Letters From the West

Power Council recommends funding Idaho fish screening projects

Bill Booth, one of two Idaho members of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

Bill Booth, one of two Idaho members of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

Two fish screening projects in Idaho were among 75 fish and wildlife projects recommended for funding by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council this week at its meeting in Boise.

The projects, primarily aimed at improving habitat for salmon and steelhead, are funded by the Bonneville Power Administration to implement the Council’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. The governors of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington appoint two members to the council that was created by the Northwest Power Act of 1980.

Idaho council member Bill Booth urged the agencies to looking at helping the states, tribes and others that manage the projects to fund maintenance, since budgets have tightened. He expressed concern that the investments made in screens, for instance now will degrade if not kept up.

Fish screens keep salmon, steelhead and bull trout out of canals and ditches.

Nearly all of the projects, including the screening projects on the Salmon and Clearwater rivers and their tributaries, are ongoing. An independent scientific panel reviews all the projects.

“We are making progress in rebuilding salmon and steelhead populations, but that will continue only if we support and fund effective restoration projects,” Council Chair Bill Bradbury of Oregon said. “This review process helps ensure that only projects of the highest quality are approved and funded.”

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West