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Judge: Salmon-killing Dams Should Go

by John McManus
unEarthed, April 26, 2012

Says dam removal an easy fix with big rewards

Judge James Redden in his chamber library talking with reporter Andy Kunz. In a recent video interview, federal judge James A. Redden said four dams on the lower Snake River should go. As he explained, it's easier to take the dams out than it was to put them in and the change is needed for salmon to survive. This is the same judge who rejected three different weak federal plans which were supposed to protect endangered Snake and Columbia River salmon from the extensive harm caused by hydroelectric dams.

Although Judge Redden stepped down last year as the judge handling the long-running salmon and dams litigation, his views carry considerable weight. Over the past decade he has read more, heard more, and weighed the alternatives and consequences of this controversy more than anyone in the region. Earthjustice has represented the fishing and conservation interests in court before Judge Redden since the mid-1990s.

Judge Redden told Idaho Public Television reporter Aaron Kunz, "I think we need to take those dams down . . . And I've never ordered them you know -- or tried to order them that you've gotta take those dams down. But I have urged them to do some work on those dams . . . and they have."

The judge was referring to four dams on the lower Snake River that keep salmon from prime habitat in the snowmelt waters of Idaho. Removal of these four dams would go a long ways towards insuring restoration of salmon runs in the Pacific northwest and the thousands of jobs that rely on salmon.

As the former Oregon Chief of Fisheries Doug DeHart put it, "Removing the lower Snake dams is the measure most likely to restore wild Snake River salmon. The judge knows it, scientists and economists know it, conservationists know it. The only real question now is why don't the federal agencies know it?"

The video footage is part of a documentary being produced by Aaron Kunz of Idaho Public TV for release later this summer.

Snippets of his interview are available here.

John McManus
Judge: Salmon-killing Dams Should Go
unEarthed, April 26, 2012

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