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Bush Ignoring Salmon Goals, Groups Charge

by Matthew Daly, Associated Press
Seattle Times, February 27, 2003

WASHINGTON -- For the second year, the Bush administration is failing to meet federal goals to save endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest, conservation and fishing groups say.

In a report card issued yesterday, the organizations again gave the administration an "F," saying officials have failed to implement nearly three-quarters of the measures required under a salmon-recovery plan adopted in 2000.

The Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition said the administration must make drastic improvements if is to pass a mandatory federal review this fall.

If officials fall short, they should consider removal of dams along the Snake River in Eastern Washington, former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt said.

Babbitt, who was Interior secretary for eight years under President Clinton, is an adviser to the conservation group. He said he was "extremely disappointed" at the Bush administration's salmon-recovery efforts.

Babbitt accused officials of intentionally ignoring the four-state salmon plan adopted in December 2000, just before Clinton left office. If officials continue to ignore the plan, they are likely to wind up in court, Babbitt said.

"At what point does failure to comply constitute a violation of the Endangered Species Act?" he asked. "I'm not in the business of soliciting lawsuits, for the most part, but it's a real issue."

In its report, the salmon coalition cited several areas where officials had not met standards imposed by the salmon plan, including failure to request or receive necessary funding, failure to reduce water temperatures in the lower Snake River below the recommended 68 degrees Fahrenheit and failure to secure recommended water flows to help move salmon to the sea.

Since taking office in 2001, the administration has funded the salmon plan at half the estimated $900 million a year needed to implement it, the report said.

Brian Gorman, a Seattle spokesman for NOAA Fisheries, formerly known as the National Marine Fisheries Service, called the report card bogus.

"It's rather odd to call it a report card since it seems to be issued before we have a chance to take the final exam," Gorman said, referring to the September review scheduled on the salmon plan.

Matthew Daly, Associated Press
Bush Ignoring Salmon Goals, Groups Charge
Seattle Times, February 27, 2003

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