Federal Plan to Balance
by Associated Press
GRANTS PASS, Ore. - The Bush administration's latest plan for balancing the lives of endangered salmon against operation of hydroelectric dams in the Columbia Basin has been challenged by conservation and fishing groups.
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Portland on Tuesday alleges that the plan issued in May arbitrarily and capriciously ignores the best available science, is not appreciably different from one in 2004 declared illegal by U.S. District Judge James Redden, and relies too heavily on restoring habitat and reforming hatchery operations.
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski will join the challenge, said spokeswoman Jillian Schoene.
Last year Redden warned that he would turn over the job of restoring Columbia Basin salmon to an independent panel of experts if the government failed again.
This complaint gives him the opportunity to weigh in on the latest plan, or biological opinion, which acknowledges that the 14 federally operated dams by themselves threaten the survival of salmon but relies on extensive habitat restoration, modifications to dams' spillways, and changes in salmon hatchery operations to boost survival, without major changes to the amount of water going through turbines.
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