Our Klamath Basin
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Court's ruling on salmon plan
threatens dams _ as well as common sense
The fact is that nobody knows for
certain how to fully restore the salmon runs. Any
plan will involve trial and error, which means it
is prudent to consider the impact the plan will
have on society.
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Editorial
April 14, 2007
A few years back the cry to breach the four Snake
River dams was loud.
But in recent years common sense drowned out the
cries. It became clear that taking down the dams
on the Snake - or the Columbia - would have a
devastating impact on the Pacific Northwest. It
would put the Northwest's economy - literally -
And dam breaching would not necessarily ensure the
survival of salmon.
Given that, other ways to enhance the salmon
population have wisely been pursued.
And the salmon population has been on the rise. A
variety of factors, including the weather, have
played a role.
Yet, some are still itching to bring down the
dams. Unfortunately, their cause got a boost last
week when 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld
a federal judge's order requiring dams sacrifice
power production to help juvenile salmon migration
to the ocean. The judge, James Redden, has ordered
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spill more
water over the dams. The Associated Press reported
that this keeps open the possibility that Redden
could order the Snake River dams breached. Redden
said he would do just that.
Redden, and the 9th Circuit Court, have gone too
far. It is not for the courts to mandate solutions
or set policy. The Bush administration and
Congress should be establishing the plan.
Redden and the 9th Circuit, however, maintain that
satisfying the requirements of the Endangered
Species Act are a ``first priority'' over other
The fact is that nobody knows for certain how to
fully restore the salmon runs. Any plan will
involve trial and error, which means it is prudent
to consider the impact the plan will have on
society, not just salmon.
In 2001 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a
study on breaching the Snake River dams. It
considered a variety of factors and concluded that
dam breaching would do more harm than good. The
Corps said dam breaching would increase the
chances of salmon restoration only slightly - if
at all - while taking a huge toll on the economy
of the region.
The ruling by the 9th Circuit upholding Redden's
effort to legislate from the bench should be
appealed so a common-sense approach to saving
salmon can be put in place.
Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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