SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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HEARINGS ON THE DECISIONMAKING PROCESSES AND INTERAGENCY COOPERATION OF THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE NORTHWEST REGION
SUBCOMMITTEE ON FISHERIES CONSERVATION, WILDLIFE AND OCEANS
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
JULY 24 AND AUGUST 15, 1997WASHINGTON, DC
Serial No. 10534
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Printed for the use of the Committee on Resources
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
KEN CALVERT, California
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
LINDA SMITH, Washington
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
WILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
JOHN SHADEGG, Arizona
JOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCROBERT F. SMITH, Oregon
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
RICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho
GEORGE MILLER, California
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
MAURICE D. HINCHEY, New York
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
SAM FARR, California
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
ADAM SMITH, Washington
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
DONNA CHRISTIAN-GREEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
LLOYD DOGGETT, Texas
LLOYD A. JONES, Chief of Staff
ELIZABETH MEGGINSON, Chief Counsel
CHRISTINE KENNEDY, Chief Clerk/Administrator
JOHN LAWRENCE, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
WAYNE T. GIL.CHREST, Maryland
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
MICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSAM FARR, California
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
HARRY BURROUGHS, Staff Director
BONNY BRUCE, Legislative Staff
ELIZABETH BIRNBAUM, Democratic Counsel
C O N T E N T S
July 24, 1997
August 15, 1997
Statement of Members:
Abercrombie, Hon. Neil, a Representative in Congress from the State of Hawaii
Crapo, Hon. Michael, a Representative in Congress from the State of Idaho
Prepared statement of August 15
Saxton, Hon. Jim, a Representative in Congress from the State of New Jersey
Prepared statement of
Young, Hon. Don, a Representative in Congress from the State of Alaska, prepared statement of
Statement of Witnesses:
Bowles, Edward C., Anadromous Fish Manager, State of Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Prepared statement of
Boyer, Lionel, Fisheries Policy Representative, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrepared statement of
Bruce, Dr. Steven M., President, Idaho Steelhead and Salmon Unlimited
Prepared statement of
Campbell, Scott, Idaho Farm Bureau prepared statement of
Casavant, Dr. Ken, Council Member, Northwest Power Planning Council
Prepared statement of
Dehart, Douglas A., Chief of Fisheries, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Prepared statement of
Deurloo, Robert, Meridian Gold Company
Prepared statement of
Grace, Stan, Council Member, Northwest Power Planning Council
Prepared statement of
Grunke, James W., Executive Director, Orofino Chamber of Commerce
Prepared statement of
Hayes, Justin, Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition
Prepared statement of
Little, Jim, Grazing Permittee, Idaho Cattle Association
Prepared statement of
Martinez, Eluid, Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of the Interior accompanied by Ken Pedde, Assistant Regional Director, Bureau of Reclamation
Prepared statement of
McFarland, Dave, Chairman, Lemhi Riparian Conservation Agreement
Prepared statement of
Penney, Samuel N., Chair, Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee
Prepared statement of
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCharles Ray, Idaho Rivers United,
Prepared statement of
Rohleder, Joseph, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association
Prepared statement of
Semanko, Norman, Twin Falls Canal Company and North Side Canal Company
Prepared statement of
Smith, Bruce, Rosholt, Robertson & Tucker
Prepared statement of
Stelle, William, Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, Department of Commerce
Prepared statement of
Additional material submitted by
Strong, Ted, Executive Director, Columbia River InterTribal Fish Commission
Prepared statement of
Yost, Jim, Senior Special Assistant, Idaho Governor's Office
Williams, Dr. Richard N., Chairman, Independent Scientific Advisory Board
Prepared statement of
Wilson, Peter K., Vice President, Port of Lewiston
Prepared statement of
Additional material supplied:
Batt, Philip E., Governor, Boise, Idaho
Kempthorne, Hon. Dirk, a Senator in Congress from the State of Idaho, prepared statement of
Additional materials submitted by
Memorandum of decision-making processes of the National Marine Fisheries Service's Northwest Region
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe Pacific Rivers Council, Eagle, Idaho, prepared statement of
OVERSIGHT HEARING ON THE DECISIONMAKING PROCESS AND INTERAGENCY COOPERATION OF THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE NORTHWEST REGION
THURSDAY, JULY 24, 1997
House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans, Committee on Resources, Washington, DC.
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:07 a.m., Room 1334, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Jim Saxton (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
STATEMENT OF HON. JIM SAXTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
Mr. SAXTON. Good morning. The Subcommittee will come to order. The purpose of today's hearing is to review the authority and decisionmaking process of the National Marine Fisheries Service's Northwest Region. As many in this room know, the Columbia River Basin is the focus of much debate and controversy regarding the appropriate actions needed to restore the declining salmon populations.
Our colleague, Mr. Crapo of Idaho, has been grappling with the problems surrounding this issue for many years. We are holding this hearing at his request so he can get specific answers to questions about interagency dynamics, tribal concerns, interstate cooperation, and the interests of commercial and recreational fishing sectors, as well as those of environmental organizations.
I am looking forward to this hearing and hearing from our witnesses. Thank you for traveling to Washington today to share with us your expertise and your feelings on these matters. At this time, I will turn to the Ranking Member, the gentleman from Hawaii, for any opening statement he may have.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Statement of Mr. Saxton follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JIM SAXTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
Good morning. The Subcommittee will come to order.
The purpose of today's hearing is to review the authority and decision-making processes of the National Marine Fisheries Service's Northwest Region. As many in this room know, the Columbia River basin is the focus of much debate and controversy regarding the appropriate actions needed to restore the declining salmon populations. Our colleague, Mr. Crapo of Idaho, has been grappling with the problems surrounding this issue for years. We are holding this hearing at his request, so he can get specific answers to questions about inter-agency dynamics, tribal concerns, interstate cooperation, and the interests of the commercial and recreational fishing sectors, as well as those of environmental organizations.
I am looking forward to hearing from our witnesses. Thank you for traveling to Washington to share your expertise with us.
[Memorandum may be found at end of hearing.]
[The prepared statement of Mr. Young follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. DON YOUNG, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ALASKA
Mr. Chairman, this is a very timely and necessary hearing being held at the request of Congressman Mike Crapo.
The National Marine Fisheries Service is the Executive agency responsible for the revitalization of the Columbia River Basin salmonid populations. Congressman Mike Crapo represents areas in Idaho that have a major interest in any recovery efforts implemented by the National Marine Fisheries Service to restore these declining Columbia River Basin salmon populations.
We will hear testimony today commenting on the National Marine Fisheries Service's leadership and their ability to implement recovery options. I am interested in hearing the views of our witnesses on how their concerns were reflected in the agency's decision making and how we can improve the consultation process in the future. It is clearly in our nation's interest to rebuild and revitalize the salmon stocks of the Columbia River Basin.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
STATEMENT OF HON. NEIL ABERCROMBIE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF HAWAII
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would just like to incorporate your remarks as my own and look forward to the hearing. Thank you very much.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much. I would like to turn at this time to the gentleman from Idaho who is, obviously, very interested in this. He may wish to make an opening statement and introduce panel number 1.
STATEMENT OF HON. MICHAEL CRAPO, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IDAHO
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate very deeply your holding this hearing on the decisionmaking process of the National Marine Fisheries Service and hope that we can use this hearing as an opportunity to not only delve into the issues at hand, but to help educate members of this committee and their staff on some of the critical issues in the Pacific Northwest.
I noted when I attended one of the hearings we held with regard to the fishing issues in Hawaii a month or two ago how I was very unaware of those issues before the hearing but fascinated with what I learned. And I hope that that same process can take place with regard to the issues we face in the Pacific Northwest with regard to other members of the Committee.
It is my pleasure today to welcome several citizens from Idaho and others from the Pacific Northwest who are here to discuss the issues and to point out that under the Endangered Species Act the National Marine Fisheries Service has the authority in the Pacific Northwest to be the lead agency for the recovery of the endangered Pacific Northwest salmon stocks.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I acknowledge that this issue is very complex and divisive and could produce many losers, one of which could be the salmon. For the salmon to be recovered, it is imperative that consensus within the region be found and that public support be gained. There is growing concern in the region that NMFS has not recognized the power of a consensus decisionmaking process for salmon recovery.
There is great concern that the National Marine Fisheries Service is developing a public policy that will not recover salmon, while failing to take into account the other interests and concerns of the region. This growing concern and frustration has caused the State of Montana and four of the 13 Indian tribes of the region to withdraw from the regional forum dedicated to finding consensus on salmon recovery.
These fish are incredible creatures. The salmonids are hatched in streams and tributaries of the Columbia and Snake River and swim sometimes over 700 miles to the ocean where they will spend the majority of their lives. Not only must they migrate such a long way to the ocean, they must then at the end of their lives migrate back up the river system.
These streams and tributaries provide water that is the lifeblood of irrigation, recreation, power production, and transportation industries of the Columbia and Snake River system. The majority of the region's population live and work around some form of water in the watershed. And an adequate and dependable supply of water is the backbone of the region's economy. The streams and tributaries that empty into the Snake and Columbia River weave throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Because the salmonids are hatched in and use the streams and tributaries of the Columbia and Snake River as their highway to the ocean, NMFS has oversight over all land and water use policies that could potentially impact salmonid migration to and from the ocean. This includes oversight over irrigation, mining, grazing, timber harvesting, river transportation, energy production, and recreation.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC NMFS has a virtual veto over many aspects of the Columbia and Snake River systems that are the economic base of the region, and many times some of us have felt that NMFS has made decisions in a vacuum without taking into consideration the benefits to the fish or the impact to the economy.
I recognize that the objective of the Endangered Species Act as written is the recovery of endangered or threatened species, and I agree with that objective. However, the bottom line is that there is a legitimate concern that the fish will not be recovered and that collateral damage will be caused to the region's economy.
Today, we have invited individuals, representatives of two tribes, representatives of State government, business, and environmental interests. These people have been invited because they and the interests they represent constitute the critical mass of consensus that must be achieved if we are to succeed in recovering the species.
Given that the National Marine Fisheries Service is intending to make a policy decision in early 1998, it is imperative that we evaluate the processes involved well enough in advance of the decision in order to improve the odds of success.
This is the first of two scheduled hearings on this issue. There were far too many people who have shown an interest to testify to be accommodated here today, and Chairman Saxton has been gracious in allowing another hearing to be held in Boise, Idaho. This hearing will give more affected interests the opportunity to be heard, and this hearing will include the testimony by NMFS.
Again, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your attention to this very important issue. And Senator Dirk Kempthorne from Idaho has asked if there would be permission for his statement to be entered into the record.
Mr. SAXTON. Let me just ask unanimous consent at this point that all members' statements be included in the record, including the Senator's.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Senator Kempthorne follows:]
STATEMENT OF SENATOR DIRK KEMPTHORNE, A SENATOR IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IDAHO
Good morning Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for holding this hearing on salmon recovery and the National Marine Fisheries Service's performance as the lead Federal agency in salmon recovery efforts. I would like to share with you my recent experience with the NMFS.
On April 16, 1997, I wrote to Will Stelle, Administrator for the Northwest Region of the National Marine Fisheries Service to object to the National Marine Fisheries Service's (NMFS) decision to disregard the concensus proposal on steelhead and salmon migration promoted by the State of Idaho. At a meeting of the Executive Committee for recovery of Columbia/Snake River salmon and steelhead the consensus proposal to transport Chinook Salmon and Steelhead was rejected by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Instead, the NMFS adopted daily full transport of the Chinook and the Steelhead.
I asked Mr. Stelle to explain to me the biological basis of this decision. With the advice of some of the best biologists, water managers, and stakeholders Governor Batt had devised a plan for ''spreading the risk'' between in-river migration and barging. This plan was subjected to a facilitated negotiation process that involved stakeholders from throughout the Columbia/Snake River Basin. The resulting proposal deserved to be considered for its ability to recover two of our regions most important fish species, and for its ability to bring together stakeholders from throughout the basin.
I urged Mr. Stelle to reply to me quickly as the migration was in full swing. I needed to know why we were transporting such a high percentage of fish during this good water year. Ironically, I support transport of a high percentage of the fish. The National Academy of Sciences in their report on the salmon crisis in the Northwest has described transport as the best interim solution to getting smoults downstream until we have developed better technology for getting them around the dams. But, because this ''spread the risk'' policy is the result of an Idaho effort, supported by Idahoans, and negotiated with the best fish managers in the region, I support them and their efforts.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As time went by, I repeatedly contacted Mr. Stelle's office. On June 5, 1997 I wrote Mr. Stelle again to express my concern about the National Marine Fisheries Service's (NMFS) decision to disregard the 1997 consensus proposal on steelhead and salmon migration. And, I must admit I was frustrated by the lack of a response. After all, the NMFS had chosen to transport more fish rather than fewer during this good water year. During the time he had failed to respond to my letter, or to my staff inquiries, ever higher numbers of fish were transported down the Snake and Columbia Rivers.
I am sorry to report that the apparent strategy to ignore me and the stakeholders who worked together to obtain a compromise until the migration season was over seems to have worked. The NMFS letter from Mr. Rollie Smitten purporting to explaine their actions, dated June 9, 1997, finally arrived in my office on Friday the 13th of June.
Frankly, the letter and the studies which it cited did little to convince me that the NMFS acted in a thoughtful way using data that supported their position under these water conditions. Without taking the Committee's time with detailed comment and rebuttal, suffice it to say that the decision-making ability of the NMFS, as demonstrated by this incident is seriously in doubt. Most importantly, it appears to me decisions that should be made by the fish managers on the scene are regularly being made in Washington DC by people in the Administration.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to submit my letters and Mr. Smitten's reply for the record. In addition, I would like to include the analysis of the NMFS letter by Idaho Fish and Game.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for your time.
[Additional material submitted by Senator Kempthorne follows:]
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 7 TO 22 HERE
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Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Would you like me to introduce the first panel? Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In our first panel, we have with us today Mr. Jim Yost, who is the Senior Special Assistant to the Idaho Governor's Office, Idaho Governor Phil Batt; Mr. Dave McFarland, who is Chairman of the Lemhi Riparian Conservation Agreement; Mr. Samuel Penney, the Chair of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee; and Mr. Lionel Boyer, the Fisheries Policy Representative for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. And I certainly welcome each of you here and thank you for the time and attention you have given to this matter. And, Mr. Chairman, I turn the time back to you.
Mr. SAXTON. Well, Mr. Crapo, we want to thank you for framing this issue for us. Those of us from other parts of the country, obviously, have not lived with or dealt with this issue as you have. And so we are, obviously, anxious to be helpful in helping you and your constituents and others who are interested in this issue come to a successful resolution.
Let us turn at this point to panel number 1. Just to give you an idea of the ground rules, we have three little lights there in front of you. One is green, one is yellow, and one is red, and the colors of those are that way for obvious reasons. However, you have come a long way to share your thoughts with us. So when the red light goes on, you will know that your 5 minutes has expired.
However, we can grant some latitude so that you can finish your thoughts in a constructive way. So, Mr. Yost, why don't you begin, and then we will move across the table, and we are anxious to hear your thoughts on this which is a very important matter. You may begin.
STATEMENT OF JIM YOST, SENIOR SPECIAL ASSISTANT, IDAHO GOVERNOR'S OFFICE Mr. YOST. Thank you, Chairman Saxton, Congressman Crapo, and Congressman Abercrombie. The Governor of Idaho extends his pleasure at having had the opportunity to send someone to visit with you about these issues.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One of the primary issues that the Governor asked me to represent to you is that Idaho does care about anadromous fish and resident fish, and we are making every effort and we are proud of the effort that we have made thus far in trying to participate in the regional forum within the area.
The problem is compounded in the region because of the decisions and the time lines that have been established thus far in fairly much a uniform and mutual-consented arena. That is, we have a biological opinion on anadromous fish listed under the Endangered Species Act to be decided in the spring of 1999. There is an effort underway at this particular time to advance that time line into the spring of 1998.
There isn't a real concern that the region will make decisions in the proper time line. However, we are finding it very difficult to reach any type of decision in the region because of the forum that is currently established.
Originally, there were three or four different efforts being attempted, one through the Northwest Power Planning Council, another through the NMFS forum or the National Marine Fisheries or Federal agencies forum, and we participated in all of those hoping that there would be an ultimate regional forum that we could build consensus and reach some of the decisions that are important for the region.
That process is not working. It is marginal at best, and it seems to be crumbling a little bit more each month as we go by. The struggle is being made now to restore a regional forum, and the Governors are becoming more involved from the four StatesIdaho, Oregon, Washington, and Montana. But there are too many avenues in which to try to reach a regional forum to reach consensus in which to make some of those decisions that the region needs to make and in the time line that they have.
Specifically, when you look at the NMFS forum, the technical management team level, the implementation team level, which is midpolicy decisions and the Executive Committee process that has been established, which is higher level decisionmaking, the process is extremely complicated in that the representation has not been well-defined, and there are some folks who are not adequately represented and who have withdrawn their representation from that process.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The time that it takes for the four States to send their representatives to participate in that process is extensive, and they are willing to make the effort. But the process then becomes convoluted because once you reach a regional consensus with the participants at the table, then as an example, Idaho has developed an Idaho strategy for operations for this year. Idaho was able to get consensus from all of the participants in the regionthe Corps of Engineers, BPA, and the four Statesthe State fish and gameall of the participants at the table except NMFS.
Somewhere along the process of three or 4 months, NMFS should have said that they were not going to agree with the process instead of waiting until the very end to veto the decision that was reached by consensus for the rest of the region.
The timing of NMFS is, obviously, slow. The Hanna Slough issue that was recorded in my testimonythe length of time that it took for NMFS to make a decision there was too lengthy. It was an important, critical area. They just were unable to make a decision at the local level. They weren't even able to make a quick decision in an expedient manner at a higher level in Portland.
The same event occurred on Salmon River floaters where we had commercial tubing and activities on the Salmon River, and everyone agreed that there was a process that would have been in place for 3 years, and NMFS restricted that unilaterally.
I guess if there was one message that I would like to present today is that the NMFS makes unilateral decisions without actively participating in the consensus building at the local level. The process either needs to be changed, or we need a different regional forum within the region. I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
[Statement of Governor Batt can be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you, Mr. Yost. Mr. McFarland.
STATEMENT OF DAVE McFARLAND, CHAIRMAN, LEMHI RIPARIAN CONSERVATION AGREEMENT
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MCFARLAND. Mr. Chairman, Committee members, my name is Dave McFarland. I represent the people of Lemhi County, Idaho, as an agent of the county commissioners. As a rancher with Federal grazing permits, I also represent those interests.
During these hearings, you should hear plenty of negative testimony concerning National Marine Fisheries Service. I concur. In Lemhi County, recovery of endangered salmon is a laudable and very popular goal. Yet, National Marine Fisheries Service is held in lower esteem than the IRS.
Mr. SAXTON. Excuse me. That is pretty low, isn't it?
Mr. MCFARLAND. That is true. NMFS decisions seem to occur in a vacuum. Nevertheless, some good decisions have been made by National Marine Fisheries Service personnel, and some of these have occurred in Lemhi County. I have observed that many of the best solutions have occurred when the best communication happens.
We propose these suggestions for improving dramatically protection of endangered salmon and improving National Marine Fisheries Service's effectiveness. One, National Marine Fisheries Service must actively participate with diverse interests to make optimum decisions. Decisions openly made are easier to implement, less divisive, and generally meet their goals better.
Number 2, instead of hiring more people, NMFS should ally with or in some other manner use the expertise already hired by other Federal agencies. The Endangered Species Act is not about building kingdoms. It is about protecting species. I have talked to many flora and fauna experts in the Forest Service and BLM who would be glad to guard the interests of the ESA.
I back my points with the following: several years ago, Lemhi County residents developed a method of communication with Federal and State management agencies. It is a semiformal method whereby the agencies and county representatives meet to discuss long and short-range planning for all of Lemhi County. Although not perfect, the process has succeeded spectacularly.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC By being included in the process, we have given Federal and State land managers information to make better decisions. By keeping us informed and involved, we have been able to support difficult decisions like road closures, changes in management practices, and so forth. Throughout this entire process, all participants have been aware of the need to protect our natural resources and endangered species, even prior to listing.
Graphically, I refer you to the orange booklet given members of the Committee. This is a trend report on riparian conditions from 1988 through 1995. Note the quick-to-reference charts on the gains in riparian conditions, and then also peruse the photos. As you do that, please note the different management schemes.
As we explored ways to contend with species listings in many of our planning sessions, two things became apparent. Number 1, single species management could not be the best recovery strategy. There are too many species and too many unknown variables. And, number 2, intense management of Federal land alone would probably fail. Only 8 percent of Lemhi County's approximately 4 million acres is privately owned, but that contains 90 percent of the occupied salmon habitat.
From these two tenets, we arrived at our Riparian Habitat Agreement, which is appended to this testimony. I urge you to glance through it. It is a simple but powerful document. Basically, the signatories agree to protect riparian habitat to the best of their knowledge and ability. Importantly, the county and its residents freely offer private land to the same scrutiny Federal lands are required to have.
On the signatory pages, the absence of National Marine Fisheries is conspicuous. We have repeatedly asked them to actively participate. On two occasions, NMFS has met with us primarily to tell us they won't actively participate. I submit to you that this reduces their effectiveness.
The last point I would like to make is that soon Congress must make a political decision. It seems evident that bull trout may be listed in the Northwest streams. This will put NMFS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Federal agencies all in charge of the same small stream reaches.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We ask that you, as Members of Congress, designate U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as lead agency under the ESA for inland streams. They have already shown greater experience, plus they have demonstrated the ability to communicate with our interests. The budget outlay for their management should also be less. Respectfully submitted, Dave McFarland.
[Statement of Mr. McFarland can be found at the end of the hearing.]
[Conservation agreement will are being held in the Committee files.]
[Progress report can be found will are being held in the Committee files.]
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much, Mr. McFarland. Mr. Penney.
STATEMENT OF SAMUEL N. PENNEY, CHAIR, NEZ PERCE TRIBAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Mr. PENNEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning to the members of the Subcommittee. My name is Sam Penney. I am the Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee. I would like to thank you for this opportunity to testify on our views on the recommendations of the National Marine Fisheries Service and their role in salmon restoration efforts especially in the Pacific Northwest.
From the Nez Perce Tribe's point of view, reversing the decline of Columbia basin salmon is more than just a matter of professional interest or a legal obligation or a cost of doing business. Since time immemorial, our people have fished for salmon in Nez Perce country, which originally encompassed over 13 million acres in what is today known as north central Idaho, southeastern Washington, and northeastern Oregon. Salmon have always been and continue to be intricately linked to our people's way of life, our economy, our beliefs, and our culture.
The Nez Perce Tribe's legal basis for its role in salmon restoration efforts stems from the supreme law of the land, our treaty of 1855 with the U.S. Government in which we expressly reserved the right to take fish. The United States also owes a trust or fiduciary duty to the Nez Perce Tribe.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The United States' trust responsibility permeates every aspect of the Federal Government's relations with the Tribe and imposes a duty on the Federal Government to safeguard natural resources which are of crucial importance to Indian people. I will provide a copy of the paper entitled. ''Columbia River Treaty Fishing Rights'' to the Subcommittee so you will understand the legal and moral obligations of the United States to the Nez Perce Tribe, as well as other tribes.
The Nez Perce Tribe is committed to doing everything we can to ensure that these declines of salmon are reversed and that all species and all stocks of salmon are restored. We know in our hearts that our vision and plan for salmon restoration will provide a sustainable fishery resource for the benefit of all peoples in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
We recognize that we have more to lose than anyone if these declines are not reversed. It is from this perspective that we provide the following observations in hope that the National Marine Fisheries Service will have the opportunity to respond to our concerns that we and others are bringing before this Committee today.
First, I would like to address the Endangered Species Act's role in salmon restoration. Although the Endangered Species Act has received a great deal of attention for its potential role in the recovery of salmon in the Pacific Northwest, the ESA is but one legal commitment that is relevant to salmon restoration efforts. The ESA operates like an emergency room focused on recovery of the listed fish.
The ESA does not guarantee fulfillment of the 1980 Northwest Power Act's promise of parity between salmon protection and hydroelectric generation and that Act's call for a program to restore fish and wildlife populations to the extent affected by the development and operation of the Columbia basin hydroelectric system, nor does the ESA guarantee fulfillment of the United States' treaty promises to our people to protect our aboriginal right to take fish at all usual and accustomed fishing places or the Federal Government's trust obligation to the Nez Perce Tribe.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In contrast to the ESA, the Nez Perce Tribe's vision for salmon restoration, shared by other Columbia River treaty tribes and contained in the Spirit of the Salmon, is substantially broader. Our peer-reviewed plan, which I will provide to this Subcommittee, is focused on restoration of all species and all stocks to provide harvestable populations of fish for our people, as well as the citizens of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
One would think that the purposes of the ESA could be read consistently with the Northwest Power Act, the Tribe's treaty reserved fishing rights, the Federal Government's trust responsibility to the Tribe, as well as with the case law principles developed in United States v. Oregon and United States v. Washington, and the rebuilding program envisioned by the United States v. Oregon Columbia River Fish Management Plan and the Pacific Salmon Treaty.
Second, I would like to address the Nez Perce Tribe's standard for evaluating whether NMFS is properly implementing its authorities under the ESA. This standard may simply be stated as follows: NMFS's decisions must be consistent with the biological requirements of salmon, emphasize reductions to the largest sources of salmon mortality, equitably allocate the conservation burden, and be consistent with the United States' legal obligations.
Our written testimony details our experience with NMFS's implementation under ESA over the last 6 years. NMFS has not effectively recognized our treaty-reserved fishing rights and the Federal Government's trust obligation.
I would like to quickly summarize our concerns with the National Marine Fisheries Service. First, we are concerned that NMFS has accepted an extremely high level of risk in its short and long-term recovery strategy. We are also concerned that NMFS failed to consider the best available science in the initial biological opinions on the Federal Columbia River Power System.
We are concerned that NMFS designated an ESA implementation process that failed to recognize the Tribe's treaty rights and the Federal Government's trust obligation to the Tribe. We are concerned that NMFS is not taking action necessary to ensure protection of salmon habitat.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are concerned that NMFS is not assembling the data necessary to make the long term recovery decision concerning modifications to the hydrosystem through natural river drawdown or major improvements in the barging program and may be approaching this as solely an ESA issue.
We are concerned that NMFS is stifling responsible supplementation programs designed to restore salmon. We are concerned that NMFS may unlawfully attempt to restrict tribal harvests in violation of treaty right principles, and Federal Government's trust responsibility to the tribe.
Now, I would like to conclude by offering a few recommendations for our future relationship with NMFS and its administration and also concerns implementation of the ESA. We hope that the NMFS will honor the Federal Government's obligation to the tribes, and we believe that this commitment would result in a better decisionmaking process in further decisions and would help alleviate many of the concerns we have presented as mentioned by the previous witnesses.
There have been many meetings which tribal input is not seriously considered. We are one of the tribes that did withdraw from the NMFS process, and we would hope that in the future that NMFS would recognize the input not only of the tribes but all the others that are involved as well so that there can be some consensus in the Northwest.
And also to Congressman Crapothe Power Summit, I think, on Energy Deregulation also adds to this issue as well, the uncertainty of the deregulation of the utility industry in the Northwest further complicates the problem. But I would like to thank you for this opportunity, Mr. Chairman, and members of the Subcommittee.
[Statement of Mr. Penney can be found at the end of the hearing.]
[Columbia River treaty can be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you, Mr. Penney. Well, you may have just heard the buzzers and so on. That means we have to go vote on the House floor. It will probably take us about 15 or 20 minutes to get there and back, and when we come back, we will hear your testimony. And then at the conclusion of that, we will begin to ask some questions which we each have beginning with Mr. Crapo. Thank you.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Recess.]
Mr. SAXTON. We kept our word to get back as quickly as possible, and so we will now proceed with Lionel Boyer. You may proceed, sir.
STATEMENT OF LIONEL BOYER, FISHERIES POLICY REPRESENTATIVE, SHOSHONE-BANNOCK TRIBES
Mr. BOYER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the Subcommittee. My name is Lionel Boyer, Fisheries Policy Representative for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation located in southeastern Idaho.
I come here today to express my tribes' frustration with the National Marine Fisheries Service's representation of the trust responsibility of the United States to the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. The lack of equitable management of the Endangered Species Act with my tribes' rights that are guaranteed under provisions of the Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868.
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes have taken the position that the ESA does not apply to our people. To enforce the ESA on tribes would be an abrogation of our treaties unless there was proper consultation leading into an agreement or understanding as to how and what would apply to tribes. Otherwise, the treaty, which is the supreme law of the land, would be enforced.
We have said unofficially that we would work within the ESA provided it serves our concerns. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes did use the ESA to petition for the listing of the depleted runs of the redfish lake sockeye salmon, and today we have within our fisheries program a recovery effort to save this magnificent animal for the future generations. I might add that the redfish lake sockeye would have become extinct if the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes had not acted to petition for the ESA listing.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to talk briefly about the concerns that are in the written testimony that is before you. There are many more concerns that we have, but this is a few of them in conjunction with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC NMFS's failure to significantly improve the migration corridor. NMFS has continuously failed to give a jeopardy opinion against the dam specificallythe four lower Snake River dams. They continue to annihilate from 80 to 99 percent of the juvenile fish migrating to the main Columbia River and then to the ocean.
NMFS has continued to allow the slack waters created by the dams to increase in temperatures that is deadly for any cold water fishes. The NMFS has continually allowed the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes' position to breach, mothball, or remove the dams to fall off the tables of discussion.
The NMFS has continually pursued the flawed position of transporting the juvenile fish in barges past these dams. This is and was a band-aid approach of 20 years or so. It has not brought any recovery of the runs, only added costs and a continued misguided belief that it would bring about recovery.
Recent studies indicate a positive probability of recovery with breaching of the dams would occur, but NMFS continues to maintain status quo and the continued expenditures to maintain the studies, approve construction of unproven methods on the very problems that continue to destroy the runs and the dams.
NMFS's failure to provide equitable harvest opportunity to the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. The data clearly shows that about 57 percent of the salmon that enter the Columbia River were destined for the Snake River. NMFS allowed harvest grades for downriver fisheries in 1997 that could not be maintained by the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes had a biological analysis of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes' proposed harvest of salmon presented to NMFS since early spring. This was approved by them, but when the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes were preparing their tribal regulations, NMFS all of a sudden had a problem. We had to scramble and go through the process to have a technical review by the Technical Advisory Committee. The Technical Advisory Committee did not see any conflict with our proposal but NMFS did; consequently, no consensus.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We had to call for a review by the USB Oregon Policy Committee. Again, the policy committee had no problem with the numbers but NMFS did; again, no consensus. Our next step was to take it before the Master of the Federal Court, Judge Marsh. Before our appointment with the Court, we had a hurried meeting with NMFS and was able to get an interim harvest for an interim period with the Biological Opinion which was to be presented for signature.
The technical review of the numbers returning updated the data which clearly indicated that the NMFS was using data that no one else had and also that it was flawed. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes did request an increase in the harvest because of the large numbers of salmon that was returning, but we continually ran into conflict with the NMFS.
The State was approved to have its sport harvest by NMFS, and today there is fish returning that far surpass the hatchery quota, and now they, the State, are proposing outplanning for sport harvest in the Boise and Payette Rivers. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes are still having to jump through the hoops that NMFS has placed for our treaty and ceremonial harvest.
But the State can do what they want. What happened to the concern of recovery? Now, it is a bathtub fishery with what they call surplus fish. With so many fish returning, they should be used for supplementing the weak spawning areas to recover the salmon, not to put more dollars in the State's coffers.
NMFS's failure to designate adequate critical habitat for recovery. Designated ESUsthey are arbitrary and without merit scientifically and technicallysimply a means to eliminate and exempt historic and natural production areas to keep them out of the purview of the ESA. NMFS has failed to promote and assure the recovery of the Snake River salmon by eliminating the Middle Snake River which historically produce 70 percent of all the listed stock ranges.
NMFS's failure to provide adequate production opportunities. The wild stocks continue to plummet in the Snake River. NMFS does not allow the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes to increase production, NMFS's definition of 150 individual fish being the minimum viable population. The returns of the wild salmon number less than 100 in historic stream and river systems.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Snake River salmon are effectively or genetically eliminated in many areas. NMFS refuses to improve the migration corridor. NMFS must allow substantive reintroduction by using hatchery populations. NMFS is arbitrarily separating wild fish and wild fish production areas from hatchery fish.
NMFS's failure to fulfill trust responsibility to tribes. Each year, the Biological Opinion is held in abeyance by NMFS to delay our ceremonial and subsistence fisheries. This year, the fishery opportunities are more than half over, and we still have not received the complete Biological Opinion.
The tribes' right to fish is provided in the Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868, and NMFS continues to protect industry and other causes through the demise of the salmon and refuses to bring a jeopardy opinion against the dams, but continues to abridge the Shoshone-Bannock Treaty of 1868.
The NMFS does not have the authority to abrogate my tribes' or any other tribes' treaty. Rendering a treaty null and void is not within the agency's right or authority. The NMFS cannot define a tribe as a person as they are attempting in their administering of the ESA. Ours is a tribal sovereign right, not an individual right.
In conclusion, as I state in my testimony, we have other concerns about the recovery of our brother, the majestic salmon, and we can provide potential solutions to these questions in the near future if requested. Again, we believe our concerns would be appeased and that the salmon would quickly be recovered if NMFS provided a natural corridor through the Lower Snake River.
Again, I thank you for this opportunity to express some of our concerns about the continued demise of the still majestic salmon. We need to wake up and provide for our future generations the continued existence of these great fish or forever be haunted by the loss of them. Thank you.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Statement of Mr. Boyer can be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much, Mr. Boyer. Let me just express my appreciation to all four of you for very articulate testimony wherein you not only point out the facts of the case, but also your frustration with the seeming inability of the Federal agency to play a productive role. We are going to each have some questions for you at this point, and we will begin with Mr. Crapo.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I would like to start out, Mr. Yost, with you. As you may recall, were you at the hearing in I believe it was Lewiston which we held in May, which Chairman John Doolittle of the Water and Power Subcommittee held with regard to drawdowns?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Crapo, no, sir.
Mr. CRAPO. At that hearing, I asked virtually every witness from whatever perspective they may have come whether they felt that the process that NMFS was following was allowing them and their point of view to be adequately heard, and virtually every witness said no.
Now, I realize that whenever you are the lead agency on an issue, you are going to face discontent and concern by the various parties who are concerned. But it was remarkable to me that every witness, whether it was from one angle, one perspective or the other felt that the process was not working in terms of allowing them to have access and feeling that their point of view was being heard.
The reason I lead in with that is that Idaho has in the last year or two developed a salmon migration plan or policy that it has proposed in the negotiations. Is that not correct?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Crapo, yes, sir. Idaho tries to bring all of the affected and interested parties in Idaho together each year to formulate a river operations strategy for that particular year because the State of Idaho's position is that in an effort to restore salmon and assist resident fish that we utilize the resources that we have in the best available manner.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Those resources change year by year; that is, the amount of rainfall and snowpack we have depends on the amount of flows that come out of Idaho that are used to assist salmon. Also, the number of smolt that go out each spring is different year to year. So each year we develop a particular river operation scenario for that particular year, spring and summer.
Mr. CRAPO. And in the last 2 years, it has been very successful in terms of at least achieving the agreement of all of the major interests involved. Is that not correct?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Crapo, that has been correct. We have had a major component of our proposal accepted by the region. All of the interests in the region have accepted the majority of our proposal.
Mr. CRAPO. And when that proposal was presented at the appropriate time and location with the National Marine Fisheries and other managing agencies and so forth, it is my understanding that it was very broadly accepted by most, if not all, of the other parties present. Is that correct?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Crapo, 12 of the 13 participants accepted that. The only dissenting vote was the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Mr. CRAPO. So in the face of virtually all other participants, the National Marine Fisheries rejected the policy?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Crapo, that is correct.
Mr. CRAPO. Mr. McFarland, would you describe for me your experiences with National Marine Fisheries personnel as you have tried to work with them or reach agreement on habitat protection?
Mr. MCFARLAND. Generally, it has been very difficult to get any positive participation from National Marine Fisheries. They constantly have the excuse that they have no personnel. They don't have enough people. But when the time comes that we do get some people to our meetings to work with us, they show up in droves. I mean, I am calling three a drove. But we would much rather have one three times than three one time.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There are some positive things going on though. We have finally got through to some of the lower echelon units. And since we have began communication, there are some positive things going on in our area.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Thank you. And, Mr. Penney, the Nez Perce Tribe and three other tribes have pulled out of the National Marine Fisheries Executive Committee, and I think that you have explained in your testimony the reasons for that. Could you tell me what it would take for you to come back into the process, if you have authority to state what it would take for the Tribe to come back into the process?
Mr. PENNEY. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Crapo, on June 3 in Portland, Oregon, there was a meeting between the various Indian tribes and the State Governors, which I felt was very productive for a first meeting. But at that meeting also, the Governor of Montana expressed his concerns on the process as well.
I think our concern from the Nez Perce Tribe is the NMFS process itselfit seemed like every meeting that either myself or our staff attendedsupposedly a consultation meeting to decide some of these issues that some of these issues were already in place, and we were simply informed what was going to take place.
And we didn't think that was a very productive forum for the Columbia River Tribes, including the Umatilla, Yakama, and Warm Springs Tribes. We decided that the forum was no longer productive for us, and we would not participate in that forum unless there were changes made in how it was structured.
Mr. CRAPO. Would you participate in some type of a forum that involvedwhat I am hearing you say is that you felt the decisions were made and that your participation did not really impact the decisions. Is that correct?
Mr. PENNEY. Well, I believe the tribal input, as I mentioned in my testimony, that a lot of the best available data, science are not fully considered when those type of decisions are being made. And when we do get to the meetings, we are informed that this was the direction NMFS is going to take.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Do you feel that a decisionmaking process that gave decisionmaking authority to a regional body of some type that represented the sovereigns in the region would be acceptable?
Mr. PENNEY. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Crapo, I think that was the intent of our June 3 meeting, that the States, the Federal Government, and the tribal governments need to be fully involved in any decisions that are made. In fact, the title of that meeting was the meeting of the three sovereigns, Federal, State, and tribal. And I believe that is the proper way to address this regionalespecially the Northwest issues.
And I think going back to some of the issues that have been stated previously that we want to keep it a regional issue. As mentioned earlier, the bull trout, the steelhead, there are a number of other stocks that are in trouble at this time. So we need to reach a regional consensus among those
Mr. CRAPO. If that approach were taken, what abouthow would the interests such as irrigators or the transportation concerns or fish and wildlife advocateshow would their interests be represented in the decisionmaking body?
Mr. PENNEY. Well, I co-chair the Snake River Basin Adjudication as well for the Nez Perce Tribe, and all of those interests are represented under the State. And I would assume there would be representatives of the State under the umbrella of the State.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. And, Mr. Boyer, I note that the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes have not withdrawn from the process at least at this point. I assume, however, that you share the same concerns from your testimony. It appears you share very many of the same concerns that the Nez Perce Tribes do. Is that correct?
Mr. BOYER. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Crapo, correct. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, as the other tribes have, since the formation of the Executive Committee have opposed the Executive Committee. It is a committee that wasas in your briefing here is an informal committee. However, being an informal committee, it develops policy decisions without our participation. That is our concern.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It was presented to the Members Committee of Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority in 1995it was presented, and the members at that time, which is made up of the 13 tribes, the four States, and the Federal agencies, minus the Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation, sitting at one table. It was presented and at that particular time the 13 tribes did not accept that process.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. I just have another question or two of Mr. Yost, if I might, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Yost, in the discussion that we just had with regard to regional decisionmaking or changingmoving to a process where the decisions were actually able to be made in a regional decisionmaking body of some sort, there has been a lot of discussion, as we just had, with regard to whether the sovereigns ought to be the ones that make up that decisionmaking authority, or whether it ought to be a more broad-based decisionmaking group that involved representatives of different interest groups. Do you have a position on that?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Crapo, I think that the regional forum that currently exists has to be radically changed. Either NMFS has to change the way they operate now, or there has to be a completely different regional forum established. I think the region can decide who should be on the committee or how it should be established.
I think they can come to an agreement within the region as to who should be on theparticipate in the regional forum. There is a difference of opinion now, but it is being discussed between the three sovereigns, as was mentionedthe Federal, State, and tribal sovereigns. It is either going to have to be done in the region, or Congress or the Courts will have to decide what happens.
Mr. CRAPO. Does it appear to you that the National Marine Fisheries Service views the research and data from the States and the tribes and other sovereigns on the same level and accuracy and usefulness as it views its own research data?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Crapo, no. The National Marine Fisheries Service does not consider scientific data or scientific opinion from the other Federal partners or their sister agencies in the Federal Governmentthe Corps of Engineers, BPA, or the Bureau of Reclamation, nor any of the tribal fish and game departments, nor other information and data that is available from the private sector.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And that is part of the problem. If they have to go out and research and prove all of theor disprove all of the data that is there, they want to make their own decisions. The problem with that is is that there is a diversity of information and data within the region. If I can reach consensus in the region with everyone but NMFS, are they part of the process? Are they part of the solution? Are they participating in the process? Or are they making unilateral decisions?
