COLUMBIA & SNAKE RIVERS, Wash. & Ore. --
Adult salmon passing through U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) fish ladders on the Columbia and Snake rivers this spring will be counted and recorded, but web-posting of some data will be delayed because of a gap in the federal contract that provides fish-counting services.
Counts of adult salmon passing Corps dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers are widely followed by a variety of anglers and fishery managers. Adult fish counts have been collected by employees of small businesses under contract with the Corps, and the results posted to the Internet and disseminated through a variety of other media outlets. The previous contract with Normandeau Associates of Bedford, N.H., ended Feb. 28, 2019.
A new contract for the fish-counting program was competitively sourced, and Four Peaks Environmental Science & Data Solutions, a registered small business from Wenatchee, Washington, was selected on Nov. 7, 2018. The contract’s base-year value is about $2.6 million, with options for the Corps to award additional years, up to a total of five years of contract performance.
This new contractor was scheduled to begin fish-counting duties on March 1 at all eight Corps dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers. However, because of a protest in November on the awarded contract, a halt to any work by the new contractor was required until the dispute could be resolved.
The Government Accounting Office (GAO) dismissed/denied the protest on Feb. 6, 2019, allowing the new contractor to begin preparations for counting fish at the dams.
“Because of the three-month delay created by the protest, it was not possible to have the new contractor performing the obligations of the contract by March 1,” said Corps Fish Biologist Chris Peery. “The contractor is now allowed until June to assume full performance of the new contract, although they may be able to start sooner at some locations.”
To cover the temporary gap period, the Corps hired experienced fish counters. Through consultation and collaboration with state, federal and tribal agencies responsible for managing sport and tribal fisheries in the system, the Corps selected Bonneville Dam, located on the Columbia River near Cascade Locks, Oregon, and Lower Granite Dam, located on the lower Snake River near Pomeroy, Washington, as critical counting locations. Counters will continue work at these two locations, and data will be posted on the Fish Passage Center website within the usual timeframe, typically within 24 hours.
At the remaining Corps dams where “live” counting typically occurs – The Dalles, John Day, McNary, Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental and Little Goose – video recording of fish passing the count stations will occur, starting April 1. Recorded data will be reviewed, counted and fish-count data posted within 3 to 5 days, depending upon staff availability.
“While there likely will be delays in posting some of the fish-count data, collecting video records means critical fish identification and count data will be preserved during this transition period between contractors,” Peery said.