The Bonneville Power Administration and most
parties to the previous 10 years of the 2008 Columbia Basin Fish Accords have
come to a tentative agreement to extend the Accords beyond Sept. 30, the ending
date of the first Accords.
However, rather than another 10-year
agreement, the extension is for just four years with an ending date in 2022 that
corresponds with the completion of a new court-ordered biological opinion of
the federal Columbia River power system. The 2014 BiOp was remanded by U.S.
District Court Judge Michael H. Simon in May 2016, requiring the hydropower
action agencies to come back to court with a new BiOp by 2022-23.
The annual payments from BPA to the parties in
the agreement will also be smaller than the previous agreements, with BPA
spending on the Accords down 3.3 percent or $3,602,196 in the first year
(fiscal year 2019, which begins Oct. 1). BPA Accord spending will be down 3.6
percent in FY2020, 2.5 percent in FY2021 and 1 percent in FY2022.
Separate talks with Washington state are
working towards a memorandum of understanding, according to Bryan Mercier,
executive director of BPA’s fish and wildlife division. “The existing estuary
Accord with Washington will expire on Sept. 30,” he said.
The draft agreement is now out for public
review until Sept. 26. For more information on the Accord extension, go to https://www.bpa.gov/PublicInvolvement/Cal/Pages/Proposed-Columbia-Basin-Fish-Accords-extensions---August-2018.aspx.
To make comments, go to https://www.bpa.gov/applications/publiccomments/OpenCommentListing.aspx.
“The proposed Accord extensions provide less
money than the previous 10-year agreement,” Mercier said. “Reductions were
negotiated with each Accord partner and made to projects that were identified
by BPA as potentially having lower biological benefit and/or implementation
He added that capital projects are included in
BPA said that with the 2008 Accords, BPA, the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation (action agencies)
“together with our tribal and state partners have built a regional coalition
founded on common goals, trust, respect, and collaboration. The coalition helps
the Action Agencies balance their legal responsibilities for providing benefits
of the Columbia River System, including protection of fish and wildlife.”
Signing on to the new 4-year extension are the
states of Idaho and Montana, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville
Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon,
the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated
Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, the Shoshone Bannock Tribes of the Fort
Hall Reservation, and the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission. All are
taking a cut, according to Mercier.
These entities “will continue to focus their
efforts on biologically significant and cost-effective actions that directly
benefit fish and wildlife and address legal obligations of the Action
Agencies,” BPA said.
“The 4-year period is intended to facilitate
the CRSO EIS,” Mercier explained. The extensions, if signed, would last until
FY22 or a final decision on the EIS, whichever is first. Obviously, the CRSO
EIS is a major milestone in the future of the federal hydro system, so
commitments beyond a final outcome of the EIS are difficult to make.” CRSO is
the Columbia River System Operations (http://www.crso.info/).
The draft also updates the terms of the
original Accords in several important ways, BPA said.
--Each extension summarizes the respective
tribal and state party’s accomplishments under the Accords;
--All parties acknowledge the extensive
overhaul of the Columbia River System and the improvements in fish survival
over the past two decades;
--Similarly, all parties recognize and accept
that Bonneville’s financial circumstances have shifted in the past decade, and
going forward mitigation efforts will need to reflect increased efficiency and
“To that end, the proposed budget for each
state and tribal party reflects reductions for the term of the extension,” BPA
The Accord spending makes up a portion of the
Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s 2014 Fish and Wildlife Program,
which is funded through BPA’s Fish and Wildlife budget. In FY 2018, BPA budgeted $310,196,000 in
funding to support the direct-funded fish and wildlife program, according to a
Sept. 5 Council memorandum (https://www.nwcouncil.org/sites/default/files/2018_09_f6.pdf)
that was presented to the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Committee this week,
Tuesday, Sept. 11, in Eugene, Ore.
Of that, about $33.5 million went to the Lower
Snake River Compensation program, which produces chinook salmon and steelhead
to compensate for losses of those fish resulting from construction of the four
lower Snake River dams. The remaining $276,713,000 in the Fish and Wildlife
budget is dedicated to implementing the fish and wildlife mitigation
requirements under the Northwest Power Act, the memo says.
Of the nearly $277 million of BPA’s fish and
wildlife expense budget, a fairly large portion goes to Accords programs. The
Corps and BOR also share in the expenses of the Accords.
“Typically, Accord expense expenditures have
been about $90M of the about $250M or near 40 percent of the program,” Mercier
said. “Capital expenditures fluctuate based on actual implementation of
hatchery construction and/or land acquisitions.”
The total budget for the Accords in FY2018 was
$107,886,154, which includes capital expenses. That drops to $104,283,958 in
FY2019, $104,034,293 in FY2020, $105,225,820 in FY2021 and $106,804,806 in
FY2022, according to the Council memo.
Funding for capital projects, such as
hatcheries, remain largely unchanged. Much of the capital funding had already
been allocated to projects from 2008 Accord funding. For example, the Yakama
Tribes’ Melvin R. Sampson coho hatchery is paid out of the original Accords
For the new Accords capital projects, the
Umatilla Tribes will receive just more than $11 million over the four years,
the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes will receive $7.15 million and Montana has three
equal payments in FY2020, 2021 and 2022 of $3,333,333.
The reduction in Accord spending helps BPA as
it seeks to reduce its Fish and Wildlife spending by $30 million annually. The
federal power marketing agency has identified several cuts from its first
quarter contracts and is moving on to second quarter contracts, Mercier said at
this week’s Council meeting. He doesn’t expect to complete his review of
contracts until mid-FY2019.
BPA proposed to cut funding for conference
sponsorships by 50 percent in FY2019 and then to eliminate funding for those
sponsorships in FY2020. Among the cuts, BPA funding will be pulled from the
popular Lake Roosevelt Forum most recently held April 24 – 25.
The agency already had reduced travel and
registration fee payments for conference attendance by project sponsors in
Also, the federal power marketing agency is
cutting funding for the Columbia Basin Bulletin for FY2019 by 50 percent and
eliminating funding for the online newsletter in FY2020.
All three of the cuts would save BPA over $1
million, Mercier said at an earlier Council meeting. Cuts to conference
sponsorships and travel provide the bulk of the $1 million.
CRITFC has recently completed a summary of
work completed in the last ten years under the Accords and presented its
conclusions to the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Committee at its August meeting
in Portland. That report is at http://www.critfc.org/blog/2018/08/14/fish-accords-10-year-summary/.
--CBB, August 17, 2018, “Report Summarizes
Tribes’ Work, Results From 10 Years Of Columbia River Fish Accords,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/441301.aspx
--CBB, August 17, 2018, “Council Gets Update
On BPA Efforts To Reduce Funding For Fish/Wildlife Program Projects,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/441295.aspx
--CBB, July 13, 2018, “Council F&W
Committee Talks Policy About BPA Project Funding Cuts, Columbia Basin Fish
--CBB, June 15, 2018, “Bonneville Power
Looking At Spending Reductions In Columbia Basin Fish/Wildlife Spending,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440947.aspx
--CBB, May 18, 2018, “Draft Report On Columbia
Basin Fish/Wildlife Costs In 2017 Out For Review; $450.4 Million,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440762.aspx
--CBB, February 2, 2018, “Bonneville Power
Releases Five Year Strategic Plan, 2018-2023,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440159.aspx