Bonneville proposes to provide funding to the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) for a barge and transfer cages (and related equipment) large enough to handle Steller sea lions, and to fund CRITFC’s activities supporting the intentional take, by lethal methods, of California sea lions (CSL) and Steller sea lions (SSL) in the mainstem of the Columbia River, subject to the conditions under the Marine Mammal Protection Act’s (MMPA) Section 120(f) authorization including those recommended by the Pinniped-Fishery Interaction Task Force. Specifically, the following CRITFC activities would be primarily focused at the tailrace of the Bonneville Dam:
  • Scouting trap deployment sites and identifying animal use and haul-out areas
  • Trap deployment, setup, and monitoring
  • Active trapping of sea lions
  • Transferring sea lions to a handling barge
  • Moving sea lions from traps to a dispatching area
  • Handling sea lions and carcasses

These activities would test the efficacy of lethal removal of CSL and SSL to reduce predation impacts on salmon and steelhead. Bonneville would fund such actions under its authority under Section 4(g)(3) of the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act, which allows Bonneville to “investigate possible measures” for inclusion in the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Power Plan (which includes the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program).


To understand the potential environmental impacts of this proposal, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), in cooperation with Bonneville, prepared an environmental assessment (EA) following the procedures of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The EA considered an application to intentionally take, by lethal methods, CSL and SSL by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game; the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation; and the Willamette Committee (eligible entities) pursuant to Section 120(f) of the MMPA. While Bonneville was a Cooperating Agency in the development of the EA, the short timelines required under the MMPA program implementation procedures prevented Bonneville from commenting on the final draft; therefore, Bonneville will adopt the EA with minor text modifications to comply with Department of Energy requirements under NEPA.


Bonneville has released the adopted EA and Finding of No Significant Impact.


For environmental information, contact:
Dan Gambetta        Toll-free: 800-622-4519
Environmental Protection Specialist Direct line: 503-230-3493
Bonneville Power Administration - EC-4         Email: 
PO Box 3621 
Portland, OR 97208-3621

For project information, contact:
John Skidmore        Toll-free: 800-622-4519
Oregon Implementation Manager        Direct line: 503-230-5494
Bonneville Power Administration - EWL-4 Email: 
PO Box 3621
Portland, OR 97208-3621


Adopted EA  (September 30, 2020)
FONSI  (September 30, 2020)
Public letter  (September 30, 2020)

EA & FONSI  (August 14, 2020)

EA Determination  (September 22, 2020)