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Resident Fish

The Columbia River Basin is home to a diversity of fish species. Resident fish populations spend their entire lives in the Basin. Many are of great cultural, economic and biological importance. Some resident fish populations have fallen well below historic levels and have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). BPA is one of three federal agencies (federal action agencies) responsible for managing the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS). The system is managed for a wide range of uses including the generation of clean carbon neutral hydroelectricity, resource protection, flood control, navigation, irrigation, recreation and other uses. Under the Northwest Power Act and the ESA, the three federal action agencies are required to operate the FCRPS to support listed and unlisted fish. At the same time, there are requirements to mitigate for the impacts on all fish and wildlife caused by the development and operation of the system.

Recovery efforts for resident fish

Operational adjustments to the FCRPS alone will not fully protect or recover important resident fish populations. That is why all three of the federal action agencies implement a wide range of activities designed to protect and restore resident fish populations. BPA's action is not only consistent with its legal obligations; they are also part of the agency's mission for mitigating the impacts of the FCRPS and core value of trustworthy stewardship. To demonstrate its commitment to these principles, BPA supports habitat projects and dam operations to protect and enhance populations of resident redband, westslope cutthroat and bull trout, white sturgeon, burbot and kokanee salmon.

BPA often works collaboratively with a host of strategic partners to meet its resident fish mitigation obligations throughout the Columbia River Basin. BPA also works collaboratively with a variety of regional stakeholders to implement projects that have direct benefits for resident fish. For example, BPA funding directly supports two projects administered by the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho that are designed to protect, conserve and restore the population of Kootenai River white sturgeon as prescribed in the Libby Dam Biological Opinion. BPA funding also supports the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's resident fish project. This has provided the Tribe and regional fish managers with critical information pertaining to the migration patterns of westslope cutthroat trout. Since its inception, this project has restored important habitat and installed fish PIT tag readers located within streams on the reservation.

Working with four mitigation partners - the Kalispel, Spokane, and Colville tribes, along with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife - BPA funding supports the study and assessments of resident fish populations in the blocked areas above Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams. Many of these watersheds lack quantitative data on current habitat conditions, limiting factors, species composition, distribution, abundance and life history. Since 1999, the focus of this project has been to fill gaps in fish and habitat assessments using standardized data methodologies in the Priest Lake, middle Lake Roosevelt and Colville watersheds. Additionally, the project calls for standardized burbot stock assessments of Bead and Sullivan lakes and baseline fish population assessments of the middle Spokane River and lakes in the Pend Oreille and Priest Lake watersheds. The project will focus on determining the stock status, life histories, movements and habitat use of redband trout in the upper Spokane and Little Spokane river watersheds, and developing and implementing northern pike management recommendations based on recent research results.

To learn more about habitat 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 10:17:46 AM