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Salmon Recovery: What Happens Next?

by Rocky Barker
The Idaho Statesman, December 22, 2000

At three years

The National Marine Fisheries Service will issue a report that assesses how well federal agencies have carried out what they promise. Those agencies include the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the dams; the Forest Service, which manages much of the fish habitat; and the Bonneville Power Administration, which funds habitat restoration. These assessments will also judge how completely Congress has funded the programs.

If the fisheries service issues a failure report, it will identify corrective actions. For example, failure to implement sufficient habitat improvements for Snake River salmon and steelhead would require that the agencies seek authorizations to breach Snake River dams. If it issues a probationary ruling, it can require agencies to fix the problems with one- and five-year plans.

At five years

The fisheries service will re-evaluate the health of salmon populations and how well programs are working and look at the latest science.

It will verify whether:

A fourth standard establishes a "floor" of population levels to avoid loss of genetic diversity needed for long-term survival and recovery.

If salmon populations are not responding to the action, or if new science shows more action is necessary, the fisheries service can order additional actions including recommending to Congress that the four Snake River dams be breached. If there is some improvement but not enough to meet recovery, more one- and five-year plans can be required.

At eight years

If salmon populations remain depressed or are not growing at a rate necessary for recovery, the fisheries service can:

Rocky Barker
Salmon Recovery: What Happens Next?
The Idaho Statesman, December 22, 2000

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