Habitat Restoration Scrutinized for Columbia River Watershed

A new biological opinion sets policy for the Federal Columbia River Power System until 2018. Critics say the new plan continues the unsuccessful status quo of habitat restoration—instead they want to spill water over four dams on the Snake River.

1 minute read

January 20, 2014, 11:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released a court-mandated biological opinion for the operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS). The biological opinion follows the most recent version of the plan, adopted in 2008, and a subsequent biological opinion from 2010. The plan was struck down in court in 2011. The new biological opinion has renewed an ongoing controversy about the efficacy of habitat restoration in restoring the 13 species of Columbia River Basin salmon and steelhead listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Critics of the most recent biological opinion, including environmental groups and the Nez Perce Tribe, cite the lack of improvement in salmon population as a sign that the traditional strategy of habitat restoration is not working. They would rather explore the breaching of four dams (i.e., increasing the water until it can spill over the tops of the dams) along the Snake River, which is a tributary of the Columbia River. Breaching, it’s hoped, would make passage along the river easier for endangered salmon and steelhead. But spilling water over the dam comes at the cost of the potential for that water to produce electricity.

Sunday, January 19, 2014 in Associated Press via The Oregonian

Rendering of electric scooters, electric cars, light rail train, and apartments in background.

Arizona’s ‘Car-Free’ Community Takes Shape

Culdesac Tempe has been welcoming residents since last year.

February 14, 2024 - The Cool Down

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

"It's The Climate" sign over street in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Oregon Town Seeks Funding for Ambitious Resilience Plan

Like other rural communities, Grants Pass is eager to access federal funding aimed at sustainability initiatives, but faces challenges when it comes to meeting grant requirements.

February 18, 2024 - The Daily Yonder

Close-up of bottom half of stroller being pushed onto sidewalk with no curb cut by person in jeans and brown shoes.

How Infrastructure Communicates Values

The presence and quality of sidewalks, curb cuts, and other basic elements of infrastructure can speak to much more than just economic decisions.

February 23 - Strong Towns

Greyhound and Amtrak buses at a temporary bus terminal in San Francisco, California.

Despite High Ridership, Intercity Bus Lines Are Eliminating Stations

Riders on the ‘forgotten stepchild’ of the U.S. transportation system find themselves waiting for buses curbside as Greyhound sells off its real estate in many U.S. cities.

February 23 - Governing

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo Residents Push Back on Proposed Cap Park

State and local officials say the $1 billion project will heal neighborhoods divided by the Kensington Expressway, but community members say the proposed plan will exacerbate already poor air quality in the area.

February 23 - Bloomberg CityLab

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.