Will the Year 2000 See the Removal
by Linda Ashton
One issue firmly on course to collide with the new millennium is that of what to do about the four Lower Snake River dams that are believed by many scientists to be at the root of decliniing Clearwater, Salmon and Snake river salmon and steelhead runs.
But, given the nature of the issue, it is unlikely that anything remotely close to a decision on dem removal will come during the year 2000.
Removing the dams must be done, and must be done soon, or the last remaining vestiges of the once great runs of anadromous fish will be wiped out forever. Conservationists also say that federal agencies are wrong when they say the jury is still out on the economic feasibility of removing the four dams.
A Trout Unlimited-sponsored study released earlier this month, and done by highly regarded Pacific Northwest economic consulting firm found that removing the four dams would create positive economic impacts to the region.
The study found that the group that studied the issue for the Corps of Engineers and the National Marine Fisheries Service underestimated the positive economic impacts of dam removal because "they failed to recognize that the economy in the Pacific Northwest is continuing to evolve and many of the industries which may be impacted by dam removal are already in decline, losing both jobs and income," according to TU.
The battle to save the salmon and steelhead is likely to continue to be in the headlines of the region's and nation's newspapers. There is little douby that those supporting removal of the dams have the resolve and the means to force the issue before the highest court in the land. Whether that happens in time to save the great runs of fish remains to be seen.
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