Idaho utility, Idaho and Oregon make deal on fish passage

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho utility, Idaho and Oregon have reached a deal involving the operation of a hydroelectric project on the Snake River on the Idaho-Oregon border.

The agreement made public Friday means water-quality certifications from each state for Idaho Power to operate the Hells Canyon Complex of dams can move forward. The environmental quality departments of each state are taking public comments on those certifications through about mid-February.

Oregon officials wanted fish passage above the dams for salmon and steelhead.

Idaho officials didn’t want federally protected fish above the dams because that could force expensive restoration work in environmentally degraded agricultural areas.

Oregon dropped the fish passage requirement, but Idaho Power agreed to boost chinook salmon production at its hatchery and spend an additional $20 million on research and habitat improvement.