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New Federal Plan to Save Idaho Salmon Unveiled

November 1, 2007

Boise, ID – It's being called another case of "bait and switch." The newest federal plan to save endangered Idaho salmon has been released, and Bill Sedivy, of the conservation group Idaho Rivers United, says it includes more money for fish habitat, and more hatchery production. However, he adds one critical part of the plan that had been ordered by a federal judge appears to be missing: the scientific methods that would be used to restore native fish populations to healthy levels.

"This new plan says the sockeye salmon of Redfish Lake will be okay. Last year, only four sockeye returned to Redfish Lake -– that's not okay."

A federal judge took issue with the previous salmon plan two years ago, because it didn't include the possibility of removing four dams on the Lower Snake River that government scientists blame for dwindling salmon numbers. Sedivy says this latest version of the plan doesn't mention it, either. Opponents of dam removal argue it would hurt farming and hydropower generation. Sedivy says it's time to come up with a workable plan that would benefit fishing towns, river health, farmers and electric utility customers.

"Get all the groups with a stake in this battle to the table, and let's find a solution that works."

The plan, called a "Biological Opinion," was released in draft form on Wednesday by the federal NOAA Fisheries Service. There is a 90-day public comment period, and it's expected to be finalized at the end of January 2008.

Deborah Smith/John Robinson, Public News Service - ID