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Corps Won't Back Breaching

by Associated Press
Spokesman Review, February 21, 2002

Final report released on plan to improve fish survival

Four dams on the Snake River will be modified to improve the survival of salmon, but will not be breached, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Wednesday in a widely-expected decision.

The corps made essentially the same announcement in December when it released a draft plan for restoring salmon runs on the Columbia-Snake river systems. Wednesday's announcement concerned the final plan, which will likely be formally adopted by the corps later this year, spokeswoman Nola Conway said.

"As far as this document is concerned, we are not recommending breaching," Conway said. "But breaching is still on the table as a regional issue for salmon recovery."

The corps plans to pursue technical and operational changes at the dams to improve fish survival. The work will cost about $390 million over 10 years, the decision said.

Environmental groups have vowed to continue in court their fight to remove the four dams, which they blame for dramatic declines in salmon runs.

The dams -- Ice Harbor, Little Goose, Lower Granite and Lower Monumental -- are between Pasco and Lewiston. They were built starting in the 1960s to provide electricity and irrigation water and to make the Snake River navigable.

Each spring and summer millions of juvenile salmon and steelhead leave their home rivers in Idaho, Washington and Oregon and are flushed to the ocean, where they spend one to three years. Then they return to their places of birth to spawn.

Dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers disrupted the migration, exposing fish to predators, high water temperatures and electrical turbines.

The fish were eventually placed on the endangered species list, which triggered studies on the best way to restore the fish runs.

Related Sites:
Final Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement

Associated Press
Corps Won't Back Breaching
Spokesman Review, February 21, 2002

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