by members of the Northwest congressional delegation that the Bonneville Power
Administration is lopping off funding for coded wire tag monitoring of Columbia
River basin salmon are greatly overstated, according recent letter from BPA CEO
solution, which we are coordinating with the affected states and the Council,
is much simpler and more benign than has been portrayed,” according to the Feb.
17 letter sent to Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington.
letters were sent to five other Oregon and Washington members of Congress who
co-signed a Dec. 20 letter asking BPA to justify its “decision to ignore the
Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s recommendation and imposed
additional cuts on the Coded Wire Tag Program.”
letter says that his agency has not cut off funding for coded wire projects,
but rather has been working with multiple entities, including the states of
Oregon and Washington, “seeking, over time, to better align BPA’s funding with
our FCRPS responsibilities, at the same time freeing up other state and federal
funds to continue the tagging work as a whole.
and Washington have recently reached an agreement to adjust funding accordingly
for fiscal 2014.
are engaged in similar discussions with Oregon. We are confident that these
adjustments will preserve effective CWT monitoring while also upholding both
BPA’s obligations to its ratepayers and environmental stewardship of the
never said there was going to be a cliff,” BPA Fish and Wildlife director, Bill
Maslen, said. Rather, BPA’s idea is to transition funding for portions of the
CWT away from the federal power marketing agency to responsible entities.
current CWT program costs about $21.2 million per year, with the BPA cost share
being about $7.5 million or approximately 35 percent of the total.
federal power marketing agency in fiscal year 2012 spent more than $60 million
overall to support research using techniques ranging from coded wire, radio
telemetry, acoustic tags and passive integrated transponder tags to genetic
markers and otolith marks and scales to fin clipping and data systems to manage
the information received.
BPA spent more than $80 million in fiscal year 2013 on more than 150 fish and
wildlife projects involving research and monitoring for fish and wildlife
populations, habitat and hatcheries, Mainzer’s letter says.
uses ratepayer revenues to pay for projects intended to mitigate for impacts of
the Federal Columbia River Power System dams on fish and wildlife. It has
argued that some of the CWT work does not directly mitigate for hydro system
NPCC in August voted 6-2 to recommend that the Bonneville continue its contribution
of about $7.5 million annually to a program aimed at monitoring the fate of
Columbia River salmon and steelhead via coded wire tag technology. Idaho’s two
Council members voted against the proposal. Members from Montana, Oregon and
Washington favored it.
members at the time acknowledged that a funding responsibility “gray area”
and power user groups at the time favored an option to reduce over a three-year
period BPA funding for fishery catch sampling and associated analysis, which
would eventually eliminate about $1.9 million in annual project funding, and,
again over a three-year period, reduce BPA funding for tagging at hatcheries
funded through the federal Mitchell Act, an annual reduction of $600,000.
BPA and its customers continued to be concerned that certain CWT tasks funded
by BPA are not directed related to mitigation responsibility for the federal
hydrosystem,” Mainzer’s letter says. “These tasks involved CWT work at fish
hatcheries funded by NOAA Fisheries under the Mitchell Act and for sampling of
fish harvested in the lower Columbia River and off the central Oregon Coast.”
letter from Cantwell, fellow Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Jeff Merkley
of Oregon, and U.S. Reps. Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer and Denny Heck of
Washington insisted that BPA maintain funding.
understand that BPA may be seeking alternative methods to pay for the CWT
programs, but we believe such an effort may be based on false assumptions that
could set a bad precedent regarding BPA’s clear statutory mitigation
responsibilities, including the Endangered Species Act,” the lawmakers said.
we request written justification from BPA for rejecting the Northwest Power and
Conservation Council’s recommendations. While the region continues to evaluate
the legal and policy justifications for any changes to the CWT program, we urge
BPA to restore funding to the program for at least the upcoming fiscal year.”
more information see:
CBB, Aug. 9, 2013, “Northwest Power/Conservation Council Recommends Continued
BPA Funding For Coded Wire Tagging” http://www.cbbulletin.com/427857.aspx
CBB, June 21, 2013, “Economists: Need For ‘Rationalization’ Of Basin
Fish-Tagging Programs Spending $70 Million A Year” http://www.cbbulletin.com/427144.aspx
CBB, May 10, 2013, “Fish Tagging Forum Finds Some Consensus On Efficiencies But
Differences On Coded Wire Tags” http://www.cbbulletin.com/426530.aspx
CBB, March 1, 2013, “Columbia/Snake Basin Fish Tagging Costs $61.4 Million In
2012; Forum Evaluates Data Value For Policy” http://www.cbbulletin.com/425291.aspx