STATES, TRIBES PROPOSE BIOP SCIENCE COLLABORATION
Columbia Basin Bulletin,
States and tribes this week sent a letter to the
federal government suggesting a "collaborative
scientific process" as part of the writing of a new
NOAA Fisheries' biological opinion for the federal
Columbia River power system.
Two weeks ago, U.S. District Court Judge James A.
Redden told the federal government that, even if it
prolongs the process, he wants state and tribal
representatives to be more involved in the processes
now under way to build the scientific foundation for
the new BiOp.
Redden in May 2003 declared the existing BiOp in
violation of the Endangered Species and gave NOAA
one year (from June 2, 2003) to correct the
deficiencies. In ordering the remand he said the
project should be undertaken in collaboration with
the state and tribal co-managers.
This week's letter from states and tribes proposes
that "collaboration should occur in three stages:
(1) scoping; (2) co-manager review of the data and
work in specified, prioritized areas; and (3)
workshops to discuss questions, concerns and
suggestions arising from that review."
The full letter, which can be found at http://www.salmonrecovery.gov/R_Handouts.shtml,
offers a description of each step and a projected
The letter was prepared by David Leith, Oregon
assistant attorney general, and sent to U.S.
Department of Justice attorney Fred Disheroon on
behalf of the states of Oregon, Washington, and
Idaho and the Nez Perce Tribe, Confederated Tribes
and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Confederated Tribes
of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and Confederated
Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation.
"The third and final step of the process -- the
actual collaboration -- is for the federal and
co-manager scientists on each of the identified
projects to meet and discuss questions and concerns.
This last stage should be interactive and
independently facilitiated," propose states and
"To ensure a candid discussion of the science, the
participants must commit -- and the co-managers do
hereby commit -- to a "good-faith" umbrella over
these meetings. Consistent with this commitment of
good faith, the participants must agree that the
contents of the discussion among the collaborating
scientists shall not be used by or against any party
in this litigation."
The states and tribes predict that with this
collaboration will require "no more than a 60-day
extension of the current remand schedule."