Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues ESA Permit to PacifiCorp for Lost River and Shortnose Suckers

Feb 20, 2014

February, 20, 2014                                

Matt Baun, USFWS, 530-841-3119
Bob Gravely, PacifiCorp, 503-813-7282


Klamath Falls, Ore., —The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued an incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to PacifiCorp, in conjunction with the company’s comprehensive plan to conserve the endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers in the Klamath Basin. PacifiCorp is an electric energy-producing company based in Portland, Oregon, that operates seven facilities as part of its Klamath Hydroelectric Project. 

Under the terms of the ITP, PacifiCorp will implement avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures described in its Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP).

As described in its HCP, PacifiCorp will significantly decrease operations at the company’s East Side and West Side hydroelectric developments, which are located just downstream of Link River dam.  These two hydroelectric facilities have the greatest effects on endangered suckers and by decreasing operations, PacifiCorp will reduce the estimated incidental take of listed suckers from the Klamath Hydroelectric Project by 90 percent.  PacifiCorp will mitigate remaining incidental take at their other facilities by supporting activities that enhance sucker habitat and that promote the survival and recovery of these species. 

PacifiCorp has proposed decommissioning the East Side and West Side facilities because the costs of upgrading the facilities to meet current standards for fish passage would not be economic given the small generating capacity of the facilities.  These facilities were proposed to be decommissioned by PacifiCorp under its 2004 license application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), as well as under the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement.

While the HCP includes the substantial shut down of the East Side and West Side facilities, PacifiCorp anticipates that some limited operations may occur as the company continues to maintain the facilities. Eventual decommissioning of the facilities is anticipated to occur through a decommissioning process overseen by FERC.

Under the ITP, PacifiCorp will continue to operate its other Klamath River facilities, which consists of Keno, J.C. Boyle, Copco I and II, and Iron Gate Dams.  Effects to suckers from these facilities are understood to be low because of their distance from Upper Klamath Lake, which is the primary habitat of the Lost River and shortnose suckers.

In its evaluation of PacifiCorp’s HCP, the Service determined that remaining incidental take of listed suckers occurring under the HCP following the shutdown of East Side and West Side is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed sucker species. This is because the majority of remaining affected suckers are not part of reproducing populations since they reside in downstream reservoirs, which are outside of their historic range.

This action will not substantially affect PacifiCorp’s ability to meet the region’s power needs, or cause an increase in power rates, because the combined hydroelectric capacity of the two affected facilities is only 2 percent (3.8 megawatts) of the entire production of the Klamath Hydroelectric Project.

The Endangered Species Act requires an approved habitat conservation plan before an incidental take permit is granted.  Habitat conservation plans are agreements between a landowner or private company and the Service, allowing permit applicants to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property that may result in the incidental death, injury or harassment of a federally endangered or threatened species; the applicant agrees to conservation measures designed to minimize and mitigate the impact of those actions.

For more information about the PacifiCorp habitat conservation plan, go to:

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**PacifiCorp is one of the West’s leading utilities, serving more than 1.7 million customers across 136,000 square miles in six Western states. The company is comprised of three business units working to provide safe, reliable electricity to customers at a reasonable cost. Pacific Power serves customers in Oregon, Washington and California. Rocky Mountain Power serves customers in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. PacifiCorp Energy operates a broad portfolio of power-generating assets to ensure low-cost energy is available for customers.