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Idaho Water Users Upset about Salmon Letter

by Dan Gallagher, Associated Press
Salt Lake Tribune, October 18, 2003

BOISE, Idaho -- Idaho water users are reacting angrily to a letter signed by 118 members of Congress who want the administration to consider every credible way to save wild salmon -- including breaching four lower Snake River dams.

The bipartisan group from the House asked President Bush to ensure that his new federal salmon plan sets a goal of restoring self-sustaining, harvestable populations of wild salmon in the Snake and Columbia rivers.

It comes at a time that conservationists and water users are clashing over the amount of upper Snake River water available for the fish migrations through those lower dams.

"This is obviously part of an orchestrated attempt by the environmental groups to target Idaho water in a vain attempt to put pressure on us to support dam removal," said Norman Semanko, president of the Coalition for Idaho Water and executive director of the Idaho Water Users Association.

On Friday, Idaho Rivers United, the Idaho Conservation League, American Rivers and the National Wildlife Federation backed off on refiling a notice of intent to sue unless the operation of 10 dams and reservoirs on the upper Snake in Idaho was re-evaluated to avoid harm to imperiled fish.

Opponents of breaching the dams point out that strong numbers of salmon and steelhead have returned to Idaho in recent years. But the coalition said biologists chalk off the good runs to a favorable ocean cycle and recent returns fall far short of the estimated numbers needed for recovery.

Dan Gallagher
Idaho Water Users Upset about Salmon Letter
Salt Lake Tribune, October 18, 2003

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