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Economic and dam related articles

Bill Urges Study of Fish Funds

by Erik Robinson
The Columbian, March 14, 2007

The federal government dedicates about $600 million a year to conserve salmon in the Columbia basin. U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, on Tuesday introduced a bill calling for independent analysis of how well that money is being spent.

The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., calls for economic and scientific review of federal salmon restoration efforts by the National Academy of Sciences and the Government Accountability Office.

"I'm not willing to practice the politics of extinction, doing nothing until there is nothing left to do, until there are no more wild salmon left to save," McDermott said in a statement. "I'm willing to listen, but I'm not willing to wait."

In contrast to an unsuccessful McDermott-Petri bill in 2001, the Salmon Economic Analysis and Planning Act does not authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to breach four dams on the lower Snake River.

However, proponents make no secret of their desire to take the dams out.

"What we have now is no longer supportable," said Glen Spain, regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. "We have the worst of all possible worlds."

Spain pointed to the steep expenditure of federal tax dollars to conserve salmon in the highly engineered environment of the modern Columbia basin. Federal dam operators have installed removable spillway weirs and spilled water away from turbines, sapping the dams' ability to generate electricity, to move ocean-bound juvenile salmon past the dams.

At the same time, Spain added, all these efforts have failed to revive sport, commercial and tribal fishing industries.

Related Pages:
Snake Dam Removal could be Costly by Pat McCoy, Capital Press, 3/9/7

Erik Robinson
Bill Urges Study of Fish Funds
The Columbian, March 14, 2007

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