1U.S. Rules Out Dam Removal for Salmon Recovery
- Dec 2, 2004U.S. Rules Out Dam Removal for Salmon Recovery
Wed Dec 1,10:40 PM ET
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ASHLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - A Bush administration decision to eliminate
the possibility of removing dams to save endangered U.S. Pacific
Northwest salmon species is a huge blow to protection efforts, an
environmental group said on Wednesday.
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"The decision is a giant setback, essentially it is a plan for
extinction," said Todd True, an attorney for the EarthJustice law firm.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday
found that hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Lower Snake rivers
were built before a dozen salmon species were listed under the
Endangered Species Act of 1973.
Therefore they are "pre-existing conditions" and part of the basic
NOAA said that other steps would protect salmon such as the
construction of spillway weirs and physically transporting juvenile
fish around the dams.
True scoffed at the government measures.
"Those removable spillway weirs and other gizmos simply will not make
extinction happen any faster -- species recovery was never even part
of the equation," he said.
The decision effectively reverses a Clinton administration ruling in
2000 that permitted dam removal as a last resort for salmon recovery.
Brian Gorman, a spokesman for NOAA Fisheries, said environmentalists
have focused on dam breaching even though NOAA cannot order that of
the dam operators.
"It was never really considered -- only mentioned as an option in
2000," Gorman said. "Now we are more confident that our provisions
will sufficiently protect fish so dam breaching doesn't even enter
into the equation."
Also this week, NOAA unveiled a proposal to reduce federally protected
salmon habitat by 80 percent. Under the plan, it would be easier to
develop land along streams and rivers as well as areas of Puget Sound.
It follows a lawsuit filed by groups including the National
Association of Home Builders and the Building Industry Association of
They argued that the previous administration had allowed blanket
protection of all salmon habitats -- about 150,000 square miles --
without biological basis.