Feds and Tribes Agree to Work Together on Columbia River Salmon Issues
"April 7, 2008 – The federal action agencies (Bonneville Power Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Reclamation) are proposing to enter into agreements with four tribes to provide 10-year mutual commitments for fish restoration, particularly for Columbia River Basin salmon and steelhead. BPA is seeking public comment on the proposal to enter into the agreements as negotiated, as well as on associated environmental effects. The action agencies believe the proposed agreements will enhance overall fish restoration efforts in the region, making mitigation for the hydro system significantly more effective through a common approach. The agreements build on the hydro, habitat and hatchery actions in NOAA Fisheries’ draft biological opinions for listed salmon and steelhead, providing additional actions, greater clarity regarding biological benefits, and secure funding. The agreements also provide substantial benefits for non-listed fish, such as lamprey. The agencies intend the agreements to signal a stronger partnership with the tribes, centered around the shared fish restoration goals and priorities included in the agreements. Comments will be accepted until close of business April 23, 2008. Comments may be submitted online at http://www.bpa.gov/comment/ , via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Other ways to comment are described in the letter to the region announcing public comment opportunity, link below. ..."The Salem-News.com reports:
"Under these agreements, the federal agencies would make available approximately $900 million over 10 years to continue existing programs and to implement new priority fish projects with the tribes. Most of this money would be provided by BPA. The tribes commit to accomplishing biological objectives with the funds, linked to meeting the agencies' statutory requirements. These agreements would promote a collaborative relationship between the parties for 10 years. The parties agree that the federal government's requirements under the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and Northwest Power Act are satisfied for the next 10 years and that they will work together to support these agreements in all appropriate venues. The agreements would specifically resolve, for these parties, ESA litigation pending before Judge James Redden of the U.S. District Court of Oregon."