Wednesday March 29, 2023

Oregon Public Broadcasting

The federal government has announced plans to increase funding for the Columbia River Basin’s salmon hatcheries, the often-crumbling facilities that maintain the river’s dwindling salmon populations. But tribes and state agencies say the influx of funds is only a fraction of what is needed.

The Bonneville Power Administration, the federal agency that’s required to pay for salmon recovery using proceeds from selling power generated by hydroelectric dams, is putting an additional $50 million toward repairs at hatcheries operated by tribes and states. The agency also plans to increase annual funding for hatchery upkeep from $500,000 to $2.7 million.

In May, Oregon Public Broadcasting and ProPublica reported on how the federal government’s neglect of an old and struggling hatchery system had put tribal fishing rights in jeopardy. The news organizations’ analysis showed that the outlook for fish survival was so poor that the hatchery system was at risk of collapsing under the strain of climate change, unable to produce meaningful levels of fish. Bonneville is the primary funder of the river’s hatcheries, with additional money coming from federal appropriations and local government. In August, OPB and ProPublica reported that Bonneville had resisted tribes’ restoration efforts and constrained salmon recovery funds even while generating hundreds of millions of dollars in surplus revenue.

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