Federal Columbia River Power System Biological Opinion

The operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) affects 13 species of Columbia River Basin salmon and steelhead listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ESA requires the agencies that operate the FCRPS (FCRPS Action Agencies) to ensure that their actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species, nor that they result in the destruction or adverse modification of habitat designated as critical to its conservation. The three FCRPS Action Agencies are the Army Corps of Engineers, Bonneville Power Administration, and the Bureau of Reclamation. The FCRPS Biological Opinion guides the agencies in operating the FCRPS and requires a series of mitigation measures, called Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPA).

The actions in the 2008 FCRPS Biological Opinion are, in general, a 10-year operations and configuration plan for the FCRPS facilities, as well as the mainstem effects for various other hydro projects on Columbia River tributaries operated for irrigation purposes. The Biological Opinion sets performance standards of 96 percent average per-dam survival for spring migrants and 93 percent for summer migrating fish. Additional actions includes habitat, hatchery, predation management, and harvest actions to mitigate for the adverse effects of the hydrosystem, as well as numerous research, monitoring and evaluation actions to support and inform adaptive management decisions. Regional state and Tribal entities oversee the implementation of the FCRPS Biological Opinion through the Regional Oversight Implementation Group.

The 2008 FCRPS Biological Opinion was updated with the Adaptive Management Implementation Plan in 2009 and a Supplemental Biological Opinion in 2010. NOAA Fisheries subsequently developed a 2014 Supplemental FCRPS Biological Opinion to address a 2011 Court Remand Order requiring the agency to re-examine the 2008 and 2010 biological opinions and requiring more specific identification of habitat actions planned for the 2014-2018 period of the opinion. NOAA Fisheries adopted the 2014 Supplemental FCRPS Biological Opinion on January 17, 2014. Related documents are provided below.