The federal judge pressing the government to remedy the damage Columbia River dams wreak on protected salmon warned Wednesday of “very harsh” consequences if federal agencies fail to find a solution.
This is from the story in the Oregonian by Michael Milstein on the federal judge’s views on the biological opinion that is emerging from the federal government on their latest plan (their 6th “BO”) to save the salmon protected by the endangered species act. We can do better’ for fish, judge says. Columbia salmon: A federal judge promises “very harsh” measures if a solution is not found The previous five haven’t done well.
Rocky Barker has a story on Redden’s warning too today. Get serious about salmon, judge says. Redden tells federal officials he can drain water if they don’t look at all the ways to save fish. Idaho Statesman. He has followed the issue for many years and has a blog entry on it. Redden still holds out hope region can bring him legal salmon plan.
For those who haven’t following this issue, this is the other long-standing wildlife controversy in Idaho (the first being wolves). Unlike the wolves, there is real money at stake here, not a couple million, but billions.
Despite the higher economic stakes, the salmon issue too bristles with cultural hostility.
The upstream water users (those in Idaho and Montana upstream from the 4 lower Snake River dams that so devastate the salmon runs) have profound economic interest in having those dams breached. Nevertheless, a fair number of them support the dams. For example, at a public hearing about ten years ago in Idaho Falls (way upstream in Idaho irrigation country) a long line stood outside waiting to testify. One in our party engaged some irrigators and spoke of economic benefits to them of doing away with the 4 little used navigation dams on the lower Snake in addition to saving the salmon. They told us, “we hate you so much, we don’t care what it means to us.”
From then on I started to write about how you can identify a “Western issue.” It’s an issue where one or both sides are willing to take a big loss for themselves to make sure the other side doesn’t get anything.
Steelhead trout (basically sea run rainbow trout) are more resilient than salmon, and still provide a great economic benefit to Central Idaho.