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Kempthorne: We Can Save the Fish

by Michael R. Wickline
Lewiston Tribune, May 27(?), 2000

Gov says a many-pronged plan will work

Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne says he's going to continue to support a spread-the-risk strategy to recover salmon runs.

That strategy -- initially promoted by Kempthorne's predecessor Phil Batt -- is aimed at putting more fish in the Snake River and fewer in barges.

Idaho's Republican governor still hopes to reach consensus with the region's three other governors on a salmon recovery plan more than three months after Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber called for breaching the lower Snake River dams.

Kempthorne said his so-called salmon cabinet has worked diligently, reviewed existing data and reached out to the states of Montana, Oregon and Washington.

"It is my hope we can come forward with a regional plan for the recovery of the salmon,'' he said Thursday in Lewiston.

"The bulk of the work has been completed."

Kempthorne declined to spell out any details, including whether the roles of the hatcheries would change.

"We have to see what the final outcome is."

While Kitzhaber backs breaching the four dams west of Clarkston, Kempthorne said the Oregon Democrat has indicated he could support a proposal not to breach if it would achieve the results he's seeking.

"We are working on all H's,'' he said, referring to habitat, harvest, hatcheries and hydropower.

"Those are our discussions."

As far as Kempthorne's new office to coordinate state policy on threatened and endangered species issues, he said he hasn't established a deadline for hiring someone to direct the office.

This year's Legislature appropriated $510,000 for five full-time employees for this new office, starting May 1.

"We are working to put the elements in place, " Kempthorne said.

He said he's looking for the right person to meet the expectations for the office, but he hedged when asked whether candidates are being interviewed.

"It's in discussions. We are doing all the preliminary work."

Kempthorne flew from Boise to Lewiston Thursday to watch Lapwai High School biology students load fingerling coho salmon reared in incubator boxes into a tank truck at the north side of the Potlatch Corp. mill near the Clearwater River.

The fingerlings were subsequently taken to Mission Creek near Winchester for release.

The Nez Perce Tribe and Pulp and Paperworkers Resource Council are working together on this project to restore coho salmon in the Clearwater River.

"You are doing the doable,'' Kempthorne told the students, Potlatch Corp. representatives and tribal employees.

"That is what we should do and we should do it now."

Kempthorne said he discussed a game plan for salmon recovery with Montana and Oregon's governors earlier in the day in Boise.

"We will find the solution,'' he said. "Everybody here is pro-salmon and happen to be pro-jobs."

With Lewis-Clark State College's baseball team competing in the NAIA World Series, Kempthorne showed up at Potlatch's mill wearing a LCSC cap.

"I thought you would have a BSU cap on,'' quipped Silas Whitman, fisheries director for the Nez Perce Tribe.

Kempthorne is a former student body president at the University of Idaho -- a fierce rival of Boise State University.

Michael R. Wickline
Kempthorne: We Can Save the Fish
Lewiston Tribune, May 27(?), 2000

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