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2014 Long-term Operations Biological Opinions Annual Science Review
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have each issued a Biological Opinion (BiOp) on the long-term operations of the Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP, hereinafter CVP/SWP; Long-term Operations BiOps) that include Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPA) designed to alleviate jeopardy to listed species and adverse modification of critical habitat. NMFS’ RPA requires the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and NMFS to host a workshop no later than November 30 of each year to review the prior water year’s operations and to determine whether any measures prescribed in the RPA should be altered in light of information learned from the prior year’s operations or research (NMFS’ Long-term Operations BiOp, section 188.8.131.52 of the 2009 RPA with 2011 amendments, starting on page 9). Under direction from the Secretaries of Commerce and Interior, this review has been expanded to include a review of the implementation of the USFWS Long-term Operations BiOp. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) also participates in the review because it operates the SWP. The intent of the annual review is to inform NMFS and USFWS as to the efficacy of the prior years’ water operations and regulatory actions prescribed by their respective RPAs, with the goal of developing lessons learned, incorporating new science, and making appropriate scientifically justified adjustments to the RPAs or their implementation to support real-time decision making for the next water year. The 2014 Annual Science Review will be the fifth annual review.
The purpose of the Long-term Operations BiOps is to present the responsible agency’s biological opinion on whether USBR’s and DWR’s long-term operations of the CVP/SWP are likely to jeopardize the continued existence of or adversely modify the designated critical habitat for the ESA-listed species under each agency’s jurisdiction. The Long-term Operations BiOps concluded that the long-term operations of the CVP/SWP are likely to jeopardize the continued existence of ESA-listed species or adversely modify their designated critical habitats. Accordingly, USFWS and NMFS proposed RPAs to minimize CVP/SWP operations-related effects to the level where the projects no longer jeopardize the continued existence of ESA-listed species or adversely modify their critical habitat. The RPA actions in NMFS’ Long-term Operations BiOp (2009 RPA with 2011 amendments) include both broad and geographically focused actions. The RPA actions reviewed in this process from the USFWS’ Long-term Operations BiOp (pp. 279-282 & 329-356) are organized by delta smelt life stages. The RPA actions in both Long-term Operations BiOps provide specific objectives, scientific rationales, and implementing procedures.
Charge to the Independent Review Panel:
The charge to the panel provides the orientation and focus, materials to be reviewed and specific questions for the panel to start the review process. It provides the direction, context and timeline for the review.
Review Panel Members:
- James Gore, Ph.D., University of Tampa (Panel Chair)
- Ron Kneib, Ph.D., RTK Consulting Services and University of Georgia (Emeritus) (Lead Author)
- James Anderson, Ph.D., University of Washington
- Nancy Monsen, Ph.D., Stanford University
- John Nestler, Ph.D., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (retired)
- John Van Sickle, Ph.D., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (retired)
The Delta Stewardship Council was created in legislation to achieve the state mandated coequal goals for the Delta. "'Coequal goals' means the two goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. The coequal goals shall be achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place." (CA Water Code §85054)