Newspaper Archive of
Hells Canyon Journal
Halfway, Oregon
March 22, 2000     Hells Canyon Journal
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March 22, 2000

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Dam Relicensing Continued from page I protection, enhancement and mitigation measures." According to Jones, instead of fighting over impacts and costs, Idaho Power is using a collaborative process with parties who have a stake, to work through difficult and technically complex issues that have public, environ- mental, political and eco- nomic implications. Planning and research for the relicensing of the dams began two years ago with the formation of technical re- source work groups on ter- restrial, aquatics, recre- ational, cultural and eco- nomic issues. "We are addressing many issues by studying how the dams affect natural, cultural and recreational resources, and how we might operate them to balance those re- source and economic consid- erations," Jones said. He told the assembled group that Idaho Power, through the work groups and a collaborative team, will use scientific data from over 90 studies to develop a vision of desired future conditions at the dam complex and the sur- rounding area. These, along with measures to enhance, protect, or lessen the impact of the dams' operation on natural, cultural, and recre- ational resources, will be in- cluded in the reapplication packet. They will ultimately become part of the terms and conditions of the new license. providing environmentally sound electricity. BLM resources in the Hells Canyon Complex include Endangered Species Act- listed fish, mollusks and plants, key wildlife habitat, riparian habitat, cultural and tribal trust resources for six tribes, and high-use recre- ation areas. The BLM does not have the authority to make condi- tions mandatory, as the For- est Service does, but Mason stated that the federal licens- ing agency expects BLM rec- ommendations to be included if they are linked to agency land usej)lans, and the scien- tific opinions and policies of other federal agencies. Forest Service The Forest Service is charged with the responsibil- ity for managing the use of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (HCNRA), which was established in 1975. Eighty-eight miles of Forest Service land is in- Bureau Of Land Management Dorothy Mason, Bureau of Land Management team leader for the Hells Canyon Complex relicensing, ex- plained BLM's role in the relicensing effort. The federal agency is responsible for 115 miles of the 193 miles of land affected by the dams. "The BLM is developing, in collaboration with Idaho Power and other agencies, recommendations that pro- tect, mitigate and enhance resources managed by the BLM, for the next 30 to 50 years of operation of the dams" said Mason. "We see the opportunity to gain fund- ing for habitat mitigation, recreation facilities and main- tenance, restoration of endan- gered fish runs and other projects." According to Mason, the BLM is seeking to reach an equitable agreement that pro- tects natural resources while volved in the Hells Canyon Complex Relieensing Project. The Forest Service is in the midst of updating the man- agement plan for the HCNRA. Kurt Wiedenmann, planning staffofficer from the Wallow- Whitman Forest, gave the commissioners an overview of the process. Wiedenmann presented five different management alternatives the Forest Ser- vice is asking for feedback on: the Native Ecosystem Alter- native (a citizen based alter- native), a Wallowa County Al- ternative (developed by a coa- lition 5f counties) and three tional resources uses and in- creasing recreational uses. The Forest Service, like the BLM, is working coopera- tively with Idaho Power to look at resource and recre- ational uses, impacts and costs that relate to the dams. Friends of Brownlee Mike Nelson, President of the non-profit group Friends of Brownlee (FOB), made an impassioned presentation on the organization and its strat- egy for impacting the relicensing process. "We have two goals," stated Nelson. "The main one is to work with Baker County and other players in the relicensing process who have control over the water levels, to increase water levels so that boat ramps on the reser- voir in Richland are useable during the season. Our sec- ond is to assure that stable water levels are maintained in the Brownlee Reservoir for the 30 to 40 days of spawning season, to allow warm water fish to spawn." Nelson shared what the group has learned about how flows are decided upon, and clarified some common un- derstandings about that is- sue. According to Nelson, Idaho Power benefits more - can produce more hydroelec- tric power - when Brownlee Reservoir is full. The Army Corps of Engineers controls reservoir levels from Janu- ary through April, for flood protection in western Oregon. From that point forward, Idaho Power controls water levels and flow. A technical team made up of the BLM, National Marine Fisheries Service, US Fish and Wildlife Page 13 counties to be involved. Jones urged commissioners to par- ticipate on the collaborative team, to sit in on resource work groups, and to attend a workshop in April in Boise where results of the scientific studies will be shared. Brian Cole, Baker County Commissioner who facilitated the Halfway meeting, said Baker County would be draft- ing its own version of desired future conditions this month. "The document, which may draw heavily from the new proposed BLM management plan, will define what Baker County's interests are in relicensing," said Cole. According to Cole, three major areas will be addressed: recreational facilities im- provements on the river, sta- bility of water levels and flow at Brownlee Reservoir, and a future funding plan for sup- port of any recreational fa- cilities development or im- )rovements. Hells Canyon Journal March 22, 2000 . Fifty miles of Brownlee Reservoir forms the eastern boundary of Baker County. Hells Canyon Dam Relicensing Timeline Now - April 2001 Technical work groups de- velop, prioritize and final- ize protection, mitigation and enhancement mea- sures for resource manage- ment of the dam complex. May - September 2001 Work groups will submit prioritized list to collabo- rative team who will try to reach consensus on PM& E's. Spring/Summer 2002 Draft resource manage- ment plan and relicensing application available for public review and com- ment. duly 31, 2003 Idaho Power will submit final relicensing applica- tion on or before this date. I ill illllll I I Cass & Pattie Vanderwiele 19876 Highway 86 Work: 523-6648 Baker City, OR 97814 Home: 523-6075 623-2610 QUALITY SERVICE SAND., GRAVEL CONCRETE 1-800-606-6648 "Our commttme to you is concrete" Illl Ill I IL l IIllllll I Forest Service-generated al- andlevelsthe Corps,and makeflow requestSidaho [= I I ternatives. According to on to I= I I ue Wiedenmann, there are a Power, for salmon recovery, lu ?x. I ,= ] Sanitary Service number of trade-offs in the "No one has been looking I= sz-s5 /l|l l alternatives. The main ques- out for the reereational inter- ii tions is how well the alterna- ests of Brownlee Reservoir," [ and the Snake River Areas tives meet the intent oflegis- said Nelson. I 742-6857 , lation that gave birth to, and FOB now boasts 2,000 guides the use of the recre- members, Nelson stated. He ELKHORN TITLE CO: II I ISER TRAVEL ] ation area and its natural urged the counties to play an Tm.EINaURANCE&ESCROWS II[ AGENCY [ FAaT FRIENDLY SERVICE 11 resources, active role in relicensing. Ac- LOCJK Y OWNED & OPERATED [I [ Ontario, OR I "The Forest Serviee's pre- cording to Nelaon, FOB is 54t-523-6477 II[ 1-800-424-4226 [ ferred alternative proposesdrafting a resolution asking FAX 523-9372 11]Yourtr vel professional since 1952 ] an approach to balance the Baker County to take a lead !r aat. ca l] I ORREG.# 219 ....... | conservation and preserva- role in negotiating stable ...... tion of the area's resources water levels. He predicted D.E. Lockett ] while providing a broad range that ifthereis no relief on the ofland uses and recreational reservoir water level, sub- PLUMBING I I!, Ill Licensed (CCB #70107) "I Opportunities," said stantial litigation and nego- ] Wiedenmann. tiation would ensue to recoup 46550 Slaughterhouse Rd., Halfway I The Native Ecosystem fo- financial damages to busi- 742-6330 or 523-7465 I cuses more on protecting the nesses. [ OREGON TRAIL - / Tom In roI [ "~:,~r~.~ 541-742-50301 Ioells Canyon] URNAL] $15/year in Baker County ] $18/year elsewhere[ 541-742-7900 [ - P.O. Box 646 I "~Halfwa~t OR 978341 ecosystem and limiting re- source and recreational uses. The Wallowa County alter- native places greater empha- sis on management for the purpose of maintaing tradi- County Issues Throughout the day, com- missioners expressed concern about the complexity of the process and the best way for