by Associated Press
McCALL, Idaho -- An Idaho biologist who argued for a quarter-century that fish ladders were good enough to prevent salmon from dying out now says four dams on the Snake River in Washington ought to be removed to help the endangered fish.
Don Chapman, 74, wants to get rid of the Ice Harbor, Little Goose, Lower Monumental and Lower Granite dams between the Idaho border and where the Snake River flows into the Columbia River. They produce 1,239 average megawatts of power, enough to light Seattle, and have allowed barge shipping of grain and other goods from Lewiston to Portland since they were built, starting in 1962.
Chapman for years worked as a consultant for electric utilities, arguing that constructed fish bypass systems on the dams such as ladders and barges were enough to keep salmon populations viable. He said he now believes that warming of the Columbia River and its tributaries along with changes in the Pacific Ocean that may be caused by global warming necessitate breaching the barriers to help fish migrate upstream.
Chapman said his change of heart has scientific and political origins: He believes President Bush's salmon recovery plan, which characterizes dams as an insignificant factor in the survival of salmon on the ground that they were there at the time the fish were listed under the Endangered Species Act, is flawed.
"It's so contrary to logic and common sense that I feel offended," Chapman said.
In May, U.S. District Judge James Redden in Portland rejected the Bush administration's plan for protecting salmon from federal dams. To help the fish, Redden ordered federal dam operators to spill water over the dams, at a cost of $67 million to Bonneville Power Administration ratepayers this summer.
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