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Dam Advocates Oppose Interior Nominee

by Rocky Barker
Idaho Statesman, June 27, 2011

Rebecca Wodder, former CEO and president of American Rivers, has been nominated by President Barack Obama to be assistant interior secretary of fish, wildlife and parks. The Northwest RiverPartners, a coalition of industry and agriculture groups supporting federal dams, and the Idaho Water Users Association have written Northwest senators urging them not to support her nomination.

"American Rivers has been an unapologetic advocate for breaching of the federal dams on the lower Snake River and has rejected collaborative efforts such as the Columbia Basin Accords," wrote Norm Semanko, Water Users executive director.

As American Rivers CEO, Wodder has been at the vanguard of the dam removal movement aimed at restoring free-flowing rivers. Since she took the helm of the group in 1995, more than 400 obsolete dams have come down including the Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River in Maine, the Marmot Dam on the Sandy River and the Gold Hill, Savage Rapids and Gold Ray Dams on Oregon's Rogue River.

Terry Flores, executive director of RiverPartners, questioned whether Wodder can set aside her strongly held beliefs about dam removal and render impartial judgments.

I've known Wodder since she worked as an environmental aide to Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson in the 1970s. She followed him to the Wilderness Society after his defeat in 1980.

As assistant secretary, Wodder would be in charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service. She would not be in charge of the Bureau of Reclamation, which manages many of the federal dams, although not the four lower Snake dams.

Wodder will face hearings from both the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which Idaho Sen. Jim Risch sits on, and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo is planning a meeting with Wodder in the next few weeks and won't decide on whether to support her nomination until after that, said his communications director, Lindsay Nothern.

Related Pages:
Scientists Pretty Much Agree About Dam-Breaching by Dave Hohler, The Oregonian, 3/25/00

Rocky Barker
Dam Advocates Oppose Interior Nominee
Idaho Statesman, June 27, 2011

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