Options Get Narrowed for Future of Snake,
by Courtney Flatt
A series of public meetings this past year gave the agencies plenty to think about
Federal agencies are a step closer to deciding how best to manage the Columbia River system and protect endangered fish. They outlined goals for a range of plans at a public meeting Thursday.
A series of public meetings this past year gave the agencies plenty to think about. They received more than 400,000 comments about how to protect endangered salmon and steelhead and, at the same time, maintain navigation channels for river traffic, control floods, and meet hydropower demands.
The agencies have narrowed down their options to 230 possible ideas that could help solve problems in the dam system -- problems that range from warm waters that kill fish to droughts that shrink irrigation supplies.
Rebecca Weiss with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said each of these measures should help solve specific problems, but they may not go forward in the final decision.
"If you try to meet all of our objectives, what's the right balance for that? We want to be able to show the trade-offs," Weiss said during the meeting.
One controversial option that the agencies have so far left on the table is the breaching four dams on the lower Snake River -- something that is supported by fish and conservation groups.
At the meeting, people wondered:
The agencies will host more public meetings next spring and fall. They expect to have a final draft impact environmental impact statement in March 2020. The process is costing an estimated $80 million, with some funding reprioritized.
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