The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reiterated yesterday that at-risk salmon populations wouldn’t be further endangered by a project to deepen the Columbia River for more shipping. The Corps said environmental improvements that would be undertaken along with the $188 million dredging project would actually upgrade conditions for fish in the lower river. The Corps was forced to reexamine the topic after the National Marine Fisheries Service withdrew its support for the project in the summer of 2000, citing concerns about salmon protections. The NMFS will now issue a new opinion, based on the biological assessment released by the Corps yesterday. Enviros remained skeptical. Peter Huhtala of the Columbia Deepening Opposition Group said, “It’s a slight repackaging of a grossly destructive project.”