Breach of Trust
In a shift that could transform a fierce environmental debate in the Northwest, federal officials are now saying that endangered salmon could be saved even if four dams on the lower Snake River in Washington state remain in place. Seven months ago, the National Marine Fisheries Service, which directs salmon recovery, said breaching the dams could be the surest way to restore endangered fish runs. But now, citing new findings, agency officials are saying that the key to salmon recovery is habitat restoration, which would mean tougher restrictions on logging, grazing, irrigation, road-building, and development along streams, measures that could be as expensive and controversial as breaching the dams. Enviros are still pushing for dam removal, and are putting pressure on Vice Pres. Al Gore to help the cause. In other dam news, Atlantic salmon and striped bass have returned to the waters of the upper Kennebec River in Maine, above the site where the 162-year-old Edwards Dam was torn down this summer.