Columbia River white sturgeon projects were approved by the Northwest Power and
Conservation Council’s Fish and Wildlife Committee at its meeting this week in
three research projects, one which will use Columbia River Accord funds, will
cost the region about $413,000 in fiscal year 2018 and $253,000 in FY2019. Some
$150,000 of that money will come from Accord funds over the two years, while
the remainder ($283,000 in FY2018 and $233,000 in FY2019) will come from
cost-savings identified by the Fish and Wildlife Committee’s cost-savings
workgroup, according to Lynn Palensky of the Council’s Fish and Wildlife staff.
Department of Fish and Wildlife, along with other partners, propose to do white
sturgeon population status assessments between Ice Harbor and Lower Granite
dams on the lower Snake River in Washington. The cost is $193,000 in FY2018 and
$157,000 in FY2019, all from cost-savings.
Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and the Yakama Tribes propose to
develop a genetic marker to determine the sex of white sturgeon that can be
used in status assessments. The cost is$130,000 in FY 2018 and $20,000 in
FY2019, all from Accord funds.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife proposes tagging and tracking and then
analyzing their data of white sturgeon to assess spawning staging areas, their
behavior and habitat in the John Day Dam pool. The cost is $90,000 in FY2018
and $76,000 in FY2019, all from cost-savings.
at least one member of the Committee worried that BPA’s financial situation might
stymie the second year of the projects and suggested funding them one year at a
would be more prudent to take these one year at a time to see what Bonneville
will do,” Idaho Council member Bill Booth said.
added that there also will be more money needed for hatchery operation and
maintenance work that would also come from cost-savings funds. Booth headed the
group that researched infrastructure needs at federal hatcheries. That resulted
in about $200,000 of cost-savings funds targeted for hatchery O&M last
have some big projects coming up at the hatcheries and that’s a number one
concern for managers,” he said.
also thought the Council shouldn’t build a base of projects that use cost
savings funds that would “go on forever. I would like to see some money going
back to the ratepayers in this process.”
white sturgeon projects are specified as two year projects and “would fall
apart if funded for just one year,” said Tony Grover, Council Fish and Wildlife
are rumors of (BPA) budget concerns on the horizon. We all know they are
there,” he said. “But belt-tightening is premature and if it does happen, we’d
look at the entire Fish and Wildlife Program package and make rollbacks when
they should occur.
clear BPA is not ready to make that budget call yet and the Council should not
make that for them,” Grover concluded.
Mercier, who just this month assumed the job as BPA’s executive manager of Fish
and Wildlife, said the agency would stand behind these projects, but agreed
with Grover that if cuts did come, both BPA and the Council would have to look
“across the board at the entire Fish Wildlife Program” expenditures.
cost-savings workgroup had identified up to $300,000 a year from cost-savings
for white sturgeon research and in January the Council and the Bonneville Power
Administration released a request for information to fund the projects. That
generated nine proposed projects from six entities by late February. Those have
now been whittled down to the three which the full Council will weigh in on at
its June 13 and 14 meeting in Corvallis, Oregon.
Council cost-savings workgroup, led by Council Member Jennifer Anders, Montana,
had intended the money for the sturgeon projects to begin in FY2017. However,
Mercier notified the Council at its meeting in Missoula, April 11, that the
time it takes to initiate a new project, plus its financial situation, would
cause a delay in funding the projects into fiscal year 2018, which begins
October 1. Under BPA’s Fish and Wildlife program funding, it typically takes 4
to 6 months to get a proposed scope of work to an executed contract.
said last month that BPA forecasts showed that the agency expects to end fiscal
year 2017 with revenues that are lower than expected, “mostly driven by lower
than forecasted revenues from our Power and Transmission Operations, which is
due in large part to the volatility of energy markets and the changing energy
cost-savings workgroup has identified $651,915 in cost savings that was made
available for new work in FY 2017, according to the Fish and Wildlife
Committee’s May 9 decision memorandum
$310,000 is still available for FY 2017 work. In each FY 2018 and FY 2019, the
“$651,915 will be available along with any additional savings the CSW
identifies through the mechanistic approach,” the memorandum says.
addition to Anders, Palensky, Grover and Mercier, the Council cost savings
workgroup is composed of Peter Cogswell and Scott Donahue of BPA, and Kerry
Berg and Laura Robinson of the Council’s Fish and Wildlife staff.
cost savings workgroup initially developed a cost savings methodology, which
was approved by the Council at its July, 2015 meeting in Spokane. See
information about the workgroup and methodology used to determine eligible cost
savings can be found at http://www.nwcouncil.org/fw/cost-savings-group/
CBB, April 14, 2017, “Council/BPA Weighing Best Proposals To Assess White Sturgeon
Status Above Bonneville Dam,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438709.aspx
February 17, 2017, “Through Other Funding, Council Able To Reduce O&M
Commitment To Northwest Hatcheries,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438347.aspx
January 19, 2017, “Council, BPA Release ‘Request For Information’ On ‘Ready To
Implement’ Sturgeon Projects,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438206.aspx
December 22, 2016, “Council FW Committee Identifies More Than $500,000 In
Project Cost Savings To Free Up For Others,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438117.aspx
November 18, 2016, “Council’s ‘Cost-Savings’ Workgroup Earmarks Some FW Project
Cost Savings For Hatchery Repairs,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/437987.aspx
May 20, 2016, “Council’s ‘Cost Savings Workgroup’ Looking To Review More
CBB, “Council Approves More Than $550K In Cost-Savings From FW Projects; Money
Goes To Emerging Priorities,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/436489.aspx
CBB, March 11, 2016, “BPA, Council Identify More Than $500,000 In Cost Savings
In Fish And Wildlife Projects,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/436206.aspx
CBB, August 14, 2015, “Council, BPA Move Forward On Efforts To Fund ‘Emerging’
Fish/Wildlife Project Priorities” http://www.cbbulletin.com/434736.aspx