I think the evidence that you hear today and the evidence we have experienced in the last 2 years in that regional forum will indicate that they make unilateral decisions. Either they want their scienceto use their science to promote their principles or objectives, or they want to pick up their marbles and go home.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. I just have one final point to make again with you, Mr. Yost. I started out asking you about the consensus that had been reached with regard to the Idaho proposal, the Idaho policy. And it seems to me that the decision that NMFS made to move in a different direction has resulted in an immediate and long-term threat to many water uses along the Snake and Columbia River systemthreats to irrigation, commercial, residential water users, and the entire regional economya threat that is not justified by the science, nor designed in myor likely, in my opinion, to have a significantly positive impact on salmon recovery.
And it is also an immediate and long-term threat to State water sovereignty and not just with regard to the State of Idaho either. And I just would like to have you comment on it. And I am going to talk to the next panel about that as well.
But would you please comment? Do you agree with my observation there with regard to the impact of the current policy being pursued by NMFS and its potential implications for water sovereignty and other water uses in the region?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Crapo, the issues are very critical when you are dealing with river governance in the State of Idaho. Those issues are so sensitive and so volatile and so critical to the entire livelihoods of everyone in the Northwest. It has a tremendous impact on power and how power is used. You can't separate the operation of the river system in power that pays for fish mitigation.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have to have the biological solution to save the fish and to restore the salmon runs. We have jurisdictional issues and sovereignty issues that have to be maintained. Each issue is critical and is complex. And, of course, those decisions will be best for the region that are made within the region with as much consensus as possible. We need to have NMFS as a player, not as someone who would make a unilateral decision regardless of the consensus reached by the other participants in the process.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you very much. And, Mr. Chairman, I would yield back my time at this point.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you, Mr. Crapoexcellent questions. Mr. Abercrombie.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, before I get to individuals, I want to comment to you and to Mr. Crapo and I guess to the panel and those upcoming as someone who is very much interested in trying to be a useful catalyst in this process to you, in just thinking about, very frankly, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Crapo, a water distribution question that we are dealing with in the Island of Oahu right now.
You can imagine the parallel interests that I would have when you are an island in the middle of the Pacific utterly and totally dependent upon an aquifer, which must remain pristine, cannot in any respect be contaminated except at the immediate peril of everyone there, and a competition for the use of such water right.
But I was thinking to myself I thought that was complicated until I got to this today. Now, just inI haven't covered it by any means, but, Mr. Chairman, I detect so far five Federal agencies, five States, 13 tribes, three categoriesI don't even want to break the categories down, but they include commercial and environmental and recreationalleading to legislative acts from which plans come, opinions, systems, committees, teams, and boardsalmost all in the plural. And in order to deal with the acts, plans, opinions, systems, teams, committees, and boards, there are councils, groups, authorities, and forums, regional, State, tribal, et cetera. Have I got it so far?
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Abercrombie, I think you have been a very quick read on this. The only thing you left out was there was another foreign nation as well, the Nation of Canada, that is also involved.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Oh, that is a nation. OK. Right.
Mr. CRAPO. Add a nation to your list.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Right. So I have an idea that the National Marine Fisheries Service has either by default or design or both become the czar in this and is pretty much regarded by everybody the way the czar was regarded in 1917 or 1918.
As of yet, apparently, the head of the National Marine Fisheries hasn't suffered the same fate as the Romanovs, but that is not necessarily out of the picture, apparently. So by no means am I trying to make light of it or go into a Pontius Pilate mode and wash my hands of it because it is complicated and detailed.
But I do thinkwould I be correct, Mr. Yost, Mr. McFarland, Mr. Penney, and Mr. Boyerwould it be fair to say then that the human dimension in this, obviously, causes great strain in trying to deal with all of these abstract categories? I think that that iseverybody would agree.
So the question then becomes, for me, is it possible to achieve a consensus, not agreementnot so much a consensus agreement, but a consensus approach on how we would deal with this legislatively? Because I have an idea that as odd as it may sound, the Congress might prove useful in this because we could act as an honest broker.
I mean, I realize it is fashionable these days to trash government, but we are here after all under the Constitution a free people trying to decide on the basis of what is good for the community, what is good for the polis, what is good for us as a Nation. And, obviously, this is a national resource.
I am correct, am I not, that all interested parties here regard the issue at hand here as something which involves a national treasure and resource, as well as the individual attachments that people may have? That being the case, my suggestion, Mr. Chairman, is rather than ask questions, I think, as you mentioned, all of the people have made their positions very clear.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But I think there is a common theme running through all of the testimony, at least that we have seen so far, which is that there is an agreement that there is a decline in the salmon stocks, that the elements which have to be taken into account include ocean conditions, the dams themselves, water use, overharvesting, habitat destruction, hatchery impacts, and the question of the reservoirs associated with the dams.
It would seem to me then, Mr. Chairman, that perhaps we could devise some legislation which would cross the various entities here and the various jurisdictions in a way that would help us to comehelp the decisions to be made which would advance the cause of increasing the stocks and access to them in a reasonable way which takes historical necessities into account.
My bottom line on this would be, Mr. Chairman, that representing as I do a State which has a history of native peoples not being taken into account, any solution that we come up with I think, Mr. Chairman, has to have as a fundamental proposition recognition of an adequate attention paid to the rights in a modern context of the native peoples.
I don't think it is possible probably given the fact that you have eight dams and significant change in the actual physical characteristics of the river to apply literally and rigidly the terms ''usual and customary'' with respect to tribal use. But we certainly can have as an ongoing admonition that maximizing the intent of customary and usual use for tribes should be foremost in whatever legislation appears.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Certainly.
Mr. CRAPO. I appreciate your approach to this, Mr. Abercrombie. Many times I have said and one of the things that I am advocating is that we need to find a decisionmaking process I believe focused in the Pacific Northwest so that all of the people and interests and concerns in the Pacific Northwest are represented in the process and feel represented in the process and actually have decisionmaking impact in that process. And I feel not only your interest but your offer of the fact that perhaps Congress needs to help find that solution is a wise and helpful observation.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Well, the final thing I would say thenthank you very muchis that perhaps the National Marine Fisheries Service is not the best agency to be the final arbiter, if you will, but I have an idea that no matter what entity is either selected or created that that entity, as I think you indicated in your commentary, is likely to be the villain.
So I don't think that that is not an argument against coming to a legislative conclusion. If anything, it should spur us to say, ''Look, then let us try and figure out a way that everybody can agree allows for participation, and then having had that participation, I think you have to make decisions and not just string it out and let the difficulty of it prevent us from coming to a conclusion.'' And then we support it with appropriations if that is what is needed or legislation or both.
But I certainly would pledge my every effort to you and to the Chairman and to our guests here today to try to be a constructive force in achieving a just and fair conclusion which will advance the cause I think that everybody ultimately has allegiance to.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you and I look forward to working with you on that.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you, Mr. Abercrombie. Let me just make a couple of observations and ask some questions for purposes of my clarification. Mr. Yostwell, first of all, let me say that my two colleagues who are here with me today know that I am from New Jersey, and one of the things about resource management that I have learned since I have been in Congress is that resource management works best when the resources that affect the people who are the closest are managed by those people. In other words, local decisions mean an awful lot in terms of the success of whatever resource it is that we are trying to manage.
In New Jersey, for example, the most densely populated State in the country, we take some degree of pride in the degree of environmental protection that we have been able to provide for our resources, but we have done it out of necessity, quite frankly, because there are so many people who have decided or inherited this little piece of real estate called New Jersey. And we have found out that out of necessity we have to be very careful of our resources because there are so many of us who can muck them up real quick.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So we have a Department of Environmental Protection and environmental protection laws that are very, very burdensome as compared to States that are less densely populated. But it works because New Jerseyans decided that that is what we needed to do. And I suspect or know that other parts of the country have the same kind of desire to manage resources appropriately for that region of the country.
Now, a week or so ago, we all participated in trying to help straighten out another issue where local people had some desires and a management plan that they tried to put in place and were foiled by another Federal agency known as the U.S. Forest Service. A plan was developed by Mr. Herger, the gentleman from northern California, and his constituents.
And the Forest Service played NMFS, and we ended up a week or so ago legislating a law that we knewa bill that we knew as the Quincy Library Group proposal to put in place legislatively a management plan that was developed by local people because that is what we believe ought to happen.
Now, Mr. Yost, you indicated that there were 13 agencies or 13 parties to an agreementpotential parties to an agreement. Is that right?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, there were 13 participants at the Executive Committee in the region who had agreed towho were at an Executive Committee meeting. Twelve of those supported us. There were those whothe only one who opposed us in the region at that particular vote was the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Mr. SAXTON. All right. Now, were there other Federal agencies in attendance represented?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, yes, the Bureau of Reclamation, Bonneville Power Administration, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Mr. SAXTON. And they were among the 12 that agreed with a plan that would have managed the river resources for a season or a year. Is that correct?
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. YOST. Yes, sir, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SAXTON. And there were local participants to that potential agreement as well?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, there were the representatives of thethere were representatives of three States. Montana had withdrawn from the process, but there were representatives from three States. And the downstream tribes approved that as well. There was no objection from the tribal sovereigns.
Mr. SAXTON. So there were 12 parties to the agreement that had worked through a series of negotiations, along with the power company association which, obviously, made some concessions. The way I understand that agreement, and I don't mean to oversimplify it, and you can correct this if I am oversimplifying it, but it provided for something like a 6-week period of time when the river would be is the correct word open? Freeflowing more or less?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, it was a combination of providing flows when the smolts were in the river, and it also included a scenario for the amount of fish that would be barged versus the number of smolts or percentage of smolts that would be allowed to go downstream in river.
Mr. SAXTON. And, obviously, there must have been some biological considerations and conservation considerations which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not an easy agency to deal with, and apparently they agreed as one of the 12 parties that this was a good conservation plan?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, that is correct. Even Will Stelle of the National Marine Fisheries Service agreed with the percentages. He just reneged on that situation later. What is what I am sayingis that Idaho doesn't expect to get everything it wants. I am not here to complain that Idaho didn't get their proposal 100 percent.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What I complain about and what I am concerned about is that Idaho can go into the region and get consensus of other Federal agencies, of tribes and States, and fish and game departments from the States. I can get consensus there except for NMFS, and they unilaterally make a decision when all of the other entities or participants have kind of agreed. No one was really happy with the agreement. There were those on both sides who wished it would have been something different, but at least we had reached a consensus except for NMFS.
Mr. SAXTON. Now, since NMFS is not here today, it would be appropriate to be kind to NMFS. They are actually hereobservers are here, but the spokesmen are not here today. So can you shed any light on or find a reason or explain to me why it is that NMFS was the outparty and couldn't agree?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, the response from NMFS for the request was that they considered that they wanted more chinook salmon barged than were allowed to go downstream in river. What they did was take into account hatchery fish that are not listed stocks. And National Marine Fisheries Service does not have jurisdiction over hatchery stocks. They are not listed. They are not on the endangered species list.
Only native wildfish are on the endangered species list and listed under ESA. Those are hatchery-produced fish out of Idaho for supplementation, and yet we can identify those fish and we do. All we ask was that there were more hatchery fish and steelhead smolts allowed to go inriver because of the excellent conditions for inriver migration for this particular year because of the runoff.
Mr. SAXTON. So I am not sure that I get into theI don't mean to use the wrong word here but, you know, the biological minutia of one fish from another, but I don't understand that logic I guess is what I am saying. Maybe Mr. Crapo would like to help me understand.
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, we didn't understand it either.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Yes. I believe what it boils down to, and at our next hearing we will have NMFS present and can ask them these detailed questions, but without trying to speak on behalf of NMFS, I think what it boils down to is that they believe that the dams are one of the major causes of mortality of the smolt.
And there is a disagreement by the NMFS officials as to the best way to get the smolt around the dams. They tend to believe in what is called transportation or the barging, whereas there are other advocates who wanted to have a larger percentage of the fish left inriver and spilled over the dams.
And many of us don't know the answer but felt that this would be a good year to even out the percentages because we had the waterflow that could get the spills successfully accomplished, and then we could have better studies on which approach worked more effectively. Is that a good explanation of it, Mr. Yost?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Crapo, that is correct. There are certain years in Idaho when we have high flows. River conditions are excellent to carry the smolt downstream. When we have those types of conditions, it seemed to us to make more sense to leave the smolts in a natural setting inriver rather than collecting them at the facilities, putting them in barges, and transporting them downriver.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Would you yield, Mr. Chairman, a moment? Mr. Yost, we are going to have to vote soon. I want to make sure I get this. You mean to say this whole thing went up the chute because you were arguing over the detail of what by definitionI guess by definition is a scientific impossibility right now? You don't know these things. It has to be worked out.
Isn't that something that if you had the overall agreement year by year you could try to decide which approach you were going to take depending on the riverflow and all the rest? Why on earth would you knock down the agreement of the whole over the detail of how it was going to be implemented when by definition that would change from year to year?
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Have I missed something?
Mr. YOST. [continuing] Congressman Abercrombie, no, sir. You haven't missed it. NMFS agreed that we could have up to 50 percent of the fish inriver and 50 percent in barges. The regional consensus was a little bit higher than that but at least there was agreement that we wanted to have more fish in the river and less in the barges.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. But my point is is that couldn't you get an overall agreement of something nailed down in writing then that this is the way you would do it every year? You have your vote; you come out; you get your consensus. You are able to achieve that.
Now, we don't know whether you were going to be right or wrong, but that is not the point in this, right, because this is an inexact sciencemake the parallel to the case I mentioned on the Island of Oahu. I am not sure whether you got the exact number of millions of gallons per day of water that are going through. Maybe we will be off. Maybe it needs an adjustment, that you could make a mechanism for doing that. But once you have this in place, it seems to me that that should have been it and that should be the ongoing institutional way of dealing with this.
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Abercrombie, we had an agreement in the region from everyone except NMFS.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. OK.
Mr. YOST. And even NMFS agreed at one time and then they changed their mind a few weeks later.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you.
Mr. SAXTON. Now, let me just clarify a couple of other things. You have talked about NMFS at one point in the process being in agreement with the plan, and then they for some reason changed their mind and, in effect, vetoed the plan. Do representatives from the National Marine Fisheries Service work along with you through the process in trying to arrive at a conclusion with regard to some plan?
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, yes. NMFS agreed on several various components as we tried to negotiate what the specific numbers would be inriver and in the barges. We had NMFS agreeing with Idaho and other members on various components. But the plan that reached the most consensus NMFS objected to.
Mr. SAXTON. Were they a productive worker along the way?
Mr. YOST. Mr. Chairman, I would say that they were able to agree with us on certain issues. Why they changed their mind at the last minute, I don't know.
Mr. SAXTON. Well, thank you. As you can see, we are going to have to go vote again. It disturbs me that one Federal agency in the context of what I gather, and correct me if I am wrong on this, but every player that I have heard referred to is trying to save or rebuild the salmon stock.
Without exception, NMFS has as its mission the same thing, and I find it quite amazing and, in fact, disturbing that NMFS apparently was the showstopper in trying to arrive at a locally conceived plan to accomplish those goals.
And, Mr. Crapo, I think, you know, the next hearing will be extremely interesting. In fact, let me suggest that you and I not wait until the next hearing. Why don't we see if we can get a private meeting with the folks from NMFS between now and the time we go home
Mr. CRAPO. I would appreciate that, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SAXTON. [continuing] to see if we can find some answers that may be helpful. You are not alone in your frustrations I must say to the four of you and others who are here from the Northwest. NMFS is not just less popular than the IRS in the Northwest, it also happens to occur to a large degree in the Northeast. And so we will try to work with NMFS here in the next week or so to try to get a quick meeting to try to see if we can't make some progress on this matter.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are going to have to go vote again, and so I want to thank all of you. I assume that we can say that you have been extremely helpful in that we don't have further questions for this panel. So we thank you, and, unfortunately, I have a 12 o'clock appointment that I must keep so, Mr. Crapo, if you would chair the hearing when you return, and I will try to catch up with you in the next 45 minutes or so. Thank you very much.
Mr. BOYER. Mr. Chairman, I do have some news articles that recently came out of the Boise Statesman. Congressman Crapo probably has access to it. It is a three-part series on the problem that we are discussing here today.
Mr. SAXTON. OK. Thank you very much. I would love to be able to have that, if I may.
Mr. BOYER. I have two parts. I don't have a third part.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you.
[News articles follow:]
Mr. CRAPO. [presiding] The hearing will reconvene. We apologize. This is sort of standard operating procedure around here. We are having more votes than usual because there is a bunch of fighting going on on the floor so we apologize for that.
Mr. Abercrombie and the Chairman both had luncheons to go to, and Mr. Abercrombie and I are both involved in an amendment on the sugar part of the Farm bill later on. So they are going to try to get back, and we will do our very best to move ahead expeditiously.
Let me introduce the second panel now and welcome Mr. Joseph Rohleder of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association; Mr. Stan Grace, Council Member for the Northwest Power Planning Council; Mr. Bob Deurloo from the Meridian Gold Company; Mr. Justin Hayes of the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition; and Mr. Norman Semanko of the Twin Falls Canal Company and the North Side Canal Company.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We welcome you all, and I would just remind you to try to stay as close as you can to the 5-minute window there because of the timing problems we have in this hearing. But please feel free to make your points as well. And we will start out with you, Mr. Rohleder.
STATEMENT OF JOSEPH ROHLEDER, NORTHWEST SPORTFISHING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION
Mr. ROHLEDER. Thank you, Congressman Crapo. My name is Joe Rohleder. I live in Waldport, Oregon. I am testifying today on behalf of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association and the Association of the Northwest Steelheaders.
NSIA consists of hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs in the Pacific Northwest dedicated to keeping our rivers, lakes, and streams healthy and full of fish. The Steelheaders are the largest angling group in Oregon. Sportfishing generates over $3 billion per year to the overall economic health of the Pacific Northwest States.
My backgroundI am a trained geologist. Since 1986, I have operated ocean charter boats, fishing boats, and tour boats on the Oregon coast and in southeast Alaska. This last year I worked extensively with the Oregon legislature for adoption and funding of Governor Kitzhaber's Oregon Coastal Salmon Restoration Initiative. During that process, I worked regularly with National Marine Fisheries Service.
Thank you for inviting fishing businesses and sportanglers to testify today. Our businesses literally live or die by how well National Marine Fisheries Service does its job. As we see it, that job is restoring fishable populations to Northwest salmon. Only fishable populations contribute to economies, communities, and cultures.
In brief, here are some of the concerns of fishing business people and the Steelheaders. Salmon are not being restored. The measures taken by National Marine Fisheries Service to date would have to improve by 500 percent in order for adult returns to sustain recovery. The numbers of Wild Snake and Columbia River salmon and steelhead are lower now than when NMFS took over in 1992.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the Columbia basin, NMFS invests too much effort going after small sources of human mortalityharvest and hatcheriesand too little going after the large sourcesFederal dams and reservoirs. NMFS has drastically reduced sports, commercial, and tribal harvest to salmon in many cases to virtually zero. They have also focused substantial resources analyzing and regulating hatcheries.
Meanwhile, the Federal hydrosystem, which is responsible for from 60 to 90 percent of the human caused mortality of Snake River salmon, has only slightly changed operations under National Marine Fisheries Service direction.
NMFS communication and outreach to anglers, businesses, and communities is about the worst that we have seen. Now, the groups I represent work with several dozen agencies including other agencies that regulate us like National Marine Fisheries Service does. Our approach in all cases is to seek to be effective partners because that is good business, it is the right thing to do, and it is the only way that we are going to solve the Northwest salmon crisis.
More than any other agencies, National Marine Fisheries Service has not effectively built partnerships with anglers and fishing businesses. The agency does not communicate well. They don't listen well. They don't share control well, nor do they build consensus well. This is true on the Columbia and on the Oregon coast.
National Marine Fisheries Service's scientific credibility is very low. An example of the apparent misuse and premature information release occurred this year with the preliminary results of the 1995 PIT-tag study. A PIT-tag is a tag that is put into the fish that is an interactive transponder.
The study is incomplete. The data has not been peer reviewed by State, Federal, tribal managers, and it is just one study amongst many that the National Marine Fisheries Service is doing right now. Yet, high NMFS officials are publicly releasing preliminary data to the media and to Congress claiming that it shows fish barging worked in 1995.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The National Marine Fisheries Service is not exerting effective leadership with the other Federal agencies, with the Northwest States and Indian tribes, or with Northwesterners in general. There will not be recovery without regional unity. But instead of building institutions and attitudes to achieve it, National Marine Fisheries Service has alienated partners away from the table.
We acknowledge that creation of the regional unity is not just NMFS's responsibility, but the Administration must lead the effort, and NMFS is the Administration's designated agency in charge of salmon.
We appreciate this Committee's attention to Northwest salmon, and we look forward to working with you in the future. Our suggestions briefly are there must be upward accountability on the Columbia. NMFS has neither the will nor the full authority to make decisions and then enforce those decisions on other Federal agencies.
The majority of Federal resources must focus on the primary causes of mortality, habitat degradation especially caused by Federal dams. NMFS and the Federal hydroagencies must recommit to a scientific partnership with Northwest States and tribes. And NMFS and the Administration should embrace now the scientific principle that fish need rivers.
We just restore more natural watershed processes, recreate damaged habitats, and restore fishable populations of salmon and steelhead. The groups I represent stand ready to assist and partners in these efforts whenever and wherever appropriate. I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
[Statement of Mr. Rohleder may be found at end of hearing.]
[Disclosure requirement may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Rohleder. We appreciate your testimony, and I understand that you may have to leave early. If we don't finish by the time you have to leave, please feel free to excuse yourself.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ROHLEDER. Thank you very much, sir.
Mr. CRAPO. And next, Mr. Stan Grace for the Northwest Power Planning Council. Mr. Grace.
STATEMENT OF STAN GRACE, COUNCIL MEMBER, NORTHWEST POWER PLANNING COUNCIL
Mr. GRACE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Stan Grace. I am a Montana member and former chairman of the Northwest Power Planning Council. In the council's planning, we were required to balance the needs of fish and wildlife against the hydroelectric system. We treat the Columbia River and its tributaries as a system as we were required by law.
I am also Montana's representative on the Executive Committee, an advisory forum of river interests created by the National Marine Fisheries Service to assist in decisionmaking about Columbia and Snake River operations.
My message today is that in my experience, the NMFS decisionmaking process fails in two ways. First, the NMFS fails to take into account the impact of Columbia and Snake River recovery operations on Montana's fish and wildlife, particularly the impact of reservoir drawdowns to augment flows downstream for endangered Snake River salmon.
Second, related to the first, there is a definite lack of cooperation between the NMFS and Montana. This stems from the lack of consideration by the Fisheries Service for Montana's fish and wildlife resources. Montana is unique in this respect. We have no salmon, but we do have bull trout, cutthroat trout, and sturgeon on our Columbia River tributaries.
These fish are adversely affected when the Fisheries Service orders drawdowns at Libby and Hungry Horse reservoirs to augment Columbia River flows. These drawdowns also impact the ecology of two major reservoirs on these tributariesLake Koocanusa behind Libby dam and Hungry Horse reservoir behind Hungry Horse dam, as well as 125 miles of river below the dams.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Because the Power Planning Council treats the Columbia and its tributaries as a system, the council adopted operating guidelines for Libby and Hungry Horse dams that protect fish and wildlife, provide flood control, and meet hydropower requirements, as well as contributes significant amounts of water to salmon recovery efforts.
These protections developed in the public process are called integrated rule curves. They are operating rules for Libby and Hungry Horse dams that limit the depth of reservoir drawdowns and strive to avoid refill failures.
This significant investment in time, manpower, and money has been ignored by the Fisheries Service in its Biological Opinion on hydropower operations. The Fisheries Service claims that drawdowns at Libby and Hungry Horse dams boost water velocity in the Columbia River and that the additional velocity helps juvenile Snake River salmon migrate to sea.
In truth, the velocity increase is insignificant. There is no scientific proof that this marginal increase benefits salmon recovery efforts. However, the adverse impacts from 20-foot drawdowns on resident fish at Libby and Hungry Horse are real and they are documented.
Montana attempted to participate in NMFS river operations forum, but the Fisheries Service repeatedly ignored our concerns about the drawdowns imposed by the Biological Opinion at Libby and Hungry Horse dams. Our frustration with the NMFS process led to our withdrawal from a forum that offered us no opportunity for relief.
Montana is also concerned that the Fisheries Service intervened in recovery planning for Kootenai River white sturgeon in an attempt to discredit the integrated rule curves despite unanimous support for these operational curves by the scientists working on sturgeon recovery.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, Montana believes that NMFS managing Montana's resources through the Biological Opinion is managing, and that this amounts to management by a damage standard. In other words, NMFS does not seek to protect the needs of native fish in Montana, but rather manages to what they have determined to be a level of the ''acceptable impact.''
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC After repeated attempts to have our concerns heard in the NMFS process, Governor Racicot suspended Montana's participation. We now seek legal remedies as our alternative. The National Marine Fisheries Service charges with implementing the mandate of the Endangered Species Act in the Columbia River basin must take a broader view in choosing recovery actions.
We will continue to work for the recovery of the three listed salmon stocks, but measures to recover them should not be detrimental to other native species. We hope this Committee, as well as the Administration, will urge the Fisheries Service to implement an ecosystem approach to Snake River salmon recovery. Thank you very much for your invitation to speak today.
[Statement of Mr. Grace may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Grace. We appreciate your traveling to get here, and we know that you had to make special arrangements in your schedule to do so. Next, Mr. Deurloo.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT DEURLOO, MERIDIAN GOLD COMPANY
Mr. DEURLOO. Mr. Chairman, I am Bob Deurloo. I am General Manager of Meridian Gold Company's Beartrack Mine near Salmon, Idaho. Beartrack employs 160 people, and we contribute approximately 20 percent to the economy of Salmon. We are located on Napias Creek which flows into the Panther River which flows into the main stem of the Salmon River.
We have spent literally millions of dollars to ensure clean water, and I join probably everyone in this room in desiring the return of the salmon. And I would say the Napias Creek is in better shape now than before the mine started construction 3 years ago primarily because of wetlands rehabilitation which was damaged by past mining practices.
We have dealt with National Marine Fisheries for over 4 years, and I have some specific examples of our dealings. We are frustrated, number 1, by the timeliness of their decisions. By statute, they have 135 days for consultation.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In our case, it took over twice as long, and we almost missed the short summer construction season at 7,000 feet up in the mountains and almost were delayed for another year till the next construction season. And we would have been delayed had not our elected Representatives intervened and pressed NMFS to make a timely decision. We didn't ask for any special considerations, just a timely decision.
When we did finally get the Biological Opinion, National Marine Fisheries found that Beartrack was not likely to affect the salmon, but that we were in critical habitat, which leads me to our second major frustration. We feel the National Marine Fisheries don't follow their own rules and regulations, and I will elaborate.
As you know because you have been there, Beartrack is located seven miles above a falls on the Napias Creek. No one has ever documented or seen a salmon above these falls. We have found three government studies from 1938 on that have examined these falls, and all have described the falls as impassable cascades.
One of those in 1938 by the Bureau of Fisheries, which is a predecessor to NMFS, found that they were impassable. These falls are also natural which can be seen by the huge boulders, and the tree up on top the falls is over 200 years old.
National Marine Fisheries regulations state that all areas above natural and passable falls are not critical habitat. And critical habitat is defined in their own regulations as areas currently occupied by the species at the time of listing. Areas outside that occupied at the time of listing shall be designated as critical habitat only if such areas are essential for the conservation of the species.
I think we all know that habitat is not the limiting factor for salmon conservation. Nevertheless, when our Biological Opinion was issued, National Marine Fisheries found, ''These are cascades with resting areas within them and are not a vertical waterfall. The possibility of chinook salmon passage is increased. The site visited by National Marine Fisheries staff verified the possibility of chinook salmon once spawning upstream from the cascades.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC ''Therefore, until conclusive data are available to confirm that the cascades were historically impassable, National Marine Fisheries will assume for the purposes of defining critical habitat that the upstream habitat was accessible.'' So, the regulations say if it is not currently occupied, it is not critical habitat. But NMFS says it may have been possible once upon a time so it is critical habitat.
According to NMFS, if we want to change the designation, we must prove that no salmon were above the falls prior to 1860, or we have to prove that the falls are not passable and none of man's activities have negatively influenced this passage.
So we spent considerable time and money trying to comply with their dictates. We have performed geomorphology studies which we prove that the falls are natural, and I think NMFS has bought off on that. We have also performed extensive hydraulic and gradient studies which our fish biologists feel prove that the falls are impassable. But when presented to National Marine Fisheries, their response is, ''That is all well and good, but you would be amazed at what a fish can do.''
Our only appeal is to petition the Secretary of Commerce for habitat redesignation, which we have done, but we don't know if we will get an impartial hearing, and this process could take years. So here we are, tightly regulated. We must seek NMFS's permission for all of our activities, and their decisions are slow in coming.
Mining is a dynamic process. Prices change, conditions change, reserves are added. Even with minor changes, we are threatened, ''Well, this will reopen your Biological Opinion.'' And with this, we would be in a whole new ballgame. This happened to Hecla, and now they have to curtail their operations during periods of wet weather. A similar restriction on our operations would threaten our $80 million investment.
So we feel National Marine Fisheries needs to be more timely, more reasonable. They shouldn't be solely focused on only salmon considerations, but also should consider other factors as well. We also feel there should be a better appeal procedure rather than just suing in the Courts.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We feel the National Marine Fisheries should reevaluate their regulatory chokehold on small interior operators that have minor effect on salmon; instead, concentrate on fixing the dams and then the salmon won't be endangered. Thank you.
[Statement of Mr. Deurloo may be found at end of hearing.]
[Disclosure statement may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Deurloo, and you are correct. I have been there at those falls, and, you know, in my questions I want to go into that a little further with you. Next, Mr. Hayes.
STATEMENT OF JUSTIN HAYES, SAVE OUR WILD SALMON COALITION
Mr. HAYES. Thank you. I am the conservation scientist and DC area representative for Save Our Wild Salmon. Save Our Wild Salmon is a coalition of 47 conservation, fishing, and fishing business organizations.
As you know, the National Marine Fisheries Service is charged with overseeing efforts to restore the federally listed Columbia basin salmon. Since NMFS took on this task, salmon have continued to decline. In fact, several additional stocks of salmon, several stocks of steelhead, and the seagoing cutthroat trout have now been proposed for listing on the Endangered Species Act as well.
Why with the attention by the Federal Government, years of effort, and the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars have these species continued to decline? Why? Because the National Marine Fisheries Service has failed to take the active leadership role required to recover these fish.
Currently, there are three separate recovery plansa Federal, a State, and a tribal plan. Over the last 3 years, NMFS has failed to exert the leadership required to reconcile the differences and merge these three documents into a single binding recovery plan.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the absence of a single agreed-upon plan, the Northwest salmon recovery effort has virtually self-destructed. In addition, NMFS has focused far too narrowly on fulfilling only the procedural requirements of the Endangered Species Act. As a result, the recovery plan the National Marine Fisheries Service has put forth focuses on procedure rather than substance.
The National Marine Fisheries Service's plan, even if implemented, will not result in the recovery of the Snake River salmon to self-sustaining harvestable levels. Their own studies prove that under their plan not even juveniles are surviving to adulthood and returning.
Another stumbling block has been NMFS's failure to incorporate other Federal agencies, the States, and the tribes into the decisionmaking process. Substantive issues raised by others are infinitely passed from one meeting to the next because the National Marine Fisheries Service or the Army Corps of Engineers objects. This process has become such an obvious waste of time that many of the tribes and the State of Montana have withdrawn.
The National Marine Fisheries Service's failure to bring the region's Federal, State, and tribal agencies together has created a leadership vacuum. As a result, many agencies in the Northwest have staked out their very own salmon turf. There is no better example of this than the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps has decided that it is the ultimate authority over the management of the dams that are killing the salmon.
This is so even when the operations of their dams directly contradict the management plans of the National Marine Fisheries Service. As a result, the Corps has managed the river poorly for fish, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on controversial projects.
NMFS is like a deer frozen in the headlights. Rather than make a decision, it chooses to stand right in the middle of the road in the path of the oncoming truck. This fear has resulted in the National Marine Fisheries Service's pursuance of process over substance. They refuse to work cooperatively with others on substantive issues. They do not seem to want to pursue these issues and reach a solution.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Recently, the State of Idaho and many of the region's tribes brought forth their proposal for managing the 1997 salmon migration. This plan called for leaving more young salmon in the river to benefit from the expected high water. As you know, this plan was widely supported and scientifically very credible.
An extensive report by NMFS's own independent scientific advisory board cautioned NMFS against its continued use of widespread, large-scale barging of juvenile fish. This report stated that there has never been any evidence that the practice of barging fish will lead to the eventual recovery of the salmon.
At the Executive Committee meeting level, only the National Marine Fisheries Service objected to the Idaho and tribal proposal. In spite of overwhelming support, NMFS made the unilateral decision to barge many more juvenile salmon than other members of the committee thought was acceptable. Thus, the National Marine Fisheries Service ignored its own best scientific evidence, and it overruled the wishes of the other sovereigns in the region.
The National Marine Fisheries Service's very poor leadership and its process over substance approach is not recovering and is not leading toward the recovery of the basin's salmon. It does not satisfy the requirements of laws or treaties which commit this Nation to restoring Columbia basin fish.
Likewise, it does not satisfy the needs of the thousands of families dependent on commercial and recreational salmon fishing for their livelihood, and it does not satisfy the needs of the hundreds of thousands of recreational anglers who pump money into the economies of the Northwest.
For this issue to move forward, several things must occur. First, the Administration needs to make a higher level presence felt in the region. It needs to have a presence in the region that is capable of giving orders to the other Federal agencies.
Second, the Federal, State, and tribal plans need to be pulled together into a single binding recovery plan, and the States and tribes must be given co-management authority. Third, until these previous two occur, recovery efforts, especially spending, need to focus on components found in the three plans. This needs to be done so as not to prejudice one plan over the other in future decisions.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And, fourth, the authoritative, scientific views of the National Marine Fisheries Service's own independent scientific advisory board need to be given more credence by NMFS itself and by the Administration. This is the best science available, and they are ignoring it. Rather, NMFS relies far too much on the decidedly unindependent scientists that are in charge of its own fish barging program to create their future policy. I thank you very much for the opportunity to speak before you, and I will gladly answer any questions when this panel is done. Thank you.
[Statement of Mr. Hayes may be found at end of hearing.]
[Disclosure requirement may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Hayes. We appreciate your testimony. And, finally, Mr. Semanko.
STATEMENT OF NORMAN SEMANKO, TWIN FALLS CANAL COMPANY AND NORTH SIDE CANAL COMPANY
Mr. SEMANKO. Thank you, Congressman Crapo, Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee, ladies and gentlemen. I am here today representing the Twin Falls Canal Company and the North Side Canal Company. I am an attorney with the law firm of Rosholt, Robertson & Tucker in Twin Falls. We appreciate the opportunity to be here today and testify regarding NMFS and their role in the recovery of salmon in the Northwest.
I appreciate being here today. I have been in this room several times as a staff member, and things haven't changed here much, and, unfortunately, neither has the status of the salmon since Larry Craig was in this Committee room.
Mr. CRAPO. And the fact that they call votes in the middle of your testimony, right?
Mr. SEMANKO. Would you like me to proceed, or do you want me to
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. No. Please go ahead and proceed.
Mr. SEMANKO. Our primary concern with NMFS is the role that Idaho water, including water from Federal reservoirs, is being asked to play in recovery of the salmon. The current Biological Opinion requires that 427,000 acre-feet be provided each year from the Upper Snake; that is, above Brownlee reservoir.
The bulk of this water has been provided from reclamation reservoirs in Idaho. This is despite the fact that the listed salmon do not exist in this part of Idaho and, above Shoshone Falls, have never existed.
While Idaho irrigators do not believe that there is any scientific or legal justification for this, they have, nonetheless, cooperated; in fact, going so far as to support legislation at the State level in 1996 that specifically allows this amount of water to go out of the State through the year 1999.
Nineteen ninety nine is the year that NMFS is scheduled to make some type of major decision with regard to the system. Are they going to go to a drawdown or a breaching of the dam-type of system, or are they going to go with an enhanced transportation system?
The long-term solution, as stated in the 1995 Biological Opinion, is not to include flow augmentation. Flow augmentation has been framed as a temporary solution to the problema stopgap measure to get us by. And it is perhaps worth noting that if you read the Biological Opinion, and maybe this is where some of the frustration comes from today, the period between 1995 and 1999 is meant only as a period in which to avoid extinction of the salmon.
It is not supposed to be that way, but they decided that they need to run an adaptive management program, an experiment to see which process, neither of which is really being implemented right now, is better to save the salmon sometime after 1999.
Somehow, the fact that flow augmentation should be a temporary solution is being lost in the mix. Last year, several environmental groups, joined by the State of Oregon and some of the tribes, sued NMFS and other Federal agencies in a case entitled American Rivers v. NMFS.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And the gist of the concern was that the flow targets at Lower Granite and other places on the Snake and Columbia Rivers are mandatory targets which must be met each and every day of the season. There was also a concern that NMFS had not and the Bureau had not consulted on Upper Snake River project operations; that is, those dams that are above the Lower Snake River.
The Judge, in an April 3 opinion, rejected all claims and decided that, ''no,'' these flow targets are not something that need to be met every day. The way NMFS and the region are trying to manage the process is that when the fish are there and the water is available, then we will go ahead and use it. They aren't firm targets.
Despite this resounding victory, and I think everyone at the time regarded it as a victory for NMFS, NMFS and the Bureau have nonetheless decided to give the environmentalists and the other parties involved exactly what they asked for. One of the things they asked for was consultation on the projects in the Upper Snake. We are, frankly, baffled at this prospect.
Why? I think with regard to one of the issues that we we're talking about this morning, why did NMFS decide that they want to barge more fish and not have more fish in the river? The reason for that as I understood it, one of their argumentsan easy one to lean onwas, ''Well, the Biological Opinion says we are doing an experiment. We need to share the risk. It needs to be 50/50 so we can have an accurate experiment and decide which one to go with.'' Whether that is a good decision or not, they decided to rely on the Biological Opinion.
In the Biological Opinion, it also says, ''Bureau of Reclamation, if you and in cooperation with the State of Idaho and irrigators can provide 427,000 acre-feet through the year 1999, you are not going to have to consult on Upper Snake operations. If you can't do that, if you can't get significant progress on that, then you will have to consult.''
So what has happened? We have had significant progress on securing that water. It has been provided every year of this Biological Opinion. And all of a sudden now NMFS and the Bureau decide we need to consult on those Upper Snake projects anyway. We don't know what the rationale for that is, frankly, other than perhaps politics.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our very clear message for NMFS and the Bureau today is that this consultation process cannot and should not be used as a vehicle to increase the 427,000 acre-foot requirement. We have been assured at certain levels that this will not happen, that what goes in the front door of the consultation will come out the back door, but we are still skeptical.
Rather, the consultation should confirm that operation of the Upper Snake River basin reservoirs does not adversely impact the salmon. The problems exist, as has been noted here today, downstream and in the ocean and should be addressed at the source.
In addition, the NMFS/Bureau consultations should not remove the requirements in the 1995 Biological Opinion that water be acquired only from willing sellers and only in accordance with State law. Flow augmentation is a temporary solution. We ask for congressional oversight on that issue.
I have also detailed in the testimony, which I won't go over, some concerns about the downstream recovery concerns and also about the expanding role of NMFS. But the last comment I would like to make is with regard to this decisionmaking process. There has been a lot written and said about having a regional forum.
And we would like to point the Subcommittee, certainly Mr. Crapo, to an example of what is going on in the Upper Colorado basin. There effectively what the agencyin that case, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servicehas done is stepped back away from the process, allowed the other playersthe States, et ceterato go forward with the process and stay as much as possible out of the way. And, in our opinion, that is what needs to happen in the Northwest. The States need to be allowed to take the lead and decide on what the proper regional forum should be. Thank you.
[Statement of Mr. Semanko may be found at end of hearing.]
[Disclosure requirement may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Semanko. And I believe that this is probably the time I am going to have to slip out and go vote. Perhaps Mr. Abercrombie and Chairman Saxton will be able to get back for the questioning period. And regardless of whether they do or do not, I think you could tell from their questions earlier they are very interested in this issue.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And they and their staff are going to review the testimony very carefully. And I am confident that this Committee is going to pay very careful and close attention to what it can do to help find a solution here.
I apologize for the disjointed manner in which we have had to run the Committee today. But if you will please excuse me to run and vote, I will get back as soon as I can. And I do have some very important questions to ask so I would encourage you to all stay here. I slipped out during the last vote and got a candy bar and a pop. Feel free to do that. You have got time.
I know that we have held you now till well into or maybe past your lunch hour and will probably go a little longer. So why don't you take this break as an opportunity to get a little bit of something to eat if you can, but please try to be back in about 10 or 15 minutes at the most. Thank you.
Mr. CRAPO. I think we will go ahead and get started even though I got back faster than I thought I would, and Mr. Semanko has followed my advice and slipped out for a minute. And, Mr. Rohleder, I will start out with you just in case you do have to slip out to an airplane or anything. And the first question I have for you is what impact does the steelhead and salmon fishing contribute to the region's financial base?
Mr. ROHLEDER. Mr. Chairman, our best guesstimate is that the sport salmon and steelhead fishing in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho contributes about $3 billion in economic impact every year. My testimony includes a fact sheet on economic impacts. It is near the end of the package.
Mr. CRAPO. OK. Is that the one with the charts in it?
Mr. ROHLEDER. Yes, sir, that is correct.
Mr. CRAPO. Now, do these charts include any kind of assumptions, or is this based on the current circumstances, or does this include assumptions with regard to having a fully recovered stock of salmon and steelhead?
