by Editorial Board
It's good that a federal judge is willing to make tough calls about the operation of Columbia River system dams. Somebody has to.
U.S. District Judge James Redden has ordered summer water spills to help salmon pass safely through dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. He said the dams' normal operations "strongly contribute to the endangerment" of protected fish runs.
Gov. Christine Gregoire was one of those raising concerns about the economic effects on farmers and others, particularly in a drought year. Her concerns deserve respect because the state had properly joined in criticizing the Bush administration's inadequate efforts to protect salmon on the Columbia.
But it's the repeated shortcomings of the federal efforts, going back well before the current administration, that have forced Redden's hand. U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris, R-Spokane, is pointing in the wrong direction when she attacks Redden. McMorris ought to ask the administration to shape up.
In his latest order, the judge invited all parties, including federal, state and tribal authorities, to reach consensus on dam operations that protect salmon and provide economic benefits to fishermen, Native American communities and the entire region. Great idea. But until that happens, Redden must be willing to act.
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