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NW Fishletter
NWF.224/December 20, 2006
Snake Fall Chinook Studies Get More Complicated

Scientists studying fall chinook from the Snake River have uncovered another new wrinkle in the various life-styles of that particular population, one that promises to make them even harder to study. In the past few years, researchers have found that many of the juvenile fall chinook overwinter in reservoirs, rather than migrate downstream by either barge or under their own power as subyearlings a few months after they hatch. ...more

BPA Says Latest Comparative Survival Study Incomplete

The Bonneville Power Administration has weighed in with a dozen pages of comments taking issue with the latest draft of the Comparative Survival Study, an ongoing report that has stirred controversy since its beginnings ten years ago. The controversy continues, and has been a major bone of contention. ...more

States, Politicians Gang Up On Sea Lions

After several years of stepping up harassment of marine mammals feasting on ESA-listed spring chinook at Bonneville Dam, Washington and Oregon have finally thrown in the towel. Both states have made formal applications to the federal government for the authority to kill the pesky sea lions, which are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. ...more

Forecasters Say 2007 Spring Run Should Be Down, But Redfish Sockeye Up

Columbia Basin harvest managers have pegged next year's upriver spring chinook run in the Columbia River at a mere 78,000 fish. That is about 10,000 fish below their forecast for the 2006 run, which came in significantly better, at 88,400, a 50-percent boost. ...more

Feds Building New Fish Forecasting Tool

Scientists from NOAA Fisheries say ocean conditions have improved since last year, which should boost coho and chinook returns in the Columbia River over the next couple of years. They have been monitoring conditions off the West Coast, looking at water temperatures, salinity, upwelling and larger scale effects like El Nino conditions, along with biological indicators like plankton growth that govern the food chain, predation by hake and birds, and trawl surveys of juvenile salmon. It's part of a new push to develop a predictive tool for estimating salmon runs. ...more

El Niño Still Growing

The temperature anomalies in the equatorial Pacific are growing, said the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center, in a Dec. 7 El Niño update. They now expect the warming phenomena to last through next May, peaking in December and January. ...more

Study On Economics Of Dam Breaching Takes Another Hit

A three-year old letter surfaced last week that undercuts "Revenue Stream," a recent report by environmental groups claiming the region could save billions of dollars by removing the lower Snake River Dams and replacing the barge industry with mostly rail lines. ...more

Hydro BiOp Remand Extended At Least Through Next July

Oregon District Court Judge James Redden last week granted a motion by the federal government to extend the timeline for completion of the hydro BiOp from Feb. 7 to July 31, 2007. ...more

Grant PUD Sets Vernita Bar Flows For Fall Chinook

Grant County PUD said last week that the utility would maintain a 70,000 cfs minimum flow in the Columbia River through the Hanford Reach for the next seven months to protect fall chinook redds. ...more

Corps To Be Sued Over Libby Dam Operations

The Center for Biological Diversity and the WildWest Institute announced Dec. 13 they will sue US Army Corps of Engineers for not following the agency's interim water storage plan known as VARQ at Montana's Libby Dam last spring. The Corps has admitted that if it had followed VARQ procedures, large amounts of water would not have been spilled after a late-season rain event caught reservoir control operators off guard. The Center says the large amount of spill harmed bull trout and other resident fish by giving them gas bubble disease. ...more

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