Federal Executives Comment on New Approach for Salmon Recovery

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NOAA Fisheries to review the proposed action to develop a biological opinion for listed fish.

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Federal action agencies are proposing expanded actions to support recovery of Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead, representing the most comprehensive approach ever conducted to help Endangered Species Act-listed fish in the Northwest. The Bonneville Power Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation are making the following resources available to help convey the importance of these plans for the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS), how these plans differ from the past, how they respond to direction from the courts, how they took collaboration to a new level and how science leads the proposed recovery actions.

Under the Endangered Species Act, a federal agency whose proposed actions may affect a species (or its habitat) listed as threatened or endangered must assess the potential impacts of its actions in a document called a “biological assessment” (BA). The FCRPS action agencies have submitted the proposed actions and comprehensive analysis to NOAA Fisheries, which will conduct its own independent analysis of the actions and will determine whether the proposed actions will avoid jeopardy to the listed species.

Below are resources to help learn about the agencies’ proposed expanded actions:

Audio interviews of federal executives at:

  •     Audio interview with Steve Wright, BPA administrator and Witt Anderson, chief of planning and environmental resources, Northwest Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the importance of Columbia River Basin BA documents.
  •     Audio interview with Bill MacDonald, regional director, Bureau of Reclamation, about the Upper Snake River BA.

(For video interviews of questions above with Wright and Anderson, please contact Mike Hansen of BPA at contact number above to request an e-mail of these high resolution video files).

Overview of FCRPS Actions to Advance Recovery (27 pages)
The history, development and the merits of the FCRPS analysis and proposed actions are highlighted in this piece. It tells the story of where we have been, what we have accomplished, and the collaborative steps we took along with the region to be able to present the BA and accompanying documents to NOAA Fisheries.

Complete Biological Assessments and Comprehensive Analysis (approx. 1,800 pages total)
This is the complete submittal to NOAA Fisheries for both the Columbia and Snake river systems, including the FCRPS BA and Appendix , the upper Snake River BA and a comprehensive analysis. The comprehensive analysis carefully analyzes the status of each of the listed stocks and the factors that have contributed to their decline, assesses the impact of the federal agencies’ proposed actions, and makes a determination of whether those actions and the actions of others will put that fish on a trend to recovery.

Executive summary (26 pages)
This is a synopsis of the three documents described above.

Citizens update (8 pages)
An illustrated citizens' guide to the three documents

Presentation (14 slides)
Overview of the contents of the documents, including graphics that may be helpful tools for media outlets.

In October 2005, U.S. District Court Judge James Redden found the FCRPS Biological Opinion (BiOp) invalid. He was responding to lawsuits brought by environmentalists and fisheries groups against NOAA Fisheries, which issues the BiOps related to anadromous fish. He remanded the BiOp back to NOAA Fisheries and directed the federal action agencies (BPA, Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation) to work with Columbia Basin tribes and the four Northwest states to develop a new Proposed Action: that is, the collection of measures to be carried out by the federal action agencies on behalf of Columbia Basin fish listed under the Endangered Species Act. In addition, in a separate lawsuit, the BiOp for 12 federal projects in the upper Snake River was remanded by the Court for correction on the same grounds as the FCRPS BiOp.

Mike Hansen, BPA, (503) 230-4328
Nola Leyde, Corps, (206) 764-6896
Diana Cross, Reclamation, (208) 378-5020

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