Idaho Power Company’s Niagara Springs Sturgeon Hatchery Wins 2021 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters Award
Hatchery is First-of-its Kind in Idaho
Atlanta, GA (October 22, 2021) – The National Hydropower Association (NHA) today announced Idaho Power Company’s Niagara Springs Sturgeon Hatchery received the 2021 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters (OSAW) Award in the category of Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement.
The category of Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement recognizes hydropower projects that provide enhanced recreational opportunities for the general public, offer measurable benefits that mitigate, conserve, preserve, or enhance the natural resources, or conserve historical aspects of hydropower facilities and their integration with the surrounding community.
As part of its licenses to operate hydroelectric projects on the middle Snake River, Idaho Power Company developed the Niagara Springs Sturgeon Hatchery – the first of its kind in Idaho. The hatchery is designed to support a novel approach to the conservation of white sturgeon populations along the 330 miles of the Snake River in Idaho and Oregon between Brownlee Dam and Shoshone Falls Dam. This innovative hatchery operates by receiving fertilized sturgeon eggs from natural spawning events in the Snake River. This approach helps maintain the genetic diversity of the natural population.
Using specifically designed nets as well as mats, company biologists collect naturally fertilized eggs as they drift downstream. White Sturgeon are reared at the facility for about one year before they are stocked into various reaches of the Snake River to help conserve and support white sturgeon populations in the middle reaches of the Snake River, where sufficient natural production is lacking.
“NHA is thrilled to present Idaho Power Company with the OSAW Award for Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement,” said LeRoy Coleman, Director of Communications, NHA. “Idaho Power’s repatriation approach to white sturgeon conservation is an exciting project that can re-introduce around 2,500 juvenile sturgeon annually back into the Snake River. The hydroelectric development along the Snake River has provided affordable, reliable, clean energy to the area, and with Idaho Power’s hatchery, the white sturgeon will be able to maintain their natural genetic diversity and healthy population counts.”
“This sturgeon conservation hatchery is the culmination of 30 years of research into white sturgeon reproduction and overall population health in the Snake River. At Idaho Power, we are committed to good stewardship of the river, and we are confident that this hatchery, in collaboration with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the College of Southern Idaho and other stakeholders will help to ensure these ancient fish continue to thrive here in southern Idaho,” said Jim Chandler, Environmental Manager for Idaho Power.
White sturgeon reared at the hatchery in 2021 will be released into the Snake River in Spring of 2022. Idaho Power has a plan to recapture and survey white sturgeon throughout the various reaches to monitor survival and growth rates, to document the success of the program.
This new hatchery is one of multiple measures identified in a White Sturgeon Conservation Plan developed by Idaho Power more than 20 years ago to support populations of this unique native fish as part of a mitigation plan for its hydroelectric projects.
About the Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters Awards
In 1994, the National Hydropower Association (NHA) created the Hydro Achievement Awards to recognize organizations and projects committed to excellence in the development and operation of hydropower. In 1999, NHA added the Outstanding Stewardship of America’s Rivers (OSAR) Report to profile the best examples of hydropower’s ability to generate clean, renewable, reliable and affordable electricity while protecting the riverine ecosystem. Beginning in 2007, these two recognition programs were merged to more effectively provide recognition to deserving organizations and to reflect the changing nature of the hydropower industry, particularly the fact that hydropower can be used in various waterways. The new award program is called the Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters (OSAW).
OSAW Awards are given out in three distinct categories:
- Operational Excellence: projects that add value to the hydropower industry through technical contributions, innovation, engineering, upgrades and improvements or technology breakthroughs for new hydropower technologies
- Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement: projects that provide enhanced recreational opportunities for the general public, offer measurable benefits that mitigate, conserve, preserve, or enhance the natural resources, or conserve historical aspects of hydropower facilities and their integration with the surrounding community.
- Public Education: programs that effectively communicate and promote the benefits of hydropower through mediums such as curriculum, learning centers, videos or outreach programs.
NHA invites you to learn more about these outstanding endeavors, both past and present, at www.hydro.org/osaw.