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Federal Guidance Coming for Snake River Dams

by Associated Press
Spokesman Review, May 25, 2000

White House advisers say agencies should be ready for decision to breach or not

KENNEWICK _ White House advisers say federal agencies should prepare to breach the four lower Snake River dams while continuing to look for other salmon-saving options.

Under a proposal working its way through the National Marine Fisheries Service, engineering studies for breaching the dams would begin immediately along with efforts to ease the economic impact of dam breaching, the White House Council on Environmental Quality said in a statement.

"This strategy would not sidestep or delay a decision on breaching," acting Chairman George Frampton said. "Rather it would address the issue head-on by establishing firm parameters under which breaching would be pursued."

At the same time, agencies must "pursue all other reasonable options" to improve river flows, modify dam operations, protect and restore salmon habitat, reform hatchery operations and continue to limit salmon harvest, the council said.

"The science does not clearly indicate that breaching is the only possible option, nor does it allow us to take that option off the table," Frampton said.

Scott Bosse of Idaho Rivers United said the administration "is still trying to find its way through the fog here. There is a lot of wrangling going on in Washington, D.C., over exactly what is going to be in that document."

Washington Gov. Gary Locke said the federal direction gives the Northwest a reprieve from demands for an immediate decision on dam breaching.

"Meanwhile, we need to put our energy and resources into the real problems that will affect the health of wild Snake River steelhead and salmon stocks now," Locke said.

The fisheries service recommendation on breaching and other salmon and hydropower issues is scheduled to be released next month.

Among the critical components of the fish-saving plan are the exact nature of the performance "triggers" that would be used to gauge the effectiveness of salmon recovery efforts.

The triggers would be designed to put the dam-breaching question to Congress if standards are not met over a period of five to 10 years.

Associated Press
Federal Guidance Coming for Snake River Dams
Spokesman Review, May 25, 2000

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