Agreement renews collaboration on international Columbia River issues

A document that renews an agreement for international collaboration on projects that promote an understanding and appreciation of the Columbia River Basin was signed last Friday at a meeting of the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) Board of Directors.

Garry Merkel of the CBT and Bruce Measure of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, a federally chartered compact of the Northwestern states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, both signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) — an agreement that was first signed in 200 to formalize the relationship that had developed between the two agencies.

“By working together the Council and CBT are enhancing trans-boundary co-operation on key issues related to the ecosystem and river management in the Columbia Basin,” said Merkel, CBT Chair. “The renewal of this agreement ensures the two agencies will continue to work together to keep Basin residents informed about issues affecting the Basin.”

In the past decade, collaboration on projects included producing a comprehensive map of the Columbia Basin showing major tributaries and hydropower dams, and helping citizens understand and participate in planning processes affecting trans-boundary rivers, hydropower generation, and fish and wildlife. The Columbia River Treaty review process, now underway in both countries, provides another opportunity to share information and inform citizens about the current and future uses of the river.

“Our partnerships with CBT helps the Council fulfill one of its legal mandates, which is to inform the Pacific Northwest public about regional fish and wildlife and power issues,” said Measure, Council Chair. “Although the Council has no authority in British Columbia, the Columbia River begins in British Columbia and through this partnership we can help citizens of both countries better understand the river we share.”

Before signing the MOU, Measure also noted that he sees this partnership as a fabulous opportunity to exchange cultural distinctions. He said that everything about the Columbia river is “complex and controversial”, but the Council’s relationship with the CBT has always been one of working together to solve these problems.