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ROHLEDER. These are based on fully recovered stocks. We figure that we have lost half of our economic input because of the lack of recovery in the Pacific Northwest.
Mr. CRAPO. So currently we are at about half of these figures in terms of what is happening today?
Mr. ROHLEDER. Yes, Mr. Chairman, that is correct.
Mr. CRAPO. OK. And, Mr. Grace, what are your recommendations to improve the communication process between the Northwest Power Planning Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service? Do you have some recommendations on what could be done?
Mr. GRACE. Mr. Chairman, at this time, probably I don't have specificas a member of the State of Montana and the Governor's Office, we are willing to go anyplace where we have assurance that there is a fair balanced sort of structured process that everybody can be heard in. And there need to be rules for participation and rules for dispute resolution.
Our Governor also believes that the Northwest Power Planning Council with some adjustment may be a better body as a forum for the region. However, as far as the Power Planning Council dealing with National Marine Fisheries, we have had limited success there. We don't really have any current communications going on along that line.
Mr. CRAPO. And I realize that you probably don't have authority to answer this on behalf of the State of Montana, but just in your personal opinion, what do you think it would take for the State of Montana to get back involved in the process or a process?
Mr. GRACE. Oh, I think I can speak for the Governor there, and that would be the assurance that you had a fair opportunity to be heard. Frankly, I was the one that asked or told the Governor that I thought that the process the National Marine Fisheries had and the Executive Committee was flawed, that it was, in my words, akin to playing in the house poker game or the house cut to deal the cards and then make the rules after the deal. It just wasn't a fair process.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. In terms of this concept of a regional decisionmaking process, you alluded to a dispute resolution process or something like that. Do you agree with me that the decisionmaking authority for this issue or this group of issues should be one in which the ultimate authority to make the decision is vested in a regional body or a regional group of some sort rather than in a Federal agency?
Mr. GRACE. I certainly do because I guess our bottom line is that the National Marine Fisheries under the ESA have a very narrow approach to the problems of the regionI mean, by mandate the ESA. And although thoseand there need to be a broader look across the region. Again, we think that we should be looking at the total fish and wildlife community when we make the decisions to
Mr. CRAPO. Even though the total fish and wildlife community may not include all endangered species
Mr. GRACE. Right.
Mr. CRAPO. In other words, all the species involved in that look may not be endangered or
Mr. GRACE. That is right.
Mr. CRAPO. [continuing] threatened. Do you believe that that would require an adjustment to the Endangered Species Act or at least some type of a special authorization for this regional decisionmaking body to operate under different rules or to adjust its evaluations in some way that it is not allowed now by the Endangered Species Act?
Mr. GRACE. I believe so, sir.
Mr. CRAPO. Do you believe that Federal agencies should be participants in such a project or such a body, or should they be the implementors of the decisions that are made by that body?
Mr. GRACE. In my own personal experience, sir, I think they should have somethey should be in that process, but they should be co-managers, not, as they were referred to earlier in the questioning, as czars of the region.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. OK. And one last question. There seems to be a significant amount of concernon this topicthere seems to be a significant amount of concern about whether if we move to a regional decisionmaking authority whether that authority should be made up solely of sovereignsfor example, the Federal Government entity or entities, State governments, tribal governments, and so forthor whether it should be broader and should include interest groups such as salmon advocates, transportation concerns, irrigators, and so forth.
Do you have an opinion on what the makeupand I am not asking you for details necessarily, I am more talking concept herebut how should the makeup of this decisionmaking body be approached?
Mr. GRACE. In my mind, sir, I believe that we still have to deal with the three sovereigns that otherwise we would get too unwieldy. I know in the State of Montana we do our utmost to represent the other interests as far as the environmental commercial interests that otherwise I don't know how we could bring it to bear.
Mr. CRAPO. Mr. Rohleder and Mr. Hayes from theI kind of put both of you in the camp of salmon advocates or steelhead advocates. Could you respond to the same question, the question being if we move to a decisionmaking body of some sort in the region, should that body include only sovereigns and then we expect the sovereigns will represent the various interests of the region? Or should that body be broader and include interest advocates such as your groups or transportation advocates or irrigators or miners and so forth?
Mr. ROHLEDER. Mr. Chairman, it has been my experience working with these situations that you can't have every special interest group represented on the governing body. You are always going to have somebody who is not represented. So if you had this governing body be the sovereigns, then they would have the responsibility to represent and to interface with the special interest groups.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In other words, we, the environmentalists, the sportfishermen, the irrigators, the farmers would work together with our elected representatives to shall you say lobby or input our States, and then our States would be expected to represent our views. And I agree with Mr. Grace. I think that anything else would be unwieldy.
I personally feel pretty good about working with the farmers and the irrigators on several task forces that I have been appointed to by the Oregon Governor. And then we present our findings or our views to a State body, and then they legislate. Thank you.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. Mr. Hayes? And I am going to ask the same question to Mr. Deurloo and Mr. Semanko as well but, Mr. Hayes?
Mr. HAYES. I think it is safe to say that I would agree with everything that Joe said but maybe highlight a little bit more the need for, you know, some below the decisionmaking level but, you know, some organized meetings or participatory bodies where interest groups can have a say.
And then there needs to be some assurances that their say will be translated into something that moves up the chain, not that they will just, you know, stand up in a room and shout into open space that, you know, ''We think salmon need to be considered. Thank you very much,'' and then that message never gets conveyed up the chain.
Mr. CRAPO. So you are talking about something more thanI think our current system where you have a public hearing and you come in and each side says what they want to say and hopes the press reports ityou are looking for something more than that?
Mr. HAYES. Yes. That is a nice forum to sort of air your views, but it has absolutely no impact on policy, in my opinion. You know, I can say whatever I want there, and I can write whatever comments I want to an impact statement, and they are virtually meaningless beyond, you know, taking up my time.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Thank you. Mr. Semanko, do you have any thoughts on that?
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SEMANKO. In fact, I do. One of our concerns is that NMFS just simply doesn't get down to the citizen level, and States and the tribes are able to do that. We do believe that irrigators and environmental groups should be involved in the process. But in the decisionmaking, that has got to be done by the sovereigns.
I mean, the goal of this thing I hope will be to reach consensus among all of the sovereigns. If you try to reach consensus among all the constituencies of those various sovereigns, you are never going to do that. But you may be able to appease most of those so that you as a sovereign feel comfortable in going and agreeing to something, and I think that that is the best that we can do. And each State or each sovereign should be left to figure out how to do that.
An example, what is going on with TMT right now, as I understand it, they are trying to make some decision on the timing of the 427,000 acre-feet from Idaho. If I wouldn't go on the Internet and look and see the minutes from the last couple of meetings, I would have no idea about that. So I am confident that the State of Idaho would bring us into that process more fullyjust that as an example.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. Mr. Deurloo, do you have anything to add to that?
Mr. DEURLOO. I would echo what these people said. I think a group of special interests would be pretty unwieldy, and we would trust someone like the Governor's Office to represent our interests in the council.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Thank you. Mr. Deurloo, let me go to you next with regard to Napias Creek, and let me first by way of introduction and clarification to the other people who are here in the hearing room indicate that I have been to the location and have observed it and have contacted NMFS directly about the issue.
But if I understand your testimony correctly, and if I understand what I observed there correctly, there is no evidence that salmon ever have been able to pass the falls at is it Napias Falls?
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DEURLOO. Yes, it is Napias Falls and that is correct. We know of no evidence that there have ever been salmon or steelhead above those falls.
Mr. CRAPO. And you referred to a tree there. If it is the one I remember, I have actually stood right at the base of that tree, and there is a rock aroundI guess it grew up through the rock. Is that correct?
Mr. DEURLOO. Yes. Its roots are wrapped around the rock, and, you know, National Marine Fisheriesone of their points was that these rocks could have been placed there by roadmaking activities in the 1860's, and, you know, this tree was there long before the road was in place.
Mr. CRAPO. So you can date the life of the tree?
Mr. DEURLOO. We have. We have corded the rings.
Mr. CRAPO. And by that you can tell that the rock was there at some time before the tree was there. Is that correct?
Mr. DEURLOO. Correct.
Mr. CRAPO. And the tree has been there how many years?
Mr. DEURLOO. Over 200 years.
Mr. CRAPO. OK. So if there was a roadif man did create this falls, which is I think quite a stretch from what I have seen at the location, he did it more than 200 years ago?
Mr. DEURLOO. Correct.
Mr. CRAPO. And yet you were being asked by NMFS to prove that some humans didn't create this falls after 1860?
Mr. DEURLOO. That is right. The falls were not negatively influenced by man's activities ever.
Mr. CRAPO. Again, I have already asked you this, but I want to be very clear about this. There is no evidence on which NMFS relies to require you to provein other words, to suggest that there were salmon above this falls at anytime. It is just that you are being asked to prove that they weren't?
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DEURLOO. Yes. We are being asked to prove the negative. They say that there is the possibility it may have happened once, and now it is up to us to prove otherwise.
Mr. CRAPO. Now, wouldn't you believe thatI mean, first of all, if I was told that, I would think that an agency was being flippant with me because it would seem to me that they were asking me to prove the impossible?
Mr. DEURLOO. That is our feeling.
Mr. CRAPO. Except then you come up with a tree that is 200 years old that proves that the rock that the tree is growing through was there at least 200 years ago, and that that is one of the rocks that supposedly through some theory man put there. And it seems to me that that is evidenceI wouldn't have thought you could have come up with any evidence, but it seems to me that that is pretty good evidence.
Mr. DEURLOO. But in defense of NMFS, I think they bought off that maybe the falls were natural, but then we are put in the position of, ''Well, now prove that the salmon can't get up there.'' And there is no evidence as to what exactly a salmon can do.
I mean, will it jump 30 feet or jump 10 feet, or, you know, how fast the waterscientifically, salmon is not well-defined. So we do all the measurement of the water and the falls and the grading and everything else, but then we are told, ''Well, you would just be amazed at what these salmon can do.''
Mr. CRAPO. Well, I remember we discussed that when I was at the location, and I remember walking up the falls area and looking at areas where perhaps the salmon could make it. And I saw a few pools that you could by a stretch believe that a salmon could somehow get from one to the other.
But it seems to me there were a couple of them, like two or three or four in different locations, where you would have had to assume the salmon could literally leap out of the air very significant distances in order to make it. Is that not correct?
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DEURLOO. Right. There is at least an 11-foot jump at the head of the falls, but the thing is there is really no pool at the bottom of that to get a run to make the jump. I mean, a salmon probably can jump that kind of height where they can get a run at it, but here there is just not that opportunity.
Mr. CRAPO. So, in other words, you are being askedand I assume that the impact of this decision is not minor or you wouldn't be worrying about it so much?
Mr. DEURLOO. That is right. I mean, everything we do is totally regulated. We have found some possible additional reserves that will extend the life of the mine 2 years, which will require additional permitting. But we don't know whether the hassles will be worth it.
Mr. CRAPO. And so you are being asked to incur significant economic as well as other practical burdens where there is no evidence that salmon ever existed above this falls and where it is only a stretch to assume that a salmon could make it up the falls?
Mr. DEURLOO. That is correct. But, you know, I don't know how we were put into this position to begin with. And the critical habitat is not supposed to be designated in areas that aren't currently occupied by the species. And there are clearly no salmon there.
Mr. CRAPO. So the next point isprobably the first point that should be made is that the very standard you are being asked to meet is one that is not authorized by the regulations?
Mr. DEURLOO. That is correct.
Mr. CRAPO. Now, on the timeliness, I recall that the request that you had of me was simply to encourage the agency to respond to you. Is that not correct?
Mr. DEURLOO. That is right. I mean, we were ready to start construction in 1994. We were ready to go, and you just have a narrow window of opportunity up there in the mountains of Idaho to do dirtwork in the middle of the summer. And this decision just kept dragging out and dragging out and dragging out, and finally we pulled all the strings we knew to pull just to get a decision.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. If I remember correctly, one of theI won't use the word threats, but one of the statements that was made to you was that if you wanted them to go back and look at this, they would have to reopen the entire Biological Opinion. Is that correct?
Mr. DEURLOO. We hear that statement quite a bit.
Mr. CRAPO. Does that dampen your interest in taking strong contentions with the agency?
Mr. DEURLOO. Well, we do have to deal with National Marine Fisheries for the life of the mine, and we would rather it be a harmonious relationship rather than a contentious one.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Thank you. Let me go on, Mr. Hayes, to you for just a moment. As a representative of the environmental organization that you represent, were you supportive of the Idaho I guess I call it policy that was put together last year that we had discussed earlier in the hearing? Was your organization supportive of that policy?
Mr. HAYES. Yes, sir. You know, the Governor's plan was not the end-all, be-all, and there were things that we would have liked to have seen incorporated into it and, frankly, some things that we would have liked to have seen not in it. But we took the document as a whole.
You know, we agreed to the concept of moving forward on this issue. We have seen NMFS and the Corps of Engineers drag their feet for too long and make no progress and maybe even move backward on this issue. We are very appreciative of efforts by the Governor's Office and others in the State to, you know, take the bull by the horns and come to a conclusion, that we think that they did an excellent job of rounding up all the interest groups in the State and really many of them in the region and incorporating their input into the plan.
And it would be nice to see this sort of cooperative working relationship that they have developed used as a model by the National Marine Fisheries Service or, frankly, some other, you know, administration or agency moving forward with this. We need to, you know, get moving.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The thrust of my testimony was that there is absolutely no leadership at the National Marine Fisheries Service on this issue. And I think that while the members of the various panels may disagree as to exactly what needs to be done, we can all agree that the National Marine Fisheries Service is not doing any of it.
And I did or our organization did support the Governor's plan in many components, and we were with him in spirit at the Executive Committee meeting arguing for it. And we were working with the other sovereigns in the region to try and get that passed.
Mr. CRAPO. And I take it that that is one of the reason why you would feel comfortable in your answer to my earlier question in saying that you feel that your interests could be adequately represented through the State sovereign in a decisionmaking body?
Mr. HAYES. You know, we need to be careful that we feel that our interests are, in fact, being represented, but I think that, you know, the imperative is there that we need to move forward on this issue, and that if every interest group has a voting seat at the table, this issue will not move forward.
Mr. CRAPO. I see kind of a difficult but interesting issue to address here. If we determine that we need to move to a regional decisionmaking body, the question I asked earlier about whether that should be sovereigns only who make the final decision, certainly moving that direction solves the problem of complexity and of deciding how many interest groups get to be at the table and getting the table too large and all of those concerns.
On the other hand, I think that there are interest groups who are currently raising strong concerns about that model because they are saying that there is no assurance that their point of view will be represented by the sovereign. An exampleand I am not going to refer this example to any current politician, but some people would not trust one Governor to represent their interests as opposed to a different Governor depending on how the outcome of an election were.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And so I am struggling in my own mind with the way to try to make sure that people are confident that their point of view will be represented at the table by an advocate or at least that their point of view will be worked into the process in a way that is much more than just an opportunity to go to a hearing and submit some testimony but not get the project too complex.
Mr. HAYES. May I jump in here?
Mr. CRAPO. Yes, please.
Mr. HAYES. That is a very valid concern and one that I share and that many of the organizations that I represent here today share. I think that as long as the process moves forward grounded in science with the ultimate goal of recovering these species to self-sustaining harvestable levels, you know, that is a pretty good road to be driving down. You may wobble back and forth on each side and get on the shoulder a little bit, but as long as we are moving forwards utilizing the best available science, you know, there are sidebars in place.
Not everyone is going to get everything that they want. My organization wants to see sustainable harvestable populations of salmon that is mandated under Federal law, State law, and treaties with other nations and Indian tribes. And I think those are pretty good sideboards. I hope that the fish won't get lost in the forest on this one.
Mr. CRAPO. I understand that concern. Let me move to you, Mr. Semanko, and I want to talk water. That doesn't surprise you. As I said earlier, I am very concerned that the policy direction that the National Marine Fisheries Service is taking on salmon recovery issues represents an immediate and a long-term threat to irrigation, commercial, and residential water users, and to the entire regional economy and does not represent much of a gain, if anything, and maybe even a negative gain for salmon and steelhead. And it is also an immediate and long-term threat to State water sovereignty. And I am not just referring to the State of Idaho in these comments. First of all, do you agree with me on that?
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SEMANKO. I do agree with you on that. There is an immediate threat through the current consultation that is going on, and there is an underlying threat with the fact that NMFS seems to suggest that they are giving us a concession by saying, ''We will acquire water under State law only because we say we want to do that. If we didn't say we wanted to do that, we could go ahead and just take it.'' There is that underlying long term and short-term concern.
Mr. CRAPO. Has NMFS ever put into writing any kind of a statement, to your knowledge, as to what authority it has or does not have with regard to taking water for purposes of salmon and steelhead recovery?
Mr. SEMANKO. Yes. Mr. Chairman, during 1993 I believe it was, the Regional Director for the Bureau of Reclamation, John Keys, asked the Solicitor's Office for an opinion on what his authority would be to acquire water for salmon, whatever amount that would be.
And of the several responsesseveral alternatives that went back to Mr. Keys in the response was the alternative to release water held under contract. In other words, water that is held in Federal reservoirs that irrigators have contracted and paid for could be released. It doesn't even go on to state whether compensation would need to be paid or not. So that has been put in writing. It is often referred to as the 1993 Solicitor's Opinion.
And I would be remiss if I didn't say after that opinion came out, there was an uproar, and some meetings between the congressional delegation and NMFS and others resulted in the appeasement in the current Biological Opinion that it would be acquired only under State law and from willing sellers.
Mr. CRAPO. That is correct. I was in those meetings between our congressional delegation and various Federal officials, and you are correct. They did make the verbal assurances that they would not exercise the authority that the Solicitor's Opinion declared that they had. And, therefore, supposedly there was no problem. The problem I see is that that is only a verbal assurance for this Biological Opinion, and even that could be changed. Am I correct about that?
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SEMANKO. I think you are right, although it is in writing in the Biological Opinion that the water will be acquired under State law from willing sellers and is one of the reasons why we are concerned about the current consultation.
Mr. CRAPO. Well, I can tell you from being in the meeting that my understanding of what was said in the meeting was that although assurances were made by the various Federal officials that they would seek to acquire water only on a willing buyer/willing seller basis under this Biological Opinion. I don't believe that there was any relinquishment of authority to take water if that decision were to be changed.
And given that context, I am referring now to a letter of May 19 from Will Stelle, the Regional Administrator of NMFS, to Elizabeth Ann Moler, the Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Are you familiar with that letter?
Mr. SEMANKO. Yes, I am.
Mr. CRAPO. Without objection, I would place this letter into the record.
[Letter of Mr. Stelle may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. CRAPO. I am going to refer to the second paragraph on the second page, and I am not going to read it all. But parts of it state that, ''The effectiveness of the efforts to protect operations seeking to achieve the Biological Opinion in riverflow objectives is dependent on water diversion activities in the Middle and Upper Snake River basin and upon the operation of the Hells Canyon Project situated in between.''
And then a little further down, ''Specifically, the Biological Opinion adopted the council's requirement for immediate provision of 427,000 acre-feet and progress on securing additional water from the Middle and Upper Snake River and specific drafting levels for Brownlee reservoir of the Hells Canyon complex in May, July, August, and September.''
What I am getting at here is it seems to me that this letter, which is a very recent letter, very specifically opens the door, if not openly states, that the National Marine Fisheries Service is evaluating seeking additional water from the Middle and Upper Snake River regions beyond the 427,000 acre-feet that we have been dealing with in the past. Do you read the letter the same way?
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SEMANKO. I do, Mr. Chairman. An overall concern about this letter is that it is a letter from NMFS to FERC telling FERC that they strongly suggest that they, FERC, begin consultation with NMFS. The overall concern there is that FERC is the one that should make that decision.
Second of all, the first sentence of the paragraph, you are talking about effectiveness is dependent upon water diversion activities in the Middle and Upper Snake River basin. To us, that is signal language. That is a signal to a recently completed study by the Bureau of Reclamation called the Cumulative Effects Study.
And in the Cumulative Effects Study, basically what NMFS and the Bureau are saying is that but for irrigation diversions, we would meet the flow targets at Lower Granite almost every summer. The concern there is twofold; one, the validity or nonvalidity of flow targets; and then, second, how they are interpreting that ''but for irrigation diversions.''
What they are saying is if you had no impoundments, you had no storage reservoirs in the Upper Snake at all and no irrigation at all, the effectsthe flows would be about the same as they are now. But if you take those reservoirs that have been built and you change their function from irrigation and flood control to helping the salmonin other words, send all the water downthen you can meet the flow targets in the summer. Now, if that is their interpretation of how we are impacting the Snake River salmon, then we become very concerned.
Mr. CRAPO. Assuming that you are correct, and that is the way I read it as well, have you heard estimates of how much additional water may be sought for those purposes?
Mr. SEMANKO. We have heard none. There are numbers to look at for guidance, but we have heard none.
Mr. CRAPO. Have any groups made claim or suggestion in either litigation or in notices of intent to sue or in negotiations of the amounts of water that they would like to see from the Upper Snake River?
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SEMANKO. There are certainly a lot of numbers to look at. The Northwest Power Planning Council's plan that was adopted in December 1994 looks for 1.427 million acre-feet from the Upper Snake.
Mr. CRAPO. One point four two seven.
Mr. SEMANKO. One point fourit would be a million acre-feet more than what currently comes from the Upper Snake.
Mr. CRAPO. Essentially, a million and a half or close to a million and a half?
Mr. SEMANKO. The tribal plan and also the tribes' position in the American Rivers would suggest that they are looking at a number even bigger than that. And I will caveat that with, of course, their position is that the dams would be breached, and perhaps that would reduce the reliance on water. But as long as those dams are there, then perhaps that water will be needed. So I don't want to say they are looking for that water under all conditions, but certainly that
Mr. CRAPO. As an alternate position in the litigation?
Mr. SEMANKO. That is correct. But with the way the system is configured right now, I think that is their position, which leads me to a side issue. I want to point out because of the attention that the Idaho Stateman's 3-day editorial is going to receive in our State, and that is that one of the justifications that the Idaho Statesman puts forth for supporting the breaching of the Lower Snake damsand we don't have a position one way or the other on thatbut the justificationone of them is that that will relieve the pressure for Upper Snake water, that no Upper Snake water will be required. And where they got that assurance we would like to know. We have never heard a decoupling of those two, that if you breach the dams, there would be no more requirement for Upper Snake water.
Our concern is that if you do that and you begin to rely on velocity, what happens in the low-flow years? You are going to need water to augment that flow anyway. And I am not saying there would be water required or that there wouldn't be, but we have never seen that meaningfully addressed.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So if we are going to go into looking at that option, we would like to know the answer to that question. This was also a question that we asked about the Andrus drawdown plan. Is that going to require water? And that was never really meaningfully addressed.
Mr. CRAPO. Mr. Hayes, I don't know how closely you were paying attention to that answer there but
Mr. HAYES. Very closelytaking notes actually.
Mr. CRAPO. Do you have an opinion on that?
Mr. HAYES. I share those concerns and view them all as valid. I think that, you know, I represent a coalition, and, as such, it is very difficult to speak for all parties. It is a little bit like hurting snakes or cats or whatever the saying is.
But I think that historically we can look at the flow of the Snake River, and perhaps we can baseyou know, if those dams were removedI am not saying in their current configuration, but if those dams were breached, I think it would be appropriate to look at the historical flow patterns of the Snake to see what types of water we need to be talking about.
And historically late summer or early fall has been relatively low-flow periods in that river system. Somehow the fish manage to survive for thousands of years in that environment. Of course, the dams weren't there. But if those dams were removed, it seems appropriate to once again go to a lower-flow environment.
Mr. CRAPO. I think you answered the question I asked or what I was seeking to get at, but I want to be sure. And so both Mr. Hayes and Mr. Semanko, I would like to ask you to respond to this. Recognizing that you, Mr. Semanko, just said you want to have some assurances on where this approach came about, whether moving to a more natural river would reduce the need for flows, and what I heard you just say, Mr. Hayes, is that you would tend to think that that would be generally correct?
Mr. HAYES. It sounds very reasonable to me. I am unfortunate in the position that I cannot give you a definitive answer and speak for all the members of our coalition.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. I guess you just answered what I was going to say then, Mr. Hayes. I just wanted to know, in general, if that is what you expected to be the general relationship; namely, that there would probably not need to be much or as much water for flow augmentation needed if there were some type of a natural river option pursued?
Mr. HAYES. If the natural river option was undertaken, I, for one, would work like crazy to make sure that this issue was resolved appropriately.
Mr. CRAPO. And, Mr. Semanko, what I understood you just to say is that you want some real strong assurances of that, and I recognize that. Are you aware of any reason why we would expect for more flows to be needed if we moved to a more natural river option?
Mr. SEMANKO. I am not aware of any, but I am also not a scientist or a technical expert. And I would like to flip the Biological Opinion over for a minute and say also if the long-term decision in 1999 is to go with the enhanced transportation alternative, we would also like to know what justification there is for providing water or additional water for that scenario.
And the question we would hope could be asked of NMFS at the next hearing is: ''In 1999 you are looking at two different options. How does either one of those require water from Idaho, and if it does, what amounts are we talking
about?'' Because right now we are providing the 427,000 as part of a band-aid stopgap approach that in theory isn't going to be around after 1999. So those are the kinds of questions we are struggling with.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. And, Mr. Semanko, back to you again on the water issuescould you excuse me 1 second? Let us just take the Power Planning Council numbers you gave me a minute ago that would essentially if pursued from 1994's figures would require another million acre-feet, if another million acre-feet on top of the 427,000 acre-feet that is already being provided were called for, what kind of an impact would that have on irrigated agriculture?
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SEMANKO. Well, first of all, the 427,000 acre-feet that is being provided is being provided for the most part because we have had good water years since the Biological Opinion was enacted. If that weren't the case and we had two dry years in a row, we would be having real problems. And a large chunk of that water comes from rental water that irrigators don't need; because of the conditions they are able to put it into the water bank.
Mr. CRAPO. So you are saying that just at the 427,000 acre-foot level there is no major impact assuming normal water years?
Mr. SEMANKO. That is true.
Mr. CRAPO. OK. Let us assume that. Let us assume normal water years. Then what would be the impact of an additional one million acre-feet?
Mr. SEMANKO. Well, the only reliable estimate I have to go on is one that was put together by the Bureau of Reclamation. It is contained in a November 22, 1994, report of the Actions Work Group to NMFS as part of the aftermath of the 1993 decision where Judge Marsh struck down the old Biological Opinion.
And what the Bureau said was that in acquiring 1.427 million acre-feet with any reasonable assurance, you would have to dry up somewhere in the neighborhood of the same number of acresthat is, 1.4 million acresin the Upper Snake River basin.
Mr. CRAPO. And I don't know if you have this kind of information, but can you give me kind of a percentage or a comparison as to what that is with regard to the entire acreage being farmed in the basin?
Mr. SEMANKO. I don't have those exact figures. My round math that is in my head tells me that there is about a million acres in Idaho that is irrigated from groundwater and about 800,000 to 900,000 that is irrigated by surface irrigation. Now, there is also irrigation, of course, in eastern Oregon which is part of the Upper Snake basin. But those are the numbers that come to mind for me. There are approximately I believe 8 million acre-feet in the Federal storage system above Brownlee and about 4.1 million acre-feet above Milner.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Which could be used if another million acre-feet were called for?
Mr. SEMANKO. I am sorry?
Mr. CRAPO. Well, let me get to it this way. If I understood you correctly, there is the possibility of 1.4 million acres of irrigated agriculture going out of production if 1.4 million acres of water were used. Did I understand that correctly?
Mr. SEMANKO. If I am correct, those are the Bureau's numbers from that report I referred to. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. Let us assume that it is not even that much. I mean, what I am hearing you saying is that hundreds of thousands of acres of irrigated farmland would have to be taken out of production in southeastern Idaho. Is that accurate?
Mr. SEMANKO. And what the Bureau looked at is all the available water data that there is for the last 60 or 80 years or whatever it is. And if you are going to have that as a long term recovery mechanism and provide that each and every year for the next 24 years or 48 years or whatever the recovery period is, and you want a 95 percent reliability probability of that, then those are the numbers they threw out.
There are millions of dollars that would be spent directly by the Federal Government to acquire that water. There would be even more millions of dollars of indirect effects on the farm economies, and yes, there would have to be irrigated acres dried up. In effect, the purposes of those projects would be shifted, at least in part, from irrigation to salmon recovery. So you would see a loss in irrigation.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. And let me ask you this. Given the current political climateand not the political climate so much as the current circumstances that we face with regard to the decisionmaking process as it is moving along, do you expect that there will be a claim for or a request for more water from NMFS than the 427,000 acre-feet?
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SEMANKO. I am afraid that we do. This letter that you have referred to is starting to play a little bit loose with the current Biological Opinion, in my opinion. It states specifically the Biological Opinion calls for the immediate provision of 427,000 acre-feet and progress on securing additional water. What the Biological Opinion actually says is ''427,000 acre-feet to be secured by 1998 and then an additional amount as may be necessary for recovery to be acquired after that.''
Now, they are not saying ''as may be necessary for recovery.'' They are assuming that there needs to be more water acquired, and nobody is explaining to us, and maybe we will get this in the consultation, why that additional water is needed, especially in light of the fact that the Biological Opinion said, ''If you can provide the 427,000 through 1998, we are not going to require consultation.'' So we see that. We don't have any firm numbers. We don't have any firm conclusions out of NMFS or the Bureau at this point, but we are highly suspect because of what is going on.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. Mr. Hayes, there has been some discussion about encouraging NMFS to move its decisionmaking date from 1999 up to 1998. Can you tell me if your organization supports that?
Mr. HAYES. Many of the organizations in our coalition do support that. We feel that a significant amount of money is currently being spent on projects that will be wasted if a decision is made in 1999 that is not in line with their current spending priorities. We would like to save that money that amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money.
We would like to, you know, keep that in the pot for salmon recovery later on and not just throw it down the pipes. We also would like to see those decisions be made utilizing the best available science which NMFS currently is not doing even though some of their own scientists are urging them to do so.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. All right. Thank you very much. Please excuse me for just 1 second. All right. Nobody has any more questions that they want to be sure I get into here. So I will conclude my questions. And again as I said earlier, although Mr. Abercrombie and Chairman Saxton have not been able to get back, each time we went out to vote we had some very interesting discussions. And they are very interested in this issue. I am sure they are going to review the record, and we are going to have some more discussions of all of the issues that we have raised here today.
I think it is important to quickly summarize. At this hearing today, I think we have addressed a number of issues that I hope get a lot more public attention, the first being the question of how NMFS is operating in the Pacific Northwest and whether we are seeing the kind of cooperation and proper implementation of process to effectively resolve the myriad of issues that we face as we move toward salmon and steelhead recovery.
The second being what type of a decisionmaking process really should we have? And we didn't get into it a lot in this hearing because it is not an exact jurisdiction of this Committee, but I think it is very interrelated to issues that go beyond salmon and steelhead and reach out to issues such as power production and the entire electric energy restructuring debate that is going on in other committees in this Congress.
The third issue that I hope we have brought some significant public attention to is the question of water, State sovereignty, and the implications on the management, allocation, and use of water in the States as we proceed forward in the path that is apparently being pursued by the National Marine Fisheries Service, a path which I think I have already strongly indicated and others have indicated they do not believe is the correct path for the recovery of the salmon.
So I believe we may be seeing a path pursued that is not designed to support or effectively recover or is not going to effectively recover salmon and steelhead but is headed toward very significant, negative impacts in the short term and the long term on water and other uses and allocations of water, including but not limited to irrigation.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I believe it is very critical that the region focus on that issue, as well as the power issues and the salmon and steelhead issues which then get wound back into the decisionmaking question as to how we should approach the management of the river.
I appreciate the time and the attention that you witnesses and the others who testified here today have given. I know that the interruption in schedules that it requires to travel to Washington, DC, and to put together testimony before a Committee like this.
I want to assure you that it is not only appreciated, but that it will be carefully reviewed and evaluated as this Committee evaluates what options it might pursue to bring proper resolution to these issues. And with that, unless there are any otherno other questions from members of the Committee, if there are any other issues, then this Committee will stand adjourned. Thank you.
[Whereupon, at 1:40 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
FIELD HEARING ON REVIEWING THE AUTHORITY AND DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES OF THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE NORTHWEST DIVISION
FRIDAY, AUGUST 15, 1997
House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans, Committee on Resources, Garden City, Idaho.
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:08 a.m., in the Garden City Council Chambers, 201 E.50th Street, Garden City, Idaho, Hon. Michael Crapo presiding.
Member present: Representative Crapo.
Ladies and gentlemen, we welcome you here this morning.
The Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans will come to order. The Subcommittee is meeting today to hear testimony on one of the most important issues in the Pacific Northwest, particularly related to the role of the National Marine Fisheries Service and other Federal and State agencies, as well as interested parties, in reaching resolution of theI guess I would describe it as the overall issue of salmon and steelhead recovery and the related issues to water management that are posed by that aspect of the issue that is facing us here in the Pacific Northwest.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Under Rule 4(g) of the Committee rules, any oral opening statements are limited to the Chairman and the Ranking Minority Member, neither of whom are present today, and so I will, as the designate of the Chairman of the Committee, make an opening statement. And I should indicate to you on his behalfhe told me that he truly wanted to be here but because this is the August recess and members have jam-packed schedules in their own districts primarily during the August recess, he asked if I would carry this hearing forward. And frankly, it was one that we asked him if he would allow us to hold in Idaho, rather than holding it in Washington, because we wanted to let people who could not make it to Washington have a better opportunity to testify. And with that understanding he agreed, recognizing that he may or may not be able to make it here, and ultimately was not able to do so.
I do want to indicate on behalf of both the Chairman and the Ranking Member, Mr. Abercrombie, that as a result of the first hearing that we held on this issue in Washington, DC, both are extremely interested in this matter and we have had a lot of discussions outside that hearing afterward to evaluate the issue and I am confident that both the Chairman and the Ranking Member are going to be very interested in the record today as well as in the submission of written testimony that the witnesses have brought with them.
I would like to make just a brief opening statement and then move forward quickly to the testimony. But before I do so, I would like to lay out a few ground rules for those who are going to be witnesses today and to tell you how the hearing will proceed.
If you have seen a copy of the witness list, you will realize that this is a very full hearing, and we are, because of that, going to be extremely pressed for time. And I am one of the members who likes to ask a lot of questions, which is going to make an even more full hearing, and because of that, I believe that it is going to be very important that we adhere to the time limits.
Each of the witnesses who has been invited to speak has been advised in advance that there will be a 5-minute time limit on the presentation of your oral testimony. Each of the witnesses also has been requested to provide written testimony. I will tell you that those who have already submitted it, I have already read your testimony and those who will submit it today or subsequent to this hearing, I will read your written testimony in its entirety.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I believe that the other members of the Committee, particularly the Chairman and the Ranking Member are also going to be dedicated to that and will review this record very carefully.
What I am getting at is I would like to ask youwe are going to have this system of lights here, which will be green for 4 minutes, then it will turn yellow for the last minute and then red when the time is up. When the red light comes on, I would ask you to please summarize your remarks. And if you are like me, your 5 minutes is going to go a lot faster than you thought it would, and you may not be done at that point in time. I would encourage you to recognize that I have read your written testimony, and to use the 5 minutes to summarize the succinct points that you would like to be sure are made. And as I said, when the red light comes on, so that we can move ahead expeditiously and have time for question and answer and interaction, would you please try to summarize your remarks as quickly as possible after the red light comes on.
STATEMENT OF HON. MICHAEL CRAPO, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IDAHO
Mr. CRAPO. I would just like to indicate at this point in time that, as I started to say at the beginning, this is a very critical issue for the entire Pacific Northwest, and a number of issues with regard to the decisionmaking process about how we deal with the critical issues of water, salmon and steelhead recovery and the system of dams on the Columbia and Snake River and their role in whatever recovery plans are put together, and the entire set of issues that we address is perhaps one of the most important issues facing us in this community, the Pacific Northwest, today.
I have often said, in talking about this issue of electric energy restructuring, that it is probably the biggest issue we face, but that is because I believe that it must necessarily include as one of its elements resolving the issues of river governance that will include much more than simply how we govern the river with regard to power production. It will include how we govern the river with regard to all of the traditional uses of the river, including irrigation, power production, flood control, recreation, fish and wildlife, and in particular as the focus of this hearing, the tremendously important issue of restoring the salmon and the steelhead runs, and transportation. The list just goes on and on in terms of how wewhat we expect in the Pacific Northwest from the water, the Snake and the Columbia River system in which we live.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As a result of that, I think the issues we will discuss today are going to have an impact on the lives of people in the Pacific Northwest in multiple ways and that is one of the reasons why I have asked our Subcommittee to make this an issue of primary focus, and I was very glad to see the attention that our Chairman and our Ranking Member, Mr. Abercrombie, gave to this issue when we held our first hearing in Washington, DC. They are both very adept and well-informed on these issues in general, and were very quick on the uptake in terms of the issues that we presented specifically from the Pacific Northwest. I am pleased that they have agreed to give such an important focus on the issues that are so critical to us in the Pacific Northwest.
With that, I will tell you that we have had a bit of a change in the schedule and we are going to add an additional panel at the very beginning. So everybody who thinks that they are on a certain panel, you are on the next one.
So panel No. 1 will now beand do I pronounce this Mr. Eluid Martinez? Did I get it right?
Mr. MARTINEZ. That is right.
Mr. CRAPO. The Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation from the Department of Interior and he is accompanied by Mr. Ken Pedde, his Assistant Regional Director.
They will be panel No. 1. Everybody else will be one panel higher than you thought you were on, except thatI had better make a couple of other corrections to get this correctDr. Casavant from the Northwest Power Planning Council, you will be on panel three instead of what would have been panel four. And for those who are here, I should also advise you that Mr. Jay Nelson, the Special Assistant from the Commissioner's Office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will not be able to make it to today's hearing. He has submitted written testimony.
And then one final announcement and then we will get on with the business of the hearing. Because we were successful in getting the Chairman to agree to hold this hearing in the Pacific Northwest, we have had a tremendous amount of interest and requests from people who would liked to have testified. You can see that we tried to accommodate that with the numerous panels and the extensiveand the size of the panels. We believe we accommodated most of the people in terms of at least allowing someone from their point of view an opportunity to testify, but there may be those here who still were not allowed to be on any of these panels and who would like to say something. In that regard, the rules of our Subcommittee and our Committee do not allow us to put your testimony into the written record of this hearing unless you submit it in written format. I will rely on my counsel support here, if those who are here who were not allowed to testify would like to submit written testimony, the record will be open for 30 days for you to do that.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition, as an accommodation for those who still made it here, even though they were not given the opportunity to testify, after the hearing has concluded, we will allow for 1 minute for anyone who would like to say something who was not allowed to testify. That 1 minute statement will not be a part of the permanent record. Because of the rules of the House, we can only put on the permanent record the formally invited witnesses. So if you would like to say something for 1 minute for the edification of those here, we will allow that and we will try to keep that to a strict time limit because we will have some pretty significant time constraints today.
And again, if you would like to have your written statement a part of the formal record, you will be allowed to do that if you submit it within the next 30 days.
So, with that, Mr. Martinez, would you like to proceed?
STATEMENT OF ELUID MARTINEZ, COMMISSIONER, BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ACCOMPANIED BY KEN PEDDE, ASSISTANT REGIONAL DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF RECLAMATION
Mr. MARTINEZ. Good morning. Thank you for accommodating my schedule this morning. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today for a couple of reasons, one is to present some testimony. I have got some written testimony for the record, so I will not go into that specifically. But the other reason is to provide me the opportunity to be here with you today and within the time I have available before I catch a flight, to listen to the issues and the concerns of the community and the folks involved in this important issue.
As you might or might not know, I was a State engineer for the State of New Mexico before I went back to Washington as Commissioner of Reclamation. And in the American Southwest, we do not have salmon or steelhead, but we do have squawfish and blunt nose shiners and silvery minnows, endangered species, that are impacting the way rivers are managed and how people have exercised their rights to water resources in the past and how they will exercise those rights in the future.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What I find surprising is, notwithstanding the fact that if you have a stream system that is lacking water or one that has what people perceive to have a lot of water, these issues are impacting the ability to divert water and utilize water the way it has been done in the traditional way in the past.
So this stream system, the Columbia system, is not alone in trying to address these issues. These issues are playing out not only throughout the American Southwest, but also internationally.
I think what I would sort of like to stress is that you are not in it alone and these are very, very important issues that need to be addressed.
I would like to say that the Bureau of Reclamation has a good working relationship with the National Marine Fisheries Service and we expect that relationship to continue. What I would stress is that whatever solution takes place to address this issue needs to be based, in my opinion, on good science, should result from an inclusive process, in that whatever the solution will be, it will not meet the full expectations of any given party. I think those are givens.
The best that we can hope is that we will hopefully come up with a solution, if that is the appropriate word, that will accommodate, as best it can, competing demands. Mr. Ken Pedde, the Deputy Regional Director from this area is available to answer specific issues and questions with respect to what Reclamation is doing and will be doing in the future. My understanding is that Reclamation's involvement to date has involved acquiring water from the upper Snake in the quantity of about 427,000 acre-feet for flow augmentation and we are doing that pursuant to State law and will continue to do that until the 1999 date, which I understand is a date that hopefully we will have an answer as to how we will move forward from there.
