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Latest Salmon Recovery Plan Being Debated

by The Associated Press
The Idaho Statesman, January 31, 2002

Conservationists question Idaho leaders' support of 'doomed' plan

A river conservation group accuses Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and Attorney General Al Lance of ignoring the state´s own biologists when the two filed documents defending useless federal salmon recovery plans.

Idaho Rivers United said the leaders "quietly" filed documents this month to intervene in a lawsuit on the side of the National Marine Fisheries Service´s salmon recovery plan, known as the "Biological Opinion."

IRU was among a coalition of environmental groups which sued the federal government in May 2001, alleging its policy for Columbia and Snake river dams is driving endangered salmon toward extinction.

Neither Lance nor Kempthorne made a public announcement about the latest filing, Idaho Rivers said.

"We all need to ask the attorney general and Gov. Dirk Kempthorne just what they´re doing defending a doomed salmon recovery plan that the fed´s own scientific review -- and Idaho´s biologists -- say will fail," IRU Executive Director Bill Sedivy said.

"Just who is Al Lance representing here?" Sedivy asked. "Idaho has the most to gain from salmon recovery, and here we are supporting a doomed federal plan that no other state in Northwest will defend."

Ironically, it was Idaho which got the salmon and steelhead recovery debate going with a 1994 lawsuit challenging Marine Fisheries over its 1993 opinion, claiming it did not protect the fish, Sedivy said.

"The effect of this filing is to meet a deadline that preserves Idaho´s place at the table in upcoming mediation in this case," Lance spokesman Bob Cooper said. "This is typical sloganeering of a special-interest group."

Kempthorne wants to fully implement the federal salmon recovery plan which mirrors the Four Governors´ Recommendations on salmon involving four Northwestern states, Kempthorne spokesman Mark Snider said.

"It´s important to note here that the state´s own experts on salmon and steelhead, biologists at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, do not support the main conclusions of the current Biological Opinion," said Bert Bowler, Idaho Rivers native fisheries chief.

The Independent Science Advisory Board appointed by Marine Fisheries and the Northwest Power Planning Council in December concluded that none of the region´s four main plans are likely to succeed.

The Associated Press
Latest Salmon Recovery Plan Being Debated
The Idaho Statesman, January 31, 2002

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