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Know the West

The Latest Bounce

  The Army Corps of Engineers has suffered a setback: The National Marine Fisheries Service revoked approval Aug. 25 for the Corps to deepen 103 miles of the Columbia River's shipping lane. New studies show dredging will hurt endangered salmon (HCN, 1/17/00: A dredging dilemma).

Meanwhile, a preliminary report by independent scientists in Portland, Ore., estimates the Corps barged or trucked over 85 percent of all baby salmon and steelhead on the Snake River this year (HCN, 12/20/99: Unleashing the Snake). Environmentalists and Columbia River Indian tribes say transporting salmon harms them.

Still, the Northwest's most endangered salmon run made a comeback this year. In the past 10 years, only 16 wild sockeye salmon survived the 900-mile swim up from the Pacific Ocean and past eight major dams. This year's hatchery breeding program brought 222 sockeye home to Redfish Lake in Idaho.

For once, dismantling a dam in the Northwest is a simple decision. Everyone agrees the Goldsborough Dam in Shelton, Wash., no longer generates electricity and is falling apart. Yet it continues to block salmon runs. Now, the state, the dam owner and Army Corps of Engineers have agreed to pay for breaching (HCN, 10/11/99: Dooming a dam saves dollars).

If George W. Bush is elected president, the West's newest national monuments might be un-monuments. Republican vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney recently criticized Clinton for creating monuments "willy-nilly all over the West," and said a Bush administration might try to rescind the designations (HCN, 4/10/00: Beyond the Revolution).