It would appear to me that we would follow, in the future, the same approach, that if additional waters are necessary for flow augmentation, that we would acquire them pursuant to State law and pursuant to hopefully an initiative and a solution that will come from a consensus process involving the stakeholders in the stream system.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC With that being said, I stand ready to answer any questions you might have, Mr. Crapo.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Martinez may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you very much, and you finished without using your entire 5 minutes. I appreciate that.
First, I am very interested in the comments that you just made about the acquisition of the water for flow augmentation purposes. I assume you are aware that the Bureau and the National Marine Fisheries have commenced consultation on the operation of the Bureau's upper Snake River reservoir.
Mr. MARTINEZ. That is my understanding, yes.
Mr. CRAPO. The question I have is the 1995 biological opinion for the Snake River salmon provides that section 7 consultation will be commenced on the Bureau's upper Snake River projects if the Bureau fails to achieve the 427,000 acre-foot requirement. And as you just testified, and as you know, John Keys, with the cooperation of Idaho and the Idaho irrigators, was successful in obtaining that flow augmentation water. In addition, in recent litigation, Judge Marsh did not require upper Snake consultation in the American Rivers v. National Marine Fisheries Service in which he stated in his order that I reviewed this morning that the allegations in that regard were too speculative and unripe. I assume he was referring to the fact that the requirement of the biological opinion had been met and that any further decisions were not yet ripe for court review.
The question I have then is why has the Bureau decided to initiate consultation on the upper Snake River projects? Is that not contrary to the biological opinion itself and to the Judge's statement in his order?
Mr. MARTINEZ. I will defer to Ken for the specifics on that, but let me try to answer it generally this way: It is my understanding that there was a notice of intent to sue the Bureau of Reclamation for the operation of those facilities. It is my understanding that after we reviewed that intent to file and the background, it appeared that we, the Bureau of Reclamation, might have beenmight have some exposure as to our procedural aspects of how we moved forward with this initiative back in 1995, that might have put us at risk in litigation. So a decision was made that it would probably be best for the system and for the Bureau of Reclamation and the way it operates its reservoirs and projects, to move forward with this consultation.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I believe that notwithstanding that consultation, we will probably wind up at the same point we are today, of a requirement not in excess of 427,000 acre-feet.
So it was a decision that was made based on information available to me and our risk of not prevailing in a legal challenge, but I willMr. Pedde might want to elaborate on that.
Mr. CRAPO. Mr. Pedde.
Mr. PEDDE. Mr. Crapo, the Commissioner has essentially stated it correctly. There waswe reviewed the record, we found procedurallywith our attorneys, reviewed the record and found that there were some procedural holes. And I would cite for example that back in 1992 when this process was beginning, we requested a list of species from the National Marine Fisheries Service, which is the initial act in beginning consultation. We could find no record that we ever received a response. There were other gaps, if you will, in the record, and again, our attorneys, our legal advisors, felt that there was some considerable risk. Courts are not at all reluctant to send agencies back to jump through the procedural hoops, and as a result we have decided to enter into consultation to address those procedural issues.
Mr. CRAPO. In that regard, if I understand what you are saying correctly, the consultation is directed at assuring proper procedural implementation of the current biological opinion, is that correct?
Mr. PEDDE. Yes, sir, that would be a fair statement. We will describe an operation that includes provision of 427,000 acre-feet through 1999. We have called it really an interim consultation until further decisions are made on configuration of lower Snake dams, things of that nature.
Mr. CRAPO. And it is not a consultation then on procedures or operations subsequent to or following 1999?
Mr. PEDDE. I believe there are some major decisions out there, sir, that may affect water out of the upper Snake, a number of issues that may change. So at this point, we do not know what those decisions will be or where we might head from there, so we will just have to wait and see.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. You are not consulting on that in this consultation?
Mr. PEDDE. No, sir. I guess we all would expect that even in 1999, there may be some unanswered questions and hopefully our biological opinion, our consultation, will be sufficient to extend beyond 1999, if we need it, but that is not the intent at this point.
Mr. CRAPO. Well, as you know, there are requests and certain proposals or different approaches, and in fact I think National Marine Fisheries Service is current evaluating different approaches that could result in much higher levels of flow augmentation, up into the one to two million acre-feet levels.
So I guess the question I am getting at is, is your consultation that you are currently undertaking addressing those decisionthat aspect of the decision?
Mr. PEDDE. As I mentioned earlier, our operation that we will describe will talk about 427,000 acre-feet.
Mr. CRAPO. Okay. And Mr. Martinez, in your answer to my question, you indicated that you did not expect that the 427,000 acre-foot requirement would be changed as a result of the consultation. Is that because you are consulting only on the current biological opinion requirement?
Mr. MARTINEZ. You know, you cannot second-guess the answer, but I am advised by knowledgeable staff that they do not believe that that will change.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Are you aware of what the Snake River Resources Review is?
Mr. MARTINEZ. No, I am not.
Mr. CRAPO. Could I ask Mr. Pedde, are you aware of the Snake River Resources Review?
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PEDDE. Yes, sir.
Mr. CRAPO. What is its purpose?
Mr. PEDDE. The purpose of that review was to develop tools and a data base by which we could address changes as they may be requested in the future. I would say, for example, Mr. Crapo, that the Boise Valley here is rapidly urbanizing, we have no tools that fairly address concerns, issues that will arise from that. We have issues related to groundwater recharge, conjunctive use, and so forth. The hydrologic models we use now were developed a number of years ago and there are better tools available. The purpose of this is to develop modeling tools, data bases that could be used in addressing questions in the future.
Mr. CRAPO. And where does its funding source come from?
Mr. PEDDE. The funding source is derived under our construction program and was originally related to ESA issues.
Mr. CRAPO. Does this review provide technical advice to the Bureau in the consultation process we just discussed?
Mr. PEDDE. Technical advicesir, we will use what tools are available, and we may not have everything done. The Snake River Resources Review was not intended to be completed until about 2000, so we may not have all of the tools ultimately we would like to have. But such tools as are available, for example, if we have an improved groundwater model or some better relationships between surface and ground water, we would certainly use those tools in making any kind of evaluations.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. And back with regard to the funding sources, do you have the ability in your budget to provide the Committee with a clear review of the sources and expenditures for the review since it was begun?
Mr. PEDDE. We do have that information. I do not have it with me, sir, we could provide that.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Could you provide it, please?
Mr. PEDDE. Yes, sir.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you.
Mr. Martinez, in your statement, you indicated that it was your understanding that in 1999, there will be further decisions and at that point you may or may not be required to take further action with regard to obtaining additional water, is that correct?
Mr. MARTINEZ. That is my understanding, yes.
Mr. CRAPO. I was listening very carefully. You indicated that if that occurred, you would seek to do so pursuant to State law?
Mr. MARTINEZ. That is correct.
Mr. CRAPO. Did you also meanor let me ask you very specifically, in that context, would any such water obtained be obtained under a willing buyer-willing seller arrangement, as is imposed by the current biological opinion?
Mr. MARTINEZ. That would be my recommendation.
Mr. CRAPO. And is there any way that you could assure us of that at this point?
Mr. MARTINEZ. I do not know if I could bind the Federal Government, but that would be my recommendation and that is my understanding of how we would proceed.
Mr. CRAPO. It is correct, is it not, that there is a Solicitor's Opinion from the Bureau that if it has to obtain water, that it could essentially take water?
Mr. MARTINEZ. That is the John Leshe opinion.
Mr. CRAPO. Yes.
Mr. MARTINEZ. The official policy of the administration has been and will continue to be that we would do it under willing buyer-willing seller, under State law.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. So that is current policy, but that policy is not required by law.
Mr. MARTINEZ. As I understand, the Leshe memorandum says by lawpursuant to law, you have certain options. The policy decision, the administrative decision, was that we would move under the willing seller under State law. That is still our policy, notwithstanding the legal opinion.
Mr. CRAPO. And your recommendation, regardless of the outcomeof what any 1999 decision is, is going to be that the Bureau will continue that policy with regard to any water acquisition required in the future?
Mr. MARTINEZ. That would be my recommendation.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you very much. I have no further questions of this panel, and Mr. Martinez and Mr. Pedde, you are excused and we appreciate your attendance.
While the panelists are coming forward, let me apologize to you. The table is a little small for the size of the panel but I think if you are able to squeeze in there, we will be able to fit everybody in.
This panel includes Mr. Scott Campbelland we will have you testify in this orderMr. Scott Campbell representing the Idaho Farm Bureau; Mr. Bruce Smith from Rosholt, Robertson & Tucker; Mr. Peter Wilson from the Port of Lewiston. It appears that Mr. Herb Curtis is not present. Is Mr. Curtis present?
Mr. CRAPO. Mr. Curtis is the Project Supervising Engineer from the Wells Project. Okay, and Mr. James Grunke, Executive Director of the Orofino Chamber of Commerce.
We will proceed in that order, and Mr. Campbell, you may proceed.
STATEMENT OF SCOTT CAMPBELL, IDAHO FARM BUREAU
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CAMPBELL. Thank you very much, Congressman Crapo. My name is Scott Campbell, I am a shareholder with the Boise, Idaho law firm of Elam & Burke. I am Chairman of the Environmental and Natural Resources Section of the firm and I am here representing the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation and its over 47,000 member farm families.
I am a native of Idaho. My ancestors have made Idaho their home since the 1860's. I am very fond of this State, its people and its history and because of this fondness, it is with great sadness that I address you today.
Idaho and some of its hardest working citizens are basically under siege by the Federal Government. They are under attack by what I consider to be insensitive, insulated Federal bureaucrats who have two primary agendasself-preservation and central control and regulation of any economic activities involving land, water or air. I would like to give you two concrete examples of what I am referring to.
The first involves the Columbia River, Snake River salmon and steelhead recovery process. I will not focus upon the history of the ESA problems with the salmon. Instead, I will focus upon the current operations of the Federal facilities in Idaho under the NMFS biological opinion.
Because of the requirement for 427,000 acre-feet of flow augmentation water to avoid a jeopardy finding for operation of the Columbia River power projects, the Bureau of Reclamation has embarked upon a very aggressive and in my judgment, unreasonable approach to acquiring that water. While they have followed the State law requirement of acquiring the water through willing seller-willing buyer arrangements, they have begged, borrowed, cajoled, cursed and threatened Idaho water users to obtain that water. One particular example that I would like to refer to is pertaining to existing storage contracts which two of my clients possess for water in Lucky Creek Reservoir. We have commenced the process for renewing those storage contracts, the Bureau has indicated very clearly that it is unlikely that those storage contracts will be renewed. They currently run until the year 2004 and we have been told that that water will not be available because of the need for the salmon. Those storage contracts in Lucky Creek Reservoir are critical to the operation of the facilities which my clients operate.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That is just one example, there are many others. That water, which is acquired for salmon flow augmentation purposes in drought cycles is critical to the production of agricultural products which my clients and other rely upon for their income. Frankly, because of the actions of the Federal Government in this respect, I and my clients feel that they are under siege by the government.
The other concrete example which is somewhat related because it also involves the operation of the Endangered Species Act is the Bruneau-Hot Springs snail. While that does not involve NMFS, it does involve its sister agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Because of the basically predetermined decision of the Fish and Wildlife Service to list the so-called Bruneau-Hot Springs snail, the impacted area farmers in the Bruneau Valley banded together with the assistance of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, the Idaho Cattle Association and the Owyhee County Commissioners to sue the Federal Government in U.S. District Court based upon procedural violations as well as substantive violations of the listing process. I was asked to represent that coalition of affected farmers.
The U.S. District Judge invalidated the listing because of procedural problems, procedural flaws, finding that the Fish and Wildlife Service had violated the procedural due process rights of those clients. Unfortunately, two environmental litigation groups appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed, mainly on the basis of its need, its perceived need to protect the endangered species even though the procedural due process rights of the affected farmers had been violated. We are currently in a re-examination, a relisting process, subject to the corrected procedural requirements.
The reason I point that out, Congressman Crapo, in the context of your hearings, is that it illustrates again the basic philosophy, the basic mindset of the Federal agencies that the impacts to people, the impacts to the economy, the impacts to the real lives of the citizens of this country in the administration of the Endangered Species Act is not the focus, the focus is upon the species. And the consequences to real live people is irrelevant.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And with that, I see my red light. Thank you very much.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Campbell. Mr. Smith.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Campbell may be found at end of hearing.]
STATEMENT OF BRUCE SMITH, ROSHOLT, ROBERTSON & TUCKER
Mr. SMITH. Good morning, Representative Crapo. My name is Bruce Smith, I am a private attorney here in Boise. My clients include businesses in the timber, mining and agricultural industries. I am not here speaking on behalf of any individual client this morning, but I would like to point out that they share one common theme. Because they are businesses, their approach to salmon recovery is similar to their approach to business. They are interested in problem solving.
My comments today come from my perspective, having worked on the salmon issue since prior to the time the petitions to list were filed. I was one of the participants in Senator Hatfield's salmon summit process which, for those who are new to the issue, was an attempt to develop a regionally based approach to the recovery effort. Based on this experience, my comments today are focused on NMFS' problem solving efforts.
I would like to leave you with two main messages today. NMFS cannot solve the salmon recovery problem unless it focuses its efforts on solving the problems at the dams. Two, through the use of some new tools, NMFS has an opportunity to recharacterize its relationship with State and private entities from that of a regulator to that of a partner and in the course benefit the recovery effort.
Now, we learned two important lessons from the salmon summit. One, the problems at the dams are the main obstacles to salmon recovery. Two, those problems cannot be compensated for by using Idaho water or by over-compensating with regard to other factors. The reasons are simple. There is simply not enough water in the State of Idaho to overcome the problems that arise because of the present configuration of the dams. Furthermore, it is unquestionable that there is already a significant amount of good quality, unoccupied habitat in the State if the fish return.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Personally, I believe NMFS has gone off track somewhat with regard to where it focuses its recovery efforts. It has done this by under-emphasizing the solutions to the dam problems and trying to over-compensate with regard to habitat factors. Let me give you two specific examples.
In its present biological opinion on flows, NMFS has accepted mortality of 21 percent for spring/summer adults, 39 percent for fall adults, 24 to 86 percent for juvenile sockeye and for juvenile fall chinook, a mortality of 62 to 99 percent. Now this is the biological opinion on the major factor affecting salmon decline and recovery. So how does NMFS handle their management activities affecting habitat? NMFS has concluded in another biological opinion that grazing on one allotment on the Boise National Forest would jeopardize the continued existence of spring/summer chinook. In its Incidental Take Statement which goes along with the biological opinion, NMFS imposed a zero level of take associated with cows stepping on redds. When constructing fences to protect the salmon or to protect the salmon redds, NMFS required that no more than 20 minutes of temporary displacement occur. Now when I sit down and compare these two biological opinions, something seems out of balance to me.
Another example showing a shift to habitat measures is NMFS' presently proposed rule on what is called Essential Fish Habitat. What this rule does is set up an elaborate consultation scheme that largely mirrors ESA consultation efforts and again focuses on habitat. Now I do not think, from my investigation, that NMFS has any additional money to implement the EFH measure, which raises for me the question of whether NMFS is going to have to shift recovery resources to the Essential Fish Habitat effort. Quite frankly, I think the Essential Fish Habitat rule is so complex and far-reachingit is a nationwide applicationthat the Subcommittee should consider some additional oversight hearings on that issue alone.
As I have investigated it, there are substantial impacts associated with other Federal agencies. I have yet to talk to a Federal agency that understands or realizes the implications of the Essential Fish Habitat rule. They do not know what it is.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have attached to my testimony some excerpts of 1950 Congressional Records that show that the success of efforts focused on trying to compensate for the cumulative impacts of dams was suspect even before the dams were constructed. This goes to show that trying to over-compensate for the problems of the dams cannot be done by focusing on these other factors affecting the salmon.
Let me quickly turn to my second point, which I see as a real opportunity for NMFS. Although I think NMFS is over-compensating with regard to habitat issues, that does not mean that habitat management should be ignored. To the contrary, there are several policies in place, primarily on Federal lands, that deal with habitat. These are the PACFISH and INFISH protocols. However, there are new policies being proposed called Conservation Agreements with Assurances and Safe Harbor Agreements that offer new opportunities for NMFS to recharacterize its relationship with private and State landowners. This is a real opportunity for NMFS to seize on these new policies and change its approach to doing business. I think that NMFS should be encouraged to embrace those policies and try to implement them in a way that will effect recovery.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Smith. Mr. Wilson.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Smith may be found at end of hearing.]
STATEMENT OF PETER K. WILSON, VICE PRESIDENT, PORT OF LEWISTON
Mr. WILSON. Congressman Crapo, my name is Peter Wilson and I am Vice President of the Port of Lewiston Commission, Lewiston, Idaho. I have been a member of the Port Commission for 9 years. Although it is not supposed to be a full time job, I spend as much of my time on port business as I do trying to make a living raising a few cows.
As this testimony has been submitted, the written, I think I will deviate a little bit from that and bring up a few points.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Transportation is a very important part of Idaho and river transportation is an integral part of that. I think we need to reiterate that the balance of trade without ag exports would be much larger than it is.
Another thing is on the flow augmentation. As a youth in the 1930's, I used to swim in the Clearwater River. The Clearwater River, they had the log drives in there, the log drives come with the high water and the high water was generally considered a week plus or minus Memorial Day. Now we have got to take water out of the Dworshak to keep the Clearwater River, the lower 30 miles of it, at a much higher level than it ever was before. To me, it is not natural. When I was swimming in the Clearwater River, there was no dams up there. We used to swim at Spalding and it was a major accomplishment of the youth to swim the river. It was not really that far, but it was an accomplishment. Now the water is cold as they draw the winter water out of Dworshak, and as I say, it is higher. It does not make sense to medoes not make sense to me.
Foodthe ag production, I need to push that a little bit. I remember in the 1970's, Khrushchev was over here and they had him visit a cornfield in Iowa, and he was aghast at the ag production, he thought if he could do that back in his country, he would be more of a world power than he already was.
I think that is about all I have to say.
Mr. CRAPO. All right, thank you very much, Mr. Wilson. Were you finished?
Mr. WILSON. I was just going to say the light is green, you know, so I will quit while I am ahead.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Thank you, Mr. Wilson. Mr. Grunke.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Wilson may be found at end of hearing.]
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
STATEMENT OF JAMES W. GRUNKE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, OROFINO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Mr. GRUNKE. Thank you, Congressman Crapo. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to speak here. I am the Executive Director of the Orofino Chamber of Commerce and my name is James Grunke.
We in Orofino think we have a fairly compelling story to tell and really welcome this opportunity. We are one of the few communities in the entire northwest, and the only one in Idaho, that feels the direct impacts of salmon recovery every year.
When Dworshak Dam was constructed, it was authorized for five purposesflood control, power production, fish and wildlife, recreation and transportation. Transportation being log transportation down the reservoir. In exchange for this, the damming of probably the most productive steelhead river in Idaho, the North Fork, certain promises were made, such as continued log transportation and to be able to maximize the recreational opportunities to offset this.
Also as part of that in the mitigation, they constructed Dworshak National Fish Hatchery, which is the world's largest steelhead fish hatchery. So there were tradeoffs that were made and the community I think grudgingly accepted this and it did become a very prime recreation source. It is the only pristine, undeveloped, forested lake in the State of Idaho to this extent, it is 53 miles long, no commercial development is allowed, it is a beautiful facility.
Things were going good for Orofino and then they decided to list salmon. Our experience with the listing of salmon and the control of NMFS has been an absolute failure. I would say we would view the flow augmentation strategy as completely ill-conceived and it has resulted in every summer draining the reservoir down, this year they will go down 100 feet, it has been down as low as 115 feet, for salmon recovery. This has resulted in an unusable mud bog that nobody would want to use to recreate. But this has had more impacts than just to the recreation. Resident fish have been dramatically impacted, not only in the reservoir but in the Clearwater River. It is not natural when the main stem of the Clearwater River right now in August is running nearly 70 degrees, that the fish swim along and they are running into 48 degree water. It is impacting the fish hatchery because the water is too cold. So it is retarding the growth of steelhead in the fish hatchery.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So to compensate that, rather than using the selector gates that were designed to provide the constant cool water for the fish needs, they have decided in their wisdom to spend over a million dollars to build boilers to warm the water, when we already know what we could do. I think we have absolutely seen steelhead impacts. We drain the water in the summer, we no longer have any water left in the fall months to use not only to cool the river in the month of September, but also to attract the fish up from lower Granite pool. There is evidence from the National Marine Fisheries Service, their own study, that the cool water has impacted or retarded the growth of fall chinook in the main stem of the Clearwater River. And it has had devastating impacts to the community of Orofino. We were fortunate enough to have the Corps of Engineers conduct an economic impact study for us in 1995 that demonstrated losses in excess of $7 million a year in the summer economy. That is also a tradeoff because these efforts have declined the number of steelhead and that resulted in a closure of the fall steelhead season in 1996. So we are losing on every side.
So then we need to look at the benefits and I have asked this question it seems like now for years to NMFS, but doesthe question seems fairly straight-forwarddoes draining the reservoir produce more salmon, and if it does, how many? The answer is we do not know, we think that it does. I do not think that we are unwilling to participate, but we are unwilling to share the sole burden for these salmon recovery efforts. NMFS actually has no idea if they are helping or hindering, they think this is going to work, but have we seen any results?
I would like to conclude by saying the current operationthe current system of who is in charge is an absolute rudderless ship, there is so many agencies, nobody is in charge. We need some clear direction and this is, I think, the real role for Congress, is to give the Northwest some clear leadership and get the process moving.
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Grunke may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Grunke.
What I would like to do is go through some specific questions I have for each witness and then I am going to go back and talk in general about an issue I would like to get into a discussion with the panel in its entirety on.
But first of all, Mr. Campbell, I was interested in your testimony where you indicated in your written testimony, I cannot remember if you covered it in your statement, in your oral statement, but you indicated that the project authorization statutes for a number of the dams require the Bureau to comply with State water law. I assume you are aware of the Solicitor's Opinion which the Bureau has which indicates that under the Endangered Species Act, it can essentially take water if necessary. Are you aware of that Solicitor's Opinion?
Mr. CAMPBELL. Yes, Congressman Crapo, I am aware of that opinion.
Mr. CRAPO. I am not going to ask you for a legal evaluation here, but do you believe that there is any conflict between the authorization statutes and that Solicitor's Opinion on the operation of the Endangered Species Act?
Mr. CAMPBELL. Congressman Crapo, I believe that there is a clear conflict between that so-called opinion, the memorandum that I think you are referring to is basically a two-page or one and a half page brief letter to the Commissioner of Reclamation at that time, Daniel Beard I believe, and John Leshe basically informed the Commissioner that there would be consequences of any action to release water, notwithstanding the approval of the contract space holders or the affected irrigators or municipal users, but he felt, under the Endangered Species Act, that those consequences were something that the administration would just have to put up with.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The analysis was questionable, there was no analysis, it just said there will be consequences. I view the Reclamation Act of 1902and I think all water lawyers who have examined this issue agreethat State law is absolutely required, mandated by the Bureau as it relates to the water which is stored in those facilities. Moreover, the specific Congressional actions which had to be taken for the construction of those Reclamation facilities in the State of Idaho, specifically provided for the project uses, the types of uses of the water which could be stored in those facilities. In virtually none of the project authorizations by Congress does it provide for releases of water for flow augmentation purposes.
So from my viewand the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the water rights which actually are being exercised by the use of those facilities are really held, the true beneficial owners are the irrigators, the municipal users, whatever. So if NMFS or the administration determines that it can release water from Bureau facilities notwithstanding no approval, no consent by willing sellers, willing buyers, I think they will violate vested property rights, they will violate specific Congressional actions by those project authorizations, and they will be subject to condemnation proceedings, inverse condemnation proceedings or injunctive relief by Federal courts. That is my view.
Mr. CRAPO. And would youyour opinion that you have just expressed here is with reference to Bureau projects, is that correct?
Mr. CAMPBELL. No, it is with regard to any Federal facility.
Mr. CRAPO. So it would include
Mr. CAMPBELL. Primarilyexcuse me, Congressman Crapo.
Mr. CRAPO. Sure, go ahead.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Primarily Bureau facilities as they relate to the clients I represent; however, Lucky Peak reservoir was constructed as a Corps of Engineers facility with coincidental irrigation uses as well. The Dworshak Reservoir was a Corps facility.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. That is what I was getting at.
Mr. CAMPBELL. That has a specific project authorization and because of that, anyin my view, any action by the Bureauby the Corps of Engineers, which is contrary to that specific Congressional authorization is arguably invalid.
Mr. CRAPO. Let me for just a minute shift over to Mr. Grunke. Are you aware of whether a legal challenge has been made to the Corps' operations, which appear to be in conflict with its authorization statute?
Mr. GRUNKE. Yes, sir. In fact, in 1995, the Orofino Chamber of Commerce as well as the City and Clearwater County sued in Federal court, the Corps of Engineers over this issue that they had exceeded their Congressional authorization.
Mr. CRAPO. And has that litigation been resolved yet?
Mr. GRUNKE. It is on appeal now to the Ninth Circuit Court. It was ruled that they were within their parameters.
Mr. CRAPO. So in that case, the Court ruled in favor of thebasically that the Endangered Species Act requirements superseded the statutory authorization?
Mr. GRUNKE. The ruling was that as one of the project purposes was fish and wildlife, they were still adhering to that and yes, you could still recreate and could produce power and flood control. It is just they were not all equal.
Mr. CRAPO. So I guess what I am getting at is that in this case, the Court did not address the specific issue of whether the Endangered Species Act will allow essentially the violation of the requirements of the authorizing statute.
Mr. GRUNKE. That is correct.
Mr. CRAPO. Would you pass the microphone back to Mr. Campbell?
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Campbell, are you aware of any judicial decisions that wouldthat have focused on this issue more specifically than the Dworshak case?
Mr. CAMPBELL. Congressman Crapo, I am not aware of any pertinent judicial authority which has addressed this issue.
Mr. CRAPO. And you indicated that the Solicitor's memorandum that we have been discussing did not contain a legal analysis or have attached to it a legal analysis, is that correct?
Mr. CAMPBELL. That is entirely correct. It was basically a letter addressing the options available to the Commissioner of Reclamation with no citation to any statutes, any case decisions of the Federal courts, merely saying that these are your options and including release of water, notwithstanding the objections of impacted water users who have valid storage contracts in these facilities, and there will be consequences. But under the Endangered Species Act you have that authority, without any legal analysis, in my judgment other than the conclusion.
Mr. CRAPO. Are you aware of any legal memoranda or briefs or analyses made by the Bureau or any other Federal agencies in this regard?
Mr. CAMPBELL. Congressman Crapo, I am aware of various memos which discuss the issue. I am not aware of any dispositive internal ruling or binding legal opinion from the Solicitor's Office that directly addresses the issue, no.
Mr. CRAPO. All right, thank you very much. How about handing the microphone to Mr. Smith.
First of all, Mr. Smith, you are a water lawyer as well. Do you have anything to add to the discussion we have just had?
Mr. SMITH. I do not believe so.
Mr. CRAPO. Then I would like to focus with you on a few items in your testimony. One of the key points that you made in your testimony wasand I will read it to you, you made this in your oral testimony as well''Despite the fact that problems with the dams on the Columbia and lower Snake Rivers remain the foremost obstacle to the salmon recovery efforts, NMFS appears to be searching for a solution based on using Idaho water and habitat management measures to overcome these problems.''
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Would you elaborate for just a moment on your comment there about the fact that despite the fact that the problems with the dams on the Columbia and the Snake River remain the foremost obstacles, NMFS appears to be searching for a solution based on Idaho water?
Mr. SMITH. The debate during the salmon summit, which was quite extensive in terms of looking at the problems and trying to figure out what the major problems were, as well as NMFS' analysis of what the problems are, there was very little disagreement about the fact that the hydro impactsthe 4 H'shydro, habitat, harvest and hatcheriesthat hydro was the major factor responsible for the decline and was a major factor or the major factor in terms of recovery. When you look at the configuration of the dams in trying to use flow augmentation to overcome those problems, when the focus gets to be on Idaho water, one of the things that is often overlooked is that despite the storage capacity in the upper Snake, that in drought years when that water is used, you cannot just look at it on an annual basis. You have to look at the ability of the system to recover. So when NMFS turns and starts looking at the use of Idaho water to try and overcome the problems at the dams, to look at it on an annual basis is very risky. What I was specifically referring to were the attempts to gain more water, it was through the section 7 consultation that you referred to earlier in which NMFS and the Bureau have entered into consultation in which it, quite frankly, appears to me that they are attempting to use the consultation process to either ratchet up or try to secure more water through means of either a jeopardy opinion and reasonable and prudent alternatives or some other measures that would require additional water above and beyond the 427,000 acre-feet.
Mr. CRAPO. And you were here during the testimony of Mr. Martinez and Mr. Pedde about the consultation, were you not?
Mr. SMITH. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. Do I understand you to be saying that notwithstanding their assurances that that consultation is not aimed at securing additional water, that you still have concerns about what direction that consultation is heading in?
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Yes, I do, because once the Federal agency, pursuant to section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, enters into consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service, there is quite a bit of discussion, or let me put it this way, a concern over the ability of private parties to participate in the consultation process. That process under section 7 largely involves the Federal agencies. So when you are sitting out there representing clients, contract holders who use that water, there are serious questions about whether they will be able to participate in the consultation process. When NMFS then does its analysis, renders it opinion, they will come up withif it is a jeopardy opinion, they will come up with a reasonable and prudent alternative. Their obligation at that point is toor excuse me, if they have a jeopardy opinion and they try to come up with a reasonable and prudent alternative to avoid the jeopardy, they will attach conditions, if you will, that seek to make it a non-jeopardy opinion. And that is the risk that I see that once that biological consultation starts forward, that you will get terms and conditions imposed on the Bureau of Reclamation that might seek to increase the 427,000 acre-feet, which has been voluntarily, under the willing buyer-willing seller provisions, been made available to this point.
Mr. CRAPO. I want to do a quick little sidetrack here on something you said and then get back to this, but you indicated that one of the problems with the consultation is that it is essentially consultation among Federal agencies.
Mr. SMITH. Correct.
Mr. CRAPO. And that private parties or other interested concerns, whether they be those who are concerned with salmon recovery or steelhead recovery or those who are concerned about irrigation or transportation, are not in the consultation, is that correct?
Mr. SMITH. Correct.
Mr. CRAPO. Do you perceive that to be a significant problem in the decisionmaking process that we are operating under?
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Absolutely. Because as you are going through the consultation processand let me point out, there are provisions in the regulations that deal with consultation that allow participation by applicants for a Federal license to participate in consultation. But quite frankly, I have represented the timber industry on a number of matters in which we have had to assert ourselves aggressively to try to participate in the consultation process and it is one of those areas that is, quite frankly, a little unclear. But in order to get the best information that is available and in order to make sure that all the interests that could be affected are heard, I think it is almost mandatory, it is critically important, that all those interests be heard.
Mr. CRAPO. That is an issue that I want to talk about with the whole panel, but before I do that, I want to get back to the line of questioning I had with you. It seems to me that, focusing on this consultation process, that the failure of the Federal family or the Federal agencies in essence, to seriously deal with the mainstem dams will be paid for if the current direction that we see developing continueswill be paid for by heavy volumes of upper Snake River water. And that that failure will likely result, in addition to taking a significant amount of water from the upper Snake River and the economic impacts that that would cause, will likely also result in the extinction of the fish, or at least in a failure of recovery efforts for the salmon and the steelhead.
I would just like to ask you your observation or to add your comments on that. Do you agree with the concern that I raise in both contexts, in the sense that if we do not seriously address the issue at the main stem dams, that we will then seeif what we now see from the current direction, that we see from the National Marine Fisheries Service, that we will see a look instead to significant volumes of Idaho water? Let us start with that. Do you agree with that?
Mr. SMITH. Yes, I think that is a real possibility, because as NMFS is trying to find a solutionif you have a problem at the dams, as they are presently configured, and you want to solve it, you go to the dams and try to figure out what we can do to make those thingsto reduce mortality. Are you going to go away from the dams to try and come up with a bandaid approach to try and fix that problem or do you go to the dams where the problem is and try to fix it at that site?
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If you are going to approach it from the water standpoint by basically securing more and more water from the State of Idaho, eventually you are going to run out of bandaids and you are not going to be able to solve the problem.
Mr. CRAPO. Let us go to the second part of my comment. I indicated that I also believe that the failure to focus where the problem is willand to focus on basically an increased flow augmentation approach, will ultimately not help the salmon. Do you agree with that?
Mr. SMITH. I have not seen any evidence to suggest it will.
Mr. CRAPO. Now currently NMFS has rejected the Idaho policy that was worked out as an effort to try to look at something other than an increased emphasis on flow augmentation. And NMFS will be able to testify for themselves later today, but I believe that their position is that the current status of the scientific record or the science, is that we must continue with a flow augmentation approach at this time until we figure out how to deal with the dams. I know that is not exactly how they would say it, but do you have any comment on that response or on that issue?
Mr. SMITH. I do not know if that is the way they would say it or not, but I think that is what their approach has indicated, that we are going to continue to do these interim steps without focusing on a final solution. And I recognize that the solutionit is a difficult question. NMFS has had to struggle with trying to resolve the question, but I think that what we are seeing are interim approaches without starting to focus on trying to solve the problem.
Mr. CRAPO. I am shifting gears here. You indicated in your testimony that you felt that a significant part of the solution might be more reliance by our Federal managers on conservation agreements and safe harbors and that you thought those were pretty significant. What do you think it will take to successfully implement those types of agreements?
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. It is going to require NMFS to take a look at itself and think about the way it approaches doing business with private parties and non-Federal entities. A lot of their effort to date has been focused on their relationship with other Federal agencies such as the Bureau of Reclamation, the Forest Service and the BLM. Private parties and States have a different role to play under the ESA, as far as I am concerned. I think it is going to take clear direction from the higher levels of the NMFS administration to tell the people at the field level that look, these are new tools, these give us new opportunities and we are embracing the use of these, so that when the field people or the people in the field offices get ready to come out and try to work with private parties, that they are encouraged to do that, they know they have support from higher up that they can use these new tools in different innovative fashions. It is critical.
Mr. CRAPO. All right, thank you. I see from the 1950 historical report excerpts that you attached to your testimony that the problem that we are talking about today was identified clear back in 1950.
Mr. SMITH. Correct.
Mr. CRAPO. And at that time only the Bonneville Dam, of those we are discussing, was in place, is the correct?
Mr. SMITH. That is correct.
Mr. CRAPO. Did you want to amplify on that at all?
Mr. SMITH. That document that I attached to my testimony was a report to Congress back in 1950 and what it did was raise the specter that these programs to try and augment salmon populations by focusing on non-dam-related matters was suspect. It raised the concern that the program to try and compensate for the infrastructure that was going into place on the Columbia and lower Snake Rivers might not work. That was a document that came out during the salmon summit and it generated quite a bit of comment, mostly along the lines of what you indicated, that we are sitting here discussing things that are not new.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. All right, thank you. Could you hand the microphone to Mr. Wilson?
Mr. SMITH. Thank you.
Mr. CRAPO. Mr. Wilson, I was interested to note your testimony about the need for a regional consensus-building process and that is the general issue that I want to get into a bit of a panel discussion with you here in a minute.
But could you tell me a little more what you might have in mind in terms of a regional decisionmaking process? How could we accomplish that?
Mr. WILSON. I think that the tools are already in place with the Power Planning Council, that group. I do not see any need to put another layer above or below.
Mr. CRAPO. Do you believe thatin my discussion with Mr. Smith, we just talked about the fact that a process that involves only Federal managers excludes not only other governmental entities but also excludes other interests. Would you agree with that?
Mr. WILSON. I think I would have to say yes.
Mr. CRAPO. Now I know that one response to that might be that the Federal managers are trying to bring together in a decisionmaking process all of the affectedat least affected governmental entities. Would it be satisfactory to have a decisionmaking process in place that onlythat involves all governmental entitieslet us say it would involve Federal agencies, State governments and their agencies and tribal governments, and I guess that would be it. Would that approach be acceptable to you?
Mr. WILSON. Well, yeah, I think that we feel that the tribalthat has to be recognized.
Mr. CRAPO. Do youwell, let me move to another question here. I was also interested in your oral testimony about your experiences with the Clearwater from your youth. And if I understood you correctly, under the current flow augmentation regime by which we are now managing the flow in the rivers, you are telling us that the rivers are not running as they used to run when they were natural.
Page 112 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WILSON. Absolutely.
Mr. CRAPO. Could you give me some time lines there? You said this, but I did not pick it up, what times of the year are they higher than they used to be?
Mr. WILSON. The high water, generally the people along the Clearwater or the mid Snake I guess we would call it in the Lewis and Clark Valley, those people always said Memorial Day plus or minus a week. And this was very difficult to predict because when Potlatch had their log drives, the success of that depended upon hitting the high water. And when the river is on a rise, the center is high and when it is on a decline, the center is low. So as they would bring those logs down the river, if the river is on the rise, they are in the center and they are in the mill pond pronto. If they hit a slack time and it goes down, the logs all go to the outside and they pile up and have their jams.
So it is not anything that anybody can really predict, when that high water is going to be, but generally Memorial Day plus or minus a week, then your flows diminish, as the snow melts, you know, and depending on what the snow pack is.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. I remember the question that I forgot a minute ago. With regard to the decisionmaking processback to the question of how we make decisions. It seems to me that one of the big questions we are going to need to ask is whether the decisionmaking authority should continue to be centralized in the Federal agencies or whether some other decisionmaking entity should be created. Do you have an opinion on that?
Mr. WILSON. I think the decision should be made in the Northwest with Northwest people.
Mr. CRAPO. I agree with you.
Why do you not pass the microphoneoh, by the wayyes, did you want to add something?
Mr. WILSON. And on the lighter side, we made up a little quiz. Lots of chinook showed up in the rivers this year, so the question ismultiple choicehow did they get there? Did they get there by barge, were they railed in, were they trucked in or freight, or did they just slam and swim over the dam?
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Good point. And by the way, I know that both you and Mr. Grunkethis is a comment to both of youI know that both the Port of Lewiston and the Orofino Chamber of Commerce supported Governor Batt's initiative and his effort to find some consensus on salmon and steelhead recovery in the 1997 Idaho Policy, and I just want to thank you for that because we have all been working very closely with Governor Batt and we realizewe all realize that with the multitude of interests at stake here, that it is very difficult for people to come, in a collaborative decisionmaking process, to an agreement, but it was done and you were bothyou and your groups that you represent were both integral players in that and I appreciate that. I just wanted to let you know that.
Mr. WILSON. Thank you.
Mr. CRAPO. Mr. Grunke, you indicated thatlet me turn to your testimonyin your testimony under recommendations, your very first sentence says ''Put someone in charge.'' Would you like to elaborate on that a little bit?
Mr. GRUNKE. I think the biggest problem that is facing our region is that there are too many overlapping areas of authority and jurisdiction and that the system, as it is designed now, cannot function to develop a solid, cohesive salmon recovery plan. We have Corps authority and NMFS authority and Reclamation and then the States and the tribes and the Power Planning Council and everybody with their different plans, and there is not one driving force and so we should expect to have the result that we have because of the way the current system is.
Mr. CRAPO. And do you have awell, if I could hold that question back until we get into it with the panel a little bitbut I assume that Orofino benefited from this year's salmon season, is that correct?
Mr. GRUNKE. Yes, sir.
Mr. CRAPO. In the debate that we have over what approach to salmon recovery, often economics comes up and, you know, one group will say well, there are jobs in this area that we cannot ignore, irrigation for agriculture and agriculture jobs, or transportation jobs or in this caseand another group will say there are jobs related to a healthy recreation in the salmon and steelhead industry. I guess the question I have to you is does this year's experience with the salmon and steelhead runsor the salmon runsgive youcause you to have an opinion on whether if that were able to be sustained over a period of time that it could be a significant economic boost to your particular community?
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GRUNKE. I would say this gave our community a taste of what the potential would be for a strong, vibrant steelhead and salmon season, but I would not say that that is going to be our sole answer or that it is going to be the new strength of our economy. It is too unpredictable and what type of jobs is that providing for us. Is it service or is it jobs that are stable for our community, or high paying. It currently is an important part of our economy, the steelhead season, and the salmon would benefit it, but I am curiouswhenever I see how great the benefits would be, I see numbers thrown out all the time, but never any documentation how they got there. The Idaho Statesman said it would be worth $248 million to the State of Idaho, according to somebody, but no citation.
So I do not know. I know what we lose during the summer because of the Corps study, and I do not believe that the steelhead and salmon season would result in comparable economic gain, that would be a wash. So if we are losing $7 million in the summer, we would need to be gaining $7 million in the winter, just to stay even, and that is not occurring. And I do not think it will.
Mr. CRAPO. I am aware of all the points you just made, in this debate that we constantly have about jobs and what the impact will be, so I thought I would just ask somebody from one of the communities that got to experience it a little bit this year, what your opinion was. Are you aware of any type of studies that your community has done or that have been done with regard to your community that would give a handle on what you, in your community, the people who live there, believe would be the economic impact?
Mr. GRUNKE. No, sir. The only study that I am really aware of is a number of years ago there was a study by the Idaho Fish and Game when they had a limited season on salmon in the Rapid River Hatchery and the economic impact to the community of Riggins, and this very small window was in excess of $200,000. And I think if you extrapolate that out, I think you could get some gains, and I think we will see some interesting studies done this year on both Orofino andor the Clearwater River and the Riggins area, to be more concrete, but at this point, there is not a study that has been done that I am aware of.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. I would just like to conclude with this panel by asking a general question that any of you can jump in on if you would like to.
