Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Science Task Force Announces Strategies to Integrate California Bay-Delta Biological Opinions

Jun 09, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 9, 2010 

Contacts:
Mary Grim, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (916) 930-5643
Jim Milbury, National Marine Fisheries Service, (562) 980-4006
Pete Lucero, Bureau of Reclamation, 916-978-5100
Laurel Rogers, U.S. Geological Survey, 619-225-6104

Science Task Force Announces Strategies to Integrate California Bay-Delta Biological Opinions 

A special joint agency task force today announced a near-term science strategy to support the implementation of two biological opinions concerning water operations in California’s Bay-Delta. The announcement also includes a strategy to complete an integrated biological opinion (BiOp) by the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) covering the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and water project operations. 

These strategies are a follow-up to the May 3, 2010 letter from the Secretaries of the Departments to fellow members of the Federal Bay-Delta Leadership Committee committing to develop a single integrated BiOp that would address the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and related water operations. The letter identified a two-part approach that included a Near-Term Science Strategy and an Integrated BDCP BiOp Strategy, coordinated through a task force comprised of FWS, NMFS, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Geological Survey. The approach grew out of the March 19 National Academy of Sciences assessment of the two separate BiOps issued under the Endangered Species Act by the FWS and NMFS. Both opinions established alternatives for reducing the effects of water management decisions on threatened and endangered species in the Bay Delta.  

Many of the activities outlined in the Near-Term Science Strategy could be used to inform water project operations for the 2011 water year. Some of those activities include annual reviews of water operations and fish protections, additional studies of delta turbidity and how it relates to delta smelt behavior, development of life-cycle models, and examination of non-physical fish barriers.  

The Integrated BDCP BiOp Strategy includes an outline of analytical tools to help assess management of the Delta ecosystem and water supply, a strategy to obtain new information to decrease uncertainty, and a general approach to completing the new biological opinion. Some of the unresolved scientific issues that will be further examined as part of the Integrated BiOp Strategy include fish mortality at the water projects, Delta contaminants, foodweb dynamics, predation, benefits of habitat restoration, and anadromous fish migration studies. 

The Near-Term Science Strategy and the Integrated BDCP BiOp Strategy can be found at http://www.fws.gov/sfbaydelta/ocap/ .  The strategies in these documents are preliminary and will be revised as new information becomes available. 

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