Idaho Water Group Opposes
by Dave Wilkins
Nominee former environmental advocacy group head
It didn't take long for Idaho's largest water users' group to oppose President Obama's recent nomination for assistant secretary of fish, wildlife and parks at the Interior Department.
Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers and an advocate for dam removal, is not the right person for the job, according to the Idaho Water Users Association.
At American Rivers, Wodder pushed for the removal of the four lower Snake River dams and was a critic of the federal government's salmon recovery plans.
"We are deeply troubled that President Obama has nominated the head of a national environmental advocacy group, which has made it a mission to challenge the operation and continued beneficial use of water storage and delivery projects in the state of Idaho and call for the removal of federal dams on the Snake River," Norm Semanko, executive director of the association, said in a letter to the state's two U.S. senators.
The IWUA, the state's largest water users' group, urged Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, both Republicans, to oppose the nomination.
American Rivers has been a critic of the Obama administration's salmon recovery plan for the Columbia-Snake river system. A lawsuit filed by the group seeks to set aside a biological opinion, despite support from the states, tribes and government agencies.
Semanko said the lawsuit "threatens to jeopardize numerous irrigation projects in Idaho and Oregon that fuel the lifeblood of Idaho's water-based economy.
"In addition to her demonstrated unwillingness to work toward collaboration and consensus, we do not believe that Rebecca Wodder will be able to objectively or fairly assess current controversies involving fish species and the ongoing operation of water projects," Semanko said in the letter.
American Rivers has also been a strong supporter of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, which includes a plan to remove four dams on the Klamath River.
Dan Keppen, executive director of the Klamath Falls-based Family Farm Alliance, an advocate for Western irrigated agriculture, said his group has not taken a stand on the Wodder nomination.
"We haven't taken any kind of formal position on the nomination, but my gut feeling is that a lot of our members would share their (IWUA's) concern about it," he said.
If confirmed by the Senate, Wodder would be in charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.
Wodder has been president and CEO of American Rivers since 1995. She held positions in marketing and development at the Wilderness Society from 1981 to 1994.
Wodder earned bachelor's degrees in biology and environmental studies from the University of Kansas. She holds master's degrees in landscape architecture and water resources management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"Rebecca's extensive experience and notable accomplishments in natural resources management make her an outstanding choice for this key position on our departmental leadership team," Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar said in a statement.
Idaho Water Users Association Opposition to Nomination of Wodder
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