One of the concerns that I have is literally, as Mr. Grunke said, that there is no one in chargeno one in charge. The buck does not stop somewhere in this whole process of decisionmaking that we have. And I am convinced that we need to have a system of decisionmaking in place that allows for decisions to be made, for accountability to be enforced and I guess another aspect of it would be for meaningful participation by the people in the Pacific Northwest in the decisionmaking. I assume that no one on the panel is going to disagree with those broad statements. If anybody does, let me know and we will explore that.
But the question I would like to ask you to jump in on, if you have an opinion, is how do we do that. Do we take the current system and tweak it or do we move to a new decisionmaking model? I am looking for ideas here as to how we can get to a system that has accountability, the ability to make decisions and to involve the people of the Pacific Northwest in those decisions. If anybody has any thoughts or comments, I would welcome them.
Mr. SMITH. Representative Crapo, having gone through the salmon summit process, I have to say it was a real education. I think if we look at a broad-based coalition, a group if you will, that does represent the people in the Northwest, that that is our best chance of coming up with a plan, and of having some accountability. Right now, things are so spread out that there is very little accountability. My concern is that the process that we have now has basically generated huge amounts of litigation and a huge amount of decisions, but it is so spread out that it is difficult for me, working on it on a day-to-day basis, to even keep track of all of it.
In order to come up with the kind of plan that will allow us to move forward, it is going to require a lot of cooperation. I think that mandates that we have participation, and heavy participation, from the State level.
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Any others?
Mr. SMITH. Could I make one other comment?
Mr. CRAPO. Sure.
Mr. SMITH. Awhile ago when you were asking about the consultation process
Mr. CRAPO. Yes.
Mr. SMITH. [continuing] and I approached it pretty much from the point that if the consultation on the upper Snake projects goes forward, and we had a jeopardy opinion. Let me add to that, regardless of whether it is a jeopardy opinion or a non-jeopardy opinion, whatever NMFS includes in that is going to put tremendous pressure on the Bureau. I am not going to predict how that would come out, but I think it is important that we recognize that when the Federal agencies are dealing with one another under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, the pressures that are generated on the action agency, which would be the Bureau in this case, are tremendous.
Mr. CRAPO. Does that mean that NMFSI am looking for somewhere the buck stops. Does the buck stop at NMFS or can NMFS then say well we are just consulting?
Mr. SMITH. No, NMFS could say we are just consulting. Biological opinions are advisory, they are not mandatory. So NMFS' response, and I agree with this, is that under the ESA the biological opinion is advisory. The action agency has a choice of whether it is going to or not going to follow that opinion. But I will tell you from my experience that I have yet to see a Federal agency that did not comply with a biological opinion. The pressure is too great.
Mr. CRAPO. Is that sort of a safe harbor for the Federal agency?
Page 117 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. That is a good way of describing it.
Mr. CRAPO. Or at least safer than other harbors?
Mr. SMITH. It is a response that you are going to get.
Mr. CRAPO. But you do not get out of litigation by supporting the biological opinion either, by following it either.
Mr. SMITH. No. I mean biological opinions will generate litigation, the terms and conditions that are imposed will generate litigation. And that is the problem, that we are focusing on things that are not solving the problem.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. Did anybody else want to comment on the question I had?
Mr. CAMPBELL. Congressman Crapo, I concur totally with Mr. Smith's comments concerning the involvement of the States in any kind of resolution process. I think one of the primary concerns that I have had throughout the last 6 or 7 years that the salmon issue has been really on the forefront of Idaho and the Northwest Natural Resource law issues is that the Federal agencies, despite the fact that they are numerous and diverse in their interests and their duties, have primarily ignored the States, and as a consequence, ignored the actual citizens of the States. So unless the States have a more participatory role and have direct authority in any decisionmaking process, not just through the Northwest Power Planning Council, but in resolution of the problem, I think we are a train heading for a wreck. And that is regrettable because when you get right down to it, the only winners in the current situation are the consultants hired by NMFS and the other agencies, and the attorneys that are hired by the people who are ultimately impacted by these decisions. And that is not a very positive product for our society. It helps me and it helps Bruce and other attorneys involved in it because it generates more income for us, but from a societal standpoint, it is very negative. And I think if we can avoid those kinds of conflicts, we are going to be better off.
Page 118 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One other comment I would like to add from a factual standpoint in the context of the consultation issue with the Bureau of Reclamation, approximately 6 months ago, NMFS requested, actually initially they were going to have it outsourced by a consulting company, but the Bureau of Reclamation volunteered to provide NMFS with a very bare bones study addressing the issue of what water from Idaho would be made available from conservation issues or from the elimination of irrigation diversions. That study was not, according to John Keys of the Bureau of Reclamation, was not designed to tell the NMFS that this would not have any negative impacts, yet because of that study, which was very bare bones and merely a hydrologic evaluation, NMFS has now, from what I have been told, focused upon the end result that yes, if you stop all diversions in Idaho, you will meet99 percent of the time, you will meet all of the flow targets, the flow goals, that NMFS is looking at in the biological opinion, which would require termination of two millionexcuse me, two million acre-feet of storage, as far as use in Idaho. So we are talking about the use of two million acre-feet of water presently used in the Idaho economy to accomplish that purpose. That study, according to John Keys, was not intended for that result, yet NMFS is relying upon that study to accomplish that end goal. That is very disconcerting to Idaho water users, it is very disconcerting to the people who would be directly impacted.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. Did either Mr. Grunke or Mr. Wilson want to add anything?
Mr. CRAPO. Let me go back then to Mr. Smith and Mr. Campbell and ask you, do either of you see a legislative solution? I am back on the how do we get a decisionmaking authority in place that involves people effectively. Do you see a legislative solution, even the broad outline of anything that we ought to be looking at?
Mr. SMITH. Do you mean a legislative solution to the decisionmaking process?
Page 119 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Yeah. What I am thinking is, is there some decisionmaking process that we can legislatively create. I do not believe that Congress ought to start making these decisions, it ought to at leastif it does anything, it ought to start trying to figure out what the right process for decisionmaking should be.
Mr. SMITH. I remember Senator Hatfield's original address to the salmon summit, he said do not look to DC for the solution, that it is going to be dependent upon the region and the people in the region to come up with the solution. I have been at this long enough to recognize that we will have direction, participation, cooperation, whatever, from DC. I think legislative direction that focuses on solving the problem in the Northwest, by people in the Northwest, is probably where we are headed or where we should head.
Mr. CRAPO. Both of you have said that you believe the States should be involved. I assume you would agree that the tribes should also be involved?
Mr. SMITH. Absolutely.
Mr. CRAPO. There is a debate, as I understand it, as to whether that is enough. I mean there are groups I believe that feel that there should be, in addition, representation on whatever decisionmaking body is created, of the specific interest groups who have something at stake in the issue. Others say well, their interests should be represented by whatever government they are a part of and that it would be very complicated to try to identify a decisionmaking process that had legal decisionmaking authority that identified non-governmental entities as part of that process.
Could you comment on that issue?
Mr. CAMPBELL. Congressman Crapo, from my standpoint, I think it will be impossible to ever reach any kind of consensus decision to resolve the salmon-steelhead issues if the process mandates the involvement of other groups outside of the State government level. And I would like to expand upon that just a moment.
Page 120 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If the process allows participationincluding the tribes, I did not mean to exclude the tribesif the process allows private entities, private interest groups to have a seat at the table, then how do you make the decision as to which private interest groups are going to have that seat or how many seats do you have. And if you have 15 environmental groups and 15 water user groups and 15 municipal groups and 15 industrial groups, as soon as you turn around, it does not take very much legal work to form a new organization, a new private, non-profit corporation that is focused on one little aspect of this or has a new name. And then that group has to be involved.
So I think unless you restrict it to the State governmental entities, you know, I havejust reacting here to your comment,I am certain it is too simplistic, but my concept is get a statute passed in Congress that directs the State Governors of the four States impactedIdaho, Washington, Oregon, Montanato concur on the appointment of one individual who would drive the process and not involve the Federal agencies except from the standpoint of information to that process, so that you have the four State Governors who represent all of the citizens.
Mr. CRAPO. And the tribes.
Mr. CAMPBELL. And the tribes, excuse me, yes and the tribes, who represent the citizens in the impacted sovereign entities in this region. Reach a consensus as to that one person and then that one person drives the process forward and that one person is vested with the authority to come up with a solution which has the input from the Governors and the tribes.
Mr. CRAPO. And in your scenario there, would that one personI assume it could be a person or a board or would you say just one person?
Mr. CAMPBELL. Well, I think you could have a board, but if you have more than three members on the board, you are asking for trouble. And I think if you have one person, then all the participants, all the Governors and the tribal entities, would have to agree upon one who would represent all. So you would have less likelihood of having one who represents this group, one who represents that groupa three member panel, you would have the splintering.
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. I see what you mean. And then that person or group, whatever it may end up being, would have decisionmaking authority.
Mr. CAMPBELL. With regard to overall solution, keeping in context that that solution would have to incorporate and consider all of the property rights of the various interests throughout the Northwest and evaluate those in the context of the States who are represented in the process.
Mr. CRAPO. And if I hear you right, that decisionmaker would not be given the ability or the authority to ignore current law.
Mr. CAMPBELL. No.
Mr. CRAPO. The decisionmaker would have to make his or her or its decisions consistent with applicable Federal and State law.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Correct.
Mr. CRAPO. So the legal parameters would not change, but the decisionmaking process would be changed.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Correct.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH. I had not honestly thought of this until you asked the question. I am used to dealing with corporations, with businesses. Maybe an arrangement setup like a board of directors with a CEO is the kind of approach that might be feasible. I absolutely guarantee you there is accountability in that setup, and if you have a board that is made up of the respective interests, and a CEO or something like that, that may be the type of approach that you are looking at.
And I will tell you, I firmly believe that the tribes have a tremendous role to play in this, they cannot be left out of it, they have too many interests, they have legitimate rights to be there, and they are key to coming up with a solution to the recovery effort. So maybe a board of directors and a CEO.
Page 122 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Well, I appreciate your willingness to speculate with me here and to kind of brainstorm, because one of the things that we want to do with this hearing is to generate ideas and maybe on further reflection those ideas will turn out to be good ones or bad ones or have to be modified or adjusted, but we are trying to figure out a path forward and what the proper role of Congress is in trying to help that path develop and become real. And I appreciate your observations.
Mr. SMITH. And of course the CEO stock options are going to be something to be seen, so
Mr. CRAPO. That is right.
One last question and this is to Mr. Campbell. I wanted to followup on your statement about the study with the two million acre-feet of storage water that was identified. Do you have anylet us assume that that two million acre feet werethat the diversions for those two million acre feet for irrigation were stopped. Do you have any information that would indicate to you what type of an impact on irrigated land that would cause? Would it cause some irrigated land to go out of production?
Mr. CAMPBELL. Congressman Crapo, I have not seen anything that analyzes the impact upon the State of Idaho, but I do know that Idaho has, if I am correct, approximately 5.6 to 6 million acre-feet of storage capacity in its various facilities, Federal facilities primarily. So if you remove two million acre-feet out of a total of six million acre-feet, you are cutting out a third of the productive capacity of the State's agricultural economy, recognizing that some of that water is not just for agriculture, it is for municipal use, industrial use, et cetera.
Mr. CRAPO. So there will be impacts beyond agricultural impacts.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Oh, certainly, no question about that. The primary impact that I think most people fail to realize is that with the priority system that currently is in place in the State of Idaho for regulation of water rights, if you take out the storage water from the existing systems, then the older priority water rights come into play and those older priority water rights can force termination of more junior, newer groundwater rights including the rights of the cities like Treasure Valley. The United Water of Idaho supplies virtually all of the municipal water for the city of Boise and all of their water rights are much newer, much more junior than the old river rights on the Boise River. And if there is elimination of some of the storage contracts or attempts by NMFS to force the Bureau to release water from the storage reservoirs, I have no doubt that I would advise my clients to exercise those prior rights to force termination of groundwater withdrawals for cities that have potential impacts on those supplies.
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. And this impact would not just be in southeastern Idaho, this would be all along the Snake River.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Oh, the entire southern portion of the State, no question about it.
Mr. CRAPO. Mr. Smith, you wanted to comment?
Mr. SMITH. Yes. In looking at another issue recently on this question of taking lands out of production in order to increase flows, I will get you the specifics later if you would like, but my recollection is that to increase stream flows or provide a million acre-feet, required taking 400,000 acres out of production.
Mr. CRAPO. And that is a million on top of the 427?
Mr. SMITH. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. So you would be taking 1.427 million acre-feet of water would reduce irrigation by 400,000 acres?
Mr. SMITH. Well, I have to go back, I am not positive about that. I remember the million acre-feet of additional water, whether it was on top of the 427 or not, I do not know. Now that I am thinking about it, I suspect it was not, because I think the study was done prior to the 427 figure coming up.
Mr. CRAPO. Okay, if you could get us that information.
Mr. SMITH. I think for a million acre-feet, 400,000 acres.
Mr. CRAPO. And you could get us that study?
Mr. SMITH. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. Would you please do that?
Mr. SMITH. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. All right, thank you very much. I have no further questions and this panel is excused.
Page 124 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Okay, our next panel is panel No. 3. All right, panel No. 3 is Mr. Ken Casavantexcuse me, Doctor
Mr. CASAVANT. I answer to anything.
Mr. CRAPO. I answer to Mike, soof the Northwest Power Planning Council; Mr. Charles Ray, Idaho Rivers United; Dr. Steve Bruce, President of the Idaho Steelhead and Salmon Unlimited and Mr. Jim Little, who is a grazing permittee. Jim, are you representing the Idaho Cattle Association today?
Mr. LITTLE. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. And Dr. Rick Williams, Chairman of the Independent Scientific Advisory Board.
Gentlemen, we welcome you here and we will proceed in that order.
STATEMENT OF DR. KEN CASAVANT, COUNCIL MEMBER, NORTHWEST POWER PLANNING COUNCIL
Mr. CASAVANT. Chairman Crapo, members of the Committee, my name is Ken Casavant. I am one of Washington's two members on the Northwest Power Planning Council. I also serve as the Chair of the Council's Fish and Wildlife Committee. I am here today speaking not for the Council, but for the State of Washington.
By trade, I am an agricultural economist and have taught ag econ at Washington State University for the past 25 years.
When I was asked to come before you to provide my thoughts on how we might better govern the Columbia River, the economist in me immediately saw an opportunity to theorize and give you, on one hand or the otheras you know, we economists love to theorize. However, the novice politician in me took over and suggested I lay out for you some of the strengths, of which there are few, and weaknesses, of which there are many, of the current amalgamation of governing entities and venues. The first part of my presentation will cover this ground. I will then try and give you my thoughts on what the best single Columbia River governing body would look like. I then will conclude, depending on time, with a description of what the Council and its partners are doing in the meantime to ensure that the region gets what it is paying for.
Page 125 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As you know, Mr. Chairman, there are three separate sovereign governments with jurisdiction over some part of the Columbia River systemthe States, primarily through the Northwest Power Act; the Indian tribes through their treaties and trust relationships with the U.S. government; and the Federal Government via the ESA. The jurisdictional and philosophical conflicts between the Power Act, the ESA and treaties are indeed the crux of our regional controversies.
Historically, the Federal Government's presence on the river was limited to the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and BPA, all of which either ran dams or sold the power from those dams. In 1991, NMFS listed the Snake River sockeye as endangered and the political atmosphere in the Columbia Basin probably was forever changed. As new species continue to be listed, as in the recent steelhead listing, NMFS' authority only expands and solidifies. For all intents and purposes, NMFS, through the ESA, runs the Columbia River.
This is not a very positive outcome for many in our part of the country. Some believe the ESA does too much for listed fish at the expense of people, jobs and resident and unlisted fish. Others believe that NMFS is not doing enough to restore healthy fish populations to the basin. The nature of this debate over river management eventually caused NMFS to create what is called the Executive Committee, a group of high level representatives of the Federal, State, tribal governments with a stake in the implementation of the biological opinion. This is supported by the implementation team, comprised of high level staffers which have been quite successful in resolving most disputes and disagreements. While not a cure-all by any means, the Executive Committee process has been a relatively effective creation in that it has provided a more open forum for discussion and disagreement among the sovereigns than had previously existed.
Make no mistake, the ESA and NMFS are firmly in control of river operations and decisionmaking. As my friend and colleague from Montana, Stan Grace, told you a couple of weeks ago, NMFS' decisions this year on hydro operations left Montana asking for relief from summer releases from water from two of its large storage reservoirs. After consultation with the Executive Committee, NMFS did not grant that relief and Montana saw fit to exit the Executive Committee for other options, including Federal legislation. The four lower Columbia River treaty tribes soon followed suit, but for entirely different reasons. Such is the state of Federal management of the river.
Page 126 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The States' role over the past decade and a half has been represented primarily by our Power Planning Council, which was directed by the Power Act to prepare a program to protect, mitigate and enhance fish and wildlife and related spawning grounds and habitat that have been affected by the construction and operation of hydroelectric dams in the Columbia River Basin.
Our fish and wildlife program does not address solely the recovery of listed species, rather it focuses more broadly on the health and diversity of fish and wildlife populations. This generates clear conflicts between the ESA and our responsibilities under the Power Act. Our program is often trumped by the implementation of operations consistent with NMFS' biological opinion. We need more authority to implement the fish and wildlife program of the Council.
The Indian tribes' roles are more difficult to describe. They are co-managers of fish and wildlife on the State level. They have reserved the treaty rights to fish at usual and accustomed places, they expected fish to catch. As the runs declined and fewer fish were caught, the Federal courts have been the most familiar venues for tribal involvement. While I cannot speak for them, I have heard tribal leaders express an increased willingness to exercise the rights they reserved in the Treaty of 1855.
To hasten resolution of the governance crisis, the region's four Governors recently requested representatives of the three sovereigns to come together to try and develop a prototype for regional government. I represent the State of Washington on that and interestingly enough, one of the five options is a broadened non-ESA focused process, including alternative dispute resolution that we are looking at.
My personal opinion is that we need a focus, we need an inclusive process, one that puts the State and tribes on equal footing with the Federal Government. We are attempting to do that now.
Page 127 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I can see I have gone over my time limits, so I will conclude my oral testimony here. I have submitted copies to the staff. Thank you.
Mr. CRAPO. We have those copies and we will have time during questions to get into this concept a little more fully, so thank you.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Casavant may be found at end of hearing.]
STATEMENT OF CHARLES RAY, IDAHO RIVERS UNITED
Mr. RAY. Thank you. My name is Charles Ray, I represent the members and the Board of Directors of Idaho Rivers United, a private, non-profit conservation organization. We are working to restore salmon and steelhead populations, the ecosystems on which they depend and with that we are also working to restore the economies, cultures and traditions that depend on healthy, self-sustaining fishable runs. I thank you for this opportunity to be here today.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has been in charge, in one way or the other, for salmon and steelhead management on the Columbia River for over 20 years. It has been nearly 6 years since salmon were listed for ESA protection and it is probably going on 6 days since Idaho steelhead were listed. After all that time, the fish are nearly gone. If the early predictors prove true, the 1998 return of salmon will be the new lowest in history. It is clear to us that NMFS has failed in its primary mission to protect and restore the species and the habitat on which it depends.
The continued decline of these fish runs has caused an immense disruption of entire riverine ecosystems, it has nearly bankrupted the Pacific Northwest sport and commercial fishing industry, loss of harvestable runs abrogates treaties with tribes going back to 1855 and it threatens resolution of the current U.S./Canada treaty dispute.
Page 128 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Federal Government's inability or unwillingness to keep the promises that it made dating back to 1855 of protecting and restoring the fish has further eroded public confidence in the government and its elected officials. I think there is a big role for Congress to play. I do not think NMFS has demonstrated the ability, the willingness or the institutional courage to begin climbing out of this mess we are in right now.
We certainly appreciate this Subcommittee's interest in the performance of NMFS. We invite continuing oversight, we think there is a lot of opportunities for Congress to step in. We recommend six measures that need to take place right now to put us on the road to restoring these fish, the habitat and the economies that depend on them. Four of those are detailed in my written comments, I will go over those briefly, and I will add two more.
NMFS must prioritize the focus of the recovery actions, No. 1. As we have heard, NMFS looks equally with one cow stepping on a redd as compared to 99 percent mortality inflicted by the dams. That cannot go on.
I think it is time for Congress to step in and help NMFS eliminate its juvenile fish barging program. The agencythe fish barging program is an invention of NMFS, they cling desperately to it and they will not put it down unless they are forced to, despite overwhelming scientific evidence that it will not bring the fish runs back, despite the total lack of evidence indicating that barging could achieve 2 to 6 percent smolt adult ratio that is necessary to restore the runs.
NMFS must preserve the integrity of the 1999 decision that we are approaching, particularly NMFS must state clearly, if it is able to, exactly what it means by the improved transportation alternative. What is it, what will it yield, what promise does it have of success.
No. 4, Congress must clarify the authorization of Federal dams to allow modification of structure and operation needed to improve salmon and steelhead survival. The Corps continually hides behind this wall that they have created of lack of authorization to do anything other than the status quo. I do not believe that, it has not been tested in court, but I think Congress could remove this obstacle real easily just by clarifying the Corps' authorization. I think that might also, as a byproduct, instill a little more institutional courage in NMFS to buck the Corps.
Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC No. 5, I think it is time right now for the salmon managers, the fishery managers, of the NMFS, the Power Planning Council and the tribes, to reconcile the three recovery plans that we have on the table right now. After those three plans are reconciled into one scientifically credible plan that promises restoration of these fish, then I think it is time to overhaul the governance system that we have right now. The TMTITEC process is clearly a failure, it is clearly unworkable and on the basis of a reconciled recovery plan, I think we can put together the three sovereigns, the States, the tribes and the Federal Government, in equal co-management roles to implement, as soon as possible and as expeditiously as possible, the single recovery plan that will restore these fish.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. That was your No. 6, right, the three sovereigns in equal roles?
Mr. RAY. Yes, that is No. 6.
Mr. CRAPO. All right.
Mr. RAY. No. 5 is to reconcile the plans.
Mr. CRAPO. Right, thank you. Mr. Bruce.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Ray may be found at end of hearing.]
STATEMENT DR. STEVEN M. BRUCE, PRESIDENT, IDAHO STEELHEAD AND SALMON UNLIMITED
Dr. BRUCE. Representative Crapo, I would first like to thank you for holding this Subcommittee meeting here in Boise and allowing me to testify on this important issue.
My name is Steve Bruce, I am a practicing dentist in Boise and I am currently representing Idaho Salmon and Steelhead Unlimited. I am currently serving as President of this organization.
Page 130 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC ISSU is a non-profit educational, scientific and charitable organization formed in 1985 in an effort to unite all concerned citizens in the State of Idaho into one cohesive group for the purpose of restoring, protecting and preserving Idaho raised salmon and steelhead.
This past Tuesday, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced that Snake River steelhead, as well as several other west coast steelhead stocks, were being listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This has occurred in spite of the fact that NMFS listed Snake River salmon 6 years ago and has been ultimately responsible for their recovery since that time. The frustrating part of this whole scenario is that Snake River salmon and steelhead migrate, spawn and rear in the same rivers and streams and anything that is done to benefit Idaho salmon will almost always benefit Idaho steelhead as well.
While it is true that Idaho enjoyed a good return of hatchery salmon this year, it is still a fact that our wild runs are in very bad shape. The predictions for the runs the next several years are dismal, to say the least. The wild runs of steelhead are also in very critical condition. All of this is occurring while we have a NMFS administered recovery plan in place which is supposedly going to recover our salmon runs.
If a management team working for a major corporation had a track record similar to this, I have no doubt they would be replaced. We feel that it is time that NMFS be replaced.
We feel that under the current system, the best recommendations from State and tribal scientists are often ignored. A good example of this was a regional plan developed this spring by the States of Idaho, Oregon and Washington as well as the tribes. This plan called for leaving more smolts in the river to migrate to the ocean rather than be collected and trucked or barged down the river. With the abundant water we had this spring, it was felt by the scientists that leaving more fish in the river to migrate naturally would result in better returns as adults. Unfortunately, NMFS paid little attention to this plan and went about business as usualthat is, collecting and barging the majority of juvenile fish.
Page 131 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We certainly need to get away from the current system where it seems that many different entities are making decisions which sometimes are contrary to each other. With NMFS, BPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Northwest Power Planning Council, the States, the U.S. Forest Service and others, all coming up with different plans, it is no wonder we have generated literally thousands of studies, reports, et cetera while our fish continue to slide closer to extinction.
We feel that it is time that the regional experts be given the responsibility of recovering Columbia River salmon and steelhead. These experts that work for the fisheries departments of the States of Idaho, Oregon and Washington and the tribes are the best qualified for the job. These salmon managers should be responsible for all recovery efforts once the salmon enter fresh water.
It would seem logical that NMFS would retain responsibility for recovery efforts in management of salmon stocks while in the ocean. It would also seem logical that a representative from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would be part of this freshwater team. They would be able to coordinate Federal and State efforts and since they are responsible for other listed species such as bull trout, white sturgeon, grizzly bears, et cetera, it would seem that they would be the obvious choice.
The issue of the salmon cost cap is another topic that we feel needs to be discussed. We appreciate the fact that only so much money is available for salmon recovery, but we feel that the public should get an honest explanation of this cost cap. Much of the reported $450 million cost for salmon and steelhead recovery is in foregone revenue. That is, dollars that were not received because water was allowed to pass over spillways rather than through turbines.
Obviously the past 2 years of higher than normal flows have resulted in this figure for this foregone revenue being much lower than in drought years. Why has the public not heard about this? Are these dollars that were not used toward the cost cap available in low water years? When is the government also going to let the public know what the value of foregone revenue is for irrigation withdrawals, navigation locks operation, et cetera? Why is it that foregone revenue is charged only to fish and not to other water users?
Page 132 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In recent years, many millions of dollars have been spent and are proposed to be spent on the fish barging system. We feel this is a mistake and will continue the gold plating of this system, thus giving prejudice to the transportation scenario versus in-river migration when the scheduled decision is ultimately made in 1999.
Barging proponents have recently been stating that the barging is more successful than in-river migration based on early PIT-tag studies. Unfortunately, the smolt to adult return ratio of one-half of 1 percent for barged fish is far below the 2 percent ratio that the independent scientific group says is necessary to halt their decline and is not even close to the 4 to 6 percent ratio needed to restore them.
Unfortunately the National Marine Fisheries Service's claim that fish barging works is based on asking the wrong question. NMFS asked if barging and trucking worked better than leaving fish in a river made lethal by dams and slack water reservoirs. The right question is will barging and trucking salmon and steelhead ever restore fish populations as required by law and treaty and as demanded by the citizens of the Northwest. Our choice cannot be between a failed barging strategy and a lethal river, neither of which will restore the fish. The decisionmakers should be asking what fish need, under what conditions do they thrive and how can we expand those conditions.
In conclusion, I would like to thank you once again for this opportunity to speak with you today and I trust that you will make the right decisions to protect this unique resource, which has been such a special part of our Idaho heritage for many generations.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Bruce. Mr. Little.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Bruce may be found at end of hearing.]
STATEMENT OF JIM LITTLE, GRAZING PERMITTEE, IDAHO CATTLE ASSOCIATION
Page 133 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LITTLE. Thank you. Good morning, Congressman Crapo, my name is Jim Little and I am a third-generation rancher from Emmett, Idaho. I am a grazing permittee that has a forest permit to graze livestock during the summer months on Bear Valley Creek on the upper end of the middle fork of the Salmon River in the Boise National Forest. This area is prime spawning ground for the spring chinook salmon that is currently listed as endangered by the National Marine Fisheries Service. I also serve as Idaho's obligatory member on the Pacific Fisheries Management Council and I am a past chairman of the Private Property Rights and Environmental Management Committee of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
I am here today to comment on the process of dealing with the Endangered Species Act as it pertains to salmon and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The middle fork of the Salmon River has long been noted as prime spawning and rearing habitat for the wild spring chinook. It takes on additional significance because there have been no hatchery fish put into that gene pool that would dilute their significance. In the 1980's, the Forest Service put a lot of significance on the importance of enhancing and restoring stream and stream bank health and through that heightening of our awareness, we jointly developed a grazing system that would allow us to maintain an economically viable cattle operation. The spring chinook was officially listed in the early 1990's and from that time forward, our grazing in that allotment has become much less certain.
The Boise National Forest, through a commitment by then Supervisor Steve Mealey, set up an elaborate and extremely expensive monitoring system that was supposed to let them as well as us know if we were on the right track toward improving the habitat necessary for the fish to have a better hatching and rearing survival than current documentation showed. NMFS, as the agency in charge of anadromous species, became a serious impediment to the certainty that we need when making management decisions. They would delay until the very last minute giving the Forest Service an answer as to whether their planned grazing strategy had the blessing of the regulators in charge.
Page 134 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In 1996, the Elk Creek Grazing Association was denied the right to graze because Boise National Forest and NMFS could not agree on an acceptable grazing strategy. This was done through a lawsuit filed by several environmental groups on behalf of NMFS. This would be our worst nightmare, at the last minute being denied a place to graze our breeding herd during a severe down market and virtually no other options available.
In our cattle operation, as in nearly all in the west, we have a year-around plan. This plan includes summer grass that rests the winter range so that it regains vigor and has the necessary rest to sustain itself during the months of livestock use. Without that rest, the winter range becomes stressed and the pasture quality declines, as well as the wildlife habitat that goes with that land mass.
Currently, the grazing permittees in the Bear Valley Basin, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Boise Forest and the National Riparian Review Team are involved in a process to determine whether we can continue to graze in Bear Valley. On a 3-day tour this past week, the above representatives as well as a staff member from the Pacific Rivers Council and a staff person from U.S. Senator Dirk Kempthorne's office attended and we learned that nearly all of the stream banks in question were on an improving trend, which tells me that the grazing strategy that we and the Boise Forest put together and we as grazing permittees agreed to is proper. The descriptive term that is used, however, is functioning at risk, and that is not enough to satisfy the NMFS people. So the national team will be back next month to see if there is a way to give us a certainty that we either can or cannot return to Bear Valley in the future.
One suggestion by the NMFS representative was to put in 16-miles of fence in an allotment that is mainly used in the Frank Church Wilderness. This would preclude use of any mechanical equipment in that fence construction, which would make the proposed project totally cost-prohibitive and it is doubtful that this type of outlay would satisfy the regulators enough that they would give the grazer any longer term assurances and that he would be left alone.
Page 135 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One other wildcard is the reintroduction of wolves by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that could potentially harass the livestock and run them through any fence that might stand in their way.
Congressman, we have purchased these grazing permits to allow us to graze our livestock. While the U.S. Forest Service does not recognize permit value, let me assure you that the Internal Revenue Service does, and so we are left in a very uncomfortable position wondering if we will lose these assets. We have always spent money every year doing maintenance and improvements to continue to enhance the value of our allotments, but in this period of uncertainty, we are not interested in spending a dime over the bare bones minimum to get by. As an example, our log cabin needs maintenance, but if we are not given any more assurance than we currently have, I do not want to put money down a rat hole. If the agencies involved do not come to terms, I can only envision walking away from all the improvements and investment that we have put in and maintained and even though the cabin is on Valley County tax rolls, it is on U.S. Forest Service property and will have no value.
I seriously believe that the involvement of Senator Kempthorne's office has done more to get this process moving than anything else that has happened. In the past year, NMFS has given the impression that they were arrogant and would give the Forest Service an answer whenever they were good and ready and not before. This kind of lack of caring by the managing agency is one of the reasons that Senator Kempthorne is working on the reauthorizing of the Endangered Species Act to make the process function better.
In conclusion, we as permittees on the Boise Forest feel that progress is finally happening toward clarifying where we stand in regards to our future as grazers in critical habitat. Our problems are in some fashion repeated all over the northwest and we deserve reasonable certainty that we will be able to continue making a living off the land while doing our part to restore the anadromous fish runs in the northwest.
Page 136 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Little. Mr. Williams.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Little may be found at end of hearing.]
STATEMENT OF DR. RICHARD N. WILLIAMS, CHAIRMAN, INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY BOARD
Dr. WILLIAMS. Congressman Crapo, members of the Subcommittee, it is a pleasure to see you this morning and to be able to speak with you.
My name is Dr. Rick Williams, my academic and research background lies in ecology and genetics of salmon and trout species native to western North America. I serve as Chair of the ISAB, the Independent Scientific Advisory Board, and the ISRP, the Independent Scientific Review Panel, and speak to you today in that capacity.
I am going to talk today briefly about the role of science in salmon recovery, an existing scientific consensus about how to move forward on salmon recovery and finally on the need for a single regional recovery plan.
The Northwest Power Planning Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service created the ISAB in 1996 to provide scientific advice on salmon recovery issues to the Pacific Northwest. The ISRP was formed in early 1997 as a result of a Congressional amendment to the Northwest Power Act. The ISRP assists the Power Council in peer review of its fish and wildlife program and of specific projects.
The 14 members of the two science groups are all senior scientists from the United States and Canada with wide expertise in fisheries, ecology, statistics and economics. We differ from other groups of scientists in the basin due to our independent nature, our non-representational status and a consensus mode of operation.
The Northwest Power Planning Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service are committed to using the best available scientific information to guide program development for salmon recovery. Both groups have worked closely with us toward that end. Recent reviews of the Council's fish and wildlife program, be they ISAB and ISRP, which are attached to this testimony, appear to be influencing the program's future direction. Interactions between NMFS and the ISAB have also been positive to this point and indicate that our reviews are influencing their program emphasis and direction as well.
Page 137 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The positive interactions are in contrast to reactions from some agency and tribal constituents who have offered sharp criticisms of our reports, even to the point of calling for a complete rejection of the reports and dismissal of the ISAB or ISRP. Although the region has uniformly advocated using peer review and the best available science to guide program development and implementation, to do so is clearly a difficult task with hard choices that may affect many traditional fisheries management actions and programs.
To a great degree, salmon recovery actions within the region have been forestalled by a continuing intractable debate that centers unnecessarily on scientific uncertainty or a perception of disagreement among scientists. The focus of the debate needs to shift to implementation of recovery actions in areas where scientific consensus exists and to the design of specific research projects that resolve issues where disagreement or uncertainty exist.
Recent reviews of the salmon problem by the ISAB, a National Research Council panel and others identify substantial areas of scientific consensus where the region could move forward on effective restoration actions.
The Northwest Power Act of 1981 and the Endangered Species Act form the basis for regional salmon recovery efforts. The Northwest Power Act suggests a broad perspective calling for the river to be treated as a system and addresses broad-scale problems resulting from hydro-electric development. In contrast, the ESA focuses more narrowly on restoration of specific populations listed under the Act, although it includes all factors affecting these populations, not just hydropower development. Consequently, the restoration programs of the Council and NMFS are not well-coordinated. Additionally, the emergency nature of actions under the ESA has resulted in near abandonment of the broader regional restoration objectives of the Council's program. However, the perspective of the two laws and goals of the two administering organizations are not incompatible and indeed, should be complementary.
Measurable progress toward regional salmon recovery is unlikely with the existence of several recovery plans which compete for limited funds. The region needs a single salmon recovery plan that encompasses the differing needs of the Power Act, the ESA, as well as treaty obligations to the tribes. A single plan must additionally have the support of all constituents in the basin in order to have the political support necessary for it to persist and to provide a likelihood of success. The plan must also be based on the best available science. Too often political pressure and compromise has led to implementation of less viable alternatives that not surprisingly fail to achieve the desired objectives.
Page 138 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A recovery plan based on the best available science, backed by the support of all regional constituents, and implemented with rigorous monitoring and evaluation, would be a powerful force for salmon recovery. The architecture for such a recovery program is in place. Scientific and technical groups such as the ISAB, the ISRP and PATH have already identified and can continue to identify the best scientific information and analyses to aid and guide salmon recovery efforts.
The role of the Northwest Power Planning Council in guiding implementation of salmon recovery measures has recently been expanded through the Congressional amendment to the Power Act. Ongoing ESA listings argue that NMFS' role in implementing actions to recover weak stocks will continue to increase. Therefore, it seems paramount that a forum be identified whereby the recovery goals of the Council's fish and wildlife program, NMFS' ESA driven actions and tribal obligations can become complementary parts of a single unified salmon recovery program.
The biggest challenge facing the region is not the biological uncertainties associated with salmon recovery efforts, but is whether the region is willing to face the fact that we can no longer have our cake and eat it too. Restoration of fish and wildlife in the Columbia River Basin will require difficult decisions and will test whether the region's policymakers, elected officials and management institutions can find the political will and strength necessary to endorse and implement a scientifically sound salmon recovery program.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Williams may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Williams, and I thank all of the members of the panel for their testimony.
As I did before, I want to go through with each of you just a couple of specific questions and then have a discussion with the panel on some of the issues that have been presented.
Page 139 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. Casavant, you indicated, as have some of the others, that for all practical purposes, NMFS runs the Columbia River. Am I correct about that?
Mr. CASAVANT. The direct components and the hydro operations, that is correct.
Mr. CRAPO. And is that essentially because NMFS basically has the ability to control the biological opinion and the other operating agencies, for one reason or another, comply?
Mr. CASAVANT. That is correct, under the existing statutes.
Mr. CRAPO. Mr. Williams just indicated that there is not necessarily a conflict between the Northwest Power Planning Act and the Endangered Species Act, but that we need to moveand I do not want to put words in Mr. Williams' mouth, but we need to move toward a system in which those acts are more effectively operated together.
I take your testimony to say that you do not believe that the Northwest Power Planning Council has sufficient authority in terms of the management decisions that need to be made with regard to fish and wildlife and hydropower management, is that correct?
Mr. CASAVANT. That is correct, and in two ways, Congressman.
Mr. CRAPO. Would you please elaborate?
Mr. CASAVANT. The first is that the relationship of the Power Council to the operating agencies has always been one of almost advisory capacity where the operating agencies, the BPA, are to take into account our program. But we have always had the responsibility but not specific authority to call forth the full implementation of our fish and wildlife program.
Secondly, relative to NMFS, we are looking at the entire Columbia and Snake River basin, we want to restore, rebuild, protect, mitigate, enhance throughout that region. At times, the activities concerned with saving the listed stocks may create conflicts with resident fish up river or in other areas, or non-listed anadromous fish.
Page 140 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. You just said at times that conflict occurs. Does that happen regularly?
Mr. CASAVANT. The potential always exists. Periodically, whether it is impacts of hydro operations on Lake Roosevelt Reservoir in my State or in the two storage dams in Montana, we think we do see impacts on resident fish, whether through entrainment or nutrient retention times.
Mr. CRAPO. Okay, and Mr. Ray, if you could take the microphone for a minute.
Mr. RAY. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. You also indicatedand I just wanted to make sure I understood this correctlyyou also indicated that you believed essentially for 20 years or so in one way or another, but especially since the Endangered Species listing that National Marine Fisheries Service has effectively controlled the management of the river; is that correct?
Mr. RAY. I do not believe they have been very effective in managing the river at all. If so, we would not be here today.
Mr. CRAPO. But that they have, for all practical purposes, controlled the management of the river.
Mr. RAY. I believe in reality, the river is still controlled by the Bonneville Power Administration and the Corps of Engineers.
Mr. CRAPO. And how do you square that with your comments as well as those of Dr. Casavant with regard to the influence that NMFS has over the management and control of the river?
Mr. RAY. I believe NMFS has some influence. NMFS makes suggestions. I think the bottom line, when it comes right down to it, the Corps does what it wants to and NMFS is seldom able to buck what the Corps wants to do. That is why I believe that Congress could exert a great deal of influence by clarifying the authorization of these dams on the lower Snake and Columbia Rivers to make the Corps a little more amenable to changes that are necessary to restore these fish. And it needs to be done quickly too.
Page 141 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. All right. And you gave six recommendations in your testimony.
Mr. RAY. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. In your recommendation No. 2, you indicated that NMFS must eliminate its juvenile fish barging program and return the fish to a significantly less lethal river and you stated that there was very little evidence in support of NMFS' current emphasis on barging. It is my understandingand again, NMFS is going to be able to testify later today about thisbut it is my understanding that NMFS' contention is that given the current status of information we have, that the barged salmon return more effectively than the salmon which were not barged, do you have a comment on that?
Mr. RAY. I believe NMFS can probably trot out some numbers to that effect and whether or not they are scientifically validprobably Dr. Williams would be a better judge of that.
Mr. CRAPO. I am going to ask him too.
Mr. RAY. But I have never seen NMFS or anybody else come forth with any kind ofnot a single shred of evidence that indicates that barging can achieve a 2 to 6 percent smolt to adult ratio that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and I believe the PATH members concur is necessary to restore these fish runs.
Mr. CRAPO. Do we have datawere you finished?
Mr. RAY. Pardon me?
Mr. CRAPO. Were you finished?
Mr. RAY. Yes, I am.
Mr. CRAPO. Do we have data onor significant dataand by the way, I am going to come back to you with these questions, Mr. Williams, so remind me to ask them to you if I forget. But do we have data on the effective returns of fish who are allowed to go through basically the spill program that the State of Idaho was proposing to be studied more effectively in the last proposal? Here is the question I am getting at. The National Marine Fisheries Service indicates that the current data they have show that the barged fish return more effectively. What I understood you to just say and what I understand Dr. Bruce to be saying also is that we do not have data on a river that is more normative and I understand that, but do we havethere has been a debate over whether to spill fish or whether to barge fish. Do we have data on the spill issue? Do you see what I am asking?
