stronger Fish and Wildlife Program


Sunset Falls, SF Skykomish River, WA | © Thomas O'Keefe

Submit your comments to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council to protect fish and wildlife! | © Thomas O’Keefe

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council (Council) is charged with developing a Fish and Wildlife Program to mitigate for the development and operation of the large federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. This program is being revised this year, which gives the public a chance to recommend needed improvements to the program.

A stronger Fish and Wildlife Program will contribute to the protection and restoration of key rivers and fish and wildlife populations around the Northwest, with benefits ranging from helping to protect the South Fork Skykomish River from a damaging new dam to improving the operations of big federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers to bring back healthy numbers of native fish like salmon and steelhead.

The Fish and Wildlife Program overlaps with the duties of the Bonneville Power Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to ensure that the Columbia-Snake River dams are operated to allow for the recovery of salmon and steelhead populations listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. But the Fish and Wildlife program is broader — it applies to all fish and wildlife species affected by the federal dams, so it can focus on the overall health of the ecosystem in addition to particular species.

This Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program’s basic scope can be distilled into the following areas:

  • Mainstem dam operations and water management;
  • Tributary and estuary restoration and protection, including the Protected Areas Program, which the Council established to sensitive fish and wildlife habitat in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana from hydropower development (more on this below;
  • Fish hatchery management;
  • Invasive species management/control;
  • Wildlife mitigation;
  • Species specific management goals and restoration actions; and
  • General objectives/implementation/governance issues

This is not a comprehensive list, but it gives one an idea of what the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program is about.

American Rivers and some of partners are submitting detailed comments on the Fish and Wildlife program, but the program will be stronger if the Council hears directly from concerned members of the public.

To comment, fill out the comment form at this website by Tuesday, September 17th.

You can use these brief “talking points” to inform your input (or even cut and paste them into the comment form!):

  • Mainstem dam operations: Change dam operations to improve salmon survival.
    • First, follow the recommendations in the Comparative Survival Study by federal, state, and tribal biologists, which calls for changing dam operations to allow juvenile salmon to pass more safely over the dams. Increasing the amount of water sent (or “spilled”) over the dams is important to try, as it may prove sufficient to meet many of the Fish and Wildlife Program’s salmon and steelhead survival goals.
    • Second, evaluate how other changes in dam operations and water management could help restore native fish populations and ecosystem function, such as changes in flood risk operations or acquisition of additional flow from Canadian reservoirs.
  • Tributary and Estuary restoration and protection:
    • The Protected Areas Program should be strengthened by adding climate change impacts and bull trout protection to the list of considerations underlying a decision to designate a stream as protected. Further, there should be no exemptions allowed under the program. Exemptions could allow dams to be constructed in Protected Areas — by definition these areas are environmentally sensitive and were protected to mitigate for the dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. Exemptions run counter to that mitigation goal, and could open up sensitive streams in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana to damaging dam proposals like the Sunset Falls dam proposal on the South Fork Skykomish River in Washington.
    • Reintroduce native fish into areas blocked by dams or other man-made barriers.
  • Hatcheries: Focus on improvements to dam operations and habitat protection and restoration that increase natural salmon and steelhead production, thereby reducing the need for hatcheries. Ensure that hatcheries continuing to operate are run in a manner that minimizes negative effects on wild fish populations.
  • Reduce Toxic Contaminants: There is growing evidence that fish and wildlife are negatively affected by toxic contamination in the Columbia River system. The Fish and Wildlife Program should call for an assessment of how hydropower projects exacerbate toxic contamination and create a program to mitigate for those effects.

Please comment by filling out the comment form at this website by Tuesday, September 17th.

12 Responses to “Working Towards a Stronger Fish and Wildlife Program”

Marci McCartney

STOP WEAKENING THE PROGRAMS AND NEW RESOLUTIONS THAT ARE INTENDED TO PROTECT THE WILDLIFE AND FISH POPULATION FROM DEATH AND ENDANGERMENT OF EXTINCTION!!

Shell Lavender

With progress comes the responsibility to protect our Eco-systems from the unintended consequences of progress,such as toxic contamination from the programs we initiate and to mitigate those effects.

Clotilda G. Devlin

Salmon is good for our health, and Pacific wild salmon is best.

Suzanne Kruger

WE MUST STOP IGNORING THE IMPORTANCE OF THE NATURAL WORLD IN OUR LIVES; TODAY & IN THE FUTURE!!!

Allan Cooperman

How can you ne a part of a plan to diminish the eaeth and its resources. Shouldn’t you ne preaerving the wildlife and rivers. Think about the future and how you are affecting it. Think what you are leaving your children and grandchildren and mine and everyone elses. Have a conscience.

    Allan Cooperman

    How can you be apart of a plan to diminish the earth and its resources. Shouldn’t you ne preaervingpreaerving the wildlife and rivers. Think about the future and how you are affecting it. Think what you are leaving your children and grandchildren and mine and everyone elses. Have a conscience.

Chuck Kalina

Every possible action must be taken to facilitate Salmon passing through the dams. Please follow the recommendations of the Comparative Survival Study conducted by state, federal, and tribal biologists. Changing dam operations, letting more water over the dams to allow juvenile salmon to pass more safely over the dams, is imperative. Evaluate how dam operations, including flood risk and taking on more water from Canada, can improve conditions for salmon survivability.
Restoring estuary habitat, granting critical estuaries protected status, and prohibiting pesticides, are also essential steps toward insuring the survivability of Salmon. Exemptions, allowing more dams, will lead to more loss of vital salmon habitat in other states, (Like Idaho, Washington, and Montana.) more dams, and even further reduction in salmon populations.
Hatcheries should be well regulated to mitigate negative effects on local fish populations. restoration of habitat, should keep as a goal, the natural reproduction of salmon, and steelhead.
Contaminants introduced into the rivers from power plants (And, other sources.)can exacerbate the problem of decreasing salmon populations. Every step must be taken to completely eliminate any contaminants, pesticides, heavy metals, and herbicides, from the salmon habitat. Loss of the salmon in this region will be more than just a shame….. It will devastate a way of life, and it would be a national disgrace, especially since it can be avoided. Let’s not allow that to happen.

Orchid

It is disgusting that for only 2 weeks a year Chinook Salmon migrate to the NW so humans go kill them. More disgusting is how much we waste our planet by greed as we have less than a third of the fish that were here 20 years ago thanks to OVER FISHING and Human Pollution. Time to Pay attention or there will be no food for the future humans or the animals we starve in our greedy overpopulating ignorance AS humans!