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Federal agencies finalize Columbia River management plans

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), and Bonneville Power Administration (BPA)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), and Bonneville Power Administration (BPA)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KIFI/KIDK) - Update: Speaking on behalf of Earthjustice, the state of Oregon, and the Nez Perce Tribe, attorney Todd True is voicing objection to the plan. His full statement is included below.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), and Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) have signed a joint Record of Decision overseeing maintenance and configuration of 14 federal Columbia River System dams.

The record of decision defends the agencies’ preferred management alternative and the US Fish and Wildlife Service biological opinions.  

In a ceremony Monday, officials from each agency said the decision would provide a guideline to provide affordable, reliable electricity, irrigation, and flood control while preserving and supporting fish and wildlife.

“This selected alternative provides the best balanced and flexible approach to meeting the needs of the human and natural environment in the basin, both now and into the future. Our decision benefits the public interest, treaty resources and iconic fish species of the Pacific Northwest,” concluded Brig. Gen. D. Peter Helmlinger, commander of the Corps of Engineers’ Northwestern Division. Key to the agreement was the identification of mitigation actions to offset adverse impacts of the dams. 

The recorded virtual signing ceremony, final EIS and joint Record of Decision are available on the project website.

UPDATE: 9-29 2:30 p.m. -Earthjustice, which brought a legal challenge to the Army Corps’ first Columbia River plan, is not happy with the new Environmental Impact Statement.  

In conjunction with the Nez Perce tribe and the state of Oregon, Earthjustice Attorney Todd True issued the following statement.

“This is the final step in a four year process that has failed our region in profound ways. The differences between the plan adopted by these agencies today and the plan the court rejected in 2016 are hard to discern. And the plan the court rejected in 2016 was not materially different from plans the court had rejected in 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2011. To say we need a new approach, that we need leadership from our elected representatives, and that we need to find a solution that works for all of us is to state the obvious. And it is equally obvious that there is great urgency to do this – for salmon, for orcas and for the future of our region.”

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