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Science Review Of Resident Fish, Data Management Projects Under Council Program Open For Comment
Posted on Friday, April 13, 2012 (PST)

The Independent Scientific Review Panel’s recently completed final review of 71 “Resident Fish, Data Management, and Regional Coordination” proposals includes a thumbs up for 14 projects submitted for funding through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Columbia River Fish and Wildlife Program.

 

ISRP Chair Rich Alldredge and Vice-Chair Dennis Scarnecchia brief the Council on the report during its meeting Wednesday at Skamania Lodge near Stevenon, Wa. The ISRP to review individual fish and wildlife projects funded through the program by the Bonneville Power Administration and makes recommendations on matters related to those projects.

 

The ISRP report also said that 37 of the proposals meet scientific criteria outlined by the Council and recommends, with qualifications, that those projects be moved forward. The science panel judged that three of the submittals did not meet science criteria.

 

The ISRP comments included extensive discussions of programmatic issues the scientists say the Council needs to unravel. They also include a retrospective evaluation of results produced by ongoing projects within the Resident Fish, Data Management, and Regional Coordination project category.

 

In the preliminary review, the ISRP made a specific programmatic recommendation that applies to the 17 regional coordination proposals. Coordination projects, proposed primarily by involved states and tribes, aim to facilitate participation in activities and tasks that directly support Fish and Wildlife Program implementation, reporting, and technical policy development at the program level.

 

In addition to these 71 proposals, the ISRP considered 9 “contextual” projects that had been reviewed recently but were included in this review for reference because of their relation to the proposals under review.

 

In addition to individual project reviews, this report contains comments on issues that cut across projects and apply to the Program in general. Topics covered include non-native fish management, trout stocking strategies, monitoring and evaluation, regional coordination, results reporting, and process issues.

 

The Council and the Bonneville Power Administration are using this review to ensure that projects meet the needs and commitments of the 2009 Fish and Wildlife Program, the 2006 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biological opinion regarding the effects of Libby Dam operations on Kootenai River white sturgeon, bull trout and Kootenai sturgeon critical habitat, and the 2008 Federal Columbia River Power System biological opinion on Endangered Species Act listed salmon and steelhead. BPA funds the Fish and Wildlife Program as mitigation for impacts to fish and wildlife caused by the Columbia-Snake river hydro system and has obligations to fund worked aimed at improving the status of listed species and that promote tribal treaty rights.

 

The project category development did not involve an open solicitation for projects. Only projects specifically identified by Bonneville and the Council were allowed to submit proposals.

 

“However, as a result of this review, gaps may be identified that could be filled by proposals submitted through targeted and potentially competitive solicitations,” the ISRP review says.

In general, a central purpose of category reviews 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, according to the ISRP.

 

The new ISRP review is now available for public comment through May 4. It can be found at:

http://www.nwcouncil.org/library/report.asp?d=668

 

The NPCC staff expects to produce recommendation regarding funding for the projects and will forward those to the NPCC Fish and Wildlife Committee for discussion during its May 8 meeting in Hood River, Ore.

 

Council funding recommendations are tentatively scheduled to be made during it June meeting in Missoula, Mont.

 

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