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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

 

April 5, 2004 

Joan Jewett, Portland, Oregon 503-231-6121
 Phil Carroll, Portland,
Oregon 503-231-6179
Douglas Zimmer, Lacey, Washington 360-753-4370
Meggan Laxalt, Boise,
Idaho 208-378-5796
Tom Buckley, Spokane,
Washington 509-893-8029
Diane Katzenberger, Denver, Colorado 303-236-7917x408

 Draft Economic Analysis of Critical Habitat Proposal for Bull Trout In the Columbia and Klamath River Basins Released for Public Comment

Most impacts are on Federal lands

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released a draft analysis of the potential economic impacts of a proposal to designate critical habitat for bull trout in the Columbia and Klamath river basins.

 Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) are protected under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species. In 2002, in accordance with a court settlement, the Service proposed to designate critical habitat for the species.

The draft economic analysis, prepared by Bioeconomics Incorporated of Missoula, Montana, estimates that protecting bull trout and their habitat in the Columbia and Klamath basins could potentially have economic impacts of $230 million to $300 million over the next 10 years (about $23 million to $30 million per year), mostly on Federal lands.  The critical habitat proposal for the Columbia River Basin includes parts of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.  The proposal for bull trout in the Klamath River Basin includes a small part of the Klamath basin in Oregon.

 Most of the estimated cost already is occurring due to the listing of bull trout and protective measures already in place for listed salmon and steelhead. More than 60 percent of the area proposed for bull trout critical habitat has previously been classified as salmon and steelhead critical habitat, although much of that designation was recently withdrawn for re-analysis by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

 The draft economic analysis does not separate costs associated with the designation of critical habitat from those already incurred by the listing of bull trout in the Columbia and Klamath basins in 1998.

 The draft analysis will be available for public comment until May 5, 2004. The Service also is reopening the comment period on its proposal to designate critical habitat for bull trout in the two river basins and will accept comments until that date. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted as they will be incorporated into the public record as part of this comment period and will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule.

  series of public information meetings also is planned. The schedule is:

 Kalispell, Montana: April 17, noon to 4 p.m., Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Office, 490 North Meridian Road

Bend, Oregon: April 20, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Bend Armory, 875 S.W. Simpson Avenue

 LaGrande, Oregon: April 21, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., National Guard Armory, 404 12th Street

 Boise, Idaho: April 14, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Boise Centre on the Grove, 850 Front Street

 Salmon, Idaho: April 16, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Salmon City Chambers, 200 Main Street

 Lewiston, Idaho: April 19, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Red Lion Hotel, 621 21st Street

 Yakima, Washington: April 21, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Oxford Suites Hotel, 1701 Yakima Avenue

 We want to give the public time to review the draft economic analysis and the critical habitat proposal and then provide us with comments, said Dave Allen, Regional Director of the Services Pacific Region. Citizen participation is crucial to the development of a final designation that protects the species and is supported by the public.

 The Service has proposed to designate 18,471 miles of streams and 532,721 acres of lakes and reservoirs in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana as critical habitat for the Columbia and Klamath basin populations of bull trout. Under the court settlement, a final critical habitat designation for those two basins must be made by September 21, 2004. The final designation could differ from the Services proposal.

 Federal agencies are estimated to bear 75 percent of the costs associated with listing and the potential costs of the proposed critical habitat designation, with private and other entities (states, tribes) incurring 25 percent. Of the total 10-year costs, 70 percent are estimated to come from the expense of consulting with the Service and the subsequent project modifications that may be required. These modifications might include improved fish passage, reduced water withdrawals, revised timber sales and highway projects, timing delays, dam re-licensing, and foregone power generation. The remaining 30 percent of the 10-year costs are estimated to be administrative expenses.

 Consultations with the Service already are required of Federal agencies as a result of the bull trout listing. The critical habitat designation would result in additional consultations only in cases where unoccupied habitat is designated. About 14 percent of the proposed critical habitat is either unoccupied or has unknown occupancy.

