By Rocky Barker
December 12, 2017
The latest government plans to restore spring-summer chinook and steelhead that spawn in the Snake River Basin “will not get us to recovery,” a report by NOAA Fisheries states.
But federal scientists are more confident about a new roadmap to save Snake River fall chinook, which they believe can be self-sustaining in the future despite dams, predators, pollution and other threats.
NOAA Fisheries issued recovery plans for the three threatened fish Tuesday that detail what needs to be done to take them off the list of species protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. The plans include measures like controlling sea lions and other predators, eliminating barriers the fish face while traveling the rivers, and reducing the effects of interbreeding with hatchery fish.
The new plans advise improving migration through eight dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers, but stop short of calling for the removal of four Lower Snake dams. They raise questions about how Snake River salmon will fare in a time of climate change.
“We believe we have the best set of actions but there are a lot of things we don’t know,” said Rosemary Furfey, NOAA salmon recovery coordinator. “The plan is adaptable to new information.”
The plans are important because they detail the federal government’s strategy to recover fish that feed the Northwest, provide us jobs and play a special role in the culture of our region’s tribes. Recovery also has ramifications for the Northwest’s hydropower network, and for many Northwest electrical ratepayers who help fund the Bonneville Power Administration’s work to restore the fish.
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