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Science Panel Reviews RME, Artificial Production Projects To Be Funded Through Council’s F&W Program
Posted on Friday, October 22, 2010 (PST)

A “Preliminary Review of 2010 RME and Artificial Production Category Projects” gives a scientific thumbs up to 47 of the proposals for funding through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.

 

The Independent Scientific Review Panel review includes comments and recommendations on 99 submitted projects. The ISRP was created at the direction of a 1996 amendment to the Northwest Power Act that requires review of projects for consistency with the scientific principles outlined in the Council’s program.

 

The Power Act amendment also says the Council must fully consider ISRP recommendations when making its recommendations regarding funding. The funding recommendations go to the Bonneville Power Administration, which funds the program as mitigation for impacts on fish and wildlife caused by the federal Columbia-Snake river hydro system. BPA markets the power generated in the system.

 

The ISRP found that 22 of the 99 proposals meet scientific review criteria and that another 25 proposals meet criteria with some qualifications. ISRP recommendations on those 47 projects should be considered final, the report says.

 

“In addition, the ISRP finds 3 proposals do not meet criteria and deems 5 proposals not applicable for review at this time,” the review says. “In addition, the ISRP requests responses on 44 proposals. Project proponents are provided an opportunity to respond to ISRP concerns by November 15, 2010 before the ISRP submits its final report to the Council on December 16, 2010.”

 

The review can be found online at:

http://www.nwcouncil.org/library/report.asp?docid=8

 

Comments on the preliminary review should be delivered by Nov. 23 to:

 

Lynn Palensky

Project Development

Northwest Power and Conservation Council

851SW Sixth Ave., Suite 1100

Portland, OR., 97204-1348

 

Or by e-mail to:

comments@nwcouncil.org

 

This preliminary review report comes in the middle of a process the Council is conducting to consider funding proposals related to research, monitoring and evaluation and artificial production. Similar processes are also under way for other categories of projects.

 

The Council expects to make final project funding recommendations to BPA on all the RM&E and artificial production project proposals by early 2011. There will be an opportunity for further public review and comment after the final ISRP report in December and before the Council makes it final project recommendations.

 

The final review will include consideration of the project sponsors as well as 59 recently reviewed projects in context with the 99 RM&E and artificial production projects now under review, which include currently funded projects as well as new Columbia River Fish Accord projects and new projects that address gaps in the program and the 2008 Federal Columbia River Power System biological opinion that were identified in the 2009 collaboration process with regional fish management agencies.

 

The BiOp spells out what measures NOAA Fisheries thinks must be taken to avoid jeopardizing the survival of 13 basin salmon and steelhead stocks that are listed under the Endangered Species Act.

 

“This categorical review is intended to enable the Council, the ISRP, and Bonneville to review all similar projects (such as fish tagging studies) funded or proposed for funding through the Program,” the review says. “A central purpose of such a broad review is to highlight issues common to similar projects such as relevancy, duplication, coordination, scope, and consistency with the broad basinwide objectives and provisions in the Fish and Wildlife Program.

 

“Specifically, with regard to the research, monitoring and evaluation components of the projects, the Council and Bonneville are using the categorical review to ensure that RM&E implemented under the Program meets the performance-tracking and adaptive management needs and commitments” under the program and the BiOp.

 

“The ISRP has identified programmatic issues – some old, some new – that it will discuss over the next two months and include in the final December 16, 2010 report,” the report says. “Programmatic topics will include but not be limited to ocean studies, fish tagging, lamprey, habitat action effectiveness monitoring, results reporting, and process issues.

 

“The final report will also include (1) more in-depth consideration of the 59 ‘contextual’ proposals; (2) programmatic-level discussion of how well the projects aligned with the questions and policies that the Council provided in its July 15 letter to the ISRP; and (3) follow-up reviews of two proposals reviewed in the Fiscal Year 2010 Fast Track review.”

 

In its letter “the Council also asked the ISRP to review the project proposals mindful of the Council’s goal to reduce duplicative or excessive levels of research, monitoring, and evaluation and provided eleven questions/policies to guide the review. The Council hopes that cost savings identified by eliminating redundant or excessive RM&E could be applied to on-the-ground work,” the ISRP said.

 

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