The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the United States Forest Service, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, (Forest Service) have jointly prepared an environmental assessment for a project in the Methow Valley Ranger District. BPA has made the decision to fund the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation's (Yakama Nation) proposal to construct and operate an acclimation pond for coho salmon on the Eightmile Ranch, which is owned and operated by the Forest Service, approximately eight miles north of the town of Winthrop, Okanogan County, Washington. The Forest Service has decided to issue a Special Use Permit to the Yakama Nation for the construction and operation of the acclimation site. The Forest Service has also decided to make a project-specific amendment to the Okanogan Forest Plan Standard and Guideline 9-4 that would allow for an intake to supply water to the acclimation site. The amendment would be necessary for the Forest Service to issue a special use permit for these activities. Each agency will prepare a FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact) to document their respective decisions.
The main feature of the site is an earthen pond approximately 1/3-acre in size. The purpose of the pond is to allow coho salmon to acclimate in a semi-natural setting before entering the wild so that they are better prepared to survive in the natural environment. The pond would be excavated below the ground level and fenced. Locations being considered are at the south end of the Eightmile Ranch property east of the Westside Chewuch Road. Other components of the design include a surface water intake on the Chewuch River, buried surface and ground water supply pipelines, a buried discharge line back to the river, and a buried electrical power line to the pond.
The pond would be used to acclimate coho smolts for the Mid-Columbia Coho Restoration Program, funded in part by BPA and implemented by the Yakama Nation. The young coho would be held in the pond from March to May and then released into the Chewuch River approximately 10 miles above its confluence with the Methow River. BPA's Mid-Columbia Coho Restoration Program Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision (DOE/EIS-0425) addressed the overall coho restoration program, with 11 acclimation sites in the Methow basin. Some of these sites proved not to be viable, so the Yakama Nation is proposing a new site at Eightmile Ranch. No additional coho would be produced or released for the program compared to the numbers presented in the EIS. The EIS that evaluates the overall program is available on the Mid-Columbia Coho Restoration Project website.
To understand the potential environmental impacts of the Eightmile Ranch proposal, BPA and the Forest Service have jointly prepared an environmental assessment (EA) following the procedures of the National Environmental Policy Act. The EA provides a study of two locations for the acclimation pond, as well as a no-action alternative under which the pond would not be built. The EA describes anticipated impacts to natural and human resources and includes mitigation measures that would help avoid or minimize impacts. During this process, we worked with landowners, federal, state and local agencies, interest groups, and tribes.
BPA and the Forest Service have published separate Findings of No Significant Impact (FONSI). BPA’s FONSI is below. The Forest Service’s FONSI is at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=41617.
Draft EA comment period
BPA Final EA
Forest Service draft FONSI/Decision Notice
Forest Service final FONSI/Decision Notice
December 24, 2014 through February 9, 2015
March 30, 2016
October 14, 2016
October 27, 2016