Digest of Federal Resource Laws of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Trinity River Basin Fish and Wildlife Restoration

Trinity River Basin Fish and Wildlife Restoration -- Public Law 98-541 (98 Stat. 2721, enacted October 24, 1984) requires the Secretary to develop and implement a program to restore fish and wildlife to levels existing before the construction of the Trinity River division of the Central Valley Project.

It provided for the establishment of a Trinity River Basin Task Force to advise the Secretary, and authorizes appropriations of $33,000,000 for the period Fiscal Year 1985 through 1995 for design and construction, and $2,400,000 for operations, maintenance, and monitoring for each of those Fiscal Years. Cost sharing is required of the State, counties, public utilities, water districts, and other direct purchasers of water and power.

A flow evaluation study is being performed under the authority of this Act. The study is to determine the amount of flow releases necessary to protect, preserve, and restore the fishery and to provide for the Federal trust responsibilities to Tribes.

NOTE: The Task Force proposed a 5-year extension of the study and the Trinity River Fish and Wildlife Restoration Project at a cost of $22,000,000 to the Bureau of Reclamation. The Bureau administers and funds the program and the Service provides technical expertise. The project has generated controversy over the method of restoring fish habitat. BLM and the Service are attempting to restore the habitat to its pre-dam condition by creating side channels and feathering banks. Critics argue habitat restoration is being pursued in a way that requires less water so that more water can be diverted from the Trinity River in the future, and they have called for an EIS. The restoration project has been delayed by a court order resulting from wetlands violations.

Amendments to the Act were approved on May 15, 1996. The Trinity River Basin Fish and Wildlife Management Reauthorization Act of 1995, PL 104-143 (110 Stat. 1338), makes several changes to the original legislation. The Secretary of the Interior is mandated to consult with the Secretary of Commerce, where appropriate, in formulating and implementing fish and wildlife management programs for the Trinity River Basin. The 1996 Act also expands the scope of habitat restoration activities, to include the Klamath River, and redefines the role of the Trinity River Fish Hatchery. The amendments mandate that Trinity River Basin Fish and Wildlife Task Force activities be coordinated with the Klamath River Basin Fisheries Task Force and the Klamath Fishery Management Council. Finally, the authorization for appropriations is extended until 1998, with expenditure limits placed on program funds. The Secretary of the Interior is mandated to report to Congress detailing expenditures associated with the program.

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