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Judge Considers Request to Help Baby Idaho Salmon

December 1, 2008

Boise, ID – An encore is being requested for baby Idaho salmon. A federal judge is being asked to order improved in-river protections for endangered baby salmon and steelhead making their way along the lower Snake and Columbia rivers again next year.

Bill Sedivy with Idaho Rivers United, one of the groups making the request, says spilling more water over hydroelectric dams in 2006 is part of the reason Idaho saw a stronger sockeye salmon run this year.

"We're asking the judge to build on spill-and-flow regimes that have worked for Idaho salmon in the past."

Sedivy calls more water for baby fish a "stop-gap measure" to buy endangered salmon some time until more clean energy comes on line that is not lethal to salmon.

"And, it gives our elected leaders an opportunity to set a table for regional discussions that will lead to a final and successful salmon solution."

Incoming Idaho Republican Senator Jim Risch and Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick have both promised to hold discussions on the topic.

Those against the request for sending more water downriver say it means less water for hydropower generation, which can mean higher prices for Northwest customers. They're also concerned about irrigation supplies and shipping route access.

Advocates of restoring more natural river flows say it benefits people as well as fish, because it means cleaner drinking water and cleaner irrigation water.

The State of Oregon and Save Our Wild Salmon joined the request for a court order. U.S. District court Judge James Redden in Portland is expected to rule on the request in early 2009.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID