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Collaborative approach increases protection for Mid-Columbia River salmon and steelhead

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Collaborative approach increases protection for Mid-Columbia River salmon and steelhead

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March 5, 2013
(Wenatchee, WA) A decade of working together with state and federal fish agencies and two Northwest tribes under innovative Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) for Rocky Reach and Rock Island dams has achieved the goal that these dams have no net impact on the salmon and steelhead migrating past them.

Reaching the no-net-impact goal was confirmed last week by the parties to the agreements at the 10-year check-in on the plans. The goals of the plans were met using an outcome-based approach combining the expertise of the parties with Chelan PUD’s knowledge of the unique characteristics of each dam. The result is a balanced effort using effective spill, fish passage improvements, tributary habitat work and hatchery programs to reach the no-net-impact standard, Keith Truscott, Natural Resources director told PUD commissioners on Monday.

The milestone provides operating certainty for Chelan PUD and verified protection for the species covered by the 50-year plans. That means the benefits of cost-effective, renewable electricity for local customer-owners, support for local industry and a clean, non-carbon power source for customers of utilities across the Northwest are assured, Truscott said.
Commissioners greeted the news with applause.

“It turned out to be very cost-effective,” said Commissioner Dennis Bolz, noting the collaborative approach and focus taken by all those involved to achieve the goals of the HCP was “remarkable.”

Chelan PUD has worked with representatives from National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation on three operating committees to put the programs and practices in place.

This outcome-based HCP approach offered greater opportunity for success by recognizing each dam is unique, requiring solutions based on the best available science, tailored to each hydro project. Spill was found to be the most effective way to safely move young fish past Rock Island Dam. At Rocky Reach Dam, a $107 million juvenile fish bypass along with summer spill provides safe, effective fish passage.

The HCPs are living documents, spelling out Chelan PUD’s long-term commitment. The gains made in fish protection in the last 10 years will be maintained with programs and measures to provide a consistent level of protection. The agreements allow for incorporating future technology and efficiency advances, and there are more check-in points in the years to come.

1 comments
RichelleBeck
RichelleBeck

Congratulations to the Douglas and Chelan PUDs, and all of the parties involved in the HCP coordination, on a job well done.  It is not easy to coordinate at such a high level with so many factors contributing to the loss of salmon and steelhead.  Kudos to everyone for working together to solve the problem.  I look forward to watching the upper and mid-Columbia salmon and steelhead numbers continue to rise!


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