The mitigation program has protected more than 11,000 acres of valuable habitat in the Willamette Valley since 2010 with a goal of conserving a total of nearly 17,000 by 2025. The land conserved benefits dozens of fish and wildlife species and prevents human development for generations to come.
This agreement provides assurance that BPA will meet our responsibilities for mitigating the impacts of the eight federal dams on wildlife in the Willamette River BasiScott Armentrout, BPA’s executive vice president for Environment, Fish and Wildlife
Thousands of acres protected since 2010
The Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program has conserved thousands of acres of wildlife habitat throughout Oregon’s Willamette Valley since 2010. That land is now protected from development forever and will benefit many species of fish and wildlife for generations to come. In some cases the land acquired under the program also provides valuable recreational opportunities for Northwest residents.
Developed though a BPA partnership with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, implementation of the 15-year Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program is paid for by BPA ratepayers and ends in 2025. At its conclusion, the program permanently settles wildlife mitigation responsibilities for federal flood control and hydroelectric dams in the Willamette River Basin, projects operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
To date, the Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program has protected 47 properties comprising more than 11,800 acres at a cost of nearly $64 million, including ongoing maintenance and environmental protection. Using BPA funds, the land is conserved by purchasing property rights either through full ownership or a conservation easement with a landowner.
“This agreement provides assurance that BPA will meet our responsibilities for mitigating the impacts of the eight federal dams on wildlife in the Willamette River Basin,” says Scott Armentrout, BPA’s executive vice president for Environment, Fish and Wildlife. “The projects that benefit both wildlife and listed anadromous fish species help address Endangered Species Act goals as well.”
The Willamette River Basin supports more than 280 fish and wildlife species, of which 36 are listed as threatened, endangered or as a species of significant conservation concern. Loss of critical habitat is the primary cause of declining populations.
One powerful example of the program is the Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey property in Oregon’s Yamhill County. In 2010, BPA purchased a conservation easement on the 1,300 acre property, ensuring it is protected from development. The types of habitat on the property include native conifer woodlands, upland prairie, oak savanna, oak woodlands, grasslands and wetlands. Caretakers of the land allow for some public access to hiking trails.
At the 10-year mark, the Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program is on track to achieve its goal of protecting a minimum of 16,880 acres of wildlife habitat in the basin, but there is more work to do. Ten more properties have been recommended for funding in 2021 and 2022, which would add an additional 1,784 acres to the protected lands portfolio, bringing the total land protected to nearly 14,000 acres by 2022.
BPA has responsibility under the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act to mitigate for wildlife habitat that was lost due to the construction, inundation and operation of Columbia River Basin dams. BPA recognizes the environmental impacts of the Federal Columbia River System and places a high priority on environmental stewardship.
Habitats for many threatened or endangered species, such as some types of Oregon turtles, are now protected under the Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program.
BPA Administrator John Hairston and other dignitaries celebrate the Tribe and its work to produce more salmon and steelhead for the Columbia, Snake and Clearwater river basins.
Meet the team that works to maintain the reliability of BPA’s grid, not by wrangling wires but by trimming trees.
BPA plays an important role in supporting the diverse regional goals related to improving conditions for fish and wildlife. What’s good for fish and wildlife is also good for humans.