The Five-to-Eight Year Itch
The feds yesterday released their long-awaited plan for saving salmon in the Northwest, spinning it as the most ambitious conservation effort ever undertaken. As expected, they took a pass on the decision of whether to breach four dams on the lower Snake River in Washington, electing to focus instead on habitat restoration, increased water releases from dam reservoirs, and hatchery overhauls. But if over the next five to eight years those measures don’t work, then dam breaching will be back on the table. Needless to say, all sides trashed the feds’ plan, which is set to become final after a 60-day public comment period. Environmentalists said the plan was a death sentence for several fish populations; tribes with treaty rights to salmon said they might take legal action to push for breaching; and dam advocates were unhappy the feds left the door open to breaching at a later date.