Institutional Recommendation 1
Modify the existing basin-wide mechanisms of the Columbia River Fish Management Plan, the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program, and orders of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to fully implement treaty rights to natural resources.
A trio of 10-year agreements was signed in 2008 that culminated 40 years of a complex history. A new harvest agreement under the U.S. v. Oregon Columbia River Fish Management Plan, a newly negotiated Chinook Annex (Chapter 3) under the Pacific Salmon Treaty between the United States and Canada, and the historic Columbia Basin Fish Accords are each milestones in their own right, but together they are an important step in shaping salmon policy—one that institutionalizes, at the federal, state and tribal levels, a coordinated system designed to protect and restore salmon, lamprey and sturgeon throughout their lifecycles and all their habitats. In other words, together the three agreements institutionalize gravel-to-gravel management.
The Accords agreement specifically recognized and supported the importance of the U.S. v. Oregon parties’ commitments, including the commitments of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) pursuant to the ESA.
State, federal and tribal parties do not always coordinate their management actions in a manner that implements all legal responsibilities, including treaty and trust responsibilities. Unfortunately, issues are sometimes isolated to a single section or branch within a larger agency, where that section does not have the broader perspective of the agency as a whole. Often technical branches do not understand the government’s trust obligations to the tribes or the tribes’ treaty fishing rights. As a result, decisions are made on a single-species basis, ignoring broader ecosystem effects or important legal agreements such as treaty-reserved rights.
The 1995 recommended action regarding Existing Mechanisms remains relevant and applicable.
New and Modified Actions
- The Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program must continue to protect and enhance fish (and wildlife) as affected by the basin’s hydroelectric system whether or not they are listed under the ESA.
- Make tribal public education and outreach efforts an integral part of fish and wildlife project implementation. See Public Education and Outreach, a new institutional recommendation.
- Include tribal perspectives in workshops and symposia on natural resource management.
- Expand the tribes’ publication of research in peer-reviewed journals.
- Federal government agencies assist tribes in implementing culturally appropriate workforce training and development.
- Future agreements among state, federal and tribal parties recognize the importance of gravel-to-gravel management and the interdependence of decisions affecting individual salmon life stages.
Also see in this Update, the Accords, Pacific Salmon Treaty, and U.S. v. Oregon Agreements and Regulatory Coordination and Improvement, a new institutional recommendation.