BPA workers have teamed up with the US Army Corps of Engineers to develop the proposed three-year pilot study, which aims to find out whether changes to the current dam spill programme can bring about similar, or even better, benefits for fish while saving some US$35-45M every year.

The pilot scheme is to include reduced spills at Ice Harbor dam during the last half of July, no spills at Ice Harbor, John Day, The Dalles and Bonneville dams throughout the month of August, and adjusted spills at John Day in July.

The scheme proposes a number of measures to offset reduced spills including:

• Increased control of northern pike minnow, a predatory fish that feeds during the summer months on juvenile salmon in the Columbia and Snake rivers.

• Adjusting operations to protect juvenile mid Columbia fall chinook from stranding.

• Improvements and enhancements of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Fish and Wildlife Programme.

• Additional tribal harvest enforcement funding; increased or improved hatchery supplementation for certain affected stocks; increased control of Caspian tern and cormorant predators; and other habitat measures.

Written comments on the proposals should be submitted by 7 April, with a final decision expected to follow two weeks later.

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