Gill net rules on the Columbia River — Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission backed off its Columbia River standoff with Washington when it met Friday in Corvallis — but just enough, commissioners hoped, to prompt negotiation with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to bring the states back together on co-managing the river’s salmon, and still keep their governor happy.
Under pressure from Gov. Kate Brown, the commission pulled back from a Jan. 20 decision to allow continued gill netting for summer and fall chinook, contrary to a 2013 plan to phase nets off the river by the end of 2017. Instead, commissioners voted unanimously to keep gill nets off spring and summer runs and to allow just 30 percent of the fall chinook allocation to be caught in nets. They also left the door open for alternative, safer fishing gears in the mainstem, including the limited use of tanglenets in the spring if May reviews of the spring salmon run showed enough fish were available.
Sport anglers still get 80 percent of spring and summer chinook allocations and 70 percent of the available fall fish. Commercial nets will still be allowed in off-channel areas, and more hatchery salmon will be produced for those areas.
The complicated decision draws the commission closer — but not all the way — to Washington, which wants only 25 percent of the fall run taken by nets and only for two more years, then all gill nets off the mainstem — Oregon wants them to remain for fall fish.
Commission Chair Michael Finley said he hopes Washington will be willing to negotiate for an acceptable compromise. Oregon’s law creating the plan, he said, requires the state to address maximum economic benefits for both commercial and sportfishing. Washington’s commission isn’t under an economic constraint, Finley said. Without an agreement, the states could remain at odds and, for the first time in nearly 100 years, have to manage the river’s fall fisheries separately.
Amazon data center — Amazon is proposing to build a third data complex west of Hermiston consisting of four data centers. The Seattle-based e-commerce giant recently bought 120 acres of land next to the Hermiston Generating Plant. It already operates two server farms in Eastern Oregon. Amazon, doing business through a holding company called Vadata, has continued to expand at Port of Umatilla and Port of Morrow sites along the Columbia River. The buildings are home to racks of computer servers that host everything from email to streaming movies. According to Vadata’s Jim Footh, the company needs to build multiple data center campuses to provide a backup in case one center goes down. The Umatilla County Commission must first approve rezoning the proposed site from farm use to light industrial. A public hearing on that issue is scheduled Thursday night.