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Economic and dam related articles

Take Idaho's Water to Kill Fish

by Rick Keller
Idaho Farm Bureau Quarterly - February 2004

Last month, environmental groups and Pacific Coast commercial fishermen notified federal agencies of their intention to sue the Bureau of Reclamation concerning its operation of irrigation projects in Idaho's Upper Snake River basin. Their petition seeks two results: the removal of four dams in Eastern Washington and appropriation of a substantial amount of Idaho's water for fish flushing.

It was interesting that main thrust of the environmentalists' press release was to increase the number os salmon so they could be harvested by commercial fishermen. What was that? Save the salmon so they could be put into cans or cold storage and sold in our local grocery stores? The irony is shameful. "Save the salmon to kill the salmon."

We are sympathetic to the commercial fishermen's plight. But the consequences of what they are seeking will greatly impact the thousands of family-owned stores in our rural communities. Also affected will be the tens of thousands of households who will suffer substantial increase in utility rates and expected brownouts. Little consideration is given to the impact of Idaho's aquifer that will not be replenished as our ground water is jettisoned to the ocean. No concern is expressed for the billions of dollars in agricultural products grown on thousands of acres of Idaho farmland, all completely dependent on adequate sources of water.

Doom and gloom are not the answers. We are witnessing a record fish returns. The multi-integral approach to salmon recovery is working. billioins of dollars have been invested in addressing this issue. Results are just now bearing fruit. Let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let's continue following the common-sense, multi-faceted approach. Let's allow sufficient time and not follow the knee-jerk reaction of breaching dams and taking our water. It will not do Idaho any good, nor will it help the salmon.

Rick Keller, IFBF Executive Vice President
Take Idaho's Water to Kill Fish
Idaho Farm Bureau Quarterly - page 2, September, 2001

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