Idaho Gets Fish Recovery Fundsby Dave Wilkins, Staff Writer
Capital Press - August 2, 2002
BOISE -- State and federal officials last week announced $73 million spending projects intended to aid fish recovery in Idaho over the next three years.
The funds will support 12 new projects and continue work on 52 others already under way, officials said.
Most of the projects will help sockeye, steelhead and spring Chinook salmon, all of which are listed under the Endangered Species Act.
The projects emphasize habitat improvement and hatchery development. Noticeably missing are any projects to study dam breaching.
Mitigating the harmful effects of federal hydropower dams makes more sense than removing the dams, as some have proposed, said Sen. Larry Craig R-Idaho.
"This is great news and a common-sense approach to assist salmon and other endangered fish recovery in Idaho," Craig said. "Those who favor tearing out the dams and throwing a regional economy into turmoil must understand that breaching is no longer a viable option."
The projects are designed to mitigate the effects of federal dams by improving and acquiring natural habitat, and building and operating hatcheries.
Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne said the new funds won't be used for new studies, but "will be used on the ground, where they can pay dividends for Idaho's salmon and steelhead."
The funds will help the Bonneville Power Administration meet its requirements under the ESA and the Northwest Power Act to mitigate the effects of the dams.
BPA Administrator Steve Wright said the BPA, the Northwest Power Planning Council and the state are making an effort to maintain salmon recovery efforts during tight economic times.
"The Northwest Power Planning Council recommended projects to BPA for funding based on scientific merit," Wright said. "Only those that produce the greatest biological benefit for the least cost will be funded."
Among the approved projects is the Lower Red River Meadow project in south-central Idaho near Elk City. The goal is to provide high-quality fish habitat for Chinook salmon, steelhead, bull trout and other species utilizing four land parcels along a 4.5-mile stretch of the Red River channel.
The projects were selected from many proposed in the Mountain Snake Province, consisting of the Salmon and Clearwater watersheds. BPA and the NPPC solicited proposals last year and an independent scientific review panel recommended the projects.
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