Bonneville Power Administration is funding a steelhead kelt reconditioning
facility at the Nez Perce Fish Hatchery on the Clearwater River near Lewiston,
agency released Jan. 30 a description of its review process, as well as a final
Environmental Assessment and a Finding of No Significant Impact, which were
signed Jan. 16. The FONSI includes a mitigation action plan to help avoid or
lesson potential impacts, according to BPA. The EA and FONSI are at https://www.bpa.gov/efw/Analysis/NEPADocuments/Pages/Nez-Perce-Tribal-Hatchery-Programs.aspx.
said that project implementation is expected to begin in 2020, with
construction of the reconditioning facility beginning in late spring and
continuing into 2021.
Northwest Power and Conservation Council had approved the kelt reconditioning
facility December 14, 2016 at its meeting in Portland, suggesting that BPA
include its costs in the agency’s fish and wildlife expenses.
facility, proposed by the Tribes and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish
Commission, is intended to recondition spawned Snake River steelhead, known as
kelts. It will capture and recondition steelhead from the river to increase
steelhead return rates from 0.4 percent to at least 6 percent to meet a federal
biological opinion reasonable and prudent alternative.
Tribes propose to do this by capturing the kelts heading back out to sea after
spawning, treating the kelts with disease preventive medication, holding them
in hatchery ponds until fall and then releasing those that are ready to spawn
again back into the river. That allows them to migrate directly back to their
spawning grounds without having gone back to sea.
CBB, December 22, 2016, “Council Approves Master Plan For Snake River Steelhead
Kelt Reconditioning At Nez Perce Hatchery,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438121.aspx)
Council information, the overall cost of the facility is about $16 million, but
most (about $14 million) has been spent since 2008 on
study implementation, planning and design, construction, and operation and
maintenance. The money is reserved in Columbia River Accords budgets in which
the Bonneville Power Administration funds state and tribal fish and wildlife
Annual operating and maintenance costs are estimated at
$720,600, including an annual $70,600 of amortized costs anticipating asset
replacements for such equipment as chiller and pumps.
Remaining funding is $1,987,100
which will pay for the installation of six twenty-foot circular tanks and a
building to support the long-term reconditioning of up to 750 kelts, supporting
the goal of an annual release of 180 reconditioned B-run kelts, according to
program would expand an on-going, and successful, research program to
production levels, BPA says. It also includes the construction of a kelt
reconditioning facility at the Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery.
addition, BPA proposes on-going funding to the Nez Perce Tribe for hatchery
operations that will cover the production of spring/summer and fall chinook
salmon, as well as to change the release locations of some of the reared fall
chinook salmon smolts.
EA analyzes the kelt reconditioning program, construction of a kelt
reconditioning facility, and funding of ongoing chinook salmon production at
the Nez Perce hatchery. It also evaluates a no-action alternative in which BPA
would provide no funding for these actions and, for the purpose of analysis,
presumes these actions would cease or not be initiated.
addition, the EA describes anticipated impacts to natural and human resources
and identifies mitigation measures to help avoid or minimize impacts. During
this process, BPA worked with landowners, tribes, federal, state, and local
agencies, and interest groups, the agency said.
draft EA was released for public review and comment in October 2018; but just
one comment was received and it was determined to be outside of the scope of
the decision being made.
final EA, FONSI, and mitigation action plan are available on BPA’s website at http://www.bpa.gov/goto/NezPerceHatchery.
final Jan. 30, 2019 letter is at https://www.bpa.gov/efw/Analysis/NEPADocuments/nepa/Nez_Perce_Hatchery/NPTH_EA_4A_FONSI_Public_Letter.pdf
December 2, 2016, “Nez Perce Tribe Seeking Next Step For Steelhead Kelt
Facility To Capture, Recondition Spawned Fish,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438041.aspx
July 22, 2016, “Repeat Spawners: Study Looks At How Improving Steelhead ‘Kelt’
Survival Could Aid At-Risk Populations,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/437180.aspx
November 7, 2014, “Will Getting Some Steelhead To Spawn Twice Improve Numbers?
Yakama Nation Project Looks For Answers,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/432586.aspx