Idaho Salmon Recovery
BOISE -- Idaho's share of the federal funding available for salmon recovery efforts could be boosted by a million dollars, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo announced Thursday.
Crapo said the decision by Senate budget writers to increase Idaho's share to $6 million bodes well for future salmon recovery efforts.
The Republican junior senator introduced the legislation earlier this month as a way to ensure Idaho is included in future federal salmon recovery funding efforts.
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to increase it for the next fiscal year, but it still needs full Senate approval.
Crapo, chairman of the Senate's Fisheries, Wildlife and Water Subcommittee, said the bill "makes Idaho a full partner with Oregon, Washington, California and Alaska" in regional salmon recovery programs.
The money will benefit projects ranging from tribal hatcheries to stream diversions along tributaries of the Salmon River.
"It was only two years ago that Idaho became eligible to share in federal salmon recovery dollars, despite having more than half the habitat for Northwest Chinook salmon," Crapo said in a prepared statement.
The Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund was initially established under the Clinton Administration in 2000, improving habitat in the lower Columbia River region but leaving out the headwaters in Idaho. Four of the 26 salmon populations on the endangered species list spawn in Idaho's Snake River.
However, Idaho was not included initially because it is not a Pacific shore state, as are California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, which all share a total of $90 million each year. An additional $10 million goes to the tribes.
States must match the money, which can be spent on things like stabilizing stream banks, installing fish screens at irrigation-diversion points and purchasing conservation easements from landowners.
Those measures do not address breaching the four lower Snake River dams, which some scientists say must be removed before the fish runs can fully recover.
Last month, a new Bush Administration strategy was proposed that would change the way dams are operated to improve salmon passage.
The new plan discards the previously considered option of breaching the four dams to allow easier fish passage. The plan said dams in the Columbia and Snake River basins pose no jeopardy for salmon and steelhead trout, which have been on the Endangered Species List for years.
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