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For the week of July 26 through August 1, 2000


If all goes well, some time around 2010, an enterprising journalist will be able to write a story about salmon with the headline, "Stories of salmon’s demise were greatly exaggerated."

We doubt we’ll ever see the story.

Federal officials decided last week to delay a decision on breaching four lower Snake River dams for at least eight years. Instead, they said, they will clean up waterways, restore habitat, improve river flows and captive breeding.

It sounds oh so reasonable in this election year—except for one thing. The measures the feds say they will try have been tried in the past and failed. The futility of the measures is evident in our own backyard.

Captive breeding and barging have not returned significant runs of salmon to the river of the same name.

Habitat protection has become ludicrous with few fish to protect.

Habitat improvement is laughable given that Idaho has supported enterprises like Hecla’s Grouse Creek Mine, which may be forced to lower the levels of leaking cyanide-laced ponds into the Salmon River to avoid a catastrophic release.

And higher river flows? Good luck convincing Idaho farmers this is a good idea.

The feds decision is a death sentence.

It’s time to commission artists to produce some oversized sculptures of salmon. Brass, iron, steel or granite would be nice. Over the years, it’s likely the sculptures will become the sole remaining trace of the magnificent creatures that once crowded the rivers of the Northwest.

So much for President Clinton’s environmental legacy. Roadless areas will be nice, but without the native salmon in the rivers that run through them, they will be just empty space.



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