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Gov. Little issues statement on Rep. Simpson's dam removal proposal

Posted at 11:26 AM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 11:38:40-05

Idaho Governor Brad Little issued an expanded statement on the dam removal proposal from Congressman Mike Simpson. Simpson recently unveiled the plan that would breach four dams on the lower Snake River in an effort to help the salmon and steelhead return to Idaho.

My position on the lower Snake River Dams has not changed. I remain unconvinced that breaching the dams is a silver bullet for salmon recovery. Breaching the dams would have devastating impacts on Idahoans and vital segments of Idaho’s economy.

We must continue to find creative, consensus-based solutions that help salmon thrive and foster a strong Idaho economy. Last year, I signed an agreement with the Governors of Washington, Oregon, and Montana, stating Idaho’s commitment to working collaboratively on a regional level to advance our shared goal of successful salmon recovery and economic prosperity. I am also proud of the work of my Salmon Workgroup – a diverse group of stakeholders that worked for 20 months to come up with dozens of pragmatic recommendations that promote healthy salmon populations and thriving river communities in Idaho. It was the first time that broad interests worked collaboratively to help shape Idaho’s policy on salmon and steelhead. While a lot remains to be done, I am confident we are moving in the right direction.

I have immense respect for Congressman Simpson and all the work he has done on behalf of the people of Idaho. We may not see eye to eye on this issue, but I am committed to continuing to work with local and regional stakeholders and the entire Idaho congressional delegation to improve salmon returns and ensure Idaho industries not only remain whole but are better positioned for the future.
Gov. Brad Little

Simpson's plan comes with a price tag of $33.5 billion. The proposal shows that breach the dams in 2030 or 2031 would cost around $2.3 billion to remove berms and sediment, leaving the concrete structures and putting in mitigation and restoration efforts.

Most of the money would go towards replacing and storing energy and power, helping farmers with irrigation and transportation needs, compensating the barges and making sure communities on the river stay whole.

Related: Stakeholders speak out for and against Rep. Simpson's plan to breach the dams

Several factors, including ocean conditions, predators, harvesting, rising water temperatures and the dams all contribute to the dwindling number of salmon who make it back to the Salmon River.