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Feds may Release Salmon, Steelhead Study this Fall

Associated Press, Idaho Statesman, September 24(?), 1999

Four H paper will tie recovery operations, alternatives together

LEWISTON - A group of federal land and water regulatory agencies should release a draft "Four H" paper in late October or early November.

The document will tie together all salmon recovery operations and alternatives including operation of the Columbia River hydro system, said Ric Ilgenfritz of the National Marine Fisheries Service which oversees recovery of migratory fish runs.

The draft paper will be followed by a series of key salmon recovery documents and public comment periods.

The Four H paper will focus on hydropower, habitat, hatcheries and harvest of salmon and steelhead.

It will be coordinated with the release of the Northwest Power Planning Council's multispecies framework study.

Both documents will include a list of recovery options and their likely consequences.

An environmental impact statement for the Interior Columbia Ecosystem Management Project also is due to be released next month.

It looks at federal land management for a huge swath of land in the Northwest.

Important doucments to follow include the Army Corps of Engineers draft environmental impact statement on operation of the four lower Snake River dams.

That should be released in mid-December.

Biological assessments from the corps, Bonneville Power Administration and the Bureau of Reclamation regarding the impact of hydro projects on listed fish species will come in early 2000.

A final biological opinion, also known as the 99 decision, will be released in March or April.

It will focus mainly on the hydropower system, including operation of the four dams in question.

That may not determine the fate of the dams.

Ilgenfritz said the agencies would not recommend breaching if the scientific evidence does not indicate that was the only viable alternative leading to recovery.

Likewise, they would not recommend keeping the dams intact unless there is a scientific certainty non-breaching methods will bring back the salmon from the brink.

Ilgenfritz said the agencies realized they needed a fish recovery strategy that covered the entire life cycles of salmon and steelhead.

There also was a need to coordinate state, federal and tribal efforts. To do that, the departments undertook the Four H paper.

Associated Press
Feds may Release Salmon, Steelhead Study this Fall
Idaho Statesman, September 24(?), 1999

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