How $6 Billionby Michael Garrity
Editor, The Times:
As "Salmon recovery, a dam-site better" [Times editorial, May 29] notes, U.S. District Judge James Redden's ruling that the federal government's $6 billion salmon plan for the Columbia-Snake rivers is illegal opens the door to a much-needed regional dialogue [see also "Judge throws back plan on salmon," page one, May 27].
The pathway to a productive discussion is to explore how the government can spend that $6 billion more effectively. Imagine an investment package where some of that money (probably well under half of it) is spent to remove the four outdated lower Snake River dams and protect and even enhance existing economies. Surely, with the right investments we can recover salmon, keep farmers farming, and improve our freight transportation and energy systems -- and help ensure a healthy river and a strong economy for years to come.
Nobody is talking about removing any dams on the main-stem Columbia River, but removing the outdated Snake River dams merits real consideration. The modest benefits of the lower Snake dams are replaceable and, as the American Fisheries Society recently stated, salmon "survival and recovery would be assured with the removal of the lower four (Snake River) dams."
We have a responsibility to our families, our communities and ourselves to protect the things that make the Northwest special, including healthy, fishable salmon runs and healthy rivers. Our elected leaders can help us meet this responsibility by encouraging an honest dialogue about what it will take to restore salmon in a way that protects existing farms and businesses, opens up new economic opportunities and leaves a better future for our children.
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