Brand new name, same old story

  A new group has entered the fray over the Pacific Northwest's salmon, but don't be fooled by its name.

The first, invitation-only meeting of Northwesterners for More Fish brought representatives from big electric companies, banks, timber companies, ports and aluminum plants to an exclusive club in Spokane last month, reports the Portland Oregonian. There, the group's organizers, including J. Vander Stoep, former chief-of-staff to Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., laid the groundwork for a $2.6 million "public education" campaign. The goal: to convince the public that major changes to the Columbia River hydroelectric dams aren't needed to protect dwindling salmon runs.

Environmentalists and state and tribal biologists say changes such as drawing down reservoirs and spilling water over dams - instead of through turbines - are critical to the salmon's survival. Mike Kreidler of the Northwest Power Planning Council was neither invited to the Northwestesterners for More Fish kickoff nor impressed with its mission: "I am very dubious that the people of the Northwest are going to be swayed that electric utilities are ... saviors of salmon."

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