Bush Gets Congressional Letters For and Against Draft BiOpby CBB Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - October 15, 2004
A letter signed by over 100 Republican and Democratic legislators this week urges President Bush to revise the administration's proposed recovery plan for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake River Basin.
A press release issued by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-OR, said the congressman led the effort. Other Northwest congressional delegation members who signed the letter were Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-OR; Jim McDermott, D-WA; David Wu, D-WA; Jay Inslee, D-WA, and Darlene Hooley, D-WA.
"For too long, we have treated the Columbia River and its tributaries like a machine," said Blumenauer. "We can no longer enact policies that result in the status quo for the river, and the fish and wildlife species that inhabit it. The federal government's numerous legal obligations to recover salmon mandate that any action we take must leave the river and these fish in better shape than before."
Blumenaur's press release and a copy of the letter can be found at blumenauer.house.gov/newsroom/PressRelease.aspx
Also this month, Republican members of the Northwest congressional delegation submitted a letter to the president, applauding the administration's efforts "on a bipartisan basis, to work with Congress and the Northwest states in securing important funding for Pacific salmon recovery activities and to see that efforts continue to prioritize and meet the most pressing needs for ESA-listed salmon."
The letter was signed by Republican Reps. Doc Hastings, Jennifer Dunn, and George Nethercutt of Washington; Reps. C.L. Butch Otter and Michael Simpson of Idaho; and Denny Rehberg of Montana.
"This letter recognizes that salmon runs are healthier, and that our investments in salmon recovery are paying off", said Shauna McReynolds, spokeswoman for the Coalition for Smart Salmon Recovery.
"The administration's new plan continues the large effort for salmon and builds on the success we see in these great returns of fish."
The coalition's press release and congressional letter can be found at: www.smartsalmonrecovery.org
Last month the three agencies that run the federal hydropower system in the Pacific Northwest -- the Bonneville Power Administration, Bureau of Reclamation, and Army Corps of Engineers -- released a proposed 10-year operation plan for the system which they say embraces "an aggressive set of measures to protect salmon."
At the same time, NOAA Fisheries released an analysis of the agencies' plan -- a draft biological opinion -- that said the proposal will not jeopardize the continued existence of 13 populations of salmon and steelhead now under federal protection in the Columbia River Basin.
The biological opinion governs how the basin's hydropower system must be operated to minimize harm to salmon that the environmental law protects. The new draft opinion comes in response to a decision by a federal court last year that ruled an earlier biological opinion, written in 2000, did not contain sufficient guarantees that certain actions to help salmon would be implemented.
The comment period on the draft ended Oct. 8. A final biological opinion is due at the end of November.
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