Public Power Daily Logo

NOAA Fisheries issues supplemental plan for protecting Northwest salmon, cites gains

From the January 23, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published January 23, 2014

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries issued a supplemental biological opinion Jan. 17 confirming that improvements at federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers, rehabilitation of habitat and other actions are benefiting protected salmon and steelhead trout as much as or more than anticipated five years ago. 

"This updated salmon plan continues on the path of progress seen over the past decade," said Scott Corwin, executive director of the Public Power Council (PPC), which represents consumer-owned electric utilities that rely on power from the federal Columbia River power system. 

The biological opinion is the plan that manages the Columbia and Snake rivers to protect 13 salmon and steelhead populations listed under the Endangered Species Act. 

The supplemental biological opinion reaffirmed the effectiveness of NOAA’s 2008/2010 biological opinions for salmon and steelhead affected by the operation of the federal Columbia River power system, NOAA Fisheries said. The supplemental opinion analyzed research and monitoring results from the first five years of work under the original biological opinions. The 2008 biological opinion outlined more than 70 actions necessary to protect 13 ESA-listed salmon and steelhead species through 2018. In 2010, NOAA Fisheries reaffirmed the 2008 biological opinion and called for additional actions to help the fish.  

The supplemental opinion found that salmon passage rates at the dams is very high, more than 10,000 acres of fish habitat is being enhanced and protected, and hundreds of miles of new stream access is now available, the Public Power Council said. "The fruits of these labors have led to the highest salmon returns in over 75 years."

"This supplemental biological opinion confirms we are on the right track when it comes to ensuring the survival of salmon and steelhead species in the Columbia River system now and well into the future," said Will Stelle, West Coast regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries. "Lots of hard work and collaboration across the region made this progress possible."  

"The region’s electric utility ratepayers are funding most of this massive effort, so it is good to see that it is working effectively to meet the fish survival goals," Corwin said. 

The supplemental biological opinion also addresses a 2011 U.S. District Court order requiring NOAA to submit an amended plan that specifies additional habitat actions.



Be the first to rate this item!

Please Sign in to rate this.


  Add Your Comment

(1000 of 1000 characters remaining)

Senior Vice President, Publishing 
Jeanne Wickline LaBella

Editorial Director
Robert Varela

Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson

Communications Assistant
Fallon W. Forbush

Manager, Integrated Media 
David L. Blaylock

Integrated Media Editor 
Laura D’Alessandro