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NW Power/Conservation Council Approves Lamprey Restoration Plan, Funding Uncertain
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2018 (PST)

A long-range plan by tribes to restore Pacific lamprey runs into the Columbia River received approval last week from the Northwest Power and Conservation Council at its meeting in Portland.


However, funding of the master plan’s first few phases by the Bonneville Power Administration remains uncertain.


With the approval of the lamprey plan, the Council advised the Bonneville Power Administration and the plan sponsors – the Yakama Nation and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation -- to assess whether the projects would be adequately funded through most of Phase 3 for FY2019 – 2021. The project already is funded in FY2018, which ends September 30. (see Council August 7 Decision Memorandum at


The Council also asked that future phases of the master plan receive a review by the Independent Scientific Advisory Panel.


The tribes plan to restore Pacific lamprey runs into Columbia River tributaries through artificial propagation and translocation. The plan approved by the Council at its Aug. 15 meeting was previously approved July 10 by the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Committee at its meeting in Missoula, Montana.


However, given the uncertainty of BPA funding and whether the Columbia River Fish Accords will be extended beyond 2018, the Committee at its meeting in Missoula, Montana, July 10, approved the first couple of implementation phases of the lamprey Master Plan, but sent the tribes back to the drawing board to determine the actual costs of such a restoration effort.


The Council received the Master Plan – Pacific Lamprey Artificial Propagation, Translocation, Restoration and Research Plan – March 28 and immediately asked for a review from the ISRP.


The Plan is at


According to the Decision Memo, the plan’s goal is to evaluate the feasibility of using artificial propagation and translocation techniques to better understand and ultimately restore Pacific lamprey throughout its previous range with an emphasis on the Columbia River basin segment.


Facility upgrades and equipment needs to implement the Master Plan is estimated to be about $205,000, the Memo continues. Operations and recurring maintenance would vary among years and phases. “Generally, costs associated with Phases 1 through 3 (Objective 5) would likely range from approximately $100,000 to $350,000 annually per each of the two projects,” it says.


The Master Plan received a qualified approval from the ISRP in March, which said it meets scientific review criteria, but added six qualifications, including providing more information on the tribes’ supplementation strategy that will be addressed in the first two phases of the project.


The translocation strategy collects adult lamprey from downstream in the Columbia River and transports them upstream, helping the lamprey “avoid the difficult migration channel” upriver through dams on the river. Translocation has been used by the tribes since the early 2000s, Brian McIlraith, Pacific lamprey project lead at the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission told the Fish and Wildlife Committee in July.


Artificial propagation is the other strategy and the Master Plan is focused on hatcheries. Ultimately, McIlraith said, the Tribes want to restore lamprey to its historical geographic range.


The Master Plan outlines three overlapping phases:


Phase 1 is largely done in the laboratory, or in hatcheries, and has already begun with phase 1 beginning in 2012 and ending in 2020.


Phase 2 is the field phase, taking lamprey from the laboratory and strategically releasing them and monitoring the outcome. This phase began this year and will conclude in 2026.


Phase 3 is the synthesis phase when the tribes will evaluate supplementation results to determine the most successful strategies and develop new strategies as needed. This phase is 2022 through 2029.


Phase 4 is the implementation phase that begins in 2027.


Also see:


--CBB, July 13, 2018, “Council Fish/Wildlife Committee Discusses Tribal Plans To Restore Pacific Lamprey To Historic Range,”


--CBB, June 1, 2018, “Science Panel Reviews Tribes’ Master Plan For Recovering Pacific Lamprey In Columbia River Basin,”


--CBB, February 16, 2018, “Science Panel Gives Tribes’ Lamprey Synthesis Report High Marks, Some Questions About Genetics,”


--CBB, January 5, 2018, “Science Panel Supports Basin Pacific Lamprey Conservation Initiative With Some Suggestions,”


--CBB, February 17, 2017, “Study Looks At Genetics, Migration, Behavior Of Pacific Lamprey In Willamette River,”


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