Corps Releases Possible
TRI-CITIES The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today released a plan of study that outlines steps that could be taken to evaluate breaching of one or more of the lower Snake River dams.
The Corps said the plan of study, a requirement of the Adaptive Management Implementation Plan released in September 2009, defines how a lower Snake River fish passage improvement and dam breaching feasibility study would be managed and conducted if such a study were to be initiated.
The plan of study, which would take several years to complete, includes two phases: The completion of technical studies, followed by a review by the presidential administration. The second phase would be the development of a environmental impact statement. Both would be used, if needed, to seek congressional authority to breach one or more of the dams, the Corps said.
"Overall, the status of the Snake River species has improved," said Lt. Col. Michael Farrell, District Commander of the Corps' Walla Walla District. "This plan of study is ready should the administration determine that an examination of the risks and benefits of breaching is needed."
The Obama Administration said it views dam breaching as a contingency of last resort. But it also said it recognizes that conditions may change and we need to lay out the steps to be taken.
The Corps completed a comprehensive feasibility study in 2002. The study evaluated, but did not recommend, the implementation of dam breaching. The lower Snake River dams affect only four of the 13 listed species of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin. The Corps' preferred alternative focused on improving juvenile salmon migration through the Lower Snake River Project using changes in river operations and making major system passage improvements.
"Any decision regarding dam breaching will be guided by the best available science and any biological effects on the species," said Farrell. "The Corps operates its dams to meet expectations assumed in the NOAA Biological Opinion for adult and juvenile fish passage."
The plan of study is posted at: www.nww.usace.army.mil/amip/lsrfip/default.asp.
For more on this story, see Thursday's Herald and visit www.tricityherald.com
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