Noon - Craig Doesn't Plan
by Rocky Barker
Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig said he does not plan to add a provision on to a budget bill this year that would limit a federal judge from ordering draining more water from Idaho reservoirs to aid salmon migration.
Salmon advocates, environmental groups, tribes and fishing industry groups had circulated a letter in the Senate urging opposition to such a provision -- known as a "rider." The Idaho Water User's Association has pressed Craig to add the rider to relieve the threat to Idaho.
"I do not have a rider ready now to introduce," Craig said. If he does write a future rider, he said, it wouldn't be limited to protecting Idaho water: It would be to suspend the lawsuits while regional governors negotiate a salmon plan.
"I would mandate that Judge (James) Redden would step back and that Idaho, Montana, Washington and Oregon would again convene their governors to work with NOAA Fisheries to build a consensus," Craig said.
Craig said he then could take that consensus plan and "legislate into law the management of the river system."
He would need the full support of Northwest Democrats who will hold the balance of power in Congress come January.
Craig has time: U.S. District Judge James Redden won't likely take any action until after federal fisheries officials roll out a new salmon- and dam-management plan next summer, as Redden has told them to do. If Redden elects to order even more harsh and costly measures -- as he has threatened -- then Craig might not have a problem enlisting the aid of Oregon and Washington Democrats.
Craig has had such aid before. His efforts to kill in 2005 the Fish Passage Center, an agency that was recording the impact of dams on salmon could have been blocked by Washington state Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, who are supported by environmental groups, Craig said. But they didn't.
Senator Craig's previous rider withdrew funding from the Fish Passage Center which provides Pertinent Data including:
Adult Salmon Return Comparison - compares current year to last year and the ten year average.
Adult Salmon Passage at Lower Granite Dam Yearly Adult Counts 1975 - Present
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