Breach the Dams Soonby Jerry Jayne
Idaho Falls Post Register, November 26, 2003
So the people who want to save the Snake River salmon are now "environmental extremists"? Or at least so say Congressman Butch Otter and Norm Semanko, spokesman for the "Idaho Water Users."
The fact remains that most of the scientists studying the salmon situation in the 1990s concluded that only breaching the four dams on the Lower Snake River offers a high probability of restoring the Snake River chinook salmon and steelhead. The large majority of biologists agreed that if the dams remain, the fish would probably become extinct. I'm not aware that any credible evidence since then has altered that scientific opinion.
At the Corps of Army Engineers' Idaho hearings in 2000, public support for the dam breaching alternative was overwhelming. And it was clear then that the next best choice - admittedly not as good an alternative - would be flushing more water downstream through the four reservoirs. The Idaho Water Users opposed both alternatives and still do, even though the four dams are in Washington and provide no irrigation benefits to Idaho.
Sen. Mike Crapo is trying to establish a compromise between salmon and irrigation interests. But since the senator said he opposes dam breaching, this effort can hardly be considered a serious attempt to save the salmon.
But saving the salmon is the right thing to do. Making our best effort at restoration of these magnificent animals is not only the ethical thing to do, it is required by United States laws, and by legally binding treaties with American Indian peoples.
We should breach the dams, and soon.
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