Issue Updates

December 15, 2011

Click here to see The State of the Columbia River Basin: Fiscal Year 2011 Annual Report.
Comments to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council on its
2010 Report to Congress and Pacific Northwest Citizens


I would like to commend the Council on its Energy accomplishments to date.

The NW Energy Coalition's award to the Council for its efforts on the Sixth Power Plan was well deserved.

The Council has made strides in supporting conservation and clean renewable energy in the Northwest with quality analysis.

Case in point -

The Effects of an Increasing Surplus of Energy Generating Capability in the Pacific Northwest
The analysis presented here is clearly an initial first step. The Council staff, through the Resource Adequacy Forum and the Wind Integration Forum will continue to study and refine the analysis on the effects of wind on hydro operations and spill.

I cannot give the same accolades for the Fish and Wildlife Report.

The snapshot of a glossy overview of Snake River salmon describes a huge dollar investment that has little chance of making headway toward recovery of wild spring/summer chinook and steelhead - the icon of the Columbia River.

I recognize that we have yet to see a non-binding Recovery Plan for the Snake from NOAA but the federal government is working overtime to low ball efforts that will allow restoration of wild salmon via the BiOp.

The Council can and must do better! The message from the Power Act was not about minimal salmon runs.

The Council's 1994 Fish and Wildlife Program supported rebuilding Snake River salmon populations to productive, fishable levels as rapidly as possible within program goals. The Council set a rebuilding target for wild and naturally spawning spring/summer chinook at 70,000. We now hover around around 20,000 - the product of favorable ocean conditions, court ordered spill and some good runoff years. If the North Pacific Ocean takes a downturn we could return to mid 1990 numbers. Tributary and estuary habitat areĀ not limiting the recovery of these salmon - the dams and reservoirs in the lower Snake do prevent recovery.

The Council set a science based smolt-to-adult return rate goal of 2 to 6% that is necessary for a road to recovery. SARs are ignored by the federal government in the BiOp. They continue to dwell on dam passage performance standards while ignoring adult returns which represent recovery.

Note the graphic of Snake River SARs using two independent methodologies - run reconstruction and PIT tags that were employed in the 1990s.

Hardly a picture for recovery.

I urge the Council to provide a more accurate report to the Congress and the Citizens of the PNW that reflects reality in the Snake River.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Bert Bowler

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