SEATTLE - Keep spilling Snake River water over the dams to protect young
salmon. That's the bottom line in a new report by the Northwest Power
and Conservation Council Independent Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB),
and it comes on the heels of a request by the Obama administration to
significantly cut back on the amount of water that bypasses
power-generating turbines this spring because of tighter-than-usual
Jim Martin, conservation director for the Pure Fishing
tackle company, says, "This is the first test of what the Obama
administration's fundamental priority is: Is it to protect electrical
rates or to protect endangered fish? This is the time to prioritize the
fish. That's what's demanded by the law, and it's demanded by the
U.S. District Court Judge James Redden requested the scientific report.
He is expected to rule in a matter of weeks on whether to continue the
Opponents contend spill does not always lead to higher survival rates
for salmon but does raise power rates. Glen Spain, regional director of
the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations
disagrees, saying the new report verifies that spill does protect young
salmon and calling the power rate-increase statement misleading.
"In fact, that's not the case in this instance, because the spill
program that has been ordered by the judge is already figured in the
rates. Therefore, continuing along the same path will have no impact at
all on rates."
The federal National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed eliminating
key portions of the spill program. Martin says he is disappointed.
"They purported to support transparent science, so why is it we have to
fight them every step of the way in Judge Redden's court to stand up
for these fish as required by the law? From this administration, I
Information about the ISAB research is available at www.nwcouncil.org