Dams Stay Unless other Plans Failby Associated Press
The Oregonian, May 21, 2000
LEWISTON, Idaho -- The federal government is reassuring state officials in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana that it intends to leave the four lower Snake River dams in place while other salmon recovery measures are given a chance to work.
The assurances came from George Frampton, chairman of the President's Council of Environmental Quality. While they echo assertions made last month by Will Stelle, director of the National Marine Fisheries Service, it is the first time a White House-level official has made clear the administration's desire to try stepped-up alternatives to dam breaching.
"Our goal from the start has been a strategy built on the best possible science," Frampton said. "While the science suggests that dam breaching could significantly benefit salmon recovery, it also suggests that other measures might lead to recovery."
The National Marine Fisheries Service is expected to release an opinion on the federal hydropower system and a document that will serve as a blueprint for Columbia and Snake River salmon recovery in late June. Frampton said the plan would be in place by early fall.
The document is expected to include performance standards for salmon recovery. If the plan fails to produce results in five or 10 years, a "trigger mechanism" would put the breaching decision before Congress.
"This strategy would not sidestep or delay a decision on breaching," Frampton said. "Rather, it would address the issue head-on by establishing firm parameters under which breaching would be pursued."
Michael Bogert, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne's chief legal counsel, said the federal government intends to aggressively pursue nonbreaching recovery strategies, but he did not elaborate on what those plans may mean for Idaho's water, salmon and steelhead hatcheries or sport fisheries.
Bogert also said Kempthorne will work closely with federal officials.
"The governor wants to work as best we can on matters of mutual interest in trying to accomplish the overall health of the fish," he said.
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