The governor of Idaho and the administrator of
the Bonneville Power Administration met in Sandpoint, Idaho, Thursday to
celebrate the completion of the historic Albeni Falls wildlife settlement
agreement. Idaho agrees that the $24 million settlement satisfies BPA’s
wildlife habitat mitigation responsibilities for impacts from Albeni Falls Dam.
The dam, located on the Pend Oreille River at
the outlet of Lake Pend Oreille, was completed in 1955 and is operated by the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. BPA sells the power generated at this and 30
other dams in the Federal Columbia River Power System. Under the Northwest
Power Act of 1980, BPA is obligated to protect, mitigate and enhance fish and
wildlife affected by the FCRPS dams.
“In my view, this agreement is not only good
for Idaho, it is also good for people who buy their electricity from utilities
supplied by BPA, wherever they might live in the Northwest,” Idaho Gov. C.L.
“Butch” Otter said in the ceremony. “That is because with this agreement, BPA’s
payments to Idaho for wildlife mitigation are on schedule to stop in just 10
years, and once that happens, wildlife mitigation with the state of Idaho will
no longer add to people’s power bills” he said.
Through the settlement, Idaho agrees that all
of its interests in dam construction and inundation impacts have been mitigated
through prior land purchases with BPA. Using BPA funding, the Idaho Department
of Fish and Game has acquired more than 4,200 acres of wildlife habitat in
northern Idaho. Under the new agreement, BPA will provide nearly $7 million for
the long-term stewardship of the land. The funding will be invested by the
Idaho Endowment Fund Investment Board, and the interest from the investment
will provide perpetual funding for future care and maintenance costs of the
To address the dam’s operational impacts on
wildlife, the settlement provides almost $13 million for habitat restoration at
the Clark Fork and Priest river deltas around Lake Pend Oreille. These projects
complement previous restoration actions to improve conditions for fish and
wildlife around the lake. Once complete, the projects will restore more than
2,000 acres of habitat.
“This historic agreement, made possible by
BPA’s strong partnership with the state of Idaho and the Idaho Department of
Fish and Game, will provide essential wildlife habitat protection for Lake Pend
Oreille and the surrounding area,” said BPA Administrator Elliot Mainzer. “The
habitat protected in this agreement will have long-lasting benefits for
wildlife, Idaho residents and citizens of the Northwest.”
-- CBB, Jan. 26, 2018, “Draft $24 Million
Albeni Falls Dam Wildlife Habitat Agreement Between Idaho, BPA Out For Comment”