The Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program reached its 10th year of protecting land for wildlife throughout the Willamette Valley this month. The program ends in 2025.
To date, the WWMP has protected 47 properties comprising 11,808 acres with a total price tag of $63,900,801, which includes ongoing maintenance and environmental protection.
“At the 10-year mark, the program is on track to achieve its goal of protecting a minimum of 16,880 acres of wildlife habitat in the basin,” said Kelly Reis, WWMP Policy and Program Manager.
The WWMP was created by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Bonneville Power Administration in 2010 and is funded by BPA ratepayers. BPA and the State of Oregon entered into the 15-year agreement to permanently settle wildlife mitigation responsibilities for federal flood control and hydroelectric dams in the Willamette River basin, projects operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Willamette Subbasin supports more than 280 fish and wildlife species of which 36 are listed as threatened, endangered or a species of significant conservation concern. Loss of critical habitat is the primary cause of declining populations of these species.
The WWMP prioritizes efforts to protect and restore wildlife habitat by using the Oregon Conservation Strategy to form the basis for the program. The OCS also functions as the state wildlife action plan for Oregon.
“As a result of the positive working relationship with BPA and the willingness to be flexible when opportunities arise, the program has been able to take advantage of opportunities to achieve success,” Reis added.
“This agreement provides assurance that BPA will have met our responsibilities for mitigating the impacts of the eight federal dams on wildlife in the Willamette River Basin, said Scott Armentrout, BPA’s executive vice president for Environment, Fish and Wildlife. “The projects that benefit both wildlife and listed anadromous fish species help address Endangered Species Act goals as well.”
Ten more properties have been recommended for funding in 2021 and 2022, which would add an additional 1,784 acres to the WWMP’s protected lands portfolio.
The solicitation for fiscal year 2023 WWMP projects will open in February, 2021. See https://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/willamette_wmp/index.asp for more information.
The program ends in 2025. At its conclusion, the program permanently settles BPA’s wildlife mitigation responsibilities for federal flood control and hydroelectric dams in the Willamette River Basin.
BPA has responsibility under the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act to mitigate for wildlife habitat that was lost due to the construction, inundation and operation of Columbia River Basin dams.