officials on Tuesday spoke Tuesday on the need to enlist the aid of the
Northwest Power and Conservation Council in work aimed at, first, determining
the feasibility of reintroducing salmon to long-blocked habitat above central
Washington’s Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph dams on the Columbia River, and
potentially following through.
Michel told the Council that tribes both north and south of the border
appreciate language in newly approved amendments to the NPCC’s Columbia River
Basin Fish and Wildlife Program that support such investigations and actions.
between the NPCC, tribes, federal and state entities and others “could lead to
the biggest action in your program’s 35-year history,” said Michel, executive
director of the Upper Columbia United Tribes and a Colville tribal member. UCUT
members include the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the
Spokane Tribe of Indians, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, and the Confederated
Tribe of the Colville Reservation.
UCUT chairman Matt Wynne and Stephen Smith of Stephen H. Smith Fisheries
Consulting Inc. on Tuesday discussed a recently completed joint paper from the
Columbia basin tribes and Canadian First Nations titled “Fish Passage and
Reintroduction into the U.S. and Canadian Upper Columbia Basin.” The paper lays
out a phased approach that would first assess the viability of reintroduction.
tribes include the UCUTs, Canadian Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission,
Columbia Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Okanagan Nation Alliance, Upper Snake
River Tribes, Cowlitz Indian Tribe, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai
Tribes. The paper, which was written during the Council’s 2014 Program
amendment process, was produced to inform the Columbia River Treaty regarding
Council members and staff and the tribal spokesman said that NPCC involvement
would be focused on Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph and habitat between those
dams and the Canadian border. The Council’s program, created at the direction
of Congress’ Northwest Power Act, develops a program to protect and rebuild
fish and wildlife populations affected by hydropower development in the
Columbia River basin. The program is focused in U.S. portions of the basin.
reintroduction issue is also being studied by both U.S. federal officials and
Canadian entities as they consider whether to renegotiate and update the
Columbia River Treaty. That agreement between Canada and the United States, now
in place for more than 50 years, sought the cooperative development and
operation of the water resources of the Columbia River Basin for the benefit of
both countries. Those benefits principally involve flood control and hydro
too are blocked upstream at Canadian Dams such as Keenleyside, Brilliant and
migrations upstream were initially blocked with completion of Grand Coulee in
1942. Chief Joseph was later built 51 river miles downstream. Neither of the
federal hydro projects provided upstream passage for salmon spawners.
upstream of those dams were deprived of an important source of food, and a
staple of their culture.
called the upper Columbia region “the most impacted” by hydro development in
the United States and British Columbia “and the least mitigated.” He said that
the two Washington dams provide 50 percent of the power generated in the
Columbia power system, and cost access to 40 percent of the Columbia’s historic
said it’s time to “right that wrong.”
recent years favorable ocean conditions, improved passage at dams downstream
for both juvenile and adult salmon and habitat improvements in both the United
States and Canada have helped improve survival, abundance and productivity of
both summer chinook and sockeye salmon, two species that used to call the upper
fish passage technologies and research tools have advanced significantly,
raising the possibility that fish could be successfully passed upstream, the
an example, the Whooshh Fish Transport System -- also known as the Salmon
Cannon – has proved out in a variety of field tests.
is sowing potential in passing adult fish in a cost efficient manner,” said
Smith. The system is intended to move fish at the processing plant, farm site,
hatchery, or dam through its patented transport tubes that use pressure
differentials to “whoosh” the fish from one place to another --gently, quickly,
efficiently and cost-effectively.
exhaustive tests of the system’s ability to transport to greater heights and
over greater distances are needed, according to Smith. Both dams represent
and Wynne said they would like to soon involve the Council and the region as a
whole in a process Phase I, which would include the following objectives:
Evaluate existing passage information from dams, including Grand Coulee and
Evaluate extent and potential production of historical habitats above Chief
Joseph and Grand Coulee dams;
Document capital and operating costs of fish facility options, including any
foregone operating benefits;
Evaluate potential donor stocks (Not ESA);
Investigate utility and cost of the WHOOSHH technology for interim and
Conduct pilot releases of chinook and sockeye to determine options and methods
for Phase 2 research;
Develop Structured Decision Framework and multi-phase Project Strategic Plan;
Create life-cycle models to inform development of Phase 2 study plan, survival
targets and passage strategies;
Develop initial, draft research plan addressing critical uncertainties in fish
Create and maintain flow of Project Information;
Assess effects of pilot and permanent reintroductions on resident fish
management and project operations Next Work Plan.??
1 would consist of a feasibility study to determine habitat availability,
suitability, and salmon potential above Grand Coulee by learning both from
previous studies at blockages throughout the basin and a potential new study at
Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee.
work plan developed by UCUT and the tribes foresees a logical, phased and
collaborative approach that is science based. Key reviews and decisions coming
from the process would be offered for Council review. The process, the tribes
say, could culminate in permanent passage and reintroduction – if warranted.
tremendously important not just to the tribes but to the entire region,” CRITFC
executive director Paul Lumley said of the benefits of restored salmon populations
to historic habitat above the dams.
work plan developed by UCUT and the tribes foresees a logical, phased and
collaborative approach that is science based,” Lumley said Monday in a letter
to new Council Chair Phil Rockefeller. Key reviews and decisions coming from
the process would be offered for Council review. “The process, the tribes say,
could culminate in permanent passage and reintroduction – if warranted.
the Columbia Basin Tribes Coalition continues to discuss approaches to
transition into the later phases, we support getting this document out to the
region to solicit feedback from others on the draft work and coordination plan
for Phase 1,” Lumley wrote.
said CRITFC’s member tribes – the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama
– were pleased with the inclusion in the newly amended Council program two
to investigate reintroduction of anadromous fish above Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee
dams to mainstem reaches and tributaries in the United States through a phased
approach; and, “-- that strongly encourages the United States to pursue a joint
program with Canada to investigate the transboundary reintroduction of
anadromous fish to Canadian spawning grounds.”
to be determined is the structure of the process (who will be involved and
roles) and budget sources.
tribal presentation listed as next steps:
Broadly circulate this draft Work Plan for comments;
Develop collaborative project goals;
Create Statements of Work from a final Work
Seek and confirm Phase 1 budget(s);
Begin contracting and implementation with funding entities.
more information go to: