Most of the 2008 Columbia Basin Fish Accords expire in September 2018. The Bonneville Power Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Bureau of Reclamation (known as the Action Agencies) are exploring potential extension agreements with current Accord partners. Bonneville invites the public to review and comment on the draft proposed Accord extensions.
The proposed draft Accord extensions build upon the success of the original agreements and help the Action Agencies continue to mitigate for the effects on fish and some wildlife resources from the fourteen federal multiple purpose dams and reservoir projects that make up the Columbia River System and Reclamation’s Upper Snake River Projects. The extensions would secure alignment and support for management of the Columbia River System over the next several years while the Agencies conduct a robust environmental impact statement for Columbia River Systems Operations (CRSO EIS).
With the 2008 Accords, the Action Agencies together with our tribal and state partners have built a regional coalition founded on common goals, trust, respect, and collaboration. The coalition helps the Action Agencies balance their legal responsibilities for providing benefits of the Columbia River System, including protection of fish and wildlife. Through the extensions, the states of Idaho and Montana, as well as the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, the Shoshone Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation, and the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission will continue to focus their efforts on biologically significant and cost-effective actions that directly benefit fish and wildlife and address legal obligations of the Action Agencies.
The proposed draft Accord extensions build on and continue the work and commitments begun in 2008 to improve financial certainty for all parties and legal certainty for the Action Agencies. To those ends, all of the draft extension agreements share the following characteristics:
- Retain core commitments from the Accords, such as “no surprises” and affirming the adequacy of the agreement commitments to fulfill the Action Agencies’ legal responsibilities to comply with the laws governing the management of the Columbia River System.
- Implement defined portfolios of existing projects within fixed budgets following budget guidelines established and updated during the course of the Accords.
- Retain the independence for members of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council who serve states that are Accord parties.
- Continue supporting the ongoing lamprey mitigation efforts of the past decade, modernized Montana Operations for Libby and Hungry Horse dams, and as appropriate support for the new U.S. v. Oregon Management Plan.
- Include alignment and support for Columbia River System operations for the term of the Extension.
- Reaffirm the primacy of Accord partners participating as cooperating entities in the CRSO EIS process, without limiting their input on dam breaching or other analyses in that process.
The draft extensions also update the terms of the original Accords in several important ways. Each extension summarizes the respective tribal and state party’s accomplishments under the Accords. All parties acknowledge the extensive overhaul of the Columbia River System and the improvements in fish survival over the past two decades. Similarly, all parties recognize and accept that Bonneville’s financial circumstances have shifted in the past decade, and going forward mitigation efforts will need to reflect increased efficiency and cost-effectiveness. To that end, the proposed budget for each state and tribal party reflects reductions for the term of the extension.
The State of Washington 2009 Estuary Agreement also expires at the end of September. Washington and the Action Agencies are renewing their commitment to partnership and collaboration through a new Memorandum of Understanding. This understanding is still being negotiated, and because it will not be a legally binding contract, the Action Agencies do not plan to issue a draft for public review at this time.
The Parties emphasize that these are draft agreements. During the comment period, the States and Tribes will simultaneously conduct their senior leadership review and approval processes. Bonneville will consider comments received by close of business September 26, 2018, before making its final decisions.
Proposed Accord extension agreement with or among: