Farmers Need Waterby Keith Frank
The Idaho Statesman, December 3, 2003
Statesman columnist Pete Zimowsky makes a point about the value of salmon runs. However, agriculture brings in far more.
Extreme environmentalists are asking courts to ensure that irrigation water is used for flow augmentation, rather than delivered to its owners — farmers with legitimate water rights. When you add the value of resulting lost crops, jobs, equipment sales, tax revenues, etc., Zimowsky´s $90 million in fishing business amounts to less than a moose relieving himself in the Snake River.
Sending water downstream for flow augmentation is a failed strategy that jeopardizes fishing and recreation in the rest of Idaho. It doesn´t make sense to send Idaho water downstream to satisfy a few folks with a world-view that places fish above people.
Sure, we ought to save fish runs. But it doesn´t make sense to save them at all costs. The truth is that salmon and steelhead have been returning in record numbers for the past three years, in spite of what we have or have not done. The scientific reason is improved ocean conditions. After all we can do, it´s ocean conditions that will decide if fish runs survive, not harebrained schemes hatched by extreme environmentalists.
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