Friday, May 22, 2009
Photo:One of the Dams on the Lower Snake river:source:http://www.bluefish.org/fourdams.htm
This news item sure restored some of my faith in Governmental officials!
JUDGE DOESN'T RULE OUT BREACHING SNAKE RIVER DAMS TO SAVE SALMON
"Federal officials, who have spent much of the last decade 'avoiding their obligations under the Endangered Species Act,' need a contingency plan to save the endangered fish, the judge says.
By Kim Murphy
May 20, 2009
Reporting from Seattle -- For years, the federal government has struggled to find a way to operate the massive hydropower system on the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest and still recover the endangered salmon that all too frequently are slaughtered at the massive dams as they make their way up and down the river.
One option for saving the fish has never really been on the table: breaching the four dams on the lower Snake River that stand between the salmon and millions of acres of pristine habitat in central Idaho and northeastern Oregon.
President George W. Bush made it clear that would never happen on his watch. The dams, after all, are generating enough electricity to power Seattle, and provide Lewiston, Idaho, with a port for barging valuable cargoes of grain 140 miles down the river.
But it's a new watch. And a federal judge in Oregon has signaled that breaching the Snake River dams needs to be considered, at least as a contingency plan, if other options for bringing back salmon fail to do the job.
In a letter to parties in the long-running litigation, U.S. District Judge James A. Redden made it clear that he was ready to find substantial shortcomings in the biological opinion for salmon recovery laid out by the Bush administration last year.
"Federal defendants have spent the better part of the last decade treading water and avoiding their obligations under the Endangered Species Act," the judge wrote. "Only recently have they begun to commit the kind of financial and political capital necessary to save these threatened and endangered species, some of which are on the brink of extinction. We simply cannot afford to waste another decade."
The government needs to develop a contingency plan to study "specific, alternative hydro actions, such as flow augmentation and/or reservoir drawdowns," the Portland-based judge wrote, "as well as what it will take to breach the lower Snake River dams if all other measures fail."
Reading between the lines, it looks like yet another federal salmon recovery plan is on its way to getting tossed out by the courts -- by a judge who's ready to look at the most serious of options, dam breaching, if it comes to that.
"This is a significant development in the case, because it indicates to the new administration that they have a significant problem to solve in order to come up with a plan that will protect these species and all the people that depend on them," said Todd True, attorney for the environmental group Earthjustice.
"We believe that a serious look at the science and the options we have for bringing the fish back will lead to the conclusion that removing dams on the lower Snake River is a critical step that we should stop dancing around and start dealing with."
Brian Gorman, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle, said the agency could not comment on the judge's letter before reviewing it. But he said government scientists believe they can bring salmon populations back without breaching the dams.
"I don't think anyone argues that conditions in there for fish would be improved if there were no dams," he said, "but what we have argued in this biological opinion is that we can get to where we need to go without breaching the dams, given the fact that breaching the dams would be enormously disruptive politically and socially and economically."
The Justice Department this month requested a delay of up to two months in the court case to "more fully understand all aspects" of the plan. Redden said his letter was intended as a guide to what issues he thinks need looking at.
Government scientists "improperly rely on speculative, uncertain and unidentified tributary and estuary habitat improvement actions to find that threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead are, in fact, trending toward recovery," he said.
"All of us know that aggressive action is necessary to save this vital resource," the judge said, "and now is the time to make that happen."
Here is some research I have done concerning elements of the news story I provided above:
"The Snake River is the principal tributary to the Columbia River, draining approximately 109,000 square miles in Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon. Flows in the lower Snake River are highest in the spring (average annual peak of approximately 165,000 cubic feet per second) and lowest in late summer (averaging 25,000 cubic feet per second)."
"The Lower Snake River Project features four locks and dams in the state of Washington: Ice Harbor Dam, Lower Monumental Dam, Little Goose Dam, and Lower Granite Dam. The dams became operational between 1961 and 1975."
Juvenile fish from the lower Snake River drainage system may have to travel past as many as EIGHT Federal dams before reaching the Pacific Ocean.Source:http://www.bluefish.org/fourdams.htm
Thank goodness for Judges like U.S. District Judge James A. Redden!!! Judge Redden is from Oregon (no wonder he decided to take this position, seeing as how many beautiful lakes, and rivers are in Oregon!). "In 2005 and 2006 Judge Redden halted the Bush administration's plans to reduce spillway flows on the Columbia and Snake rivers, flows which environmentalists and indigenous tribes have criticized as devastating to the salmon runs!! Since 2003, Redden has emerged as a central figure in the tension between industry and environmental concerns about the Hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River. He has rejected two management plans advanced by the federal government of the United States, on the grounds that they fail to protect various species of salmon, as required by the Endangered Species Act, and has suggested that if the Bush administration fails to adequately address the salmon issue, management of the dams could fall to the courts." (source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_A._Redden)
The world needs more people like Judge Redden, especially in positions of authority, so that life forms on the planet are protected from selfish or greedy humans!!
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Thoughts worth thinking about
Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia
A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed
Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein
The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi
The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller
Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns
Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama
Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw
Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165
The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.