Simpson's Proposal has Been
by Bill Monroe
. . .
Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, has unveiled a $33.5 billion plan to resurrect that state's historically significant salmon runs by breaching four controversial dams on the lower Snake River.
While the idea is far from new, the unusually comprehensive proposal breaks new ground and provides a problem-specific blueprint to answer most, if not all, of the compelling issues.
It also comes from a heretofore unlikely source -- a Republican congressman from the state most affected.
Far down in the proposal's fine print is a $700 million outlay for needed hatchery improvements and infrastructure changes to make them more effective.
Simpson's proposal has been panned by predictable sources, including hydropower proponents and the Idaho Farm Bureau.
But its path has also been widely applauded by biologists, salmon advocates, agencies and others who agree with Simpson's if-not-now-when challenge and warning the runs face extinction without a plan.
Those who say at least some salmon are already making it over those dams have only to compare the relative health of the John Day (Oregon) and mainstem Columbia river salmon runs after crossing three and four dams, to the anemic survival of Snake salmon after negotiating as many more additional ladders.
"A concept like this will take all the Northwest delegation, governors, tribes and stakeholders working together to draft a solution," Simpson said. "It will be no easy task and on a very tight timeline."
He'll need all the help he can muster, so start writing your letters.
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