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Crapo Leery of Snake River Dam Conflict

by Associated Press
Spokesman Review, December 29, 1999

Senator fears emphasis will divide states, tribes, special interest groups

LEWISTON -- U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo is concerned an increased emphasis on habitat restrictions and increasing water flows from the upper Snake River over breaching the lower Snake River dams will create conflict between states, tribes and special interest groups.

Crapo said the interest groups opposing breaching have supported the interests of southern Idaho water users during the past year.

Although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has endorsed breaching the dams as the most effective salmon recovery measure, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and National Marine Fisheries Service are not backing any particular option.

Crapo, chairman of the U.S. Senate fisheries, wildlife and drinking water subcommittee, said regional consensus is needed to resolve the decline of salmon and steelhead runs.

He also said a closed-door process used by federal agencies to develop a series of options addressing habitat, harvest, hatcheries and hydropower issues could undermine development of a regional consensus.

"I see no effort on their part for a true collaborative process."

The states, tribes and interest groups should have been involved in the development of the salmon recovery options, Crapo said.

"The process they used kept the public out, and now we are going to see if we can bring people together in a collaborative process and whether the agencies will allow such a process to proceed."

It is clear the federal agencies are considering using the federal Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act in an aggressive, regulatory regime, he said.

His subcommittee will conduct the hearings that focus on targeted reforms of the act.

"I am very concerned we may be going into a cycle in which there will be significant opposition to a number of approaches laid out in the process, and the people, not having been involved in the process, won't buy it."

Associated Press
Crapo Leery of Snake River Dam Conflict
Spokesman Review, December 29, 1999

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