Partnerships for a Common Purpose: Cooperative Fisheries Research and Management

Making Cooperative Management Work: Colombia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority

Tom Iverson

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569858.ch27

The Columbia River flows for more than 1,900 km and drains 670,000 km2 in seven states and Canada and covers an area approximately the size of France. The Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) consists of 29 hydroelectric and irrigation dams. In addition to the FCRPS, there are more than 1,200 additional dams on the Columbia River and its tributaries for the purpose of hydroelectric generation and irrigation. The construction and operation of the FCRPS has directly impacted fish and wildlife resources in the basin, with several fish species extirpated and other fish species listed as threatened or endangered. The secondary effects of the FCRPS due to irrigated lands, development, and population increases have had significant impacts on wildlife, anadromous and resident fish species.

In 1980, the U.S. Congress passed the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act (NPA) “to encourage, through the unique opportunity provided by the FCRPS … to protect, mitigate and enhance the fish and wildlife, including related spawning grounds and habitat, of the Columbia River and its tributaries, particularly anadromous fish which are of significant importance to the social and economic well-being of the Pacific Northwest and the Nation and which are dependent on suitable environmental conditions substantially obtainable from the management and operation of the FCRPS and other power generating facilities on the Columbia River and its tributaries.” The NPA created the Pacific Northwest Electric Power and Conservation Planning Council (recently renamed the Pacific Northwest Power and Conservation Council), a fourstate compact, with appointees by the four governors of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, directed to (1) develop a regional conservation and electric power plan, and (2) develop a program to protect, mitigate, and enhance fish and wildlife and to otherwise expeditiously and effectively carry out the council’s responsibilities. The NPA calls for the council to rely on recommendations from the fish and wildlife managers to develop the program.

The Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program is funded by Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) through wholesale electric rates charged to customers of the FCRPS. The program is currently funded at approximately $145 million annually to support a broad array of projects intended to protect, mitigate, and enhance fish and wildlife populations. The program funds more than 450 projects that support hatcheries, habitat acquisition and restoration, passage improvements, research, monitoring and evaluation, coordination, and other programs. The council makes project recommendations to BPA, and BPA funds the projects consistent with the council’s program.