 Under the Endangered Species Act, an economic analysis is required prior to the designation of critical habitat. The Fish and Wildlife Service may exclude areas from a final critical habitat designation if the benefits of excluding them are greater than the benefits of including them, unless the exclusion would result in the extinction of the protected species.

A notice of Availability of the draft Economic Analysis was published in todays Federal Register. The Notice and the draft Economic Analysis are posted at http://pacific.fws.gov/bulltrout/. You may mail or hand-deliver written comments to John Young, Bull Trout Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 911 N.E. 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232; fax them to 503-231-6243; or send them by e-mail to: R1BullTroutCH@r1.fws.gov. Please submit electronic comments in an ASCII file format and avoid the use of special characters and encryption. Please also include Attn: RIN 1018-A152 and your name and return address in your e-mail message. If you do not receive a confirmation from the system that we have received your e-mail message, please contact John Young at 503/231-6194. If our Internet connection is disrupted, please submit your comments by mail or fax, and obtain hard copies of the documents from the contact above.

 The Service proposed critical habitat in November 2002 for bull trout in the Columbia and Klamath basins in accordance with a settlement agreement with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan. The two environmental groups sued the Service for not designating critical habitat after listing bull trout in 1998 as threatened in the Columbia and Klamath basins and in 1999 as threatened throughout its range in the lower 48 states. At the time the Service was unable to complete critical habitat designations because of budget constraints.

 As part of the settlement agreement, the Service also agreed to designate critical habitat for

The Coastal-Puget Sound (Washington), St. Mary-Belly River (Montana) and Jarbidge (Nevada) distinct population segments of bull trout. The Service will propose critical habitat for those populations in June 2004. A draft recovery plan for all lower-48 populations of bull trout also is being developed.

 Critical habitat designates areas that contain habitat essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and which may require special management considerations. These designations do not have to be occupied by the species at the time of the designation. A designation does not set up a preserve or refuge or signal any intent by the federal government to acquire or control lands or waters. It does not close an area to human access or use, such as fishing or boating.

 A critical habitat designation requires federal agencies to ensure that any activity they fund, carry out or authorize is not likely to destroy or adversely modify a protected species critical habitat. By consulting with the Service, an agency can usually minimize or avoid any potential conflicts with listed species and their critical habitat, and the proposed project may proceed.

 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.  

Summary
Of the

Draft Economic Analysis of Proposed Critical Habitat for Bull Trout
In the Clark Fork and Kootenai River Basins Montana


The Fish and Wildlife Service hired an independent private contractor, Bioeconomics Inc. of Missoula MT, to estimate the economic and other impacts associated with designating certain areas as critical habitat for bull trout. In preparing this economic analysis, Bioeconomics contacted a wide range of public and private sources. 

 The Economic Analysis is not intended to describe the cost of bull trout recovery; rather, it summarizes the cost to agencies and the public in complying with Endangered Species Act regulations due to combined effects of both the existing bull trout threatened species listing (1998) and the proposed designation of bull trout critical habitat (2004). 

 Range-Wide Summary

Total rangewide cost estimate is $230 to $300 million over 10 years ($23-30 million per year).  This includes the ongoing activities due to the 1998 listing action as well as the current critical habitat proposal.

       While this sounds like a huge dollar figure, you must keep in mind that the bull trout range encompasses watersheds in four northwest States.  The critical habitat proposal alone includes over 18,000 miles of stream and over 500,000 acres of lakes.

       Most of the costs of protecting bull trout are already embedded in agency actions and policies, often mandated by laws such as the Clean Water Act, National Forest Management Act, etc. 

o       According to the report:  There are so many protective standards for fisheries put in place for timber harvest management on the National Forests in the Pacific Northwest at this time that the additional requirements of bull trout formal consultation are likely to be minor. 

o       For example, timber sales are already largely constrained by Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements and Inland Native Fish (INFISH) standards.  Therefore, formal critical habitat consultations to mitigate for bull trout may not yield additional terms and conditions relating to sediment.

