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Salmon/Power Struggle Sorted on Snake River

by Ellen Hardy
09 April 2008, at 1:00am

WASHINGTON - A compromise has been reached with four Northwest Indian tribes that will commit federal agencies to spend $900 million during the next ten years on improving conditions for endangered salmon while leaving intact hydroelectric dams that harm fish.

The deal should end years of legal battles between the Bush administration and the tribes, although it would not affect a fifth tribe that is party to a lawsuit or environmental groups that vowed to press on with their efforts to breach four dams on the Lower Snake River.

According to Associated Press reports in the New York Times, Federal officials called the agreement a landmark in the long-running battle about tribal and commercial fishing rights, protection for threatened salmon and the power demands from the region's network of hydroelectric dams.

"This deal defies the decades of salmon science that say salmon recovery in the Columbia and Snake River Basin is not possible with habitat and hatchery programs alone," said Bill Shake, an adviser and retired US Fish and Wildlife Service official.

He said that any scientifically sound plan must include increased spill at the two dozen dams and irrigation projects along the Columbia and Snake rivers. It must also take account of well as removal of four outdated dams on the lower Snake River in Eastern Washington.

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski called the agreement premature and said the tribes were taking a short-term view. However, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said the deal was positive and both federal and tribal leaders should be commended for their efforts.

View the New York Times story by clicking here.

Ellen Hardy