SHORTS: BPA Treasury Payment; Listed Bird Successfully Hatched; Leavenworth Hatchery Work

— BPA Makes U.S. Treasury Payment Of $1.06 Billion

The Bonneville Power Administration made its 36th consecutive U.S. Treasury payment today on time and in full. This year’s $1.06 billion payment brings BPA’s cumulative payments to the Treasury during those 36 years to over $30 billion.

“Our annual treasury payment is the final bill of the year and paid after BPA has met every other financial obligation,” said Michelle Manary, BPA’s chief financial officer. “It demonstrates our commitment to fiscal responsibility and sustained financial strength.”

BPA is a self-financed power marketing administration that receives no annual appropriation funding from Congress. Instead, BPA primarily recovers its costs through revenues from the sale of electric power and transmission services.

BPA sets its rates to maintain an annual 97.5 percent probability of making this payment.  This year’s payment to the U.S. Treasury includes $734 million in principal and $232 million in interest. The remaining $97 million covers a variety of other costs, including irrigation assistance that BPA provides to help irrigators repay their share of certain Bureau of Reclamation projects.


— ESA-Listed Streaked Horned Larks Successfully Hatched

Habitat created just for streaked horned larks on Herbert Farm and Natural Area (HFNA) successfully produced its first juvenile larks.

Three eggs were laid in early June with chicks hatching in mid-July. Biologists banded the chicks which fledged their nest successfully, a significant milestone as these ground nesting birds often succumb to predators and crop harvesting. Streaked horned larks are federally listed as threatened and are an Oregon Conservation Strategy Species in the Willamette Valley.

The Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program-funded property is owned by the City of Corvallis, and ODFW holds a conservation easement. Since 2013, the Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) has been restoring fields that were once in agricultural grass and seed production for the benefit of grassland birds.

For ODFW’s Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program’s project biologist Ann Kreager, it’s gratifying to see restoration efforts paying off.

According to Kreager, streaked horned larks are a “disturbance regime” bird that prefers large, sparsely vegetated habitat free of trees and shrubs. Fire and flood suppression have drastically reduced their historic range, restricting the majority of the remaining birds in the Willamette Valley to agricultural and industrial lands. Many agricultural fields in the Willamette Valley are being converted to hazelnut trees, further reducing habitat for the larks.

Kreager said creating habitat for these threatened birds has been a partnership with the IAE, Bob Altman of the American Bird Conservancy, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.

The USFWS constructed berms to flood swales and promote bare ground with sparse vegetation, while the IAE conducted an attraction study that included placing life-sized wooden models of larks on the ground while playing recordings of lark vocalizations.

“All these efforts paid off with larks successfully breeding at the site,” Kreager said. “Once imprinted on the site, the odds of these birds continuing to use HFNA are very high.”

The Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program is a 2010 agreement between ODFW and Bonneville Power Administration to mitigate effects to fish and wildlife from the Willamette River Basin Flood Control Projects in the Willamette Valley. The program is managed by ODFW.


— Improving Infrastructure At Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery

In a continued effort to modernize infrastructure and ensure the safety and efficiency of operations at Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have contracted with Lacy Mechanical, Inc., to replace the existing Upper Snow Lake water release control valve associated with the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. Work began Sept. 29 and will conclude in November of this year.

The valve replacement is vital to ensuring continued water delivery to LNFH. Snow Lake is an inholding surrounded by the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area.

The ALWA was established in 1976, and the USFWS owns the land around Snow and Nada lakes. Easements allow the hatchery to continue to maintain its water delivery system, ensuring all stakeholders needs are met.

As part of this agreement, the USFWS operates the Hatchery, while Reclamation funds maintenance, repairs, and infrastructure improvements. At the time the ALWA was designated, inholdings for access to water were not a concern. However, population growth and increased water demands have placed pressure on the delivery system. Prolonged stress on the valve could lead to catastrophic failure, with downstream consequences for nearby residents as well as for the hatchery’s spring Chinook salmon.  Therefore, replacement of the valve allowing water to flow from Snow and Nada lakes into Icicle Creek is essential.

Timing of the project was carefully selected to have the least overall impact on wildlife and people during feasible construction months. Scrap metal that has accumulated at the site from past work will be removed as part of the valve project, leaving the site cleaner.

More news from CBB: