Reclamation Receives Biological Opinions On Upper Snake River Basin Projects Operations

Media Contact: Diana Cross, (208) 378-5020
Lesa Stark, (208) 383-2260

For Release: April 01, 2005

The Bureau of Reclamation received biological opinions from the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on March 31, addressing future operations and routine maintenance at 12 Federal projects in the upper Snake River basin through the year 2035. The biological opinions evaluate and describe the potential effects to species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, including salmon and steelhead, bull trout, three aquatic snails, bald eagle, and Ute ladies'-tresses (an orchid).

NOAA Fisheries' biological opinion concludes that Reclamation's proposed actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of twelve listed and one proposed-for-listing Columbia basin salmonids. The Fish and Wildlife Service's biological opinion concludes that Reclamation's proposed actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of bald eagle, bull trout, Ute ladies'-tresses, and the three snails, (Utah valvata, Snake River physa, and Bliss Rapids snail).

The biological opinions are consistent with the terms of the Nez Perce Settlement Agreement to address Reclamation's continued operation of Upper Snake projects through the year 2035, including the continued provision of water to augment flows in the lower Snake River to benefit salmon.

"NOAA Fisheries and the Fish and Wildlife Service expended considerable effort to produce opinions by the Agreement's March 31 deadline, and we are pleased to have received them today," said Bill McDonald, Pacific Northwest Regional Director for Reclamation. "These non-jeopardy opinions, along with the passage of Nez Perce settlement implementing legislation by the State of Idaho and approval by the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Council, provide more certainty for our water users and tangible benefits for endangered species, as well." The consultation addresses Reclamation's future operations and routine maintenance actions for 12 Federal projects located in Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon. Projects include Minidoka, Palisades, Ririe, Michaud Flats, Little Wood River, Boise, Lucky Peak, Mann Creek, Owyhee, Vale, Burnt River, and Baker, collectively referred to as the upper Snake River projects. The primary purpose of these Federal projects is to store and release water for irrigation and flood control. The proposed operations also include providing water for salmon flow augmentation by acquiring or leasing water from willing sellers and lessors in accordance with State law.

Copies of the biological opinions can be obtained by visiting Reclamation's website at A CD-ROM containing the documents may be requested by contacting Lesa Stark, Endangered Species Program Manager, in Boise at (208) 383-2260.

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