NMFS Central Valley salmon recovery plan includes 76 FERC hydro projects

Watershed and Diversity Groups

The National Marine Fisheries Service has filed an endangered salmon and steelhead recovery plan with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that could affect 76 FERC-licensed hydroelectric projects in California's Central Valley watershed.

The "Final Recovery Plan for Sacramento River Winter-run and Central Valley Spring-run Chinook Salmon and California Central Valley Steelhead," submitted to FERC Oct. 6, is a 1,554-page guidance document for recovery and Endangered Species Act de-listing of those fish species.

NMFS filed the plan with FERC for inclusion in the administrative files of each of the 76 hydroelectric projects: 42 in the Sacramento River watershed, six in the Mokelumne-Calaveras River watershed, and 28 in the San Joaquin River watershed.

The plan lists actions required to recover ESA-listed salmonids, including reintroduction into the upper watersheds of the rivers involved.

"For example, recovery scenarios in the Final Recovery Plan include fish passage at U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's (117-MW) Keswick and (663-MW) Shasta dams resulting in reintroduction of Sacramento winter-run and CV spring-run Chinook salmon and CCV steelhead into historic habitats in the McCloud and/or upper Sacramento Rivers," NMFS said in a letter transmitting the plan to FERC. "... it is reasonably foreseeable that NMFS may impose similar fish passage requirements in future FERC proceedings in order to aid in the recovery and de-listing of these ESA-listed salmonids."

The plan lists two key salmonid conservation principles: that functioning, diverse and interconnected habitats are necessary for a species to be viable; and that a species' viability is determined by its spatial structure (distribution of populations across the landscape), diversity, productivity and abundance.

"Some areas that were historically accessible to anadromous salmonids but are no longer because of dams have been excluded from consideration for reintroduction because they are so critically impaired by hydroelectric development and channel inundation that we felt efforts should be focused on areas with a higher potential for success," the plan said.

The recovery plan may be obtained from the NMFS Internet site under http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/recovery/plans.htm.

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