The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes intend to join four Columbia River tribes, two states and three federal agencies in an unprecedented set of agreements designed to improve habitat and strengthen fish stocks in the Columbia River Basin over the next 10 years. The proposal is available for public comment.
The Tribes were the first to petition the National Marine Fisheries Service (regionally known as NOAA Fisheries) to list Snake River sockeye salmon as endangered. Snake River sockeye salmon were officially listed as endangered in November 1991 under the Endangered Species Act (56 FR 58619). Since then, the Tribes have worked actively to develop and implement actions to protect and enhance Snake River sockeye salmon, Snake River spring/summer Chinook salmon and Snake River steelhead as well as provide Tribal subsistence harvest opportunities.
Tribal Chairman, Alonzo A. Coby, stated, “This proposed agreement will assist the Tribes with providing co-management opportunities for fish and wildlife populations and their habitat. We will utilize nutrient supplementation, artificial propagation and habitat restoration following the best available science to contribute to the recovery of ESA listed and non-listed fish and wildlife. The Tribes rely on Agai, ‘salmon,’ to provide sustenance and to preserve our unique traditional cultural practices. These actions are a step in the right direction and we look forward to this new partnership.”
The proposed agreement would make available approximately $61 million over 10 years for actions for Snake River spring/summer chinook, Snake River steelhead in the Salmon River Basin and Snake River sockeye and native yellow cutthroat in the Upper Snake River. The Tribes will restore habitat, manage land for wildlife and native fish, supplement nutrients in streams and develop and operate scientifically-managed hatchery additions to contribute to the recovery of Endangered Species Act-listed and non-listed fish, and to provide for wildlife.
Last May, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bonneville Power Administration and the Bureau of Reclamation signed a 10-year agreement with the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. Separate agreements were signed with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation, the State of Idaho and the State of Montana. These agreements, collectively referred to as the Columbia Basin Fish Accords, include a slate of actions in habitat, hatchery and research, monitoring and evaluation that will improve the prospects for recovery of listed salmon and steelhead. They also are intended to protect non-listed fish from becoming endangered. The culmination of a two-year collaboration, the Fish Accords reflect a new era of partnership with tribes.
“This proposal is another step toward ‘gravel-to-gravel’ rather than ‘gavel-to-gavel’ management of fisheries in our region. This newest proposed agreement builds on the historic Columbia Basin Fish Accords announced earlier this year that bring the tribes, federal agencies and states together to be even more effective at fish recovery in the region,” said Steve Wright, BPA Administrator. “These agreements show the collaboration approach initiated by Judge James Redden is paying real dividends.”
The Fish Accords build on “biological opinions” for listed fisheries and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s fish and wildlife program. They provide common goals and priorities for hydro system mitigation; additional hydro, habitat and hatchery actions; greater clarity about biological benefits and secure funding for 10 years. Wright said that these projects will enhance the region’s overall fish restoration efforts, making mitigation for the hydro system significantly more effective through a common approach.
As with the first Fish Accords, the proposal with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes promotes an ongoing collaborative relationship among the parties. The parties agree that the federal government’s requirements under the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and Northwest Power Act are satisfied for the next 10 years and that they will work together to support these agreements in all appropriate venues.
The $61 million proposed agreement with the Tribes would break down to approximately $2.9 million (expense) for ESA listed species and $2.4 million (expense and capital) for fish and wildlife habitat protection and enhancement annually. The agreement also includes a one-time capital expense of $7.75 million for hatchery facilities. The Tribes will restore component resources to conditions which closely represent the ecological features associated with a natural river ecosystem to ensure the protection, preservation and enhancement of rights reserved by the Tribes under the Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868.
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes are located along the Snake River at Fort Hall Indian Reservation near the southeastern Idaho city of Pocatello. The Tribes trace their ancestry to nomadic bands whose aboriginal territory includes the salmon-bearing headwaters of the Salmon River and other Snake and Columbia river tributaries to the dry plains of the Central Basin and Great Basin.
The federal Columbia River power system includes 31 dams owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation. Electricity produced at these dams is marketed and distributed throughout the Northwest by the Bonneville Power Administration.
For specific details of the memorandum of agreements and the types of projects involved, please visit: www.salmonrecovery.gov.
Joint News Release: Shoshone-Bannock Tribes – Bonneville Power Administration; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Bureau of Reclamation SEPTEMBER 18 CONTACT: Chad Colter, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, (208) 239-4550/4551; Katie Pruder, BPA, (503) 230-3111/Scott Simms, BPA (503) 230-3520; Nola Leyde, Corps, 503-808-3722; Diana Cross, Reclamation, 208-378-5020