Feds: Dams Don’t Endanger Fishby Staff
Capital Press, September 3, 2004
GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- The removal of Snake River dams no longer has to be considered for restoring threatened and endangered salmon runs due to continuing improvements to the Columbia Basin hydroelectric power system, the Bush administration’s top Northwest salmon official said.
Strong ocean conditions, improvements made in the past four years and plans to add experimental devices called removable spillway weirs over the next 10 years to help fish over dams make it no longer necessary to hold dam removal as a backup plan, Bob Lohn, Northwest regional manager of NOAA Fisheries, said in a conference call from Portland, Ore.
“I think some of the disparity that has been present in the region, certainly among salmon biologists in that time, has been overcome by the fact that we now see it is possible to have substantial rebounds of fish with the hydrosystem in place,” Lohn said. “The facts changed in the intervening time.”
A total of 14 populations of salmon and steelhead are listed as threatened or endangered in the Columbia and Snake River basins in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
Under the Endangered Species Act, the operation of the eight major federal hydroelectric dams in the region cannot jeopardize the survival of those fish, and it is up to NOAA Fisheries to issue a biological opinion saying how dams must be operated to assure the fish survive.
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