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Governor's Endorse Salmon Strategy

Greg Stahl
Idaho Mountain Express - July 26, 2000

Governors of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington joined in a teleconferencing yesterday morning to voice their mutual support of conservation strategies aimed at restoring waning salmon populations in the Columbia River Basin.

Breaching of four lower Snake River dams is not part of the plan. Rather, it embraces strategies improving habitat, harvesting and hatchery operations.

The governor's announcement came just a week after George Frampton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, released testimony that indicated the decision to breach the dams will not b addressed for at least eight years, and the soonest the dams could be removed would be in 10 years.

Frampton's testimony confirmed that the federal government, too, will instead concentrate its salmon recovery efforts on habitat, harvesting and hatcheries.

Breaching will be the topic of a meeting tonight at 6 p.m. at the home of pro-salmon activist Ann and Doug Christensen north of Ketchum.

The event will feature Rebecca Wodder, president of the conservation group American Rivers. Discussions will focus on national efforts of groups such as American Rivers to breach the four lower Snake River dams.

Ann Christensen said the issue is not mute in light of the recent political drift away from breaching.

"This is not the end," she said in a Monday interview.

"It is outrageous to think that the politicians would decide that it was more important to save some 30-year-old dams that have very little benefit and very great cost instead of saving a very valuable and magnificent species such as Chinook and sockeye (salmon)."

Even so, Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne is steadfast in his opposition to dam breaching.

"I personally believe that breaching is not the only solution," Kempthorne said in an introduction to the Tuesday teleconference. "This (Northwest recovery strategy) does not support breaching. It addresses doable things--things that can be done now."

Kempthorne said this is the first time the four Northwest governors have reached consensus on a major envrionmental issue.

Gov. John Kitzhaber, D-Ore., called the regional salmon recovery strategy "a reflection of the things on which the governors do agree."

"These areas of consensus are very significant," he said.

Earlier this year Kitzhaber became the only elected official in the county to publicly endorse dam breaching. For the time being, he said, the consensus items should be pursued.

"This is not an end point," Kitzhaber cautioned, "but rather a starting point for ongoing dialogue."

Greg Stahl
Governor's Endorse Salmon Strategy
Idaho Mountain Express July 26, 2000

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