Protected Areas are stream reaches where the Northwest Power and Conservation Council determined that hydroelectric development would have unacceptable risks of irreversible loss to fish and wildlife.
From the inception of this program, the Council has supported the concept of protecting some streams and wildlife habitats from hydroelectric development where the Council believes such development would have major negative impacts that could not be reversed.
Under the Northwest Power Act and the Federal Power Act, federal entities must consider Protected Area status and restrictions when making decisions regarding hydroelectric facility permits and access to electricity from those facilities.
Inclusion in a “Protected Area” does not prohibit hydroelectric development at a site. However, the Council 1) calls on FERC not to license a new hydroelectric development in a Protected Area, and 2) calls on BPA not to acquire the power from such a project should one be licensed by FERC nor to allow access to the power grid in a way that would undermine the protected areas policy.
The Protected Areas protections apply to the creation of new hydroelectric facilities in places on the Protected Areas list, with some exemptions allowed. Hydroelectric development in an area can also be constrained by Federal designations such as wilderness areas, critical habitat areas, wild and scenic rivers, and by state statutes. This Protected Areas list is developed by the Council, and does not necessarily list all federal and state protections.