BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. government announced Friday that four hydro-electric dams on the Snake River in Washington state will not be removed to help endangered salmon migrate to the ocean.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement was issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration.
The plan calls for spilling more water over the dams to help fish migrate faster to and from the ocean, a tactic that has already been in use.
In a statement Friday afternoon, the Idaho Conservation League said the following: "The federal agencies’ own conclusion is that implementing this plan will not restore Idaho’s fish. The federal plan totally and completely fails Idaho and isn’t good enough for the many guides, outfitters, river businesses, and communities in Idaho that depend on healthy runs of fish."
Three Republican members of Congress from Washington state applaud the decision.
"We have always said that our rivers and the benefits they provide are the lifeblood of our region,” Reps. Dan Newhouse, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Jaime Herrera Beutler said in a joint statement
"The benefits of the dams along the mighty Columbia and Snake rivers are far too precious for our region to go without,″ they said. ``"We are proud to see a comprehensive, science-based process come to fruition.″
Brian Brooks of the Idaho Wildlife Federation told Idaho News Six the study fails to consider the impact Idaho salmon and steelhead runs have on the state's economy.
"It's an insane piece of paper," said Brooks. "Congress is going to have to step in. This can't be solved by the agencies and the inevitable litigation this document will get. There is no way around it."
Idaho Representative Mike Simpson has said that breaching the four dams is a possibility, but there is little support fro the idea among Idaho's other representatives in Washington D.C.
After around 17 billion dollars spent on recovery, the number of salmon and steelhead returning to Idaho is dismally low, and most salmon seasons closed this year before anglers had a chance to fish for them.
Idaho's tribes, who also agree that breaching the four dams is the solution, are fishing for a limited number of Idaho Chinook salmon.
(The video here is the most recent in our award winning coverage of Idaho's salmon crisis.)