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New Member of Power Panel Wastes No Time

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, May 17, 2001

Former state senator takes interest in natural resource issue to the table

Judi Danielson has already voted as a member of the Northwest Power Planning Council.

Danielson, who until Friday was a Republican state senator in Idaho, was in Washington, D.C., that day when she received an unexpected call from Gov. Dirk Kempthorne asking her to join the council.

She replaces Mike Field, who left the council to take a job as the state director of rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"I was a senator when I left and wasn't when I got back," she said Wednesday of her trip to Washington and unexpected job change.

Danielson returned to Idaho Tuesday and joined the council's Wednesday meeting in Helena, Mont., by telephone.

She called the appointment a natural next step for her that continues her interest in natural resource issues.

She joins the council during a challenging time, when the region is struggling to find enough power and also ensure young salmon and steelhead on their way to the ocean aren't forgotten.

"It's time for some real creative, out-of-the-box thinking," she said. "I feel it can be a win-win situation for the energy needs and the species development. There doesn't have to be a loser."

Danielson will serve on the council's fish and wildlife committee. The council is charged with protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and habitat in the Columbia River Basin that have been hurt by the construction of hydroelectric dams. At the same time, the council is to ensure the region has a reliable supply of affordable energy.

Each year, the council and its staff and an independent panel of scientists evaluate proposals from state fish and wildlife agencies, Indian tribes and others. The council then recommends which proposals should be funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, the Northwest's chief power broker.

"I've spent my whole legislative career -- three terms in the House and on my fourth term (in the Senate) -- working on these specific issues," she said. "That is where I have gravitated to over the years."

While in the Legislature, Danielson worked with the Nez Perce Tribe, which works with the planning council and Bonneville to fund such programs as construction of its hatchery at Cherrylane and its effort to supplement wild runs with hatchery fish.

Jamie Pinkham, director of the tribal fisheries program, said the tribe has a good relationship with Danielson and he expects that to continue.

"It's good that she is from up north and she does have a natural resource background. She is familiar with the tribe and the tribal leadership," he said.

Bill Sedivy, the executive director of Idaho Rivers United, said the environmental group looks forward to working with Danielson.

"She's smart and she's a hard worker and IRU would look forward to working with her to help resolve some of these horrible issues we have facing us in regards to salmon, steelhead and energy issues. She has a big job ahead of her."

The other member of Idaho's delegation on the council is Jim Kempton, is a former Idaho legislator who was appointed to the council in January to replace the retiring Todd Maddock of Lewiston. Kempton serves on the council's energy committee.

The council was created by the 1980 Northwest Power Act. Two representatives from each of the Northwest states -- Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana -- make up the council.

Eric Barker
New Member of Power Panel Wastes No Time
Lewiston Tribune, May 17, 2001

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