Page 142 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RAY. Yes, I do see what you are asking. If my recollection is correct, Harza Engineering put forth some preliminary work on that and it had to do with fish thatjuvenile fish, PIT-tag juvenile fish that were not detected anywhere down the system, which presumably means they were spilled going down the river, compared to those same fish coming back as adults. If my recollection is correct, Harza concluded that those fish come back fairly successfully. The numbers I do not remember.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Before I forget these questions, Dr. Williams, let me move to you for just a moment, and we will come back to you, Mr. Ray.
Dr. WILLIAMS. I could just follow up on what Charlie is talking about.
Mr. CRAPO. Why do you not just follow up on that line of questioning.
Dr. WILLIAMS. I think several things are being confused here. The first item is that yes, NMFS does have data that appear to be scientifically valid that now show, based on this year's returning class of fish, using the current PIT-tag technology, about a two-to-one benefit ratio of transported to in-river passage. So the simple answer is yes, it looks like the transported fish have a higher survival. But that is not to sayand I think that is the point that Charlie was trying to get atthat that level is sufficient to lead to restoration. It still does not get us to the 2 to 6 percent return, adult return rate that is necessary for restoration. And many people in the region tend to confuse those two points.
The second thing is the discussion about spill and the Harza data do indicate, and our own analysis that the ISG did in Return to the River, was that spill is in fact the most benign method of passage for juveniles around a hydro projectover it, I guess it would actually be. But a fish left to move down the river in-river will not necessarily go around each dam by spill. They can also possibly go through the turbines, through the bypass systems and there are, in many instances, dam-specific higher mortalities associated with those alternate routes of passage.
Page 143 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So to simplistically talk about fish that are better off in-river versus the dams confounds the different routes of passage that in-river fish can have through the projects, some of which are benign and many of which are not. We have had a very hard time as a region gathering data on those routes of passage until the advent of the PIT-tag technology, which you and I had a chance to see at Lower Granite, and that information, particularly as we move forward in installing additional PIT-tag detectors throughout the system, we should gain considerably more insight into mortalities associated with various routes of passage.
Mr. CRAPO. Well, here is the question that I am trying to get straight in my mind, because I have these conversations with different pointspeople with different points of view on what is the best route of passage. And as you know, in the Idaho plan or Idaho policy, there was significant consensus that we should do more spilling. NMFS did not agree with that, and if I understand their position correctly, it is because of this two to one ratio that they have showing that bargingbarged fish return better. The question I have is is the two-to-one ratio, barging versus spilled fish? You are saying no. Could you explain that?
Dr. WILLIAMS. No. Again, it gets back to, it is the comparison of those transported versus those that have gone in-river. And as I just commented, in-river could be spill, turbine passage, bypass system passage, and both turbine and bypass passage in many instances are particularly tough on smolts.
Mr. CRAPO. Did I hear you say that it is your opinion that the most benign form of passage of a facility is spill?
Dr. WILLIAMS. Yes. However
Mr. CRAPO. However, you cannot make sure that all fish are spilled at all dams?
Dr. WILLIAMS. Yes, that is part of it and then the other thing is that in high to higher water years, as several of the last years have been, gas saturation starts to buildup as spill builds up. So there is clearly a fine point, probably in the mid-range of flows, where spill is the optimum route of passage. At low water years, bypass around the facilities is difficult for the smolts, period. There is not enough water to spill and so the fish are faced with either turbine bypass, going through the bypass systems or the barge transportation system. At very high water, we get gas saturation levels at some facilities that will reach 140 to 145 percent. There is great argument in the region right now about what level smolts can withstand but there is general agreement that anything over 125 and certainly levels up toward 140 are lethal.
Page 144 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. So tell me if I can correctly restate what I am learning here. In your opinion, if we could assure that all fish were spilled at all dams, that would be preferable to barging the fish.
Dr. WILLIAMS. Assuming it was within the
Mr. CRAPO. And assuming the gas levelswere within the right saturated gas levels.
Dr. WILLIAMS. Right. And indeed the new work on surface collectors is built on that premise, that we need to find a mechanical means of increasing the ability of smolts to find the spill bypass route.
Mr. CRAPO. Do you believe we should continue the effort on the surface collector research?
Dr. WILLIAMS. At this point, yes, but neither I or any of our group have seen any of this year's data. Reading the summary statements from Mr. Stelle's testimony, it appears that the results from the first 2 years were not very promising, but it is based on a sound biological premise and at least the preliminary data that I saw this spring during a site visit, were very encouraging. So that needs to be followed with very rigorous monitoring and evaluation of whether those systems are worth what they are costing us in terms of time and money.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Now I do not know whether you are in a position where it is proper for you to take a position or whether you have already done this, but I will ask you and you can tell me whether you feel that it is beyond your prerogative at this point, but have you taken a position on the Idaho policy that the State of Idaho worked out with Governor Batt?
Dr. WILLIAMS. No, we have not.
Mr. CRAPO. Are there any studies that try to resolve this flow survival relationship that are currently underway?
Page 145 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. WILLIAMS. No, although there has been a great deal of discussion, of course, about the need for that and we have had discussions with both Council members, Council staff and NMFS staff about the need for it. It has been intimated that the ISAB would be asked to try and help reach resolution on the flow issues. We have some new analyses we have been doing ourselves while we are trying to finalize publication of Return to the River. But we have not had a formal request to try and resolve that issue and no one else, to my mindPATH probably has done a great deal of work on that issue as well, but it has not been definitively looked at.
Mr. CRAPO. And is there any effort to develop data regarding managing hatchery stocks versus the wild fish?
Dr. WILLIAMS. Actually there have been a number of efforts, including some of our own work, to try and address those, but there has yet to be a good comprehensive review and evaluation of hatcheries and their impacts on wild stocks. Such a review would help define howwhat we might expect to gain from hatcheries, how viable supplementation is, whether it is viable at a large scale, as envisioned by some people, and should provide considerable guidance for future use of hatcheries. It is my understanding that language calling for that kind of a review is in Congressional appropriations language at this moment.
Mr. CRAPO. Well, that gets to one of my questions. With regard to both the question of the flow survival relationship and then the hatchery versus wild fish studies, why are we not doing those studies?
Dr. WILLIAMS. Well, from a very literal point of view representing the groups that I chair, we have not been asked to. But that probably begs the larger question. I think we are on the verge of doing both of those. I think the hatchery one, actually there is enough interest in the region, particularly with the really profound failure of the draft programmatic EIS earlier this year to address those issues, I suspect that the region will call for a comprehensive review of artificial production, whether Congress mandates it or not.
Page 146 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Well, who needs to ask for those studies to be undertaken?
Dr. WILLIAMS. Again, it depends on what level. Certainly the language, the Congressional appropriations language I have seen so far, if passed, would be more than adequate to get that hatchery review, the artificial production review rolling. As far as the way our independent science groups work, formal requests for reviews or participation come to us from either the Council or NMFS, and either one of those authorities could ask us to undertake or supervise or broker a review of those subject areas.
Mr. CRAPO. And then would they provide the funding for it if they requested the study?
Dr. WILLIAMS. Yes, it comes out of the larger salmon cap and some of the money that funds our group anyway.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. You want to hand the microphone back to Mr. Ray? I interrupted, did you want to add anything further to what we were discussing, Mr. Ray?
Mr. RAY. Just a bit, still on that subject. I do not think NMFS is willing to put down barging on its own. And I think as long as barging is the treatment of choice down there on the river, needed change is not going to happen. So in order to facilitate change and to get us away from the status quo, I think it is quite appropriate and quite timely for Congress to put an end to barging, either through legislation or through the budget process, because I do not think any of the Federal agencies are going to do it on their own.
Mr. CRAPO. And I wanted to go to your No. 3 request, which wasone of the subparts of that, if I read it correctly, was that you do not believe there has been adequate disclosure of the specific details of the improved transportation alternatives.
Page 147 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RAY. Not at allnot at all. Nobody has ever told me what comprises improved transportation, what smolt to adult ratios can be expected with improved transportation and what evidence exists today to indicate that improved transportation might achieve those SARs. It is a big unknown. We know a lot about breaching dams, we know all the horror stories that can be generated. We do not know anything about improved transportation.
Mr. CRAPO. And I understand your statement here to be that there are several alternatives that NMFS is looking at, and that alternative, you do not have the information to know what it is they are evaluating.
Mr. RAY. No, and I have not been able to get that information, even at the hearing that occurred a couple of months ago in Lewiston, COL Griffin went into great details about the breach option and then he made a very cursory mention of the improved transportation option and I guess the third option is the status quo, just to continue to let these fish dwindle to extinction. That is the only three options I have seen on the table. And nobody has ever been able to tell me or show me specifically exactly what they mean by improved transportation. How much more Idaho water does it take, what results will it achieve and what evidence indicates that those results are achievable.
Mr. CRAPO. Is it your opinion that the transportation approach, the barging approach, will require more Idaho water than other alternativesthan the other alternatives?
Mr. RAY. Oh, absolutely. And I think that has been demonstrated quite well in the past few years. You know, if it is truly better to take the fish out of the lethal river and to remove them from this environment that is definitely killing them, then why do we need the 427,000 acre-feet in the first place? Is it simply to get them through lower Granite Reservoir? I do not think so. Why do we have flow targets that NMFS makes a minimal effort to achieve on some days in some seasons? Why do we even have flow targets if NMFS' policy, which they demonstrated quite readily, their policy is to barge every single fish they can catch. If we are taking them out of the river, why do we need to put more water in the river?
Page 148 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. I want to go into your No. 5 and No. 6 issues, but I want to do that in terms of the broad discussion we have.
Mr. RAY. Okay.
Mr. CRAPO. So I would like to go to Mr. Bruce right now.
Mr. Bruce, you and your organization supported the Idaho policy, is that correct?
Dr. BRUCE. Yes, we did.
Mr. CRAPO. In your testimony, you indicated that you thought a more accurate explanation of the cost cap should be made available to the public in terms of what foregone revenue it really is and I understand you to be also saying that you felt that that concept is applicable to more than simply fish. Correct?
Dr. BRUCE. What I am saying is I have had, over the years, I have had a lot of people comment to me and say gosh, $450 million is a lot of money to spend on salmon and we are not getting very good results. And I agree it is a lot of money. But I think people need to understand that it is not $450 million in hard dollars actually and they need to know what the foregone revenue is. In the last couple of years there has been very little discussion about it, but I do not think that that foregone revenue amounted to nearly $450 million or whatever the amount was before. I think the public needs to know that. That is my concern.
Mr. CRAPO. Do you believe that the concept of foregone revenue as applied to power is a proper concept in terms of evaluating or making management decisions on the river? And I want to give you a little more explanation of what I am saying. You could use foregone revenue in terms ofyou said yourself, you could use foregone revenue in terms of fish, which is being done, or you could use it in terms of irrigation or transportation or I suppose you could use it in terms of power, if that water were being taken away from some other use that could generate revenue. Is the decision to utilize it for power purposes a proper utilization of that concept?
Page 149 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. BRUCE. Well I guess I think that if we are going to talk about foregone revenue, we should apply it towe are using it for fish and power purposes, but we also should talk about water that goes out for irrigation, for drinking water, that goes through the navigation locks, et cetera. It seems that right now, the only user in the river that is charged is the fish, yet there is a lot of other water that goes out for other purposes that does not get charged.
Mr. CRAPO. Have you seen any studies or are you aware of any group that has done a study to evaluate those other uses of that concept?
Dr. BRUCE. I cannot say that I have, no.
Mr. CRAPO. Are you aware of any efforts to try to make barging salmon more successful? This gets back a little bit to the discussion Mr. Ray and I were having about not knowing the details of what is the improved barging alternative.
Dr. BRUCE. I also do not know what their improved barging alternative is. I have heard about it, I have heard it talked about. I assume that the surface collectors, newer, better barges, but I am of the same opinion, that after 20 years of barging these fish, we have not been successful and I do not think we are going to restore this fish by barging these fish, no matter how improved it is at this point in time.
Mr. CRAPO. Now I have been a big supporter of the surface collector. Do you support the surface collector research?
Dr. BRUCE. I guess I could perhaps support the research, but at this point in time, from what I understand, as Dr. Williams said, it does not seem like they have been terribly successful and I have a concern that no matter what you do with surface collectors or whatever, once you collect and handle these fish, particularly the salmon smolts, I do not know that we fully understand what this handling does as far as stress and so forth. Just that handling alone and collecting them, running through tubes and so forth, how does that affect their chances for survival? I do not know that we understand.
Page 150 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. The reason I have supported surface collection is because it seems to me thatand I just want you to comment on this with meit seems to me that it is a technology which, if successful would enable us to move in any direction in terms of where the fish would need to be guided in the river. That could include using it for spill, could beI assume it could be used for barging, which it is now being used for or some other alternatives if something else came up. The question I have is, it is my understanding that Idaho Steelhead and Salmon Unlimitedand I do not want to speak for the group, so you need to clarify this for me if it is not the organization's position, but it is their concern that the surface collection devices have been being researched and developed only for the purposes of facilitating barging, and that that is a strong concern about the continued research and utilization of those facilities.
Dr. BRUCE. That is a concern, we are concerned that if they continue to put millions of dollars into surface collectors and new barges and so forth that that will prejudice that 1999 decision. But I guess that I am concerned that even if we have effective surface collectors and we are able to decide if we want to put those fish in a barge or if we want to spill them, in low water years, I am still concerned that we are not going to have enough flow through those slack water reservoirs, even though we have spilled those fish, for them to have good survival rates, without having to try to take so much Idaho water, which we do not agree with, and I do not think there is enough Idaho water to achieve that flow and that velocity that is necessary.
Mr. CRAPO. So you are saying the surface collector would not really work anyway in those circumstances?
Dr. BRUCE. I do not personally think that in those low water years, it would be very effective in that circumstance.
Mr. CRAPO. Dr. Williams, could you respond to that as well? On the surface collector; first of all, is the surface collector a good idea for facilitating effective spill?
Page 151 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. WILLIAMS. It could be and it has looked promising. I would not, I guess, be overly concerned about the lack of really positive results the first couple of years. I am concerned about it, I do not want to make light of it, but it seems that with every new technology we step into, there is a much steeper learning curve than we typically anticipate and it takes a lot more fine-tuning, a lot more time, a lot more dollars to fine tune it, and our visit to Wells Dam really highlighted that for me. It is now the icon that the rest of the basin holds up for benignly spilling smolts and achieving, what is it, 90 percent passage of smolts with 3 percent of the water coming in? But it took them 20 years to fine tune it to get it to that point. And I would agree with Charlie that we do not have 20 years right now to do that. So I guess it is a cautious endorsement but it is an endorsement that needs to be followed up by rigorous evaluation and if a year or two from now no promise is being observed, we will be right at that 1999 decision point.
Mr. CRAPO. Dr. Casavant, do you have an opinion on the surface collector issue? Do you want to add anything?
Mr. CASAVANT. I would just like to add that Wells is the prototype, Wells project, works very well there. It has been tried at the Rocky Reach Dam and the Wanapan Dam for the last 2 years with varying results. Both of those projects had enough positive results that the PODs decided to continue on with the effort. Along with Rick, I am a little concerned with not very positive response first couple of years, but I also believe that it took us a longer time to learn about other technologies, it will take us time to test and reshape this.
Mr. CRAPO. All right, thank you. Why do you not hand it down to Mr. Little. I do not mean to leave you totally out of this discussion, Jim.
Mr. LITTLE. I have been busy passing this microphone back and forth.
Page 152 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. I just want to clarify and make very obvious, there is no question in your mind that the Idaho Cattle Association strongly supports salmon and steelhead recovery.
Mr. LITTLE. Oh, yes, that is correct.
Mr. CRAPO. And can your livestock operations coexist with a properly implemented anadromous fish restoration project?
Mr. LITTLE. I hope so. This team that is reviewing what we are doing now, I think will probably come up with something, and at least three of the people that are participating in it are in the room now and it is a pretty in-depth process and I think it can be. I think with the improving trend, I think the Forest Service has done a lot of work and we haveand the monitoring costs, you know, they are really exorbitant it seems, but it is the only way we are going to know. And I think that they are showing that we are coexisting. I am real concerned about the take provisions, that we got zero take tolerance. As I said in my testimony, the feds have decided to have an experimental population of wolves and we have got three of them hanging around our cow camp and we have not had any documented losses, but we are sure exasperated by it and if they get to pursuing this cattle, about any structures we put up to try to keep the cattle away to have a zero take, will not mean much.
Mr. CRAPO. It sounded to me from your written as well as your oral testimony that a significant part of the concern that you raised dealt with process as much as substance of whatever the recovery plan might be. Am I correct about that?
Mr. LITTLE. Yes, and again, it seemed like for so many years that we needed an answer, because as I said in the testimony, we have a year-round operation and if we find out we cannot go at the last minute, we are in a desperate situation because in a State that is 70 percent owned by either the Federal or the State government, there is not a lot of alternative economic ways of managing livestock other than through summer grazing. And so we have been hung out lots of times until the middle of June and while we get assurances from the District ranger, he is a small part of this thing. There is an awful lot going on that he does not have a clue about. So we just have to wait until the Fisheries Service makes a decision and that is what we thought was the process it turned out, it was not. The USFS would submit the next year's plan in December and we would not get answers, and we thought there was some sort of response time, but we found out that under existing law that was not the case, and it sure left us hung out and we are still terribly uncertain as to whether we can go from one year to the next. And fence maintenance, we just do the minimum. We just do not want to put money into this thing and then be just starved out of it, and that is our concern.
Page 153 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Well the concerns you raise are very consistent and similar to concerns that I get from a number of those in the cattle and wool growing industries who talk with me through the Second Congressional District, and the concerns generally areI want you to tell me if I am right about this and to comment on it furtherthe concerns are that in working with the managing agency, whether it be the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, that they generally have been able to work things out with whatever the requirements were, but that then they were not able to get finality until approval from the National Marine Fisheries Service, and that that approval in some cases never came or came after very long delays and no time lines that anyone was bound by or made aware of or required to follow. And it just seemed as though when the answer came, the answer came and that was what you were going to get.
Is that what you are trying todid I correctly restate the experience you have had?
Mr. LITTLE. Yes, you did. And that has been our frustration because in my brief tenure on the Pacific Fisheries Council, I realized that NMFS has a full plate of issues to deal with on the ocean side of the issue, and this is a new area for them moving this far in-river, to suddenly be the managing agency and I think in their defense, that has been part of the problem. But how they have handled it has been, as far as I am concerned, less than exemplary. And that has been my great frustration with the way this process has gone.
Mr. CRAPO. So when we talk about the process for making decisions on the broader scale of how you decide how to govern the river, a specific part of that is that we need to, right down on the ground, so to speak, where we are making decisions about permit operations and so forth, we need to have some time line requirements, we need to have some finality and some fairness to the process.
Mr. LITTLE. That is what I feel. You know, from a historical standpoint, the country that I graze in was used and abused for a lot of years and way before the advent of the Forest Service, and then as we got to looking at the process, we were concerned about the uplands, and so we put our emphasis on trying to design a grazing system to make the watershed healthier and not realizing the importance of the riparian areas. And that has been the learning curve for everybody in the agency, the society of range management and everybody else. And so, there is times we feel like we are being put upon for maybe the unknown sins of our forefathers and we are trying to do the right thing and, you know, this is something that we really work toward, but we sometimes get a bum rap.
Page 154 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. All right, thank you. I have a couple more questions for Dr. Williams and then I want to get to the general discussion.
Dr. Williams, there are some questions I want to ask you, I think you have already answered it to some extent in our previous discussion, but is there sufficient scientific consensus for us to move ahead and do as Mr. Ray and many others have suggested, and that is consolidate all the different competing recovery plans and move ahead?
Dr. WILLIAMS. I believe so. There are two clear recovery plans. One is the Fish and Wildlife Program of the Council, the other is the Biological Opinion, the suite of documents that NMFS oversees, which is the forthcoming Snake River recovery plan, the Biological Opinion, so forth. And then there is also the tribal plan and then a number of other more specialized, smaller scale plans. They have strong themes in common and these emerge from some of the other reviews and other symposiums on the salmon problem. Everyone recognizes the problems with habitat and the hydropower system. There are areas of strong contention and disagreement and uncertainty and certainly our discussion this morning highlights one of them and that is transportation. Another one is the need for flow augmentation and flow survival relationships. Another critical uncertainty is the role of artificial production, and indeed that is probably the area that the tribal plan differs the most from the other plans.
So we can move forward on areas that we know there is agreement on problems, and whata lot of what Mr. Little just talked about reflects our increasing understanding of habitat problems, riparian problems, the needs for fish, those areas. We can design research to tackle the other issues.
It is not going to be a simple task at all to create a single unified plan that all the constituents buy into, but it is my strong belief along with all of my group that the region cannot move forward on salmon recovery without a single plan that everyone can get behind.
Page 155 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. You indicate in your testimony thatwell you talked about both the ISAB and the ISRP. I understand the genesis of both of those science groups. Is their membership significantly the same?
Dr. WILLIAMS. Eight of the ISAB members currently serve on the ISRP.
Mr. CRAPO. And how many members are there on the ISRP?
Dr. WILLIAMS. There are actually 11 members in each group, so there is a total of 14 people involved, 8 shared members.
Mr. CRAPO. So there is significant overlap.
Dr. WILLIAMS. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. Do they have essentially different functions?
Dr. WILLIAMS. The charges of the groups differ. The ISAB is largely a review and technical body that provides assistance usually on requests from topics by either NMFS or the Power Council. The ISRP actually does not interact with NMFS at all, it is a creature of the Councilnot a creature of the Council, but an advisory body to the Council formed by the recent amendment to the Power Act, with a much more specific charge than the ISAB, and its charge is to review the fish and wildlife program and its related projects.
Mr. CRAPO. Okay, and getting to the areas of consensus that you identified in your testimony, your first point was that salmon decline comes from many causes and there is no silver bullet. Many people say that given the fact that there are many possible causes, there is one source of the decline that is much larger than any other source, namely the dams. Is that correct?
Dr. WILLIAMS. I believe so, particularly for Snake Basin stocks. However, there is an emerging opinion and a heated debate about the role of ocean productivity in that as well, and that is a legitimate debate. But to ascribe the salmon's problem completely to the dams or completely to ocean productivity is an over simplification of it.
Page 156 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. And you have probably heard of the 4 H'sharvest, habitat, hydropower, and what am I forgetting?
Dr. WILLIAMS. Of course. Hatcheries.
Mr. CRAPO. Are those 4 H's still a pretty good general approach to what the issues are in salmon recovery?
Dr. WILLIAMS. They actually are. I know our groupthey have become such icons in the way we view the river that they have almost become trite in some ways and yet our group struggled to actually find a different approach to the salmon problem and that is a pretty good approach. It captures a lot of the problems. The one really strong point I would like to make though, as we talked earlier today about comprehensive review of artificial production and subsequent reform of our use of hatcheries. That will be a fairly pointless exercise if we do not do harvest reform at the same time, because the harvest management drives the hatchery program in the basin.
Mr. CRAPO. I am working on trying to get a hearing on that issue specifically, but we will do that in another hearing probably, hopefully.
For both Dr. Casavant and you, Dr. Williams, it seems to me that so much of what National Marine Fisheries Service seems to be focused on and doing in its proposals assumes the current configuration of the dams. And I guess the question I have is do you think our region in developing a salmon proposal should assume the current configuration of the dams?
Dr. WILLIAMS. I do not believe that, nor do the other members on the ISAB. In fact, when you boil it all down, if we are going to maintain the status quo, particularly in the lower Snake, which is what a lot of this discussion is focused on, transportation probablythe National Research Council panel that reviewed the salmon problem probably said it best. They said that basically in the status quo, transportation is probably the best option fish have to get down the river alive. However, the transportation system alone will not bring about salmon recovery. So the bottom line of that is if we are not willing to change the river in a fairly major way, we probably are going to lose the salmon in Idaho.
Page 157 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. And before I go to you, Dr. Casavant, let me followup. Your second point in the consensus that you believe that science has now given us says that the replacement of salmon or salmon habitat by artificial means such as artificial propagation and supplementation has in many cases not lived up to its expectations. In spite of individual and minor successes the current approach to salmon recovery has failed to reverse or even halt the decline of salmon.
I assume that what you are saying there is thatwhat you just said, that the current focus on transportation, without other changes in the configuration of the river, of the dams and the management of the river, will not result in salmon recovery.
Dr. WILLIAMS. That is correct.
Mr. CRAPO. Will it cause the extinction or will it ultimately result in extinction?
Dr. WILLIAMS. Don Chapman probably put it best, he said it is going to slow extinction.
Mr. CRAPO. It will slow extinction down but not make extinctionbut not stop extinction.
Dr. WILLIAMS. That is correct.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. Could you hand the microphone to Dr. Casavant. Doctor, the same question, if you would, please.
Mr. CASAVANT. First, I assume that Will Stelle will talk about it, but I am not so sure that NMFS has assumed the configuration of the dams will not change.
Mr. CRAPO. That is a fair comment and I am sure he will correct me on that.
Mr. CASAVANT. The 1999 decision will be in front of us and they are in the range of possibilities. I personally do not think we had better assume that no changes will occur to the dams, whether it be breaching or lowering of some of the pools behind those dams. If we eliminate all those off the table scientifically and as management folks, we have greatly narrowed the possibility or the options that are available to us.
Page 158 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Now let us clarify here, this does not necessarily mean bypassing the dams.
Mr. CASAVANT. You mean as in breaching?
Mr. CRAPO. Breaching, yeah.
Mr. CASAVANT. No. Let us see, that is an option that is out there obviously, but the configuration of the dams that people really are talking about is either lowering or drawing them down either on the Snake and/or John Day pool on the lower Columbia.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Back to you, Mr. Williams, I am sorry to keepyes, go ahead.
Mr. CASAVANT. If I might while I have this great microphone here, on the hatcheries and production, the Council is currently and will be finalizing probably at our next Council meeting a task force, a regional task force to look at hatcheries and production and its relation to the wild stocks. The Fish and Wildlife Committee has been working on this for 4 or 5 months. Now it has been spurred on by the report of the ISRP that says a regional assessment, not just of those that are under the BPA dollar mandate, but all of the hatcheries in the region should be undertaken. Then the potential appropriations language further pushes in that area, so we will in the next months, let us say, be scoping and developing a task force on hatcheries and wild stock interaction.
Mr. CRAPO. All right, thank you and I appreciate that. One last question to Dr. Williams and then we will go to this broader discussion. Doctor, your last paragraph states that the biggest challenge facing the region is not the biological uncertainties associated with salmon recovery efforts, but whether the region is willing to face the fact that we cannot have our cake and eat it too. What do you mean bydescribe what you mean by having our cake and eating it too.
Dr. WILLIAMS. Basically the status quo. You asked Charlie an interesting question earlier today. You asked if he felt NMFS had been running the river for the previous 20 years. And what I think he said was no, but probably in the last 6 since the listings. What has been running the river for the last 20 years is largely economic industrial status quo in the basin and the fish have generally taken the hit and that is really why we are all here today and why we are in the situation we are with all the increased listings. So that is essentially what I meant by that statement, is that we are going to have to changeif we sincerely want fish back and we commit to having a salmon recovery program that is based and driven by the best available science, we clearly cannot keep using the river the way we have been.
Page 159 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. All right, and that gets me to the discussion that I would like to pursue, right back to Mr. Ray's proposal but that does not mean anybody else cannot have input or a proposal or suggestion, but Mr. Ray, you suggested that beforeif I understood your point 5 and point 6 correctly, it was that yes, Congress should figure out a process of decisionmaking, but before it does that, we should have our current salmon managers reconcile the three plans into one. Am I correct about
Mr. RAY. Yes, that is correct. And I want to clarify something. I do not thinkwell, to go back to point 5, I think I agree that it is essential that we have one unified plan, that is a scientifically derived plan, not a politically derived plan, but a scientifically derived plan. What these fish need, what has to happen to keep the promises, to restore the runs. Then in order not to decide whether or not we are going to implement the plan, but to decide how we are going to implement the plan, we need the three sovereigns, in my opinionthe States, the Federal Government and the tribeseach with an equal seat at the table, to figure out not whether to implement the plan as the prior Council spent the last 17 years deciding whether to do something, not how to do it but whether to do it. NMFS does the same thing. After we have the plan on the table, we do not decide whether to do it, we know we are going to do it, we decide how best to do it in the most expeditious manner.
Mr. CRAPO. And do you believe it is possible to reconcile the three plans into one plan, given the current decisionmaking process under which we are operating?
Mr. RAY. No, I do not. I do not think the current decisionmaking process is going to reconcile anything.
Mr. CRAPO. Anybody else want to comment on that, or what I would like to do is throw it open right now on the issue of what should Congress do, if anything, to identify a path forward, and I am assuming we are talking about a decisionmaking process here.
Mr. RAY. Since I have got this microphone in my hand, I want to step back to something that does have a bearing on this question that is on the table right now.
Page 160 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think NMFS does have a pretty good idea what they are going to do in 1999. I think they are foreclosing alternatives really quickly and in order for you and for Congress to find out really what NMFS intends to do in 1999, I think you need to follow the dead fish and follow the money. The biological opinion that we have on the table right now, which is the trial run for the NMFS recovery plan, allows 24 to 86 percent of juvenile sockeye to be killed at the dams, 24 to 86 percent of juvenile spring and summer chinook and 62 to 99 percent of fall chinook. It allows the CorpsNMFS says it is okay, Corps, for you to kill all these fish, and even if you do kill all these fish, it does not jeopardize the species. That is the trail of dead fish you should look at.
The second thing you should look at is the trail of money. The Corps' 5 year spending plan devotes nearly $500 million to measures almost solely capital expense measures that are intended to almost solely complement the transportation program only. And NMFS has given its blessing to this Corps spending plan.
So to me, it is fairly obvious where NMFS is heading.
Mr. CRAPO. Hence your recommendation about Congressional action in that area.
Mr. RAY. Absolutely. Thank you.
Mr. CRAPO. Dr. Casavant, did you want to
Mr. CASAVANT. Well, I suggested in my testimony, both the written and the oral, that what we are after is indeed a mutually agreed upon plan in the region. Then that plan is implemented by the authorities under their existing statute of rights and obligations. But within that, and here is where Charlie and I might split the sheets a little bit, in the process, the economic, social and commercial folks have to be brought into the process, whether it is by the State governments through their State representatives or through an open public policy discussion such as the power counsel has. I am the only remaining person who voted for the 1994 fish and wildlife program. That was DOA and it was DOA not because anybody proved scientifically it was bad or it did not do enough, it was that the political support was not there in the region. We have got to buildit would become even messier, but if we can build like we are trying to do right now, a three sovereign effort to get a plan and in that development of the plan, we have public process, I think then we will have something that will stand, either support from the legislature, legislative action, or the region itself stand behind it.
Page 161 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Let me explore that a minute, and I welcome anybody to jump in here, just stick your hand out and claim the microphone if you would like to say something. But it seems to me that the issue you have just raised is a very critical one, we do need to have the three sovereigns involved. And their testimony in the earlier panel indicated that the practical problems with trying to give decisionmaking authority to a group that did not involve sovereigns. And I think there really is a practical problem to reach that. In fact, I have run into that practical problem when I have tried to just hold meetings and invite every interest group that thinks they should be at the meeting, and sure as shooting, I do not invite somebody that thinks they should have been there, and I hear about it. So I knowyou know, we sit down and have meetings about how to be sure we invite everybody to the meeting. So I understand how that works.
On the other hand, I also believe that you will not, whether it is three sovereigns or one sovereign or whatever, you will not get a plan that can be effectively implemented until you have public support for the plan, and collaborative decisionmaking is something that I strongly support in terms of getting the involved interests and groups to have a meaningful participatory role in the decisionmaking process.
In a sense, those two are competing concerns. I am not convinced that there is not a way to reconcile them, but I would certainly welcome comments on that issue. Dr. Williams has claimed the microphone for first shot here.
Dr. WILLIAMS. I think that you have just identified what is the kernel of this whole issue, which is how does the region craft a single unified plan that has the political support of all the necessary constituents and primarily the three Federal, State and tribal sovereigns, because without that kind of political support behind a plan, it is predestined to failure.
But the second caveat on that is how do you craft the plan, which is that plan with that support, which is also based on the best science, because biologically if it is not based on the best science, it is also likely predestined to failure. That is the fine line that is going to have to be walked.
Page 162 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Yeah, you have got to add science to the
Dr. WILLIAMS. And too often the science gets laid out and then compromised through the political process, so this is going to have to hold up both the science and the political support as equal icons, as the plan is developed. It will be very, very difficult.
Mr. CRAPO. That is a good observation. Anybody else want to jump in?
Mr. RAY. I agree with Dr. Williams, but I think the sequence of doing these things is important and it is essential to have a scientifically credible plan that lives up to the promises to restore the fish and then come up with a process, again, not whether to implement it but how to implement it. And that isI do not have much confidence in the consensus idea because I do not think you are ever going to reach consensus on taking the hard steps and making the tough decisions. And if a process is set up to rely on consensus, I think it is doomed from the start to failure.
Mr. CRAPO. I was actually very pleased to see that Idaho did generate the consensus, but that was one State. Other States did ultimately end up supporting that to some extent and I have wondered whether we would be able to reach consensus, but I also believe that even when you do not reach consensus, the fact that the public is very involved enables people to feel that at least their procedural rights were honored and that they were given a meaningfuland I emphasize that wordmeaningful opportunity to participate in having their point of view seriously considered. So I understand what you are saying and I am not sure that you are wrong or right, but there is a lot of important consideration that must be given to the public involvement in the decisionmaking process if Congress moves forward to evaluate that.
I do not know the right path yet, that is why I am asking these questions. I do not have a predetermined outcome in my mind. Mr. Bruce.
Page 163 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. BRUCE. Yes, I think that we have heard the science, I think we know the science is there. I think at this point it is a societal issue and I wish I knew how to get to that decision and how to get there quickly, and obviously it is going to take some consensus. I think it needs to be done on a regional basis, but I guess more than anything, I am concerned that over the years this hasyou know, we have spent so much time, we do not have that much time any more. Whatever we do, I think we need to do it rather quickly. I think a lot of our stocks right now are very close to extinction in the next couple of years, whether it be Pistol Creek of Sulphur Creek, there will not be any salmon up there any more and we do not have a lot of time to go through years and years of process. We need to figure out soon what we are going to do.
Mr. CRAPO. Dr. Casavant.
Mr. CASAVANT. At the present time, the Governors arethey consider the Council as their representatives and they have put their governancethe Council is their governance structure. But they are also supporting a three sovereign effort that is underway concurrently right now, in that we are meeting to identify options on governance, options on fish and wildlife activities. The five options under discussion range from enhanced role of the Power Council, and that is frankly in three of the options, to an enhanced role for National Marine Fisheries Service to one that simply takes and creates a new body. In the nextagain, in the next month or so, that subcommittee will be coming together and trying to end up on one recommendation. So I am hopeful, whether it is the task force or this, that in the next month or so, we will have some information to help you in your deliberations.
Mr. CRAPO. Is that information available currently, is there a report or document?
Mr. CASAVANT. We have a rough draft of the five options, I could make that certainly available, Congressman.
Page 164 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. I would certainly appreciate looking at that. You know, the previous panela couple of members of the previous panel discussed the idea of having a board of directors with a CEO type approach where the sovereigns, the States, the tribal entities and the Federal Government would create a, I guess, managing entity, whether it be one person or a person backed up by a board. Any comment on that idea? I mean, the reason I am asking this is because I strongly believe the buck has got to stop somewhere and as a Member of Congress, I want to know who. And right now, I do not. In fact, this panel has given me different answers to that question.
Mr. CASAVANT. I think this panel is aware of it, and what I am certainly aware of is that the existing system is not offering the solution we are after, but a lot of us are conscientiously and honestly trying to find a resolution. I am a little worried about the CEO. Some might call them the benevolent dictator or some day he might not be. Depending on the goals of what you are trying to achieve, and really that goal structure underlies the problem of the three entities that are trying to restore salmon.
Mr. CRAPO. Good point. Any other comment on that?
Mr. CRAPO. All right, that is all the questions that I have. I appreciate this panel and your time and attention to this issue.
We are going to take a 5-minute break here, I need to take a break, and then we will call up our next panel. Is Mr. Curtis here?
Mr. CRAPO. Let me check again, did Mr. Herb Curtis ever show up?
Page 165 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Okay, well let me get my papers organized here and we will continue. All right, we will go ahead with this panel and we have here with us Mr. Doug DeHart, Mr. Ed Bowles, Mr. Ted Strong and Mr. Will Stelle. We appreciate all of you being here with us today and we will proceed in that order. Mr. DeHart.
STATEMENT OF DOUGLAS A. DEHART, CHIEF OF FISHERIES, OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
Mr. DEHART. Good afternoon, Congressman. For the record, I am Dr. Douglas DeHart, Assistant Director and Chief of Fisheries of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Mr. CRAPO. Where is the microphone, we ought to get that over there so that the people in the back can hear.
Mr. DEHART. I wish to thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today about Oregon's interactions with the National Marine Fisheries Service concerning restoration of Columbia River salmon populations. As you requested, I will highlight what Oregon believes are outstanding issues that if resolved would significantly improve coordination among key stakeholders in salmon restoration decisions in the region.
Let me preface my comments with a general observation. Much attention has been focused on the forum and the process needed to resolve current problems. This energy may be misplaced. Although there are problems with process, the more significant issues involve the substance of the issues that we need to make. The bottom line is that the region, whether through joint decisionmaking or through the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the Bureau of Reclamation, must make informed decisions based on the best available technical and scientific analysis. Existing processes have fostered discussions, information exchange and consensus building. With some changes, those processes are also capable of establishing the type of accountability for decisions needed to move salmon restoration efforts forward.
Page 166 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our concerns relate to three main areas. First, how Federal decisionmakers can be held more accountable for the decisions they make that affect salmon. Next, how the information used to make decisions can be improved. And finally, how the region can better articulate and reach agreement on what we are trying to accomplish.
Federal decisions affecting salmon restoration need to be made in an open process that fosters deliberate discussions among managers of the resources affected by those decisions. Salmon restoration efforts need to meet the requirements of recovery for the Endangered Species Act, but they also need to meet the mitigation responsibilities of the Federal Government for the loss of fish due to hydro development. These decisions must be supported by detailed explanations of why they are the right thing to do.
In our opinion, the Federal Government, through NMFS leadership, has improved accountability for the decisions that they make. However, the Federal Government must better explain what information influenced their decisions and how that information was weighted and used to make decisions. Likewise, the Federal Government must explain what alternatives it considered and equally important why at times it has rejected alternatives put forward by State and tribal resource managers.
The Federal Government can improve the credibility of its decisions, we believe, by supporting them with regionally accepted technical and scientific analysis.
We commend the National Marine Fisheries Service for the role it has played in establishing a regional analytical forum called PATH, a Plan for Analysisyesa Plan for Analysis and Testing of Hypotheses. Almost caught me on an acronym. This forum involves scientists from the Pacific Northwest and from throughout the region and is charged with describing and testing the various hypotheses put forth concerning salmon restoration. It is a scientifically rigorous process that includes independent peer review of analyses by outside experts and it has played a significant role in evaluating the scientific merit of competing hypotheses and setting the stage for well-informed decisions about the long-term course of action. We urge NMFS and the other Federal agencies to stay the course in their commitment to supporting and using that process to support decisions.
Page 167 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In concluding my statement to you today, I turn to the most important issue dogging efforts to restore salmon; namely, the lack of agreement on what we are trying to accomplish regarding that restoration and how we go about achieving those objectives. This effort would be greatly facilitated by a deliberate effort by the Federal Government to clearly interpret ambiguous measures in the biological opinion on the operation of the Columbia River Federal power system. This ambiguity has significantly hampered some decisionmaking and encouraged debate and delay in many instances.
There are three issues that seem to underlie this:
The first of these is that there is no common regional understanding of what the ultimate goal is regarding survival and recovery standards.
The second is that there is no common regional understanding of the specifics of the measures in the biological opinion to avoid jeopardy. This leads to varying interpretations among Federal managers and these differences have been the source of considerable disagreement over how the opinion is to be implemented for listed stocks.
Finally, there is no common regional understanding of how actions to recover listed salmon relate to and complement actions to protect and restore non-listed salmon and other listed fish and wildlife in the region. The recent listings of steelhead in Oregon, Washington and Idaho and in particular the listing in eastern Washington of steelhead, only focuses more attention on this need to integrate and balance the protection of each of these species.
In conclusion, Congressman, we do not believe the National Marine Fisheries Service is the problem. The complex and high-stakes decisions facing a region on the verge of losing a precious heritage present a significant challenge to all of us. The focus should not be on assigning blame or spending valuable time and resources on constructing new processes in which we may better argue and debate the issues at hand.
Page 168 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We must move ahead with informed decisions that describe what we seek as the ultimate outcome for salmon and what risks we are willing to take that that outcome is a reality.
Thank you, Congressman.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. DeHart. Mr. Bowles.
[The prepared statement of Mr. DeHart may be found at end of hearing.]
STATEMENT OF EDWARD C. BOWLES, ANADROMOUS FISH MANAGER, STATE OF IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME
Mr. BOWLES. Congressman Crapo, my name is Ed Bowles, I am the Anadromous Fish Manager for the State of Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss Snake River salmon and steelhead recovery efforts. Your interest and initiative reflect highly on your commitment to solving this decades-old tragedy.
