By Rachael Rees

The Bulletin

Bend company Real Time Research Inc. is eligible to receive part of a $45 million contract from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for biological studies in the Snake and Columbia River Basins.

“This will be a big part of our business,” said Ken Collis, founding partner of the environmental and information technology consulting firm on Southwest Bond Street. “(It means) a lot more visibility, a lot more opportunity to partner and a lot more opportunities to make a difference and grow in the way that we want to.”

The contract is an Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity Contract, meaning the scope of the work, which will be based around fish research, is not determined, said Gina Baltrusch, spokeswoman for the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. She said Real Time Research, which applied for the contract as a joint venture with Washington-based Blue Leaf Environmental Inc., is one of three companies selected as prime vendors. When task orders for services are given, each company will have the opportunity to bid and one will be selected.

“We are committing to use these companies to complete a certain dollar amount worth of work,” she said, referring to the $45 million cap.

By using this type of contract, she said it ensures a qualified company will be able to perform research when it is needed over the next three to five years.

The goal of the contract is to conduct research aimed at salmon recovery, said Allen Evans, a Real Time Research partner.

Pacific salmon and trout are important biological, cultural and economic resources in the Pacific Northwest, Evans wrote in an email. Dramatic declines in salmon and trout populations in the Columbia River Basin have prompted protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. There are currently 13 population segments — spawning groups — of salmon and trout listed as endangered species in the Columbia River Basin.

“Research is needed to better understand factors responsible for salmon declines and to help regional fisheries managers develop effective recovery plans to save these populations from extinction,” Evans wrote.

Scientists from Real Time Research and Blue Leaf Environmental, along with their partners including University of California at Davis and Biomark, an electronic identification technology company in Boise, will perform the work if their bid is selected.

Since Real Time Research started in 1999, it has received more than $6 million in contracts and subcontracts to conduct fisheries-related research for the federal government, public utility districts and state agencies. The company currently employs nine people and Collis expects the contract will allow it to double its employment over the next five years. In addition to its environmental research, Collis said, partner Mike Hawbecker drives the development of custom software and other data services for researchers in the field to use.

“As a small business, sometimes you’re going after whatever is out there just to survive,” Collis said. “I think this (contract) allows us to focus on what we’re good at and what we’re passionate about.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7818,