New U.S. Salmon Planby Staff and News Services
By spending $6 billion over 10 years to help young salmon safely pass fish-killing hydroelectric dams, the government can comply with Endangered Species Act protections for the fish on the Snake and Columbia rivers, federal fisheries managers said of their new plan yesterday.
The plan, produced under the order of a federal judge in Portland, seeks to dispel any further moves to punch through four dams on the Snake River to allow the river to flow more naturally.
The new plan was immediately lambasted by environmentalists whose lawsuit brought the old salmon-rescue plan under the judge's scrutiny, as well as by Native American tribes that have seen salmon runs decline to fractions of their historic levels.
The Bush administration's update of the Clinton administration's salmon-rescue plan is "far worse" for the fish, said Michael Garrity of American Rivers, one of the groups that sued.
"There is no provision to require recovery," Garrity said. "This plan manages salmon on the brink of extinction and hopes they don't get worse."
The plan was endorsed by ports, grain shippers, towboat operators, irrigators and utilities that depend on the dams for power, navigation and water.
The National Marine Fisheries Service "is moving in the right direction," said Glenn Vanselow of the Northwest Waterways Association, which represents those groups. "We think it will allow the agencies to better manage for cost-effective measures, to continue to rebuild the fish runs."
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