In Idaho's Sawtooth National Recreation Area, rafters are butting heads with the U.S. Forest Service over regulations meant to protect endangered chinook salmon.
summer, four rafting companies filed an appeal to a plan that would
keep boats away from spawning grounds in the upper Salmon River
after late August. They said the Forest Service had violated
federal law by basing its regulations on speculation. "I'm not
saying we do not have an effect (on the salmon)," said Erasmo
Paolo, who manages one of the rafting companies. "But in the
absence of science, we should not be regulated."
Rob Jones, spokesman for the National Marine
Fisheries Service, said that any interaction between boaters and
spawning salmon should be avoided. "These fish are really close to
being stressed out," he said, describing their 900-mile, six-month
migration from the Pacific. "They need someplace where they can get
away from disturbances."
The rafters' appeal
was rejected on all counts, but they may still be allowed on the
river this fall. Paul Ries, area ranger, said the companies have a
choice: They can carry their boats around spawning grounds and pick
up a $15,000 tab for monitoring the fish, or stay off the river