       Approximately 30% of the total estimated cost is associated with administration of Section 7 consultations, the other 70% with project modifications to benefit bull trout.

       Most of the estimated costs of the actions described (75%) are expected to be borne by Federal agencies, primarily the Forest Service and the Bureau of Reclamation.

       Approximately half the identified project modification costs are associated with dams and reservoirs; primarily related to water level regulation, FERC relicensing conditions, and fish passage at a relatively small number of sites. 

o       Annual foregone power revenue losses to the Bonneville Power Administration, that are attributed to system flow modifications at Hungry Horse and Libby Dams designed to benefit bull trout and other resident fish species are considered to be $2-4 million per year.

 o       These losses do not consider the potentially offsetting benefits of recreation and other beneficial uses in Montana.

       Timber harvest modifications (reduced sale volume, fishery evaluation and monitoring, road and culvert Best Management Practices upgrades, etc.) account for about a quarter of the total project modification costs.  A critical habitat designation is not expected to result in higher prices or a reduced supply of wood products to consumers.

       Water diversion modifications (such as fish screens) account for about one‑eighth of the total project modification costs.

       Modifications to mining projects (watershed assessment and monitoring) account for about one-sixteenth of the total costs.

       30% of the total project modification cost is associated with only 4% of the area primarily in the mid-Columbia in Washington and portions of Oregon where major fish passage issues are likely to be addressed.  Some of these involve anadromous species as well as bull trout.

       Costs associated with activities to benefit bull trout overlap broadly with activities to benefit a variety of other aquatic species (salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, sturgeon) and terrestrial species (grizzly bear, lynx, gray wolves) and provide many benefits to other resources that are not quantified in this report.

 Clark Fork Unit Summary

For Montana and northern Idaho, the estimated annual cost of bull-trout related actions in the Clark Fork River Basin is estimated to be between $1.3 million and $2.1 million per year. 

      These costs have been incurred annually for the past five years (since bull trout were listed as threatened in 1998) nothing new here since all proposed critical habitat is already occupied and ongoing Section 7 consultation is continuing.

       Bull trout formal consultations in the Clark Fork Unit (39 conducted in 1998-2002) were the highest of any unit analyzed.  This is due primarily to the size of the unit, the high number of streams and the high proportion of those streams that contain bull trout, the relatively high percentage of Federal (USForest Service) lands, and the absence of previously listed aquatic species (salmon and steelhead) in those waters.

       The Clark Fork is the largest critical habitat unit within the entire four-state region designated (including most of western Montana and a portion of northern Idaho). It includes 3,372 miles of streams (18% of the four-state total) and 304,225 acres of lakes (57% of the four-state total) that were proposed for designation as bull trout critical habitat.

       The estimate includes $0.8 million per year in Section 7 administrative costs.  This is a relatively high percentage of total costs (38%-62%), due mostly to the scope and complexity of bull trout distribution and Federal lands in the watershed.

       The estimate includes $0.5-$1.3 million dollars per year in project modification costs. 

o       Timber sale modification (reduced sale volume, fishery evaluation and monitoring, road and culvert BMP upgrades, etc.) is expected to bear the largest share of future project modification costs in this unit ($270,000 to $680,000 per year). 

o       Costs associated with irrigation diversion modifications in the Clark Fork range from $0 to $280,000 per year.  These costs represent potential impacts to water users associated with reductions in available irrigation water as a result of system modifications (reservoir pools, etc.), and are not related to water rights. 

o       Other forecast project modification costs within the Clark Fork Basin are associated with:  

         Mining (up to $100,000 annually, principally involving watershed assessment and monitoring).

          FERC hydro re-licensing of private dams mostly associated with Thompson Falls ($50,000 to $91,000 annually).

           Federal Highway bridges and road modification (up to $45,000 per year, primarily due to timing constraints on in-stream work).  

