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Anadromous Fish

Anadromous fish spend portions of their lives in both fresh and saltwater. The salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin are born in freshwater rivers, lakes and streams. As juveniles they migrate to the ocean where they spend most of their adult life before returning to the Columbia River and its tributaries to reproduce (spawn). The Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) consists of dams and other infrastructure that provide the region with emissions-free hydroelectricity, flood control, irrigation and many other benefits. These facilities can impact anadromous fish migration. The FCRPS is managed in a way that meets multiple and sometimes competing needs, including protection and mitigation of anadromous fish populations.

BPA is one of three agencies with responsibilities for the FCRPS, along with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. These three agencies together (FCRPS Action Agencies) provide protections for the 13 anadromous fish (also known as evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The FCRPS action agencies do this through the FCRPS Biological Opinion by ensuring that listed species aren't put in jeopardy (at risk of extinction) and that there is no adverse modification to their critical habitat or unauthorized take of these fish. The 2008 FCRPS BiOp encompasses a wide range of on-the-ground actions to help endangered salmon and steelhead. Throughout the Columbia Basin, tribes, states, local watershed groups and many others are working together to restore degraded habitat, open up passage for fish and get more water into streams. Hatcheries are being improved and carefully managed to help protect wild fish. Many of the projects in the Columbia Basin Fish Accords are also part of the BiOp implementation.

In addition, BPA is a member of the Federal Caucus, a group of eight agencies operating in the Columbia River Basin that have natural resource responsibilities related to ESA. There are 12 populations of salmon and steelhead in the basin listed under the ESA as well as bull trout, a resident fish. The Caucus agencies are committed to recovery of endangered fish in the Columbia Basin to sustainable levels. To succeed, recovery requires the support and involvement of local citizens, municipalities, private landowners, and state, tribal and federal agencies. The goal of these efforts is for current and future generations to be able to experience a Northwest with abundant fish runs and a fish-friendly hydro system. Our way of life and our economy depend upon the river and its fish.

For more information on the FCRPS action agencies and the Federal Caucus, visit To learn more about specific anadromous resident fish projects, visit the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program Web site at The site provides access to the current portfolio of projects designed to protect and rebuild fish and wildlife populations affected by federal hydropower development in the Columbia River Basin.

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 Page last reviewed on 6/5/2007 10:17:42 AM