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Fish Count Agency Gets Extension

by Associated Press
Statesman Journal, April 16, 2006

PORTLAND -- The contract for the agency that counts salmon and other fish in the Columbia River has been extended while a federal appeals court considers arguments about whether it should remain open.

Officials with the Bonneville Power Administration said the agency has extended the existing contract through Nov. 30 for the Fish Passage Center in Portland.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in March that money for the center should be continued until a lawsuit filed by environmentalists and Indian tribes challenging its closure can be resolved.

The court likely will hear arguments in the case in mid-September, power officials said.

Bonneville had decided to split the fish counting duties between two other agencies after a legislative move by Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, that effectively eliminated the center's $1.3 million budget.

The cut drew criticism because it came after U.S. District Judge James Redden cited data from the Fish Passage Center in his decision to declare inadequate a Bush administration plan for protecting salmon listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, which currently administers the center's funding with Bonneville, had been set to take over some of the fish counting duties.

Bonneville officials said contracts with the commission and the national lab will depend on the outcome of the court case.

Associated Press
Fish Count Agency Gets Extension
The Plainsman, April 16, 2006

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