Administration Appears Poised to Issue Death Sentence to Wild Snake River Salmon
7/18/2000 -- -- Contact:
Jeff Curtis, Western Conservation Director, Trout Unlimited: (503) 827-5700; (503) 351-2492 (cell)
Alan Moore, Western Communications Coordinator Trout Unlimited: (503) 827-5700; (503) 319-2210 (cell)
Maggie Lockwood, Director of Press Relations, Trout Unlimited: (703) 284-9425
July 18, 2000. Portland, Ore…Information obtained by Trout Unlimited indicates strongly that federal documents set for release next week call for a delay in any decision to bypass four federal dams on the lower Snake River. The delay will likely result in the extinction of some stocks of wild Snake River salmon.
The National Marine Fisheries Service's long-awaited biological opinion regarding operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) and so-called "All-H Paper," set for release on July 27, will contain provisions to delay any action toward bypassing the dams for 10 years. Even under that 10-year scenario, the construction phase for decommissioning the dams would take seven to nine years. Under such a scenario the soonest the dams could be bypassed would be 2017.
A Trout Unlimited study released last year predicts that, under current conditions, wild Snake River spring/summer chinook salmon could be functionally extinct by 2017.
"A delay of ten years in taking action to correct the leading cause of decline in Snake River stocks is not only ignoring the problem, it's a death sentence for wild spring/summer chinook," said Jeff Curtis, TU's Western Conservation Director.
In lieu of any dam bypass plans, the federal documents will instead rely on habitat, hatchery, and harvest practice changes, leaving the possibility of bypass open if those actions prove insufficient for recovery in 10 years.
Said Curtis, "The region and the salmon do not have the time to tinker around the edges for ten years in hopes that the dam problem will go away. We've all done the math, and the answer is clear: Extinction of these fish is upon us if we don't take substantive action soon."
Trout Unlimited enthusiastically supports a comprehensive, basin-wide approach to salmon recovery, including revisions in practices across habitat, hatchery, harvest, and hydropower. However, the preponderance of scientific opinion in the region indicates that no suite of actions that excludes bypassing the four dams will be sufficient to recover wild Snake River stocks.
"You can fix the transmission, the brakes, the radiator, and the windshield wipers if you want," said Curtis, "but if the engine's still bad, you're going nowhere fast. That's what we're talking about with these dams."
Trout Unlimited's mission is to conserve, protect, and restore North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. TU is supported by over 125,000 members nationwide.