Agency asks to cut salmon recovery spending

The Olympian


PORTLAND, OREGON-- The Bonneville Power Administration wants to trim about $40 million in planned salmon recovery programs for 2003 because the federal agency is having budget trouble.
BPA Administrator Steve Wright, in a letter this week to Larry Cassidy, chairman of the Northwest Power Planning Council, said his agency is facing "its most severe financial challenge in at least 20 years" and wishes to fund 2003 fish-recovery efforts at about the 2002 level.

The BPA had paid $137 million for Power Council-recommended programs in that year.

BPA officials Thursday said their analysis shows the agency could be obligated to spend more than $180 million in fiscal year 2003, which started Oct. 1.

The agency wants to spend an average of $139 million a year on salmon programs, not including capital projects, from 2002 to 2006, Wright said.

"We're coming to the council to ask the council to embrace this and bring its program down," Sarah McNary, manager of BPA's fish and wildlife division, said Thursday.

McNary said the BPA remains committed to salmon restoration.

Cassidy said he would convene an emergency meeting of the council in Portland next week to re-examine its recommendations for salmon recovery spending by the BPA.

Don Sampson, executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, said any cutbacks would set back salmon recovery.

"From our perspective, Bonneville has mismanaged its obligation to meet fish and wildlife costs," Sampson said. "Our tribes are outraged by this."


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