Operations at thirteen federal dams in the Willamette River basin may soon be altered to aid threatened upper Willamette River spring Chinook, winter steelhead, and bull trout. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the dams, released a draft operations and maintenance programmatic environmental impact statement late last week for public review until January 19, 2023.
The Bonneville Power Administration plans to capitalize on its strong 2022 fiscal year by holding its rates for electricity and transmission flat during the next rate case cycle, which is FY2023-25. In the same rate case, it is proposing to increase its Columbia River basin fish and wildlife mitigation expenses by 8 percent, the first time the power marketing agency has increased those costs since FY2018-19 when it vowed to keep fish and wildlife spending below the inflation rate.
Completing a process that began with a relicensing application from PacifiCorp in 2004, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has unanimously approved the removal of four dams on the Klamath River in Oregon and California.
The Bureau of Reclamation began releasing extra water at Grand Coulee Dam over the weekend to ensure that protective flows for spawning chum salmon could begin Tuesday, Nov. 1 at Bonneville Dam, regardless of whether chum were present.
The Burns Paiute Tribe, a federally-recognized Indian tribe, signed an agreement this month with the state of Oregon and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to collaborate on reintroducing salmon and steelhead to the Malheur River, a tributary of the Snake River. Construction of the Hells Canyon dams in 1958 blocked all anadromous fish from the Upper Snake River basin and Malheur River system.
NOAA Fisheries has finalized a report that identifies actions that the agency says have the greatest likelihood of making progress toward rebuilding populations of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River basin to “healthy and harvestable levels.” The agency had released a draft in July for limited comments.
State and federal biologists and engineers, in partnership with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, have begun testing an experimental system in northern California’s Shasta Reservoir that could help collect young salmon from the McCloud River in future years.
If it funds a quarter-million-dollar study, the Washington state legislature could kick-start a long-awaited dam removal project that would free up some 348 miles of habitat for steelhead and salmon in northeastern Washington and British Columbia.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has provided hydropower operators with new data to better prepare for extreme weather events in the Pacific Northwest and shifts in seasonal energy demands caused by climate change.