Salmon plan attacked

  The federal government is shopping around its latest plan for saving endangered Snake River salmon, and environmentalists aren't buying it. Like its predecessors, the 1995 draft biological opinion for the operation of the federal hydropower dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers relies heavily on flushing juvenile salmon downstream with water from upstream reservoirs in Idaho. The opinion, written by the National Marine Fisheries Service, would also continue the practice of barging salmon around the dams and would delay until 1998 a decision about whether to draw down the reservoirs to speed the current for the fish. "The biological opinion is a step backward," says Pat Ford of Save Our Wild Salmon. The fisheries service "is ducking all the tough issues and trying to get it by the judge," Ford says, referring to federal Judge Malcolm Marsh's ruling last March that the 1993 opinion by the fisheries service didn't go far enough for the fish (HCN, 4/18/94). Judge Marsh will take a look at the final biological opinion when it is released Feb. 22, and environmentalists say they may ask him to reject it if he doesn't do so on his own.
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