Feds suggest fish get a lift
Salmon - The proposal disappoints Native
American tribes and environmentalists who want the
September 26, 2006 MICHAEL MILSTEIN, The
The federal government Monday proposed trucking
salmon past dams to the upper Klamath River rather
than breaching the dams or installing fish ladders
so the fish can make it there on their own.
The proposal by the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission frustrated Native American tribes and
environmentalists who are pushing for removal of
the dams that have long blocked the fish from
reaching the upper river.
Klamath salmon have taken on a high profile this
year because their low numbers triggered a closure
of part of the West Coast salmon fishery.
The proposal came in a draft response to an
application by PacifiCorp for a new 50-year
license to continue operating the dams. It is not
a final word, but suggests the federal agency does
not favor removing the dams that generate
electricity for Pacific Power.
However, operating behind the scenes is a set of
confidential negotiations between Pacific Power,
tribes, fishermen and conservationists. Those
negotiations could completely up-end FERC's
process if the talks result in agreement to remove
Troy Fletcher, of the Yurok Tribe, said that both
sides in the case may negotiate and agree on a new
solution that does not involve the judge. If they
do, he said, they could bring their solution to
the judge for his blessing.
Still, Monday's news came as a blow for Native
Americans who depend on Klamath salmon.
"We're very disappointed," Fletcher said. Dam
removal, "has been our position since day one."
But PacifiCorp officials argue it makes more sense
to catch salmon and haul them in trucks past the
dams to see if they can survive in the upper river
before making major investments in fish ladders or
The environmental analysis, required by the
National Environmental Policy Act, does not look
at removing all four dams. That's an alternative
favored by Native tribes, commercial fishermen and
conservation groups, and formally recommended by
NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency in charge of
restoring threatened coho salmon in the Klamath
Peter Sleeth of The Oregonian staff and The
Associated Press contributed to this story.
Michael Milstein: 503-294-7689; firstname.lastname@example.org