       Relative to other units, the Clark Fork ranks high in agency costs for project modifications for the U.S. Forest Service (#1 at $0.4 to 1.1 million per year), the Federal Highway Administration (#1 at $45,000 per year), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (#7 at $50,000 to $91,000 per year) and costs to agencies such as the BIA, National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service.  As previously described, this is due mostly to the scope and complexity of bull trout distribution and Federal lands in the watershed.

       Bull trout-related modifications on operation of the Federal Columbia Power System have resulted in changes in operations at Hungry Horse Dam and Albeni Falls Dam.  While these are considered costs, most of the operational changes due to bull trout have provided economic and recreational benefits in the waters where they occur.  Bull trout-related fishery studies in this portion of the FCRPS are expected to cost $97,000 annually.

       Although the Clark Fork ranks fifth among the 25 units in total cost, it is among the five least costly units in terms of cost per stream mile, due to the extensive amount of area and stream network involved.

       Direct benefits due to bull trout recovery are not described in the report, but are already being realized in Swan Lake - and with the reopening of Hungry Horse Reservoir to recreational angling, they are on the increase.  Such benefits will be disproportionately high in western Montana compared to other portions of the bull trout range due to the attractiveness of the fishery because of the large size of the adfluvial fish.  There is also a lack of alternative fisheries for salmon or steelhead in this region.

 Kootenai Unit Summary

For Montana and northern Idaho, the estimated annual cost of bull-trout related actions in the Kootenai River Basin is estimated to be between $337,000 and $411,000 per year.

                  These costs have been incurred annually for the past five years (since                    bull trout were listed as threatened in 1998) nothing new here since                    all proposed critical habitat is already occupied and ongoing Section                    7 consultation is continuing.

      Bull trout formal consultations in the Kootenai Unit (14 conducted in 1998-2002) were among the highest number of any unit analyzed.  This is primarily due to the high number of streams and the high proportion of those streams that contain bull trout, and the relatively high percentage of Federal (USFS) lands.  With the exception of the Kootenai River White Sturgeon, there is also an absence of previously listed aquatic species (salmon and steelhead) in those waters.

       The Kootenai (including most of northwest Montana and a portion of the northernmost Idaho panhandle) is among the smaller critical habitat units within the entire four-state region.  It includes 368 miles of streams and 30,094 acres of lakes that were proposed for designation as bull trout critical habitat.

       The estimate includes $290,000 per year in Section 7 administrative costs.  This is a relatively high percentage of total costs (71%-86%), due mostly to the scope and complexity of bull trout distribution and Federal lands in the watershed.

       Timber sale modification (reduced sale volume, fishery evaluation and monitoring, road and culvert BMP upgrades, etc.) is expected to bear the largest share of future project modification costs in this unit ($27,000 to $69,000 per year).

       Costs associated with irrigation diversion modifications in the Kootenai range from $0 to $28,000 per year.  These costs represent potential impacts to water users associated with reductions in available irrigation water as a result of system modifications (reservoir pools, etc.), and are not related to water rights.

       Other forecast project modification costs within the Kootenai Basin, such as those associated with mining, federal highway bridges and road modification, etc., total less than $5,000 per year.

       Bull trout-related modifications on operation of the Federal Columbia Power System have resulted in changes in operations at Libby Dam.  While these are considered costs, most of the operational changes due to bull trout have provided economic and recreational benefits in the waters where they occur.

       The Kootenai ranks in the bottom one-third of the twenty-five units in total cost due to bull trout.  It is near the middle of the range in terms of cost per stream mile.

       Direct benefits due to bull trout recovery are not described in the report, but with the reopening of Lake Koocanusa to recreational angling they are on the increase.  Such benefits will be disproportionately high in western Montana compared to other portions of the bull trout range due to the attractiveness of the fishery because of the large size of the adfluvial fish.  There is also a lack of alternative fisheries for salmon or steelhead in this region.

 

 

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