The independent. (Vernonia, Or.) 1986-current, December 16, 2004, Page Page 26, Image 26

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spokesperson for the Coalition
for Smart Salmon Recovery.
As record numbers of
salmon and steelhead return to
the Columbia River for the
fourth straight year, the debate
over salmon protection rages
on. After a year of analysis and
collaboration, NOAA Fisheries,
the agency responsible for pro-
tecting threatened salmon and
steelhead, has drafted a new
biological opinion that incorpo-
rates the latest scientific find-
ings and technological innova-
tions. Now it will be up to U.S.
District Court Judge James
Redden to determine if the plan
and its new protections will go
forward, or get stuck in court
This biological opinion calls
for the continued investment of
around $600 million each year
– much of it from the pockets of
Northwest electricity ratepay-
ers. It is the most extensive –
and expensive - effort under
the Endangered Species Act
anywhere in the United States.
The revised plan builds on
its predecessor and focuses on
specific improvements that will
make a real difference for fish.
There is an increased empha-
sis on predator control and
clearer measures for habitat
and hatchery operations. The
plan promotes new fish guid-
ance technologies – called re-
movable spillway weirs – that
further ease the passage of fish
through the system. These “fish
slides” reduce the stress on
young fish and help keep water
quality high. And they have the
added benefit of allowing more
water to be used for the gener-
ation of clean and renewable
electricity. With a price tag of
around $20 million each, they
represent a substantial and on-
going investment.
Finally, the new plan in-
cludes increased emphasis on
performance measures to en-
sure that the significant re-
sources devoted to salmon re-
covery actually deliver the in-
tended results. Judge Redden
wanted more assurance that
planned measures were rea-
sonably certain to occur. This
biological opinion meets that
These facts notwithstanding,
critics of the revised plan ac-
cuse NOAA Fisheries, the Bon-
neville Power Administration,
the Corps of Engineers and the
Bureau of Reclamation of back-
tracking. They label improve-
ments at dams as “technofixes”
designed primarily to increase
electrical generation, despite
the irrefutable evidence of their
benefit to fish.
So great is the level of cyni-
cism among salmon “advo-
cates” that almost no plan de-
vised by the federal agencies
goes unchallenged, either polit-
ically or in court. But lawyers
and endless law suits don’t
save salmon. Doomsday pro-
nouncements don’t help either.
The truth is that the runs have
improved to record levels,
thanks to the measures already
being implemented, in concert
with good ocean conditions.
Judge Redden expressed
his concerns about the biologi-
cal opinion and received a re-
sponse that is both legally and
biologically sound. We find our-
selves at a pivotal moment on
the long, difficult road to
salmon recovery. The outstand-
ing salmon runs in the last four
years demonstrate that the
massive investments made for
salmon recovery are making a
difference. Now is not the time
to get bogged down in unneed-
ed legal wrangling. An endorse-
ment of the new biological opin-
ion would foster greater coop-
eration among all parties and,
most importantly, provide better
results for salmon and for citi-
zens of the Northwest.
For more information about
the Coalition for Smart Salmon
Recovery, call 503-294-1255 or
visit their website at <www.s>.
Your Painting
& Interior
‘Tis the season to be jolly, so take a few
precautions to keep your holidays happy!
• Check your Christmas lights for frayed or exposed wires,
loose connections or broken sockets before you put them up.
• Make sure your tree is securely anchored in a tree stand
and kept well watered.
• Don’t use indoor Christmas lights or extension cords outside.
• Don’t overload circuits or have too many plugs in one socket.
Don’t let that glow in the sky be your home. Play it safe with these pre-
cautions. Remember, fire only needs a chance — don’t give it one.
• Turn off and unplug all Christmas lights, indoors and out,
before going to bed.
• Keep matches well out of reach of children.
• Use flame-resistant or non-flammable decorations. If they are
not labeled flame-resistant, don’t buy them!
• Be sure your smoke alarm is working properly.
• Have a fire extinguisher in your home at all times.
• Don’t place your tree near a fireplace or heater.
• Makeshift ladders are the number one cause of injury during
the holiday season. Be careful what you stand on.
West Oregon
Electric Cooperative, Inc.