BPA Fish and Wildlife FY 1997 Proposal

Section 1. Administrative
Section 2. Narrative
Section 3. Budget

see CBFWA and BPA funding recommendations

Section 1. Administrative

Title of project
Lower Snake River Naturalization

BPA project number   5513800

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes

Sponsor type   ID-Tribe

Proposal contact person or principal investigator

 NameKeith Kutchins
 Mailing address29 Shoshone Drive
P.O. Box 306
Fort Hall, Idaho 83203

BPA technical contact   ,

Biological opinion ID   BO (Reinitiation of Consultation)

NWPPC Program number   4.1, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 6.1

Short description
Immediately initiate the feasibility, NEPA and congressional authorization for, and implement, restoration of the natural river condition or the ecosystem components that most closely resemble the natural river and associated healthy riparian ecosystem in the lower Snake River.

Project start year   1996    End year   2000

Start of operation and/or maintenance   2001

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
Related projects: Columbia River Development Agreements (contract # 95BI63471), NMFS/Corps System Configuration Team, Coordination and Planning Team, Technical Management Team, and Executive Committee; Corps Anadromous Fish Evaluations Team (and subgroups), Fish Facilities Design Review Work Group (and sub groups), and Systems Configuration Study Phase II; CBFWA Members, and Fish Passage Advisory Committee; NPPC Fish and Wildlife Program and FOEC; NMFS proposed recovery plan and BiOp (reasonable and prudent alternatives); US v Oregon; Pacific Northwest Coordination Agreement and Canadian Entitlement Allocation Agreement, Columbia River Treaty, Water Rental, Model Watersheds, other fish and wildlife projects (e.g., mitigation).

Project history
Drawdown of the lower Snake River projects (Lower Granite, Little Goose, Lower Monumental, and Ice Harbor dams) has been the topic of the region for several years (Salmon Summit, NPPC Drawdown Committee, Andrus Plan, test drawdown in 1992). The Columbia River System Operations Review, System Configuration Study, the NPPC Fish and Wildlife Program, the NMFS Proposed Recovery Plan, and the NMFS hydrosystem Biological Opinion all include the natural river condition in the lower Snake River as an alternative for consideration over the next several years.

Biological results achieved

Annual reports and technical papers
Agreement documents between sovereigns and agencies that provide a collaborative effort to restore the Natural Resources in the lower Snake River while providing the basis for compliance with Tribal law and policy and federal Indian law, federal statutes, and federal policy. Feasibility and engineering reports, NEPA documentation, and Congressional authorizations.

Management implications
We are presently in an emergency situation where dramatic efforts are precedented to prevent extinction and to preserve future options for restoring naturally producing Snake River salmon. The project is intended to provide high assurance that extinction of naturally producing populations of indigenous salmon, steelhead and resident fish will not occur if the four dams in the lower Snake River are decommissioned and mothballed and the river returned to the natural condition. The benefits of this project are to provide integrity and longevity to the coordinated decisions of the river operators and cooperators and society in order to develop actions to immediately improve the mainstem Snake and Columbia rivers water availability and fish passage conditions. Many other implications (alternative commodities transportation and associated economic advantages; alternative energy supplies and energy conservation; riverine recreation benefits, etc.) are included with this action.

Specific measureable objectives
Improved mainstem migration habitat for anadromous salmonids, improved mainstem rearing and growing habitat for resident fish and wildlife. Contribute significantly to the doubling and biological diversity goals established by the NPPC.

Testable hypothesis
H(1):Immediate restoration of the natural river and associated healthy riparian ecosystem in the mainstem lower Snake River (below Lewiston, ID) will not recover salmon runs in the Snake River system.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
The underlying assumption is that the pursuit of the natural river condition in the lower Snake River is called for in the existing Biological Opinion. The critical constraint is that river and storage reservoir operations and configurations decisions are not being based on the needs of the natural resources.

Remove the earthen fill sections on the edges of the projects and mothball the concrete navigation locks, spillways and powerhouses.

Brief schedule of activities
FY 1996 - Initiate engineering feasibility plans, NEPA, and Congressional authorization.
FY 1997 - Finalize feasibility plans, finalize NEPA, and finalize congressional authorization.
FY 1998 - Implement river naturalization.
FY 1999 - Continue implementation.
FY 2000 - Complete implementation.
FY 2001 - Initiate operations and maintenance of the decommissioned facilities.

Biological need
Recovery of the naturally producing Snake River chinook, sockeye, coho salmon, lamprey and sturgeon and associated endemic naturally producing resident fish, wildlife, and their habitat by restoration of the natural river condition and associated healthy riparian ecosystem or the ecosystem components that most closely resemble it. This system configuration change not only provides the flows required for migrating anadromous fish through the mainstem Snake River, but also allows the storage reservoirs to remain relatively full and stable so that their biological objectives can also be met.

Critical uncertainties
In their comments to the NPPC Strategy for the Salmon, the fish managers agreed that "river naturalization clearly offers the most direct solution to the water availability and required flow velocities in the lower Snake River (CBFWA, 11/15/94). The Policy of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, which this project is intended to pursue implementation of, calls for just this action. The critical uncertainty, is the federal government's lack of commitment to do what is required to recover the Snake River Salmon.

Summary of expected outcome
Restore the natural river conditions in the lower Snake River and recover the anadromous fish in the Snake River system with the shortest time frame, most certainty for success and at the minimum amount of cost.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
Countless opportunities for cooperation are inherent with this action, involving all entities associated with the Columbia/Snake River systems.

Biological consequences and financial risks of not implementing the project include: The biological risk is extinction, and therefore the financial risk is immeasurable. The project is intended to provide high assurance that extinction of naturally producing populations of indigenous salmon, steelhead and resident fish will not occur if mainstem habitat improvements are successful.

Monitoring activity
M&E will provide assessments of the effectiveness of the assistance to achieve the solutions for recovery and protection of the Natural Resource that are the most likely to succeed.

Section 3. Budget

Data shown are the total of expense and capital obligations by fiscal year. Obligations for any given year may not equal actual expenditures or accruals within the year, due to carryover, pre-funding, capitalization and difference between operating year and BPA fiscal year.

Historic costsFY 1996 budget data*Current and future funding needs
(none) New project - no FY96 data available 1997: 125,000
1998: 150,000,000
1999: 150,000,000
2000: 150,000,000
2001: 200,000

* For most projects, Authorized is the amount recommended by CBFWA and the Council. Planned is amount currently allocated. Contracted is the amount obligated to date of printout.

Funding recommendations

CBFWA funding review group   System Policy

Recommendation    Tier 1 - fund

Recommended funding level   $125,000