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For the week of May 9 through May 15, 2001

Salve for a sore conscience?

Barring some miracle, Idaho’s salmon are headed down the road to extinction. This year’s drought could seal their fate.

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo’s plan to nearly double funds to improve salmon habitat is nothing more than salve for what should be a very sore conscience.

On his watch, the salmon will head down a road from which there is no known return.

Instead of supporting the best recommendation science has offered, which is to breach four lower Snake River dams and to augment river flows at critical times, Crapo wants to prop up the same old unsuccessful strategies that have failed to return consistently healthy salmon runs to Idaho.

Crapo apparently never learned that just singing louder doesn’t make a bad song better.

The $314 million Crapo is seeking would produce furious, but probably futile activity on the salmon recovery front.

Simply hatching lots of baby salmon will not grow healthy runs of adult fish. Mortality from rivers drained by irrigation and the mechanical perils of navigating dams is too high.

Crapo wants to keep salmon from running aground in go-nowhere irrigation ditches and put "Do Not Disturb" rules on spawning beds.

These are fine ideas. So is coming up with a way—yet undeveloped—to allow smolts to escape turbines en route to sea and allow their mature predecessors to bypass dams on the way back home.

But it’s probably too little, too late.

We hope we’re wrong. We hope the American public won’t shell out $314 million only to find that a couple of aspirin, a cup of warm milk and a warm blanket would have had the same comforting effect on the good senator.



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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.