Northwest council says salmon should float

 

Despite tremendous pressure to delay a decision, the Northwest Power Planning Council approved a plan Dec. 14 to save Columbia River salmon. It relies on drawing down reservoirs - rather than on barges - to speed migrating salmon to sea.

"After 14 years of studying the problem, the council finally concluded that fish float," says Wendy Wilson, executive director of Idaho Rivers United. "For the first time barging would be the experiment - not leaving fish in the water."

The plan calls for a phased-in drawdown of Snake River reservoirs downstream from Lewiston, Idaho, beginning with a 28-foot drawdown of Lower Granite Reservoir in 1995. Environmentalists endorsed the plan because a drawdown would speed currents in the reservoirs during the two-month salmon migration season.

The Bonneville Power Administration, which sells power from the eight federal dams in the Columbia River Basin, and other industry interests immediately labeled the plan an overly expensive experiment that might not work. The Columbia River Alliance, an industry-backed coalition, vowed it would call on the new Congress to invalidate the plan.

The planning council, created by Congress in 1980 to balance power and fish interests in the Columbia River Basin, estimates that its plan will cause residential electricity rates to rise about $2 per month by 1997. Bonneville's customers, including the aluminum industry, would see their wholesale rates increase by about 6 percent by 1997.

Northwestern lawmakers had urged the council to put off making changes to its plan until next year. That is when several new appointments are likely, including at least one from Idaho governor-elect Phil Batt. He opposes drawdowns.

But the council, under a court order to produce a biologically defensible plan, apparently felt the urgency of the moment. At a recent round of hearings, salmon advocates and biologists told council members they individually needed to immediately change the way dams are operated to prevent the extinction of the salmon.

Just over 1,000 wild adult salmon returned to spawn in the Snake River in 1994; scientists say maybe half that many will return in 1995.

"We are facing the last chance legally to craft a recovery plan in this region before the federal courts take the initiative away from us," council chairman Angus Duncan of Oregon said after the vote.

Environmentalists hope the power council's plan will give the National Marine Fisheries Service the courage to adopt an even more aggressive drawdown policy. On Jan. 29, the federal agency is scheduled to produce its version of a final recovery plan for the three endangered species of Columbia River salmon. Once again, however, the issue will probably end up in court.

For more information, contact the Northwest Power Planning Council, 1-800/222-3355.

High Country News Classifieds
  • MONTANA DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    YOUR POSITION WITH TNC The Director of Development (DoD) is responsible for directing all aspects of one or more development functions, which will secure significant...
  • DEVELOPMENT AND OPERATIONS COORDINATOR
    Development & Operations Coordinator Terms: 1.0 FTE (full-time), Salary DOE ($45,000 - $55,000) Benefits: Paid Time Off (12-24 days/year depending on tenure), Paid Holidays (10/year),...
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • CARBON RANCH PLANNER
    The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education,...
  • EDUCATION AND OUTREACH DIRECTOR
    Education and Outreach Program Director The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic,...
  • WESTERN DIVISION DIRECTOR OF FIELD PROGRAMS
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: October 29, 2021 LOCATION FLEXIBLE (WESTERN HUB CITY PREFERRED) Overview The Land Trust Alliance is the voice of the land trust community....
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...