BIOLOGICAL OPINION for Water Supply, Flood Control Operations, and Channel Maintenance in the Russian River watershed

Publication Type  Resource
Authors  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Sonoma County Water Agency; Mendocino County Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District
Year of Publication  2008
Publisher  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Abstract or Description  

Pursuant to Section 7(a)(2) of the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) consulted with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) regarding its operations of Warm Springs Dam (WSD) and Coyote Valley Dam (CVD) and a suite of activities that are authorized by the Corps and undertaken by the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) and the Mendocino County Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District (MCRRFCD). The Corps, the SCWA, and the MCRRFCD have proposed to implement, for an additional 15 years, ongoing practices and operations at WSD and CVD and activities related to flood control, water diversion and storage, regulation of flows in the Russian River and Dry Creek, estuary management, hydroelectric power generation, channel maintenance, and fish hatchery production.

These actions likely affect Central California Coast (CCC) steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), CCC coho salmon (O. kisutch), and California Coastal (CC) Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha), each of which is protected as threatened or endangered under the ESA. The proposed actions also likely affect designated critical habitat for these species. The purpose of this consultation is to provide a determination regarding whether the Corps has insured that the proposed project is not likely to jeopardize one or more of these species or destroy or adversely modify their designated critical habitat. If a project is found to jeopardize a species or adversely modify its critical habitat, NMFS must develop a Reasonable and Prudent Alternative (RPA) to the proposed project in coordination with the federal action agency and any applicant. If the project is also expected to result in the incidental take of listed species, NMFS must also provide reasonable and prudent measures (RPM’s) to minimize and monitor the impact of the incidental take of listed species.

In this document, we present our analysis and conclusions in the conventional format for biological opinions as described in the Endangered Species Consultation Handbook (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NMFS 1998). This biological opinion includes reviews of the Consultation History, a Description of the Proposed Action, the Status of the Species and Critical Habitat, and the Environmental Baseline. Following those reviews we provide an analysis of the Effects of the Proposed Action, Cumulative Effects, and an Integration and Synthesis section in which we analyze the effects of the project in the context of the species status and environmental baseline. This biological opinion concludes with NMFS’ determination regarding the impacts of this proposed project on the species’ likelihood of survival and recovery, and on the value of the species’ critical habitat. Because we have determined that this proposed project is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of some of the salmonid species affected by the proposed project, and adversely modify their critical habitats, we have provided a Reasonable and Prudent Alternative (RPA) to the proposed action that 1) avoids jeopardy to the species and adverse modification of critical habitat, 2) can be implemented in a manner consistent with the intended purpose of the action, 3) is economically and technically feasible, and 4) is within the legal authorities of the Corps, SCWA, and MCRRFCD.

SIGNED-RussianRiverBOCoverletter.pdf106.87 KB
Signed-RussianRiverFinal_BO_9-24-08.pdf4.33 MB