The Bush administration will have to rethink its salmon-management plan in the Columbia River Basin, following a federal court ruling yesterday that found the current plan inadequate to protect the endangered species and reduce the negative impact of hydroelectric dams. The ruling marks a major triumph for environmentalists and a serious blow to the White House and the National Marine Fisheries Services, which must now draft a new plan to promote the recovery of the 12 populations of Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead that are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. The new plan could potentially include the breaching of four dams on the lower Snake River, an option that is favored by environmentalists but opposed by farmers, electric utilities, and other industries. Other options include allowing more water to spill over dams rather than through hydropower turbines to boost the survival rate of young salmon on their way to the sea, or upping the water flow in the summer, when the fish need it most.
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