Blueprint for salmon survival

  Blueprint for SALMON survival

The new recovery plan to bring back endangered Columbia and Snake river salmon hits all "four H's' - hydropower dams, habitat degradation, hatcheries and harvest by fishing - but critics charge it's still too soft on dams. The 500-page federal plan, required by the Endangered Species Act and announced by the Federal Marine Fisheries Service March 20, calls for spilling fish over dams and releasing more water in the spring to flush young salmon out to sea. Environmentalists and fishermen say the plan continues to rely too much on the collection and barging of young salmon around the dams. "The NMFS has come up with yet another Band-Aid when we need a tourniquet," Michael Rosetto, director of Save Our Wild Salmon, told the Eugene Register-Guard. Environmentalists would like to see the federal agency which operates the dams, the Army Corps of Engineers, move quickly to draw down reservoirs in order to create a faster current for migrating salmon. The new plan calls for a test drawdown at the John Day Dam in 1996 with a decision in 1999 on whether to proceed at other dams. The plan also calls for:

* a ban on commercial harvest of fish from the three listed runs and a call for a new treaty with Canada to limit the take of endangered stocks by Canadian fishermen;

* a buyback of fishing permits, gear and vessels owned by gill-net fishermen using the lower Columbia River;

* increased emphasis on captive breeding and more careful management of hatcheries to minimize competition between wild salmon and hatchery stock; and

* new restrictions on grazing, timbering and other activities in salmon spawning habitat.

The comment period for the plan ends on June 18. Contact the National Marine Fisheries Service for a schedule of public hearings or for a copy of the plan, 206/526-6150.

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