THE BONNEVILLE POWER Administration (BPA) is cutting its budget for conservation, salmon restoration and renewable energies.

The Portland, Oregon, US-based federal power marketing agency is slashing its spending on renewable energy and conservation programs by US$21M through 2006.

The cuts are part of the US$350M worth of budget cuts that the administration is implementing to help trim the projected US$1.2B deficit BPA is facing.

The cuts may be coming at a time when the effects of BPA’s past conservation efforts seem to be showing signs of success. Both adult chinook and steelhead salmon, listed as endangered species, have been returning to the Columbia river in record numbers during the past two seasons.

This year an estimated 474,000 adult fall chinook have been counted at the Bonneville dam. That’s the highest number of fall chinook counted since fish counting started in 1938. Steelhead also had a good year. This year an estimated 480,000 steelhead made it to the Bonneville dam, down from a record 680,000 last year.