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Eye On Boise

Idaho, BPA reach $40 million deal on wildlife mitigation funding

The state of Idaho and the Bonneville Power Administration have agreed to a $40 million deal to satisfy the BPA's wildlife habitat mitigation responsibilities to the state for impacts from its hydropower dams in southern Idaho. The money will go to the Idaho Fish & Game Department over a 10-year period, for administration, operation and maintenance, and restoration and acquisition of wildlife habitat. Of the total, $22 million will be used for restoration, acquisition and stewardship costs associated with new projects (at least 8,588 acres), $4 million will be used to administer the program over the next 10 years, and the remaining $14 million will be placed in a state endowment fund to pay for perpetual management of approximately 8,700 acres already protected by the mitigation program.

“This agreement gives the state control of acquiring and managing wildlife habitat lost as a result of federal dams in southern Idaho,” said Gov. Butch Otter. “The agreement also protects the state’s fiscal interests by establishing a dedicated endowment fund to ensure Idaho can manage these lands for future generations.” It's designed to mitigate the impacts on wildlife from development of Palisades, Black Canyon, Minidoka and Anderson Ranch dams, along with operational impacts of Deadwood Dam. Idaho Fish & Game Director Virgil Moore welcomed the agreement, saying it will give Idaho more flexibility in how it manages mitigation funds and programs, including funding new projects and managing existing ones. Click below for the state's full announcement, followed by some historical information about the role of BPA mitigation funding in Idaho.

C.L. “Butch” Otter

GOVERNOR

 

NEWS RELEASE

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                                                          

September 23, 2014                                                                                                                        

 

GOVERNOR OTTER, BPA REACH $40 MILLION AGREEMENT FOR HABITAT AND ACCESS

 

(BOISE) – Southern Idaho wildlife habitat got a huge boost today from a new $40 million agreement between the State of Idaho and the Bonneville Power Administration. The agreement provides for protection and enhancement of at least 8,588 acres of wildlife habitat, with acquisition goals over the next ten years.

“This agreement gives the State control of acquiring and managing wildlife habitat lost as a result of federal dams in southern Idaho,” Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said. “The agreement also protects the State’s fiscal interests by establishing a dedicated endowment fund to ensure Idaho can manage these lands for future generations.”

The agreement is designed to mitigate the impacts on wildlife from development of federal hydropower dams in southern Idaho (Palisades, Black Canyon, Minidoka, and Anderson Ranch). The agreement also includes operational impacts of Deadwood Dam on fish and wildlife habitat.

“This agreement, funded by our electrical ratepayers, clearly defines and meets BPA’s mitigation requirements to the State in southern Idaho, while providing great benefit to the State for wildlife and, in many cases, resident fish,” said Lorri Bodi, vice president of Environment, Fish and Wildlife for BPA.

Members of the Northwest Power and Conservation Councilwho helped facilitate the agreement say it is good for Idaho fish and wildlife

“Idaho is pleased to have this resolved,” Idaho Council member Bill Booth said. “Our State will take an ecosystem approach in selecting, restoring and managing the properties that are acquired. By protecting and restoring ecosystem structure and function, we expect to provide significant benefits to fish, wildlife and other important resources of interest in our state.”

BPA will pay the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) $40 million over a ten-year period to support the administration, operation and maintenance, and restoration and acquisition of wildlife habitat as appropriate for southern Idaho wildlife mitigation.

Of the total, $22 million will be used for restoration, acquisition and stewardship costs associated with new projects (at least 8,588 acres), $4 million will be used to administer the program over the next 10 years, and the remaining $14 million will be placed in a State endowment fund to pay for perpetual management of approximately 8,700 acres already protected by the mitigation program.  Lands owned and managed by IDFG for fish and wildlife conservation generally are open to public access.

“The agreement provides Idaho greater flexibility in how we realize mitigation benefits,” Idaho Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore said. “Certainty of funding for new mitigation projects as well as long-term funding to manage these properties is critical.”

The agreement fulfills half of the mitigation for the impacts of hydropower development in Southern Idaho. The other half of the debt is due the Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone Paiute Tribes, who also work with BPA to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat as part of their own mitigation programs.

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NOTE: I requested additional information from the governor's office to place this agreement into historical context with past BPA mitigation funding that Idaho has gotten. Here's the detail I received back:

BPA contracts account for 10-15% of Fish and Game’s annual budget excluding the one-time projects such as the new Springfield sockeye fish hatchery. 

  1. The Department has been part of BPA’s ongoing Fish and Wildlife mitigation program since 1985.  Currently, the Department receives approximately $9.4 M dollars annually.  These funds channel through the review and approval process coordinated by the Idaho Office of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. Examples of Fishery programs include the Eagle Hatchery sockeye salmon program, the Lake Pend Oreille Kokanee mitigation program, the Kootenai River burbot and sturgeon mitigation program, the South Fork Snake River Yellowstone trout mitigation program, and various wild-origin and hatchery-origin monitoring programs in the Clearwater and Salmon river drainages.  These funds also channel to the Department’s Albeni Falls wildlife mitigation program and the Southern Idaho wildlife mitigation program.  Note: the new $40 M dollar agreement announced today will replace funding previously distributed annually for Southern Idaho wildlife mitigation.
  1. The Department also receives approximately $5.8 M annually to implement the Lower Snake River Compensation Plan program.  These funds come through the US Fish and Wildlife Service but BPA funds the Service.  BPA includes these funds in their accounting of fish and wildlife mitigation costs.
  1. In 2008, the Governor also signed the Idaho Fish Accords or MOU while attending the Eagle Hatchery (sockeye) building dedication in Eagle, ID.  This agreement, coordinated by the Idaho Office of Species Conservation, was for approximately $60 M to be spent over a 10-year term (expires 2018).  Major projects this agreement funds include the construction and operation of the new sockeye salmon hatchery near American Falls, ID and habitat purchase and improvement work conducted in the Lemhi, Pahsimeroi, and Potlatch river drainages in Idaho.

 




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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