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Here Come the Judges – and They Like Idaho Salmon

April 10, 2007

Here come the judges, and they like Idaho salmon. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the way hydroelectric dams are managed on the Lower Snake and Columbia Rivers is illegal because there aren’t protections for endangered Idaho salmon and steelhead making their way through those dams. Bill Sedivy with Idaho Rivers United says the ruling provides direction for the federal work-in-progress on how to keep the fish alive without compromising the way of life for people who depend on the river system…

"The federal government has to come up with a way to not only keep Idaho salmon and steelhead from going extinct, they need to come up with a way to restore these species."

The State of Idaho had joined the Bush administration on the other side of the suit, saying changes in dam operations would be bad for farming and hydro-electricity generation.

Sedivy argues that removing the dams, even partially, has to be an option on the table, and it has to include ways to compensate folks and communities who would be affected.

"[It should include] the communities and the farmers -- everyone who depends on that river system. We think that there are ways to keep people whole."

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision upheld Judge Redden’s previous ruling.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - ID