We have heard much today on NMFS' process for handling salmon recovery, ways the process might be improved and who should be in charge. These are important questions, but do not get at the root cause of our continued collective inability to solve the salmon dilemma. This inability stems from a focus on process and justifying the status quo, rather than on leadership and commitment to finding solutions and securing societal acceptance of these solutions. We do not need a solution to the process debacle, we need a solution to the salmon and steelhead decline. As long as we are more concerned about process than we are about solutions, it does not matter who is in charge or who is involved, we will likely fail.
The Snake River salmon and steelhead dilemma is akin to a ball and chain on the ankle of northwest prosperity. Multi-million dollar fisheries have been lost from local and regional economies. A centerpiece of our northwest cultural, recreational and ecological heritage is crumbling. A third of a billion dollars is spent annually in our attempt to save these fish, with little, if any, success to show for the effort.
Page 169 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Agency, industry and public resources are severely strained participating in the process. Irrigation and recreation from upper basin storage reservoirs are threatened. The status quo is not cheap or benign.
So far, the salmon recovery process has focused on how to make the ball and chain more comfortable and less obvious, instead of finding solutions to remove the ball and chain. The primary motivation has been to preserve the status quo rather than finding a lasting solution that meets the biological needs of the fish and find ways to keep vital economies whole. Without this leadership and collective vision, repackaging the recovery process will do little to save the salmon.
Snake River salmon and steelhead recovery pivots on the 1999 decision point. This is the process that should be our primary focus and concern. As a result of litigation, NMFS committed to a decision path to finalize a long-term recovery strategy by 1999. The first step to ensure the 1999 decision points toward recovery is to stop debating whether the fish should be in the river or in barges. This controversy is one of the primary reasons the NMFS recovery process has little to show for its effort. Available science indicates that sustainable recovery requires an in-river solution and that the solution must recreate normative conditions.
I refer you to my written testimony which covers the scientific debate in more detail. The sooner the region can come to terms with this biological reality, the sooner we can focus our collective efforts on helping society find ways to truly meet the needs of the fish while maintaining northwest economies, cultures and prosperity. This is where we need to focus our efforts if we are to help society and decisionmakers prepare for the 1999 decision; not continuing to try to rationalize recovery through transportation and flow augmentation.
Perhaps the biggest threat to successful recovery and NMFS' ability to lead us there is NMFS' prejudice toward transportation and flow augmentation as a preferred recovery path. This prejudice is both regrettable and unacceptable. It is regrettable because this unprecedented opportunity to work collectively toward meaningful recovery may soon be lost. It is unacceptable because there is no scientific peer support or an empirical or theoretical basis for concluding that wild Snake River salmon and steelhead are likely to recover if we follow the non-normative path of full transportation and flow augmentation. NMFS' bias toward transportation and flow augmentation seriously detracts from their ability to provide leadership toward in-river solutions and focus the recovery process on finding ways to keep vital affected economies whole.
Page 170 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The 1999 decision point is just around the corner. We cannot afford to let recovery slip away by continuing to debate the science. This is not a biological issue, it is a social and economic issue. The recovery process should focus on providing the best possible economic information so that society and decisionmakers can determine how best to keep vital economies whole as these biological solutions are implemented.
How to meet the biological needs of the fish is not the important question. We know what the fish need. The important questions are: In meeting the biological requirements of the fish, can we provide an economical and effective way to get commodities to market? Can we maintain an economical energy source? Can we reduce the threat to irrigation water? Can we reduce loss of recreation opportunities in up-river storage reservoirs? Can we reduce or eliminate the ongoing financial burden of the salmon recovery process industry? Can we help ease burdens and uncertainties associated with energy deregulation? These are the sort of questions that the 1999 decision point really pivots on. If they go unanswered, society will not be in a position to make informed decisions for or against salmon recovery and will likely default to the continuation of expensive and ineffective status quo operations.
I am not convinced that the current process or leadership is headed in this direction or committed to an honest and open debate of these issues.
Thanks once again for including me in this important discussion. I hope my comments have been constructive.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Bowles. Mr. Strong.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bowles may be found at end of hearing.]
STATEMENT OF TED STRONG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COLUMBIA RIVER INTERTRIBAL FISH COMMISSION
Mr. STRONG. Thank you very much, Congressman Crapo. On behalf of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and our member tribesthe Yakima, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Nez Perce, I appreciate the opportunity and the tribes extend their gratification to you for the leadership you have demonstrated in this issue and appreciate the efforts to resolve some of these issues.
Page 171 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The tribes want to express, first of all, Congressman Crapo, that there are deep philosophical differences that divide Indian and white interpretation of what should be done, how things should be done. At the beginning of time, before there was any kind of electronic media or any other races of people, there were in our legendary times the fish and birds and other creatures that had voice and had dominion over everything. And in making way for the arrival of the humans, the salmon gave themselves to the humans that were here at that time and in turn we gave ourselves to the salmon for their life-giving properties and the religion and the sovereignty that they provided to us. In that sense, Congressman Crapo, the salmon and Indian people belong to each other.
It was never meant to be presided over by any makeshift process or committee or structure. The human laws that have followed have been disastrous toward the natural environment. Human laws made by Congress and enacted in Federal courts have destroyed Indian spiritualism and culture and for that there is no compensation that can ever take the place of what was destroyed. And yet we are here today thinking that these industries and these human made laws are paying for the way of salmon. It is the other way around, Congressman Crapo.
The memorandum of agreement that was signed said it was helping salmon. The MOA was clearly a limitation that excluded the most viable salmon restoration alternatives because the Bonneville Power Administration and other Federal agencies needed to maintain their financial viability. The salmon are still subsidizing the corporate industries along the Columbia River and they are not appreciated for that. Instead, they are in many ways insulted by saying that it is the economy, it is the region's jobs that are important first and foremost. But that is the arrogance of human life today in America.
Even the Endangered Species Act, which was supposed to protect the species is designed today so that all of our discussion is centered around money, economy and other capitalistic purposes. The Endangered Species Act passed by Congress does nothing to protect the specie, and it seems only some of the environmentalists, recently some of the cattle ranchers, loggers, those who work with nature and the Indian people fight, even in courts, to protect the salmon.
Page 172 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The National Marine Fisheries Service has come out here to preside over the most deadliest of rivers where salmon can live. They have a losing job, they are not going to win that fight. And instead of declaring that this deadliest of all killers of salmon is a jeopardy, the National Marine Fisheries Service has maintained that they are allowed to operate and it is best to take the fish out of that deadly river. That is not being truthful toward the Endangered Species Act, it is not being respectful toward the salmon, it is not living up to the agreements made by the United States of America and sovereign Indian nations.
We deplore these actions, we think that the United States and the States in the northwest should say what they mean and mean what they say, get on with salmon restoration in a very meaningful fashion. We have done nothing but tinker around the edges of this deadly hydro system and yet, since 1964, tribal and non-tribal peoples have had a moratorium on commercial fishing on summer chinook, to let them rebuild. A surplus of 2,000 returned to the south fork of the Clearwater, they will be destined for killing unless the tribes sue over them.
Since 1977 the tribes and non-tribal fishers have had a moratorium on commercially fishing spring chinook. The State of Oregon passed a contrived wild fish policy recently. Those surplus 144 spring chinook to the Imnaha will be killed unless the tribes sue over them, and we intend to sue in order to protect these salmon. These spring chinook at Imnaha will be in a trash pile somewhere, they will not be allowed to spawn and they will not be allowed to procreate as the natural law has intended.
So the tribes are here to say that we believe that a lot better can be done and whatever it takes, whether it is in court or anywhere else, the tribes are here to advocate for the salmon.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Strong. Mr. Stelle.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Strong may be found at end of hearing.]
Page 173 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM STELLE, REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR, NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
Mr. STELLE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will submit my written testimony for the record and touch on a number of major points in my oral remarks.
Let me offer a couple of general observations, then speak to the issue of hydro power, the 1997 Idaho Steelhead Plan and my decision on it and then the bigger picture.
As a general observation, first of all, let me emphasize that at NOAA Fisheries, we are dedicated to the restoration of salmon and steelhead stocks in the Columbia Basin and to the restoration of the aquatic health of this basin. There are enormously deep differences of views on what the problems are and how to remedy them, particularly as it relates to the hydro system, and as the testimony before this Subcommittee demonstrates. Finger pointing among the various participants dominates the public discourse and that is a shame.
NOAA Fisheries is dedicated to using the best scientific information available when making its decisions on implementing the Endangered Species program here in the basin. Science-based decisionmaking is perhaps the single most important principle we have. Given the deep divisions that exist and the stakes involved, we must stick to the science. If we do not, we will be rudderless, adrift without direction, and lost.
Salmon and steelhead recovery must be comprehensive if it is to be successful. Recovery must include efforts to protect and improve the habitat, fix the dams, modernize the hatcheries and ensure that we do not harvest too many fish. A single focus will not solve the problem.
Further, do not expect miracles. It has taken generations to drive these stocks down and it will take time to restore them. It will not happen overnight and we must be prepared to stay the course if we are to succeed. Statements complaining that the Endangered Species Act has been invoked for 3 or 4 years and the salmon are still not back ignores this most basic biological fact. The region can do this, but it will take time, and we must stay the course.
Page 174 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On hydro power, improving survivals in the hydro power system is essential to long-term recovery, and we are dedicated to doing so based upon the best science we can muster as a region.
Secondly, there remain, obviously, deep divisions within the region on how to fix the dams, ranging from leaving them alone to taking out at least five of them. We have developed a strategy which was contained in the 1995 biological opinion for the hydro power system for resolving this dilemma which has three facets. A set of interim operations, given the current configuration of the dams, to improve survivals, continuing research on where precisely we are losing the fish through very robust evaluations of mortalities associated with each of the four Snake dams, and a thorough evaluation of the different options for fixing the system and the biological and economic impacts of each option.
We firmly believe that this course is the correct course. We are gratified that the States of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska have all called for the full implementation of this path in the recent American Rivers litigation challenging the biological opinion. We are furthermore pleased that a recent Federal court decision upheld that pathway. Given the degree of differences on that subject, this is considerable progress indeed.
Further, we are committed to working directly with the State and tribal governments as we implement the year-to-year interim operations and as we develop the range of alternatives for the long-term fix. We furthermore are committed to working with State and tribal governments for the selection of that preferred remedy for the system in 1999.
We believe that any remedy will be worthwhile only if successfully implemented. Successful implementation will require broad agreement among the governments in the Pacific Northwest that it is the right remedy.
Let me turn to the bigger picture, my time has almost expired.
Mr. CRAPO. You have taken such a hit in these hearings, you can have a little extra time.
Page 175 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STELLE. Well, if I may, Mr. Chairman, let me just describe a couple of points on the recent decision on the 1997 transportation scenario. First, the State of Idaho, let me point out and emphasize, has been a solid participant in the day-to-day hard work of implementing changes to the hydro power system, along with the States of Oregon and Washington, reflecting I believe the States' commitment to a regional approach. We appreciate that, we applaud that and we encourage the State to continue at all levels.
In 1996, NMFS and the other salmon managers worked successfully with the State of Idaho under the State's leadership on adjustments in reservoir operations to accommodate some interests pertaining to Dworshak.
In 1997, Idaho proposed its steelhead plan which called for leaving two-thirds of the juvenile steelhead in the river rather than transporting them down around the eight downstream dams. After considerable review and discussion among the salmon managers at various levels, I decided that we could only accommodate the Idaho plan up to a certain point reflecting the, quote, spread-the-risk strategy which we adopted last year in consultation with the salmon managers and reflecting a similar strategy called for in the Northwest Power Planning Council's fish and wildlife program. I made this judgment based upon my best professional judgment that placing more fish in this river would only subject them to a higher rate of mortality, an outcome that is not consistent with our obligations under the Endangered Species Act. The above decision reflects, in my judgment, the best scientific information available. It is consistent with the findings and recommendations of the Snake River Recovery Team, the National Academy of Sciences and the recent report of the Independent Scientific Advisory Board. It is a situation where, unfortunately, the best science is not always the most popular. We must stick with the science.
On the bigger picture, progress on protecting and restoring habitat, modernizing hatchery practices and properly managing fishing must and will proceed. Progress in each area is essential for long-term success. The governments of the region should and must work hard to develop a set of options for fixing the Federal hydro power system. That process is underway and it deserves to proceed. The governments must also work very hard to examine if broad agreement is possible on a remedy, because it will be the best for the fish and for the region.
Page 176 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is in fact a large confluence of agreement on many, many aspects of a salmon recovery program and I would surmise that in looking at our draft recovery program for salmon in the Snake, that there is probably an 80 percent plus overlap with the fish and wildlife program of the Northwest Power Planning Council. Most of the basics are agreed to. We must not get distracted by those issues that require further resolution.
To an interest which I understand you are particularly interested in. In the upper Snake, the Bureau of Reclamation and NMFS have reached an agreement in the 1995 biological opinion that resulted in the contribution of an annual additional 427,000 acre-feet of water from the upper Snake through 1999, acquired on a willing buyer-willing seller basis. The Bureau, with the support of the State of Idaho, has been successful in meeting these commitments and we encourage that progress to continue.
In light of pending litigation on the matter, we have also agreed to undertake a consultation on the activities of the Bureau of Reclamation and are currently progressing with that consultation.
The resolution of the issues on the lower Snake and John Day and the Federal dams may also have a direct bearing on the long-term role of flow augmentation from Montana reservoirs and the upper Snake basin. It is therefore our preference to work with the parties to develop a larger conservation agreement that might encompass issues associated with the operation of the Reclamation projects in the upper Snake and the Hells Canyon complex as the governments address the question of what to do about the Federal dams in the lower river so that through this larger agreement certainty and stability is provided to the basin and we succeed in our long-term efforts at salmon recoveries.
We have broached these options informally with a number of the parties and will continue to explore them in the coming months.
In conclusion, let me state simply that the issues associated with salmon recovery are extraordinarily complicated and controversial, Mr. Chairman. The divisions within the region on certain aspects of the recovery effort run deep and the emotions run high. In this most difficult setting, going to the issue of leadership, our role and responsibility, in my view, is to articulate a clear pathway for fixing the hydro power system, as clear as we believe is possible, to base that pathway on the best science available, to provide an open collaborative process with the other governments in the region to implement it, and to stick with it.
Page 177 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Given the winds of controversy that buffet this subject almost daily, consistency and a commitment to a clearly articulated pathway based on good science is absolutely vital.
Thank you and I look forward to what I anticipate to be a few questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Stelle may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Stelle.
Let me start out with you, Mr. DeHart, we will pass the microphone back your way.
As I read and listened to your testimony, tell me if I correctly understood it. It seems to me that with regard to the issue of what process for decisionmaking we need to follow, that you are basically saying that the current system we have, with maybe some refinement, is a good system and that theand I construe that system to mean that there is basically a Federal decisionmaker with collaboration with the other governmental entities, but that the final decision is made by the Federal sovereign. Do you understand it that way and have I correctly characterized your approach to the issue?
Mr. DEHART. Congressman, my view is that this issue does not primarily turn on process and that you will not solve it through process. I do not believe that the process to date has served us well, it has led to conflict and stalemate, but the right parties are generally at the table, they are sharing information. What we lack are the ways to drive those decisions to a conclusion with clearly understood justification that will make those widely acceptable and then move into implementation. I do not think you will solve that problem just by a different process structure. We need to work on the substance of how we make decisions and how we resolve disputes.
Mr. CRAPO. How would we work on that, how would we achieve that last step that is necessary?
Page 178 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DEHART. Concerning disputes, Congressman?
Mr. CRAPO. Yes.
Mr. DEHART. We have suggested, and indeed are working with the Federal Government, as one outcome of the American Rivers lawsuit, a dispute resolution process that we hope will get around what has been something of a stalemate to now, where each agency retreats behind its own statutory responsibilities and the limits on those. And that is showing some progress, though it will require that the Federal Government I think stretch out somewhat further than it has before in its decisionmaking.
Mr. CRAPO. Some differences of opinion have come up today in terms of who really has the decisionmaking authority in the region. Some have said NMFS effectively controls the decisionmaking because nobody really, for one reason or another, dares violate it or go contrary to the biological opinion. Others have said that there are agencies who are very willing to do that, the Corps of Engineers being one.
Do you believe that there is effectively a Federal decisionmaker?
Mr. DEHART. No, Congressman, not in the sense that you mean it. Certainly the biological opinion is now driving river actions in a way that they were not controlled before toward fish protection, but as I mentioned in my testimony, because of some of the uncertainties in how those measures are implemented and what they really mean, that has created a great deal of gray area and we have seen Federal river operators freely take advantage of that and that is what has led to many of the disputes that have characterized river operations in the last several years.
Mr. CRAPO. Okay. Why do we not move to Mr. Bowles for just a minute.
Mr. Bowles, you indicated that you think the root cause of the problem basically is that we are focused too much onI do not want to say this wrong, I have it written down in my own words herethe process and basically pursuing the status quo; is that correct?
Page 179 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOWLES. Yes, basically the default operation is to try to figure out how to do something for the fish without significantly altering the status quo. And I feel that is flawed and somewhat dishonest to the public, because this is not a cheap or benign status quo. And if we cannot recover the fish with any semblance of the status quo, let us be honest with the public, put what is biologically required for the fish on the table and put our efforts not into figuring out just how much to tweak the status quo, but put our efforts into figuring out what is socially acceptable and how do we keep society whole on these various interests. And that is where we are really falling short. The process is one of debating the science and figuring out interim activities during this pre-1999 period. All our effort is put into figuring out how to plod along tweaking the status quo, and very little, other than the PATH group, is really focused on getting society prepared for the 1999 decision.
Mr. CRAPO. One of the comments that I think both you and Mr. Stelle have made is that science needs to be critically evaluated. You have a disagreement on science, I think it is pretty obvious. One of the questions that I have isI am going to be asking you this later on, Mr. Stelle alsowe have had a lot of testimony here today and a lot of discussion over the years about how important it is to make sure that our recovery plans include good science. In fact, I used to say that all the timeI still do. But I have found out over the years that everybody believes in good science, and everybody has their science.
Now Mr. Williams, if he is still here, is a part of a team that is hopefully going to resolve that for us, but are we not now at a point where we are competing with different interpretations of what the science says we ought to do?
Mr. BOWLES. Actually I do not feel we are. The main roadblock in science consensus right now is pretty much limited to one group and that is NMFS' own science group. The consensus on most of everything else is that the dams are the problem and that transportation or an out-of-river type solution is not going to work, from all of the sovereigns involved, those that have statutory authorities for the management of the fish. The scientists associated with NMFS, none of the other groups are adamantly holding up a defense that transportation does work, believe that it does work, it does mitigate for the hydro system and that the reason that we are in decline is because of the killer ocean. PATH is resolving that debate and it will resolve that, and we are, I guess, somewhat content to let the PATH process do its job and I am very confident in its results. But what is regrettable is that the focus on debating NMFS' views has left us short on being able to prepare society for the 1999 decision. All our efforts are on debating the scienceand this is really a social and economic question. Instead of debating the science, let us figure out how to do it socially and economically and keep these entities whole.
Page 180 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. Let me ask you to give the microphone to Mr. Stelle for just a moment here.
I want to give you a chance to give your response to the same question, but if I understand your testimony correctly, Mr. Stelle, you took your position against the Idaho policy based on your conclusion that the clear weight of the scientific information did not support what Mr. Bowles saysI think he would be sayingthat he thinks the clear weight of the scientific information did support. Do you want to clarify that, Mr. Bowles and then we will get to Mr. Stelle.
Mr. BOWLES. We need to be careful, Congressman, that we do not confuse long-term recovery with interim measures to do what is best for the fish. And the 1997 transportation debate focused on what was best for the fish, given the configuration of the dams and the flow that we had from mother nature in 1997. Okay? What I am speaking to, what my comments focused on was more of the long range vision of how do we get truly to recovery. And as we have heard from Dr. Williams and others, you are unlikely to get there through a transportation approach.
Mr. CRAPO. So you are not saying that NMFS' decision not to accept the Idaho policy was a part of or an indication of NMFS' intention?
Mr. BOWLES. No, I am saying it is an indication of their prejudice, but what I did not want you to get confused is that the in-river versus transport issue on a year-to-year basis before we get to 1999 is tied in to the long term, directly. There is an indirect link to the long term and it does show where our heart is, but that issue was more specific to what is best for the fish given this year's situation, and we do differ quite radically on our interpretation of what was best for the fish.
Mr. CRAPO. On the short term.
Mr. BOWLES. On the short term, yes.
Page 181 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Okay. Mr. Stelle, do you want to respond or has he clarified that or not?
Mr. STELLE. Yeah, I would like to respond. First of all, Ed is correct that it is very important to distinguish what is best for downstream migrating juveniles through the eight dams as we currently have them configuredbasically what do we do right nowfrom whether or not, for instance, transporting fish around the dams can provide for long-term recovery. Those are two completely separate issues. The issue this year, was given the current configuration of the dams and, Congressman, you stated it quite precisely and you were correct in your formulation, given the current configuration of the dams, what is the weight of the scientific evidence? Does itis the weight of the scientific evidence that it is safer for fish to put them in this river, or not? And I think it borders on the unequivocal that it is safer to keep the fishto collect and transport the fish around these eight dams than leave them in the river, and I have not seen any specific information that would argue to the contrary.
I would also cite to you the fact that the National Academy of Sciences looked at this very closely, and although people will attack the National Academy of Sciences' report because of all of the hysteria on this particular topic, they were not born yesterday and they are very sophisticated scientists and they agreed.
Mr. CRAPO. So if I understand the two of you, there is a strong difference of opinion on what the science says for short term.
Mr. STELLE. To be honest with you, Congressman, I listened very closely to Ed's presentations before the Executive Committee on this subject and Idaho at that time was not arguingthe biological argument was not that more fish will survive, it is that as a general matter, in-river survivals are better in better flowin years of better water. We do not dispute that.
Our view though, and again, I have to emphasize that in my view and I think Rick Williams corroborated that this morning, that given the current configuration of this river, this river kills fish.
Page 182 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. But did you not just say that you accepted the argument that in a high flow year, transportation was not thehow did you say that?
Mr. STELLE. The data that we have indicates that when flows are better, in-river survivals are better. That is a very different question than whether or not, nevertheless, given both routes of migration, are fish likely to die more in-river through the dams and the pools or die through being collected and transported. And again, on that question, I believe some pretty robust empirical information tells us that putting fish in the river will kill fish.
Mr. CRAPO. Is that information not based on low flow years?
Mr. STELLE. No, it is a range of years. There are about 22 or 24 transportation studies over the last 15 years, the most recent ones being by far the most robust, and they cover a range of conditions.
Mr. CRAPO. Do you agreeI will stick with Mr. Stelle for a few minutes because he has got me thinking about some things.
Mr. STELLE. Congressman, could I make one point?
Mr. CRAPO. Sure.
Mr. STELLE. It is, I think, to reinforce what Ed's perspective is or one of Ed's points. A judgment about what kind of survival benefits you can bilk out of the system as it is current configured, and whether or not you can bilk more survival benefits from collecting and transporting them around the dams or leaving them in the river is one thing, and it gives us some guidance on what we should do today and tomorrow and the next day, because we have the system as we inherited it.
That is a completely separate issue from whether or not the survival benefits you are able to secure from either route of migration is going to be enough to support long-term sustainable rebuilding of these runs. That is the key issue.
Page 183 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This minor issue of how many fish you put in a barge in 1997 is just that, it is a sideshow. The big issue is given the current configuration, what are reasonable expectations of what kind of survival benefits we can get through transportation, through in-river migration, through improvements in the surface collectors, et cetera, et cetera. That is the bigger issue.
Mr. CRAPO. Would you agree then with the comment that was made by one of the earlier witnesses who I believe attributed it to Dr. Chapman, but since he is not here we will not hold him to that. But the comment that said that essentially sticking with the current configuration of the dams will only delay extinction.
Mr. STELLE. I think my view on that is that that precise issue is probably the most important issue that the PATH process needs to resolve. And what the rate of survivals are that will be necessary to avoid extinction and support recovery is the essence of the scientific debate that is going to occur now. My own view is that, given what I understand today, at best we will continue to bump along the bottom of the recovery barrel.
Mr. CRAPO. All right, and
Mr. STELLE. But again, that issue is really central to the analytical work now being done by the group that Doug DeHart described, the PATH analytical group.
Mr. CRAPO. Okay. Do you want to hand the microphone back and we are going to come back to that, but let me finish with Mr. Bowles first.
When you indicated then, Mr. Bowles, that you felt that NMFS' approach is basically perpetuating a failed solution, explain that a little more to me, what is it exactly that you were saying?
Mr. BOWLES. Well, it actually starts from a fundamental difference in a founding premise, I guess if you will, as a salmon manager. Mr. Stelle stated that they have a very strong empirical data base that the fish do better in the barges. I disagree with that, the only official scientific peer review of transportation disagrees with that assessment.
Page 184 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Which one is that?
Mr. BOWLES. This is the Mundy report, the only ones that officially took on transportation. And where I am getting at is for high-flow situationshis statement was that under all conditions, fish do better in the barges. The issue that Idaho brought to the table was that under the bounty that nature provided in 1997, where is the compelling evidence that tells us to take these fish out of the river and put them in the barge? There is none. The data set on high flow years similar to what we had, similar to the 1982 through 1984 situation where we had good adult returns and high flows, there is no transport benefit information.
Given that, we would like to err on the side of keeping the fish in the river under that uncertainty, or at leastwe did not want to put all the fish in the river, we just wanted what we considered a more equitable balance.
Mr. CRAPO. Let me interrupt a minute. Mr. DeHart, do you agree with that, with Idaho's approach on that issue?
Mr. DEHART. Oregon and Idaho have not always seen exactly eye-to-eye on in-year decisions and we did have some disagreements this spring on elements of the Idaho plan, to be fair. But on the issue that we are talking about here, I think we see this very much the same, and frankly when I look at the data set that is available to us right now and when I look at survival of those fish, which is the important issue, what I see is that survival of not only in-river fish goes down in low-flow years, but survival of barged fish also goes down in low-flow versus high-flow years, a very important point. And that is today, if you think barges are going to solve the problem of low flows in the Columbia and Snake River, you are wrong, and there is plenty of information there right now to show that.
Likewise when you look at the issue of how much of an increase in survival it would take to bring about recovery, and here the PATH analysis has helped us a lot already, the answer is almost a 10-times increase, and the actual experience over 20-plus years of trying to improve survival of barged fish has actually been, if anything, somewhat of a downward trend in survival, certainly not any significant increase through years in altering the methods of handling and moving fish.
Page 185 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I think there is enough information on the table now, and I think Idaho and Oregon are in agreement there, that you could draw a final conclusion on where that technique fits in the strategy. I think that is the main thing that is wrong with barging at this point and how it fits in the debate, not the question of how we can use it in 1997 and whether that is the best part of the mix, but do we continue to push it forward and spend time, energy and political capital on it, or do we set it aside and say no, that is not the path to recovery and now let us figure out which viable paths are out there and start building a consensus and a case for one of them.
Mr. CRAPO. Keep the microphone for a minute, Mr. DeHart. I am going to ask you and Mr. Bowles and Mr. Strong the same question I asked Mr. Stelle, and that is do you believe that if we maintain the current configuration of the dam; in other words, maintain the status quo with the configuration of the dams, that that will simplyI have got to get this said rightsimply delayany other options we might undertake, whether it be barging or spill or whatever, will simply delay extinction?
Mr. DEHART. If our objective is the objective of the Endangered Species Act, to restore naturally spawning runs of fish to upriver areas that can sustain themselves, I do not believe you can get there without major changes in the system of dams and reservoirs in the Columbia and Snake River.
Mr. CRAPO. But you are not ready to say that if we do not do something, we will see extinction?
Mr. DEHART. Oh, I am ready to say that, yes. I mean extinction in the sense of losing natural populations. We can maintain the genetics of some of these fish through captive brood programs, through supplementation, through some other means, but we will lose natural, self-sustaining populations.
Mr. CRAPO. Okay, Mr. Bowles.
Page 186 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOWLES. I agree. I think the science is pretty unequivocal on the risk and that is the reason for the threatened status and the fact that it should have gone to endangered for spring-summer chinook but it was just an administrative oversight. So that aspect speaks for itself of where these fish are. I do not think they are going to go extinct tomorrow or the next day. I think they will continue to drain the resources and the talent and creativity of the Northwest, that is the ball and chain analogy, for the next probably two-three decades. And the lower the numbers get, the more expensive it is going to be, like we are seeing with sockeye.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. Mr. Strong, do you remember the question? The question is if we do not do something with the dam configurations, the current configuration of the dams, will we simply delay extinction.
Mr. STRONG. Science has been attendant since the dams were built and every generation of scientist that came along bragged about the ability to make life better and improve upon things. And we have seen nothing but destruction. These dams have already killed many, many stocks of salmon in the Columbia Basin. I do not know how much more evidence it takes before we believe what is happening before our eyes, and it is only because we want to make ourselves feel good somehow, that we have such a guilty conscience that we believe that if we put some more science out there, that we are going to make ourselves feel good enough that we are actually doing something, when we are just appeasing our political conscience and we are not doing anything for salmon.
These dams and everything else that are associated with this development are driving all of these salmon into extinction. Of everything that has been killed, we have a very small percentage of those salmon left and we are playing with them. And we are going to lose them and unless somebody steps up to the plate and says that enough is enough, we may as well bid all of these salmon and other species that are associated with them in this river system goodbye.
Page 187 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. So I took the answer from the three of you, in one context or another, to be that we have got to do something about the configuration of the dams in order to restore the species. What? Why do we not go back across. And when I say that, I am not asking you toI suspect that some of you may know exactly what you want to do, but I am not asking you to say exactly, and I am going to give you, Mr. Stelle, an opportunity to answer the same question a little later. But options, you know, when we say the current dam configuration is not acceptable, then what are the options we have to look at? Mr. Strong?
Mr. STRONG. When it was first of all stated that perhaps harvest was the problem, I mentioned the moratorium on summer and spring chinook in 1964 and 1977, you heard testimony that when the Federal Government felt that a cow was perhaps capable of killing one salmon, they were forbidden, somebody is supposed to train the cow not to step on these redds or train that cow not to kill a salmon. But all of the science that engineers have brought to these dams, they should be smart enough to know what to do about it. They will not accept what is right because it costs them money. That is what is driving this.
Barging was brought in to help alleviate the problems and shield us from embarrassment because these dams are killing the salmon. What is better than barging in terms of configuration is breaching these dams, let the water flow around the dams, decommission them, they are not needed for electric development here in the Snake River. They are there for another specified purpose, many of them are not even needed for flood control. The Idaho Statesman recently commented about the cost of decommissioning versus the benefits from decommissioning. But somewhere, if the authorities do not rest clearly with the people in the region, and the people in the region are relying upon political leadership, that political leadership is going to have to step forward.
I do not know how much more volume we can turn up our voices before Congress and the Corps and others say I think we have heard enough, I think we have seen enough, history has told us how we should reconfigure. I think that the choices are not that difficult to make out there.
Page 188 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. Mr. Bowles, what options do we have?
Mr. BOWLES. Well, as I have said many times before, I view this as somewhat of a biological no-brainer. Just 30 short years ago, we had 120,000 wild salmon and steelhead coming into Idaho. That is not that long ago, that was with four dams in place, and viable fisheries, viable, healthy, sustainable runs.
So there is no doubt that the fish are going to do much better, in my opinion and what PATH is coming to, and have a high probability for recovery under a natural river condition in the lower Snake. But this is not a biological issue, that is not what this is pivoting on, that is what it has been cloaked behind but it is really not the essence of this. It is a social and economic one.
So for me to say what we need to do biologically, to me that is very easy. Let us start with something like that, let us get together with the social groups, the local communities and let us aggressively pursue ways of keeping these sectors whole. I think the solutions are there and I think if we put our effort into that instead of debating the science, we will find a solution nearby.
But that is the place to start. If there are areas that are unacceptable, backup to less of what the fish require until we get to something that is socially acceptable. But let us first give it a fair chance to do the right thing for the fish and find a way to balance this with societal needs. But you cannot do it without societal acceptance. For the Federal Government to come in and try to leverage something like that would be extremely flawed, it has got to come from social problem-solving, you know, community-based problem solving.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Mr. DeHart.
Mr. DEHART. I would agree with Ed that I do not think the real issue here is science. It is fairly easy to lay out a suite of different alternatives that clearly would have biological benefits, and you have heard several of those just now. There is no way around the fact that returning stretches of the river to its pre-hydro power condition as a free-flowing river, however you did that, would be biologically beneficial to fish. It is clear because we are facing a cumulative mortality problem that if there were fewer dams on the river, that would be biologically advantageous. It is clear if the projects, dams and reservoirs were smaller, they would have less impact on fish than they do now.
Page 189 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The only scientific question there is how far do you have to go in doing that to bring about the recovery objective that you have. So I think Ed is right in pointing to the fact that science will only take you part way here and then it is a political and economic and social decision.
But also just a comment at the risk of being accused of practicing engineering without a license I guess, the hydroelectric system of this region is aging and wearing out at this point. Even if you wanted to maintain the status quo, that will require huge new investments in those projects. So fortunately for us, we have the opportunity to ask the question how do we want to make that investment. If it is not in the status quo, well then in what alternative. And that is an important point because it means that some of these alternatives really are not as expensive as they sound at first blush, because you have to subtract off what you would have spent anyway.
So that is a perspective I think that is worth considering.
Mr. CRAPO. What timeframe are the facilities, you say they are wearing out. Is there a timeframe you are talking about?
Mr. DEHART. Well, we are looking right now at the replacement of the turbine units at the original powerhouse at Bonneville Dam. We have had frequent failures of turbine units at Ice Harbor Dam and at John Day Dam. Those are projects that approximately 30 years old at this point, the last two. The first one is more like 50 years old. Wells Dam just replaced all of its turbines, so this is a problem that the Corps of Engineers is dealing with and planning for and budgeting right now, in how they replace and rebuild these facilities. So it is a fairly short-term issue.
Mr. CRAPO. All right, thank you. Back to you, Mr. Bowles.
On page three, I believe it is, of your testimony
Mr. BOWLES. Oral or written?
Page 190 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Your written testimony. You indicated that even the proponents of the bad ocean argument have found no evidence for different distribution patterns of closely related stocks. Although the ocean environment is a powerful regulator of salmon abundance, this sort of extremely selective phenomenon has no plausible basis in fact. I think you were referring to the fact that chinook runs in the lower Columbia River in some areas have to negotiate fewer dams than others, and they are doing better. Is that right?
Mr. BOWLES. That is correct. This is based on the PATH analysis and their conclusions document.
Mr. CRAPO. The reason I raise that with you is because I have had people tell me that that is not the case. In other words, that the explanation must be in the ocean because fish that have to negotiate a lot of dams are not doing any better than fish that do not have to negotiate any dams or very few dams. Are you saying that the science now is suggesting otherwise or that that is not a correct analysis?
Mr. BOWLES. Yes, the PATH group, which I reiterate is a group of scientists from, you know, agencies, tribes, Federal and State as well as universities and some consultants, it has very rigorous peer review, independent peer review outside of this northwest group, and their conclusions document is very clear that the decline and continued suppression of upper basin stocks is because of the dams, and has not been mitigated through the transportation system, that it is still at a far lower productivity level or survival level, than down river stocks.
Now ocean productivity and characteristics are extremely important in regulating population abundancesno doubt about it. But to say that the ocean has affected all stocks and they are all going down is not at all correct. You look at the data set and it shows very clearly that the upper river stocks are in significantly more trouble than the down river stocks, throughout the time series.
Page 191 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And basically if I could just expand on this a little bit, what it translates into is, in order for NMFS'and this is NMFS' scientists that are primarily proposing that the hydro system has been mitigated through the transport systemin order for that to hold scientific ground, the hypothesis can basically be stated this way: that upper basin stocks, both upper Columbia and Snake, go to a spot in the ocean that is far less productive than other stocks and that only the upper basin stocks go there, and that they only go there during years of drought and poor ocean conditions. The hypothesisand that actually is now the one NMFS scientists are proposing, PATH has taken that on. Regrettably, we actually have to scientifically debate that one. I think we need to get beyond that myself. But PATH is looking at it.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Mr. DeHart, did you want to make a comment there?
Mr. DEHART. Congressman, just one quick fact to add to that that I think helps with the argument that Ed just made, and that is compare fall run chinook salmon on coastal waters of Oregon and Washington to the fall chinook of the Snake River, you have got a fairly close comparison there in terms of life history type. What is going on with those coastal stocks at the same time? Sure, they go up and down with ocean conditions. Right today, on the Oregon coast, we have got populations that are just as big as they were in 1900 where of course the Snake River fall chinook populations have fallen to a couple of percent of what they were at the turn of the century. And that certainly cannot be explained by ocean conditions.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Why do you not pass that down to Mr. Stelle, and I want to go through a series of questions with you, Mr. Stelle.
As I have listened to the statement today, it still seems to me that there is a strong disagreement on the short-term part of this with regard to the 1997 decision. It still seems to me there is a strong disagreement between you and Mr. Bowles and probably Mr. DeHart as well, on what the science says. Would you take that from this discussion, or have I misunderstood it?
Page 192 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STELLE. Mr. Chairman, I would not say it is a strong disagreement, it is not a deep disagreement. Doug or Ed, correct me if I am wrong. I think again, this is athis is not a major issue one way or the other. I mean if Ed wants to say that the State of Idaho is absolutely convinced that the weight of scientific opinion is that more fish survived in the river in 1997, I have not heard that from the State of Idaho. So no, I do not think it is a strong point of disagreement. Ed, do you want to disagree?
Mr. CRAPO. I saw a little body language there, Ed.
Mr. BOWLES. It is kind of switched again from the long term.
Mr. STELLE. Absolutely. Well, I was just asking a short term question.
Mr. BOWLES. It makes it a littleI mean, I can speak to the short term, if you would like.
Mr. CRAPO. Why do I not have Ed speak to the short term and then I will be thinking on the same wave length and then I can come back to you.
Mr. STELLE. I think my view on the short term issue was very ably described by Rick Williams of the ISAB.
Mr. CRAPO. Okay.
Mr. BOWLES. And I agree with Mr. Stelle that I think it is more productive to look at how this fits into the long term, and so I agree with him that this is a minor issue itself, but it does hint at some perspectives that I think are causing us to lose taking advantage of the opportunities we have to solve this problem. They show the propensity of NMFS to hold onto transportation as the way, the default way of operating, and that does affect the long range decision and it affects the way we deal with that.
But just on the short thing, what I was getting at earlier was that our starting premises are different. Our default, even on the short-term, should be to keep the fish in the river or at least have a viable spread-the-risk migration policy unless there is evidence to take them out of the river. And I think NMFS may disagree and Will can speak to this on his own, but their default is to take the fish out of the river unless there is evidence to keep them in. There is no data set that says transportation is better than in-river under high flow conditionsthere is none. NMFS' own consultant that they hired to do an evaluation recommended putting far fewer fish in barges than the State of Idaho did under the conditions we had in 1997. Their own consultant they hired to develop what they called a transportation rule curve said that under high flow conditions, much more fish should be left in the river. The State of Idaho recommended putting more fish in the barges than NMFS' own consultant said. And so to characterize this as a closed book on the in-river versus transport on this interim period, I think is misspoken. But that still does not address the long-term recovery issue because neither the current in-river or trnasportation can save the fish. Let us not get bogged down too much, Congressman, in the short term. How does it affect the way NMFS is dealing with the 1999 decision process. That is the key question.
Page 193 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. So he says, Mr. Stelle, that there is a bias there and the 1997 decision was an indication of that bias.
Mr. STELLE. Actually, let us look again, my first preference, Mr. Chairman, was not to get hung up on the 1997 decision because I do not think it is material to the long term remedy. Having said that, the decision in fact was to adopt a spread-the-risk approach, largely in deference to the continuing debate within the region, which means that our instructions to the operators was to manage the system so as to end up transporting aroundmanage it toward the transportation of 50 percent. Now Ed cites an equal shot, that gets pretty equal to me.
Mr. CRAPO. But that is not what was done, is it?
Mr. STELLE. Yes, the system is being operated I think to transport between 50 and 55 percent of the spring/summer chinook, is that correct?
Mr. CRAPO. Go ahead, Ed.
Mr. BOWLES. We are going to get into this, I guess.
Mr. CRAPO. Yeah, I do want to get into this.
Mr. STELLE. My guidance to the operating agencies was just as I said and I can provide you a written copy of that guidance.
Mr. CRAPO. Okay.
Mr. STELLE. And frankly, I do not know how the spill regimes are working, whether we are not we are getting those53 percent or 57 percent, I am not that familiar.
Mr. CRAPO. And this is salmon.
Mr. STELLE. Yes.
Mr. BOWLES. And these are the spring migrants, the season is over, we are doing summer migrants right now, the fall chinook.
Page 194 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STELLE. What were the percentages?
Mr. BOWLES. It depends, and this gets to a pivotal point on this, whether or not you are looking at listed fish or all the fish, and for all the fish, it was just above 50 percent. For the listed fish, it was upwards of 56 to 60 percent.
Now maybe this will be productive if we look at it in the context of how the process works, trying to keep that in mind, because I have already debated this at length, you know, with NMFS and their staff.
Mr. CRAPO. Yeah, but I have not heard the debate.
Mr. BOWLES. But I am sure you do not want to revisit that.
