The 31 federal dams in the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) have fueled the region's economic growth for more than 70 years, providing nearly 40 percent of the region's electric power supply as well as flood control, irrigation, navigation and recreation.
The FCRPS is operated to support multiple species of listed and unlisted fish. Numerous biological opinions have guided these operations since the first Columbia Basin stocks were listed. NOAA Fisheries, as the regulatory agency for ocean fish, is responsible for BiOps for anadromous fish (salmon and steelhead). US Fish and Wildlife Service is the regulatory agency for native fish, including bull trout and sturgeon, and issues BiOps governing actions for those fish.
But an approach that relies on hydropower operations alone will not recover the species. Many other factors have contributed to the salmon's decline, including overharvest, hatchery practices, degraded habitat and ocean conditions.
Under these BiOps and other laws and authorities, the federal action agencies carry out a wide range of actions to help listed fish at all stages of their lifecycle. This includes habitat restoration, hatcheries to jump-start nature, improved river conditions, better survival past dams and harvest management.
Jan. 17, 2014: The 2014 Supplemental BiOp. NOAA Fisheries today issued a supplemental biological opinion confirming that improvements at federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers, rehabilitation of habitat, and other actions are benefiting federally protected salmon and steelhead as much as or more than anticipated five years ago. The supplemental BiOp analyzed research and monitoring results from the first five years of work under the original biological opinions. For more information, see NOAA Fisheries' web page.
May 20, 2010: The 2010 Supplemental BiOp. At the urging of the Court, federal agencies spent three months formally integrating the Adaptive Management Implementation Plan into the 2008 FCRPS BiOp. The agencies thoroughly reviewed the BiOp and the science behind it, and consulted federal and independent scientists to be sure that it provides the right framework and actions to protect Northwest salmon. Two years into the implementation of this BiOp, the region's efforts to protect salmon are on course. Last year alone, 9,609 miles of wetland habitat were protected and 244 miles of streams were reopened to fish. We've made much progress and completion of this legal process now prepares us to make much more.
May 5, 2008: The 2008 BiOp. NOAA Fisheries released a final biological opinion on May 5, 2008, on the operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System for salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act.
NOAA Fisheries finds that with the actions in the Reasonable and Prudent Alternative (RPA), the BiOp meets the law’s requirement to protect fish and improves their prospects for recovery.
Salmon are endangered because of problems with habitat, harvest and hatcheries as well as the hydropower system. The solution must address all these problems as well. The RPA:
q Identifies high performance standards for survival of juvenile fish through the dams
q Specifies hydrosystem spill and operations timed to the needs of individaul species
q Expands the habitat program
q Expands the predation management program
q Sets specific commitments and timetables for stie-specific hatchery consultations and reforms
The BiOp analysis is based on the best available science and validated by independent science reviews.