Local Leaders Speak Out Against Rep. Simpson's Plan
by Jordan Smith
Elected officials in Eastern Washington are asking Representative Simpson
to leave the politics out of this and rely on science.
LEWISTON, ID -- Five local county commissioners in Southeastern Washington have sent a letter to Idaho Representative Mike Simpson.
Recently, Representative Simpson introduced a bill to remove multiple dams along the Snake River in an effort to save the salmon population. This controversial piece of legislation is capturing the attention of many here in the LC Valley. The estimated cost of his legislation nears $33.5 billion.
Local elected officials voiced strong opposition to the proposed plan Thursday night.
The four Lower Snake River dams were built in the 1960’s and 70’s. They are Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite.
Representative Simpson’s plan proposed the removal of those dams but leaving the dams along the Columbia River intact.
Over the decades, salmon runs have dwindled. There are continued efforts in place to restore the runs. But some, like Representative Simpson argue, the dams are to blame. He believes if they are breached, the fish population will thrive again.
Many folks are worried that removing the dams will adversely affect local economics which depend on the river system for transportation of crops as well as electricity.
Elected officials in Eastern Washington are asking Representative Simpson to leave the politics out of this and rely on science.
"There's a fundamental flaw here," said Commissioner Shinn. “If you buy into what Representative Simpson says, then you would need to take all the dams out between the mouth of the Columbia all the way up here, otherwise it doesn't make sense. Those of us that have been involved with salmon recovery efforts for quite some time realize there is no scientific guarantee anywhere. anywhere, that says pulling the dams is going to necessarily aid in the return or do it any more quickly of salmon to our area."
On Wednesday, Asotin County Commissioner Brian Shinn and the other members of the Snake River Recovery Salmon Board sent a letter to Representative Simpson, the Idaho Legislature, as well as the delegation for Washington State.
To be clear, this is not the opinion of the board. This is the opinion of the five county commissioners who have and remain in opposition of the removal of the four Lower Snake River dams. Those elected officials are advocating for increased application of hatchery, barging, and trucking juveniles upstream. Methods that Commissioner Shinn says are more cost-effective, and scientifically proven to be effective.
Governor Brad Little weighed in on the topic Thursday stating: “My position on the Lower Snake River dams has not changed. I remain unconvinced that breaching the dams is a silver bullet for salmon recovery. Breaching the dams would have devastating impacts on Idahoans and vital segments of Idaho’s economy."
The four lower Snake River dams are federally owned, ultimately the decision to remove the dams is in their hands but science, research and community input is vital.
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