Klamath, Snake Retain Spots
by Erik Robinson, Staff Writer
Two Northwest rivers are among the top 10 "most endangered" in the nation, according to the annual ranking by the conservation organization American Rivers.
The Klamath in Southern Oregon and the Snake through Idaho and Eastern Washington have landed on American Rivers' list in years past, and the reasons have changed only slightly in both cases. The annual ranking, which the national organization has compiled since 1986, is due to be released today in Washington, D.C.
The list generally highlights lobbying priorities for American Rivers, with the hope of rallying mainstream environmentalists to the cause.
In the case of the Snake River, the group ranked the Columbia River tributary eighth among this year's most endangered.
In September, a federal salmon-recovery plan faces the first "check-in" among three laid out in a biological opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service in December 2000. The Clinton administration issued the report at the height of public pressure to breach four federal dams on the lower Snake River in Eastern Washington.
Environmental groups contend the federal government is failing to follow through on the commitments it made to improve fish survival through an "aggressive nonbreach" strategy of habitat improvements, hatchery reforms and upgrades to the 29 federal dams in the Columbia-Snake river basin.
"Implementation has been stalled by poor coordination and lack of funds," according to the American Rivers report.
The Klamath River, meanwhile, was ranked the nation's second most endangered by American Rivers one notch up from last year's No. 3 position. Soon after taking office, the Bush administration found itself squarely in the middle of a battle between farmers and conservationists who continue to argue over how to divvy up a scarce amount of water between irrigation and fish migration.
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