I think what is instructive here is how the process worked and Mr. Stelle is correct, the State of Idaho did come in and within the process with the recommendations worked very hard to develop a consensus and I feel we were quite successful with that consensus among the salmon managers. And this was overruled at the Executive Committee meeting, and even that in and of itself, I think the State of Idaho accepted and was grateful for and recognized Mr. Stelle's authority in doing that, and accepted that decision. Mr. Stelle characterized that right, it was to ensure that no fewer than 50 percent of the fish were in the barges.
But he also made a statement which was consistent with their statutory responsibilities, that this was for listed fish. And this led to another place where the process broke down. So I feel Idaho, in very good faith, gave it our best shot; NMFS did do a good job of meeting us halfway and working with us on that. They overrode a consensus of basically 11 of the 12 salmon managers. So then we went forward and we figured out how to do it within the 50 percent.
During that period, it became evident that listed fish versus unlisted fish transport at different rates and so we developed a transport operation that met the 50 percent criteria for listed fish. To make a long story short, things were changed by the operating agencies from what we had agreed to.
Page 195 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Are you talking about the Corps of Engineers?
Mr. BOWLES. The Corps of Engineers and the TMT, while Idaho was absent. They changed the operations to ensure that all fish stayed above 50 percent, and not just the listed fish. And so, we came in and tried to change that back through the process, through the TMT process. We put in a system operation request, and actually got consensus again from all of the salmon management agenciesentities except NMFS to again implement this thing, to correct what had been done wrong. That was again overruled by NMFS on what should have been a pretty minor issue, particularly listening to Mr. Stelle now.
And what this comes down to is in the process of joint decisionmaking, obviously you have to have somebody who is going to make the final decisions if you cannot reach consensus, that is fine. But I think that entity must choose their battles carefully and to override two efforts that developed total consensus other than that authority group, to override that on these two different situations, for an issue that Mr. Stelle says is relatively minor, is somewhat disturbing in the process aspect of this.
Mr. CRAPO. Well, let me tell youand I would like you to give the microphone back to Mr. Stelle and he can certainly respond to this. The reason this isit might sound like I am just endlessly going into something that the witnesses here say is a minor part of the issue. The reason it is a big issue to me is because if there is a bias in the direction of what is suggested, that can have massive implications on the people who live in the State of Idaho, if that bias is carried through into the long-term decision.
As you probably know, Mr. Stelle, from comments that I have made in the past, I have a concern that that bias is there. The question I have iswell, I guess I will just ask it to you directly. Is there a bias in the National Marine Fisheries Service in favor of transportation over other solutions?
Mr. STELLE. No. And let me describe the reason why I say that and also let me describeI think that raises a good point about why did you feel compelled to override an apparent consensus or lack of objection on a particular matter. It is a good question and it deserves a clear answer.
Page 196 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In my view, the issue onthe transportation issue as it is proposed now in 1997 boils down to an issue of the role of science in decisionmaking here. And in my view, as I stated
Mr. CRAPO. In the short term.
Mr. STELLE. Absolutely. And in my view, the most important dynamic of the issue as it was presented in 1997 was the issue of the role of the best available scientific information in making substantive decisions. I was very much aware that lots of people did not agree with this and frankly it was not a comfortable position for myself to be in. And I do not particularly like being in those positions.
But I feel very strongly that if we are going to have success in all of the facets of this effort, we must stick to what we believe to be the best evidence available on what is the right course. In my view, there is not a lot of equivocation on what the right course is in 1997.
Mr. CRAPO. Well, one of the reasons the concern is raised to folks like myselfand I would like you to comment on thisMr. Bowles indicates that 12 of the other salmon managers agreed or had consensus, and I realize it might not have been 100 percent agreement, as Mr. DeHart has indicated that there were some differences on some aspects of the approach to salmon recovery, but 12 of the managers had consensus and NMFS says no, we are not going to go that direction.
Mr. STELLE. Let me describe in a little more detail exactly what the nature of that agreement was, as I understand it, and Ed and Doug, please correct me if I am wrong.
In fact, this issue was debated first, as it should be, at the technical management team level and a different set of options was evaluated and then in the absence of an agreement at that level on the transportation regimes and the operation of the spill and collector projects, it was elevated to the implementation team which are what I consider the senior program managers and I believe at the implementation team discussion there were several options being evaluated and as reported to me, there was an agreement between the States of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, NMFS and I do not know whether or not the operators were involved in this, in a spread-the-risk option and this was actually the State of Idaho moving some from their proposed position in order to reach an agreement. The lower river salmon tribes objected to that option, which was alternative six, I believe. And on the basis of that objection, the issue was elevated to the Executive Committee.
Page 197 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When it was so elevated to the Executive Committee, the State of Idaho reiterated its preference for and its insistence on the Idaho plan, two-thirds in the river as opposed to spread-the-risk, and the other States to my knowledge did not object, expressed a preference for the spread-the-risk option, but chose not to object. And the tribal participants supported the Idaho proposal. So that was in fact the nature of the agreement, as I understand it.
It is a little simplistic to simply say everybody agreed that the Idaho plan was the right way to go. That is not quite accurate.
Mr. CRAPO. Is it fair to say nobody opposed it?
Mr. STELLE. Yes, that is exactlyat the Executive Committee level, there was an absence of objection to it, but for the objection of the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Mr. CRAPO. Okay.
Mr. STELLE. And again, Mr. Chairman, I am just trying to be very precise here.
Mr. CRAPO. No, I understand that. And you are telling me that NMFS' ultimate decision to ignore, or not to accept
Mr. STELLE. I did not ignore it.
Mr. CRAPO. I realize you did not ignore it. Not to accept the Idaho proposal or Idaho policy.
Mr. STELLE. In whole.
Mr. CRAPO. In whole.
Mr. STELLE. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. Does not show any bias whatsoever on the part of the National Marine Fisheries as to the ultimate outcome of its decision for the long-term recovery plan.
Page 198 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STELLE. Absolutely. And on to the issue of bias, there arein my view, we are absolutely open to making sure that our science, as well as everybody else's science is properly peer reviewed and subject to an open scientific evaluation process. It was we who decided the need to convene an independent science advisory board specifically to ensure thatand it was we who decided to bring in the National Academy of Sciences to help us construct that board, specifically because of the food fight that occurs here constantly in the region as to whose science is the right science. And it was my judgment that because of a lack of credibility of anyone, that convening an independent science advisory board with the assistance of the National Academy of Sciences was essential and that we were absolutely prepared to open all of our books to it whenever and wherever it so chooses.
Mr. CRAPO. And I agree with you on that. In fact, you and I had a telephone conversation about that when it was first happening, and I think that that was a correct decision.
Does NMFS in fact intend to transport all the smolt it can during the 1998 smolt migration?
Mr. STELLE. I will leave that issue to the process which we have in place, which is in late winter/early spring looking at the flow projections, decreases in flow projections. The technical management team will develop a set of options which will then be either reviewed by the implementation team. I do not want to prejudge that issue right now.
Mr. CRAPO. But that proposal has been put forward, is that correct?
Mr. STELLE. I am sorry?
Mr. CRAPO. Has that proposal to transport all fish in 1998, or as many as possible
Mr. STELLE. A couple of my staff people have said based on the preliminary returns from the PIC-tag transportation studies this year, and this is the first year of the returns, those preliminary returns indicate basically a two-to-one survival benefit from transported fish. She said that if that holds up in evaluation, why would we put more fish in the river. That was purely a staff observation.
Page 199 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC My own view on that, which will be controlling, is that we will work that issue through the technical management team and the implementation team in the development of the 1998 scenario.
Mr. CRAPO. But what you are telling me is at least the proposal to abandon this spread-the-risk policy has been raised.
Mr. STELLE. At the staff level, in hall talk, yes.
Mr. CRAPO. Does NMFS assume the current configuration of dams in its approach to the 1999 decision?
Mr. STELLE. It is a good question, and let me go to that and what I believe is important in that 1999 decision.
We do not assume anything there. We assume that by 1999 we will have been able to develop the necessary biological and economic information associated with each of the five or six principal options in order to make a better informed selection of what the long-term remedy is. We can sit here at this table today and speculate, but because of the significance of the issue for the Pacific Northwest, it is my view that our obligation to ourselves is to pursue a very steady, open evaluation of the performance, the likely performance of each of these options so that we can then answer the question to ourselves, do we think we know what we are doing. Because when we get to the selection of a preferred alternative, it will be essential to be able to demonstrate to you and to all the other participants that yes, we believe that our projections of the outcomes of this particular alternative are reliable. And the issue of reliable projections is essential.
Secondly, the issue of the economic costs and benefits of each of the particular options, going to Ed's point, and what the degree of economic impact may be on different sectors and what the opportunities might be to mitigate those impacts so as to be able to accept them as a region is also an absolutely essential facet of this effort over the next several years.
Page 200 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Okay. I am sure you have heard the argument, the gold plating argument.
Mr. STELLE. Yes, I would like to speak to that.
Mr. CRAPO. Good. The Corps of Engineers iswell, let me just ask you, do you agree that the Corps' capital budget plan seems to predispose the region toward a particular recovery plan that requires flow augmentation as a continued recovery
Mr. STELLE. No, I do not agree.
Mr. CRAPO. [continuing] outcome. Okay, tell me why.
Mr. STELLE. The issue, as I understand it, Mr. Chairman, is that in particular there were three or four sets of capital projects, dam improvement projects, in the 1998 Corps' capital program that were the subject and have been the subject of continuing debate. The salmon managers in the system configuration team, which is the team of people that try to set priorities for that Corps capital budget, reviewed these four projects and they involved the continued work on the collector project at the lower Snake, extended length screens at John Day, improvements to the juvenile and adult bypass facilities at Bonneville and I believe one other. Doug, do you remember what the other was?
Mr. DEHART. Ice Harbor.
Mr. STELLE. Ice Harbor, Okay. There was what I perceived to be a fairly strong agreement between the Federal and State participants in the SCT and implementation team that those four projects should proceed and that they did not constitute gold-plating or prejudicing the 1999 decision, becausethere are separate reasons for each, but for the lower Granite project it was basically that the question of the ability to develop surface collection to better collect and bypass or spill juveniles is an essential option.
Mr. CRAPO. May I interrupt right there? Is there any effort underway right now to accelerate the research on the surface collector design?
Page 201 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STELLE. I do not know the answer to that, I think that the Corps was pursuing some additional reconfiguration of the prototype this year and testing it out with some curtains. I do not know whether or notI think they are going full bore on it frankly.
Mr. CRAPO. All right, go ahead.
Mr. STELLE. In essence, the salmon managers, the Federal and State salmon managers decided that these projects should go forward for various and sundry reasons, be it research or simply because we need the improvements in survival that they hold out, and that particularly in the case of John Day, obviously the question of whether or not John Day should be reconfigured is one of the major questions we have to get to. I think the salmon managers' judgment was that yes, even though we put those extended length screens in at John Dayin fact, for 5 days this coming year, the survival benefits of that, even if we end up deciding to take out John Day, will be worth it because implementing a drawdown decision, an extended drawdown decision at John Day may take us 10 to 12 years, and that therefore, the incremental benefits of those extended length screens are worth it and in their view did not prejudice that decision.
For Bonneville, the issue was juvenile bypass at what Ted Strong and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission has rightly termed is a lousy bypass system and has been lousy for years. And I think again the Federal and State salmon managers decided that those bypass improvements were fairly reliable and would result in some fairly significant survival benefits.
I have to say that the salmon tribes, represented by Mr. Strong here, do not agree with the Bonneville decision and I believe do not agree maybe with John Day. And we are looking at that very hard. My own personal view is that I want to sit down and look at the issue of the John Day extended length screens for 1999 and beyond, because maybe we should not be further pursuing any more investments there.
Page 202 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. So you are prepared to give me your assurance today that the current expenditures are not intended to or designed to push the decision in one direction or another.
Mr. STELLE. Absolutely.
Mr. CRAPO. The 1995 biological opinion provides that the water in the upper Snake River basin will only be acquired from willing buyers and willing sellers and in compliance with State law. You have probably heard me express concern about that remaining the case in any new decision that is made in 1999 or whenever it is made. Do you have any plans to approach obtaining water in any other way?
Mr. STELLE. No.
Mr. CRAPO. If the water is not able to be obtained through a willing buyer-willing seller and is required by whatever recovery plan that you may approve or whatever biological opinion or whatever decision is made in 1999, how will you obtain it?
Mr. STELLE. My view on that, Congressman, is that the subject of operations of the upper Snake reservoirs and the Hells Canyon complex and the relicensing of that complex should properly be open to negotiations between the Bureauand this is the long term
Mr. CRAPO. Right.
Mr. STELLE. [continuing] between the Bureau, the Idaho Power Company, the States, the tribes and ourselves and that that in my view is very directly related to the issue of the lower Snake Federal projects. Hence in my view, our objective should be to try to reach a more comprehensive agreement that involves both decisions about those lower Snake dams and some long-term understandings and commitments about flows or flow augmentation from the upper Snake.
Mr. CRAPO. And those commitments again would come, if I understand it correctly, if the water is obtained only from willing buyer-willing seller arrangements, those commitments would have to come from individual water users.
Page 203 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STELLE. Yes, and I believe the implementation of those commitments would require the continued support of the State of Idaho.
Mr. CRAPO. Do you have any opinion or knowledge of any legal opinions that would indicate that the managing agencies, whether it be the Bureau of Reclamation or otherwise, could obtain that water other than through a willing buyer-willing seller arrangement?
Mr. STELLE. I heard the testimony this morning and the exchange this morning, and Mr. Chairman, that is not my area of expertise, so I really
Mr. CRAPO. So beyond that, you have nothing to add?
Mr. STELLE. No.
Mr. CRAPO. You heard us refer to the consultation this morning between the Bureau and NMFS.
Mr. STELLE. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. Do you have any plans on increasing the 427,000 acre-foot amount that is now requested or provided as a part of this new consultation?
Mr. STELLE. Can I give you a precise legal response to that?
Mr. CRAPO. Sure.
Mr. STELLE. And let me describe to you why I am giving you a precise legal response. We have received a 60-day notice on that issue, we may well be in litigation on that issue and I do not want anything I say here to prejudice our ability to defend what we do in that litigation, and therefore, I am being careful.
If your question is do we have any current intention of requiring more water beyond that which we called for in the 1995 biological opinion, the answer is no. If your question is do we intend to look at all of the current available information and examine all of the issues in accordance with a normal and lawful consultation process, we do intend to do that. But at this point in time, we have no intention, based upon what we know and we believe we have considered all the relevant information in the 1995 biological opinion.
Page 204 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Who has filed the notice of intent to sue?
Mr. STELLE. Oh, I do not know.
Mr. CRAPO. Is there only one?
Mr. STELLE. Anybody here know that? Legal Defense Fund or
Mr. CRAPO. There are several here that know, but we will find that out.
Mr. STELLE. American Rivers. There are so many, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. CRAPO. Haslet us get it all, it is the American Rivers group, are there any others that are a part of that?
Mr. STELLE. Again, I am not sure who signed that 60-day notice.
Mr. CRAPO. Mr. Ford, do you have an answer to that question?
Mr. FORD. The lawyers have told me the Defense Fund and Northwest Environmental Defense Center, the plaintiffs are American Rivers, Sierra Club, National Resource Defense Counsel, Oregon Natural Resources Counsel, Federation of Fly Fishermen, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen Associations.
Mr. STELLE. To name a few.
Mr. FORD. Trout Unlimited may also be in there.
Mr. CRAPO. Okay, good, thank you.
What is meant by the statements in your May 19, 1997 letter to FERC regarding the water diversion activities in the upper Snake River basin and progress on securing additional water? You are familiar with the paragraph that I am referring to, the second paragraph on page 2?
Page 205 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STELLE. I do not have it before me.
Mr. CRAPO. I have got a marked up copy here and there is also a copy in the record from our previous hearing, but basically in your letter to FERCI think I have got it here, yesit states, ''The effectiveness of the FCRPS project operation seeking to achieve BO in-river flow objectives is dependent upon water diversion activities in the middle and upper Snake River basin and upon the operation of the Hells Canyon project situated in between.'' I will skip a sentence or two and then it says, ''Specifically, the BO adopted the Council's requirement for immediate provision of 427,000 acre-feet and progress on securing additional water from the middle and upper Snake River and specific drafting levels from Brownlee Reservoir of the Hells Canyon complex in May, July, August and September.''
The question that I have is the question in this consultation that is raised by that language of what ''progress on securing additional water'' refers to.
Mr. STELLE. That is one of the numerous points that we intentionally incorporated in the 1995 biological opinion to try to draw that opinion as close as possible to the fish and wildlife program of the Northwest Power Planning Council. In our viewthe Council program called for an additional one million acre-feet out of the upper Snake.
Mr. CRAPO. That is right.
Mr. STELLE. We did not believe that that was feasible and that it would be inappropriate to request the Bureau to provide that. We therefore, in working with the Bureau, decided that thethat a firm commitment for the 427,000 acre-feet was feasible and implementable, but that we would continue to examine the possibility of additional water over and above that, in reflection of the Power Council's call for one million acre-feet.
Mr. CRAPO. Then what that tells me is that the Power Planning Council's call for an additional one million acre-feet is very much in play.
Page 206 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STELLE. In my view, the agreement that we have now with the Bureau of Reclamation for the providing of 427,000 acre-feet is the agreement that we will continue to look to with the Corpswith the Bureau and will be the subject of further discussions in the consultation. I do not know of any specific further measures for additional water from the upper Snake, if that is what your question is.
Mr. CRAPO. At least in occasional discussion and consultation with FERC and the issue of seeking an additional one million acre-feet, or at least looking at the issue of seeking an additional one million acre-feet in that consultation.
Mr. STELLE. Again, to parallel and be consistent with the
The REPORTER. Will you use the microphone, please? I cannot hear you.
Mr. STELLE. Oh, I am sorry.
So the issue isand, Mr. Chairman, I am not even sure that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has decided to initiate consultation.
Mr. CRAPO. I understand that.
What is the current progress on meeting the 1999 deadline for making a decision on the long-term mechanism for salmon recovery?
Mr. STELLE. I would say it is good. In fact, at our last meeting with the State and tribal senior members of the process, we, in fact, had presentations by the mediator for the PATH process on their progress and on theby the Corps of Engineers on their economic and engineering evaluations. We looked at the schedules. We even looked at the question of whether or not schedules should be accelerated or could be accelerated and what we might or might not sacrifice by accelerating decision schedules. We distributed a discussion paper on the relevant schedules and timeframes and issues and I would be happy to provide that to you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 207 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. If you would, I would appreciate it.
Mr. STELLE. But my general impression is, I think the economic and biological work is pretty much on track.
Mr. CRAPO. I think that discussion paper refers to more water, too.
Mr. STELLE. Yes. Yes, in fact, one of the issues that the PATH process is examining is the role of flow augmentation in the long-term remedy.
Mr. CRAPO. In that context, what implication will either of the two long-term decisions have for water in southern Idaho? And when I say that, I am referring to basically the enhanced transportation and surface collector approach or the drawdown dam breaching approach. In other words, if the decision moves in one direction or the other in the 1999 decision that is going to be made, what implications do each of those options have, in your opinion, with regard to the need for additional water from southern Idaho? And I am referring not just to the upper Snake but clear across southern Idaho.
Mr. STELLE. Again, based on what I know now, my view is that there is a correlation between flow augmentation or additional flow augmentation in southern Idaho or the upper Snake and drawdown options on the lower Snake at the Federal projects. If the region decides to implement a drawdown strategy, then, I think, that will likely result in reduced demands for flow augmentation from the upper Snake. Exactly how much and what the equation is, Mr. Chairman, I do not know and I do not frankly think we have developed that information through the PATH process, but there is a relationship there.
Mr. CRAPO. Is it possible that the need for flow augmentation could be eliminated entirely under some options?
Mr. STELLE. We would have to talk about what you mean by flow augmentation. Fish need a river and fish will be returning in summer and fall. So there will need to be flows in the summer and fall time in the lower Snake. Now does that require flow augmentation, or does the natural hydrograph provide for it? That is some of the details we have to take a look at.
Page 208 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. In the event that there were a requirement of more flow augmentation from southern Idaho, particularly in dry years, some have suggested additional storage such as Galloway for those purposes. Is NMFS evaluating that and is that a feasible option?
Mr. STELLE. I do not have information on that topic, Mr. Chairman. I do not know.
Mr. CRAPO. Okay. Were you here this morning when we had the discussion with Mr. Campbell about the two million acre-feet of water?
Mr. STELLE. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. Do you have a comment on that?
Mr. STELLE. I believe the discussion pertained to the recently completed study by the Bureau of Reclamation.
Mr. CRAPO. Yes.
Mr. STELLE. Thethat study was intended by both NMFS and the Bureau to be an evaluation of the cumulative effects of all different water resource activities on in-stream close in the Snake and Columbia system. It was called for, and part of the 1995 biological opinion. The study was releasedfinished and released by the Bureau, I believe, in the spring of this year. Exactly when, I am not sure. And in essence, what that seeks to display is theis the relative role of different types of water resource management activities on in-stream flows, including, but not limited to, power production, flood control and irrigation.
Mr. CRAPO. And so you do not interpret that study to mean anything other than
Mr. STELLE. Accumulative effects study.
Mr. CRAPO. [continuing] accumulative effects study? All right.
Page 209 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In his testimony, Mr. Ray askedor said that he is not aware ofand I am not aware ofwhat the improved transportation alternative really is. Are you in a position to give us details on what that alternative is?
Mr. STELLE. Yes. They are fairly commonsensical. The most significant of which I think is theis substantial improvements in the ability to collect juveniles in their downstream migration through this question of surface collectors. If weif transportation is the chosen long-term remedy, then it must be predicated on the assumption that we are going to be able to collect enough juveniles in order to support rebuilding. Right now, the collection efficiencies at the different projects is quite variable. The most important improvement in the transportation system is the ability tois the collection abilities, and thatand the most important focus there is whether or not we can develop surface collectors that work. There are other more modest improvements, improvements in the bypass systems, improvements with the other collection facilities like screens, improvements in bargein the conditions in the barges themselves, reduced crowding, improvements in release strategies of fish in the downstream areas, et cetera, et cetera.
Mr. CRAPO. All right, thank you. I am going to change gears over to the conservation agreements.
Mr. STELLE. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. Do you see positive potential for NMFS to use the conservation agreements that were discussed earlier in terms of dealing with private parties and others?
Mr. STELLE. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. What have you done or what do you plan to do in support of these agreements as a tool for fish recovery?
Mr. STELLE. I plan to work very hard to try to get more staff to help us negotiate that. That is actually a serious issue. What we have done thus far principally in Oregon, Washington and California, Congressman, is initiate a fairly aggressive program to negotiate long-term conservation agreements with applicants who come in the door. They tend to be 40 to 100-year agreements with the large industrial landowners, mostly timberland owners. And the basic deal, if you will, associated with those agreementswhich I strongly supportis that if they promise to manage their landscape in a way that provides a high likelihood that the aquatic habitat on that landscape will be healthy over time and will support salmon and steelhead, we, in turn, promise not to come back and take another bite of the apple. They are multi-species, all species. They tend to cover both aquatics and terrestrials and they represent very large scale, very sophisticated agreements. We have beenwe have been quite successful with a number of them thus far, and I think that theythe landowners themselves are willing to change their land management practices for the long term with some significant investments associated with it in return for the stability it proves them, that, in essence, they are home free from an Endangered Species Act or Clean Water perspective. They are a very important tool in the toolbox.
Page 210 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. And you fully intend to use them?
Mr. STELLE. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. I want to go back to your answer with regard to the water from the upper Snake. I recognize that you are facing a notice of intent to sue. I assume you can tell me what is in that notice. Is that not a public document, the notice of intent to sue?
Mr. STELLE. Oh absolutely. I can give you a copy.
Mr. CRAPO. I would like to see that.
Mr. STELLE. Okay.
Mr. CRAPO. I assume that the reason you cannot discuss water issues is because the notice of intent to sue seeks further water, or says that there may be a claim for further water from southern Idaho, is that correct?
Mr. STELLE. I think that sounds like a safe assumption. To be honest with you, I cannot recall the exact claim. I believe the heart of the claim is a procedural claim that you did not consult and you have to. Whether or not the relief sought is something more than a formal consultation under section 7 is the question. My guess is probably they are looking for more than just process.
Mr. CRAPO. And you will provide a copy of that notice?
Mr. STELLE. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. And I do notI think I asked this, but you were in the middle of answering something else. Is that the only notice that you are currently operating under or dealing with right now?
Mr. STELLE. No. I can answer with great confidence that wewe get a sort of sprinkling of 60-day notices on a monthly basis from various and sundry parties. Do you mean in the context of the upper Snake?
Page 211 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. Well no, I meant the first, but let us go to that. In the context of the upper Snake, are there others that you are aware of?
Mr. STELLE. Not to my knowledge.
Mr. CRAPO. Can you tell meand I realize you may not have this on the tip of your tongue. But can you tell me which groups may haveindividuals or groups may have filed notices of intent to sue with regard to the 1995 biological opinion? Is that going to be a long list?
Mr. STELLE. No. Doug, you might be able to help here, or Ted. I believe the principal plaintiffs for challenging the hydro opinion
Mr. CRAPO. Yes.
Mr. STELLE. [continuing] were theI believe three of your member tribes, or was it four?
Mr. STRONG. We were just amicus.
Mr. STELLE. I am sorry. Then it wasI assume American Rivers was the plaintiff, the principal plaintiff. I assume some of the Idaho environmental groups may have been part of the coalition of plaintiffs. I believe they were represented by the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund. As Ted indicated, his member tribes joined that litigation as amicus, and I believe the State of Oregon joined as a party plaintiff, and the State of Washington joined as an amicus, and the States of Idaho and Montana joined as party defendants.
Mr. CRAPO. And that is all in one notice?
Mr. STELLE. That was all in one litigation.
Mr. CRAPO. In one litigation. Are there any notices that have not resulted in litigation?
Mr. STELLE. Oh, yeah.
Mr. CRAPO. That is a long list, or is it?
Page 212 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STELLE. A 60-day notice can be a tactical move, Congressman, as you probably well know, to stimulate further discussions on a particular matter. So I do not necessarily assume that 60-day notices automatically translate into actively prosecuted litigation.
Mr. CRAPO. But you are treating the
Mr. STELLE. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. [continuing] American Rivers one as a potentialthe recent one
Mr. STELLE. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. [continuing] as a potential for very real litigation?
Mr. STELLE. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. Hold on just 1 minute.
Mr. CRAPO. All right, I just want to go into one more area with you, Mr. Stelle, and then I do want to have a brief discussion with the panel about process. As you have heard from some of my other questions, I am sure, and from some of the testimony at the first hearing and in this hearing, a lot of objections come to me from individual participants in various endeavors, whether it be mining or timber or grazing or other uses that have been impacted by salmon managementoften habitat management decisions. And one of the constant complaints is they can deal with the overall managing agency, but then when the layer of management that NMFS adds to it is overlayed, that it is a very unworkable and frustrating circumstance. I do not really have a question, although you are welcome to respond if you would like to. I just want to tell you that that is a constant concern that is raised to us, often enough that I feel it necessary to bring it to your attention here that in one way or another, we have got to get past that. We have got to get to the point where the managing agencies and officials are working together and in a timely fashion with NMFS. I am not going to necessarily say it is NMFS' fault, but you are the one at the table today. I have the opportunity to talk to other managing agencies as well. To just encourage you to look at that issue and make sure that your people in the field are providing the kind of timely and prompt public service that they ought to be providing to those who are dealing with our managing agencies. If you would like to comment to that, you are welcome to.
Page 213 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STELLE. Let me offer just a couple of brief comments. First of all, Ithere have beenI think there are probably some of thesome of the frustration is warranted, and at times things have not gone as quickly as everybody would hope. I think that there isthere has been some room for improvement with the interagency process and that, in fact, we are seeing some real improvements occurring. So I am optimistic that things are in fact getting better on the ground.
I would also note that we haveI have made a big effort to try to expand our Boise office so that just the bloody issue of workload and bottlenecks tries to get resolved better. We have made some pretty good progress there.
Finally, I would like to say that after theon the issue of the grazing permits, I listened to Jim's testimony this morning, Jim Little
Mr. CRAPO. Yes.
Mr. STELLE. [continuing] and he participated in the review team that we had on the ground a couple of weeks ago to look at the issues of cattle management on Federal lands and what kind of strategies might be implementable and what kind of monitoring requirements might be required. What I would like to do is to give you a commitment that when the report from the National Riparian Team comes back with what their recommendations are on how to implement a strategy, that I will call Jim and I will meet with him to talk to him about developing a larger multi-year framework for grazing management in a way that gives him better predictability. I think that is entirely possible. I think we are closing the bounds between the different points of view and I will give you my commitment that I will meet with him to look to explore that.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. That is the kind of thing that I think really does help, because even though we all recognize that the issues are complex and the agency is very heavily over worked, we still have people on the ground who's livelihoods are seriously impacted by these things.
Page 214 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STELLE. Yeah.
Mr. CRAPO. Let us go now to a discussion with the whole panel on the question that we have talked with each panel about, and that is what kind of a process do we need to move forward. We have the sovereigns in one capacity or another represented here, and that has been different than the other panels because they have had an opportunity to talk about you. But I would like to get your perspectives on this. I tend to come at itI will tell you out frontup front that I tend to come at it from a perspective of thinking that we need a decisionmaking model in which there is a final place where the buck stops. Although NMFS may be the closest thing we have got to that, I do not think that we have got that even now with NMFS. There are those who say, okay, then we ought to have a Federal agency doing that. There are those who say, no, we ought to create a regional entity that has equal participation from the tribes and the States and the Federal agencies. There is a suggestion, as you heard this morning, to have maybe those sovereigns create a single managing person or a board of directors with a CEO for management. I am sure that a number of other options could be discussed. I would like to know what your thoughts are.
First of all, do we need to have a different system than we now have? If your answer to that is no, then I would just like to know why, and if your answer to that is yes, I would like to know what you have as suggestions.
Mr. DeHart, do you want to start?
Mr. DEHART. Certainly, Congressman. Maybe the best way for me to answer this, rather than just sort of speculate myself on some of these options, is to offer you an example of an approach that I think is working well in Oregon at this point, and that is the process that we have gone through as a State and have worked with National Marine Fishery Service on in developing recovery strategies for coho salmon. And that was, I think it is fair to characterize, very much a bottom up rather than top down effort. An effort that involved a commitment by State agencies, by the Governor of Oregon, by the Oregon State legislature in partnership with local governments, with local landowners to bring together measures to meet scientific objectives, biological objectives that we developed working with the National Marine Fishery Service and others. The end result was really not, I do not think, fundamentally a different process in the sense of the Federal side of it, but it was different in the sense that when it came together, the pieces came with buyoff. So that plan, as it stands right now, has State and local money behind it, as well as Federal money behind it. Of course, it was only adopted earlier this summer, but many of the measures are already happening and moving forward quickly. Now in fairness, that did not solve the issue of Federal management responsibilities for Federal lands and Federal water projects versus non-Federal ones. It operated on the assumptionand it is working therethat the Federal agencies define their measures and then they implement those to the same set of agreed to standards and the State implements ones involving State and privately owned lands. I think that model is worth a real close look. It is a bit of a brave new world in how you implement the Endangered Species Act and also in how you get ahead of the Endangered Species Act and deal with weak stocks before you have to talk about kicking in federally driven, ESA driven management. So I certainly offer that one as food for thought here.
Page 215 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. All right, thank you.
Mr. BOWLES. Congressman, that is a big question you asked and one I have a lot of opinions about. As I mentioned in my testimony, you know, I really do not feel that how ever we package the process that we are going to get there unless we have a fundamental shift in what is motivating the participants at the table. And that motivation has to be meeting the biological requirements of the fish in a way that is acceptable to society. I feel that it is a very simple mission, but we, as a group, get far too bogged down in the process of salmon recovery. The concern, legitimate as it is, on litigation, on the bureaucracies that we all are part of causes us to lose sight of that mission. I do not feel that our tendency as a group to try to first and foremost see if we can somehow make it fit without causing any real changes is going to get us there.
The other, you know, thing that I brought up is that from the standpoint of having one person in charge, I think you are right in that we do need some place for the buck to stop. But that leadership is going to require somebody that has solely focused on that mission and without any scientific, economic or social biases within that. And I do not feel NMFS is there on that, mainly because of what I perceive as their bias toward sticking with the transportation program. I think if we can get beyond that and focus on the social and economic issues of how to make in-river survival work, we could be much more successful in this.
Mr. CRAPO. Okay. Mr. Strong.
Mr. STRONG. I believe we are already on this road to a new process and structure and it came about because the tribes withdrew from the adaptive management forum for the reason which is to overcome the bias that Will says was not there. You know, we felt there was extreme bias on the part of National Marine Fishery Service in leaning on its own science and utilizing only its own scientists' advice. That first came to public attention when we went through the MOA process to which allocated the $435 million. That was predicated almost exclusively on the biological opinion which the tribes objected to, which many environmentalists objected to, and which in part was the American Rivers versus NMFS lawsuit. When the adaptive management process began and all of these tiered committees were put together, NMFS chaired those, and despite any protestations from the tribal scientists, many of those decisions were made at a very low level. We objected strenuously to having technicians and scientists making policy. After several months of frustrationmaybe a year went by, we finallyafter fully consulting with the chair for the Council of Environmental Quality, we withdrew from that process, asking that a new process be developed in which three sovereigns would respect each others authorities and bring a greater kind of communication toward resolving what we thought were these biases. And when the decision about barging went forward, to us, that was the ultimate in terms of bias. And when the decision was supposed to be made in the future about breaching the dams, and the goldplating went ahead as a decision anyway, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation said we are obligated to do that because it is in the biological opinion. Their hands were tied by the National Marine Fishery Service. That is a bias because it excludes the decisions and the science from the tribes and other environmentalists. So it is biased.
Page 216 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think to the credit of the National Marine Fishery Service and others, we are now putting together a new framework that allows us to have these very authoritative decisionmaking processes put into place. I thinkI am hopeful anyway that a new kind of optimism will grow from decisionmaking being made from the policymakers on down. The tribes were quite frustrated having policy decisions made at a very low level. So I think we ultimately hope that improved communication will result in better decisionmaking and maybe take the edge off what we felt was a bias toward only the National Marine Fishery Service science.
Mr. CRAPO. Okay, thank you. Mr. Stelle.
Mr. STELLE. Yes, Mr. Chairman, let me first draw a couple of distinctions in your question, because I think they are useful. They are not perfect, but they are useful. There is, first of all, the suite of activities which occur on a day-to-day basis in implementing the biological opinion in preparation for the larger discussion in 1999 in running the river, in deciding what the Corps should spend their money on, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And in our view, I consider that as sort of interim governance issues. And then there is the larger question of how is this region going to decide what that long-term pathway should be in 1999. And they are qualitatively different subjects in some respects.
On the first, I sincerely believe thatcall it what you will, and I do not care what we call ityou need in essence the implementation team made up of the senior program managers of the relevant State, tribal and Federal agencies overseeing day-to-day implementation activities. You just need that. Now we could go behind closed doors and say this is just a Federal system, but that makes absolutely no sense. And we have that implementation team structure in place and I think it works fairly well, and hundreds and hundreds of issues get worked out there. And they oversee some technical committees which are essential technical committees.
So I see in some respects the interim decisionmaking apparatus is there. It is an implementation apparatus and we do not need to worry too much about that in some respects. There are incremental improvements we can make and should be making in it and are making with everyone.
Page 217 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The real larger governance issue is the bigis how to make the long-term decision. In my view, first and foremostand I think I represent the Administration on this. We believe that the long-termthe selection of a long-term remedy must absolutely involve the active and formal participation of the governments of the Pacific Northwest. The State governments and the tribal governments must come together with the Federal agencies in developing a long-term solution. If it does not happen, it will not get implemented. The question for us on governance, I think, is what kind of mechanism can we agree to to ensure that those options that we are developing are the right options, that the information is the correct information, and that theand that we then negotiate and come to an agreement on the right pathway. On that, I think Ted is correct that largely because of the effort of the Governors and the tribes with Federal participation, we are actively discussing how we can develop that kind of deliberative process. Maybe using the offices of the counsel representing the States, with active tribal and Federal participation, maybe doing it some other way. At the end of the day, we will end up having three sovereigns around some table somewhere in a deliberative process. We need to come to a more complete understanding of how that will work so that when we get 299, we are prepared to do business.
Mr. CRAPO. Mr. Stelle, in that context, it seems to me that what you have just described, we already have or have the potential to have put into place if that collaborative process between the sovereigns assumes that the Federal sovereign will ultimately make the final call, which is what happens now, am I correct? In other words, we can bring the State and tribal governments into collaboration or consultation or whatever we want to call it, but under the current system, basically you have to make a decision, NMFS has to make a decision, and then the other operating Federal operating agencies have to decide whether they are going to comply with that decision or not, is that correct?
Mr. STELLE. That is the currentthat is the current system, yes.
Page 218 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. So the question I would have in the context of what you have just suggested is, do you think that is adequate? In other words, the States and the tribesand I would ask this to all of you. That the States and the tribes are involved but they are not actual decisionmakers, or should we move to a system in which the States and the tribes are the decisionmakers, if we can create one. I do not even know if we can do that. But do you see what the question is?
Mr. STELLE. Yes, I do, and it is a fairit is a good question. I again think there are really very qualitatively different things at play here. On the one hand, the current system we have now is the implementation of day-to-day activities pursuant to our various responsibilities and statutory obligations, and we all try not to get sued too much. On the other hand, this larger decision, again in my view, is a macrois a macro choice by the Pacific Northwest. I fully expect that the implementation of that choice will be by legislation, will require legislation and will require some degree of consensus among the governments and the political leadership here in the Pacific Northwest. And in my view, that ultimatelythe coming together of that political consensus, as I think Ed was saying, is going to be the essential ingredient for long-term salmon success. It is not going to be simply NMFS and the Corps of Engineers going off and making a section 7 decision under the Endangered Species Act, no, sir.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Mr. Strong, do you want to add anything to that?
Mr. STRONG. First of all, I want to make sure that in this area of biasbecause Mr. Stelle is good at some of this stuff, he is a good bureaucrat at this point. That just because things are interim, as he terms it, it does not mean that the tribes, States and others should not be included. Barging, budgeting, spills, flows, production, they are interim. They are decisions being made today, but they impact the long-term availability of salmon in the future. We are not going to have that door closed on us by NMFS saying that these are interim measures and we will make the decision and you guys just go along with it. That is not going to happen.
Page 219 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secondly, I think that with regard to these processes and the decisions that are being made, I do think that while we have gone through this adaptive management process, that it is going to be very important that each of the respective governments be able to make decisions at these forums. That has been one of our problems. We do not necessarily need a CEO. We need people coming to that table who can make the decisions at that time instead of saying well, we have got to give this to our scientists, we have got to give this to our attorneys and the statisticians and everybody else to make a decision for us. There is no need for any of that kind of leadership if that is what we are going to do in a new process. We need people who can come there, make those decisions, make them binding and get on with the show.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Mr. Bowles.
Mr. BOWLES. I would like to just reiterate what Mr. Stelle brought up. This really is going to be a societal decision, and I think where the process really needs to start focusing on is embracing society into the discussion and the debate. Hopefully not so much in the debate of these conflicting ways of protecting our interests, or anything else, but actually in finding solutions on how to keep their interest whole. That cannot be done with the current process. We put, and it would be a fair question to ask us involved in the process, how much time relatively have we spent dealing with the science, dealing with the day-to-day implementation of things versus how much time have we spent figuring out how best to get society prepared for the decision they have to make? I think you would be a little disappointed in the answer.
I think Mr. DeHart has a good model for us perhaps on the coastal coho restoration plan, in that they basically came in with some ideas of what they need to accomplish it. It was not a big debate on the biology. I mean, it was there but it was not the focus. And they came in and said okay, this is what is biologically needed. Now let us figure out how to do it. That generated a lot of grassroots support. They had the threat of a listing, so that helped motivate people. But basically what you had was people figuring out how to keep themselves whole and still get the job done. Whether or not it works or not, the verdict is still out. But, at least, I think it was a good model and a way to begin that.
Page 220 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. All right. Mr. DeHart.
Mr. DEHART. Well the only thing I could add isat this point is to agree with the characterization that Will made a process, and that is, there is only so many ways to rearrange the same pieces in any case and they are largely on the table. So from my perspective, why do not those pieces always function now? I said this before, but it is worth reiterating. There is a couple of things that are missing, I think. One of them are clear biologically based goals and objectives that the process is supposed to meet. I would suggest that that has really been the failure of the Northwest Power Planning Council to the degree that process has failed to date. It has not been able to take on and resolve that fundamental issue. Instead, it has built an array of measures, but never the fundamental objectives for what they are trying to accomplish and what the measures need to meet.
And then secondand I mentioned this earlier, tooa dispute resolution process. Because clearly, just as you have mentioned several times, this is not going to work if it is just simply regional sovereigns and Federal Government disagree, regional sovereigns lose. I mean, the process has to be able to deal with what happens if there are good faith disagreements between regional and Federal parties. If you can make those two pieces work, I think largely the process piece will run all right.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. I appreciate your thoughts and input and the time you have taken to come here and testify. I have no further questions, so I am going to adjourn the Subcommittee hearing. For those who want to give a 1-minute speech, we will still do that. As I said earlier, it will not be a part of the record, but the record will remain open for written submission of comments for 30 days. This Committee is hereby adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 2:46 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
[Additional material submitted for the record follows.]
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