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1962 YellowSubmarine
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``And we hope this lawsuit leads to a formal and legal discussion about how we move forward to better implement the Endangered Species Act with sound science,''
<font color="yellow">and how exactly do you implement fallacies with sound science?!?! <IMG SRC="smilies/confused.gif" border="0">...oh yeah, you sue the federal government into legislating them!! <IMG SRC="smilies/flipoff.gif" border="0"> the greenies</font c>

http://news.findlaw.com/legalnews/s/20010503/utilitiesnorthwestlawsuit.html

-Groups sue US to protect salmon from NW power dams

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A coalition of 13 environmentalist groups filed a lawsuit Thursday against the federal government for failing to protect endangered salmon in the face of heavy hydro-electricity demand at U.S. Northwest dams.
``People have been trying to pit the needs of salmon against the energy problems and the drought in the Pacific Northwest, but we believe we can do both things,'' John Kober, a spokesman for the National Wildlife Federation, told Reuters.
``And we hope this lawsuit leads to a formal and legal discussion about how we move forward to better implement the Endangered Species Act with sound science,'' he said.
The NWF is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, filed against the National Marine Fisheries Service in a federal court in Portland, Ore.
The NMFS, along with the Bonneville Power Administration and seven other federal groups, was a lead agency that developed a plan last December governing operations at the 29 federal dams strung along the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Northwest, an area that extends into six states and Canada.
The Northwest depends on those dams for about 70 percent of its electricity, and energy-starved California has leaned heavily on BPA for emergency supplies to help it avoid blackouts.
Thursday's lawsuit, joined by groups like the Sierra Club and the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, seeks a review of the federal plan, which critics say is flawed and harms rather than helps 12 salmon species already on the endangered species list.
As evidence of the plan's flaws, the lawsuit takes aim at the BPA for its emergency decision in April to stop spilling water at the region's giant, federally managed dams, running the water instead through the dams' turbines to generate badly needed electricity.
``That decision has created a get-out-of-jail-free card because of the drought we're having in the Northwest right now and suspends efforts for salmon recovery,'' Jim Martin, a board member of the NWF, told a teleconference with reporters shortly after filing the lawsuit.
Environmentalists, who claim BPA's decision could slaughter thousands of salmon, also did not rule out seeking a court injunction that could force the agency to restart spills -- a move that could potentially lower output from the region's vital hydro power dams during the hot summer months.
Without the benefit of a spillway, young salmon risk being drawn into the dams' turbines and killed as they make their way downstream from spawning grounds to the Pacific Ocean.
Portland, Ore.-based BPA, which markets electricity from the dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, said low water levels caused by a severe drought and the need to maintain a reliable flow of power forced it to stop the annual spill.
DROUGHT AND FEW FUNDS
The Pacific Northwest has seen one of its driest winters in decades, slashing energy output from the region's dams and prompting Washington State Gov. Gary Locke to declare an official drought in the state.
The lawsuit also criticized the apparent lack of funding from the Bush Administration for research to improve recovery of salmon populations and for buying water to help salmon migrate out to the Pacific Ocean.
``From what we can gather, only around $50 million has been appropriated under the Bush Administration's budget proposal,'' well below the $120 million to $200 million that had been set aside in the last days of the Clinton Administration, the NWF's Kober said.
The lawsuit comes after a charged debate last year on whether to remove four huge hydro-electric dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.
That debate has been quieted by the drought, which has made the region's scant hydro supplies that much more valuable, and strong opposition to dam-breaching from the Bush Administration and most regional policy-makers.
But most of the groups involved in the lawsuit said dam-breaching remained a high priority.
``If we are successful with the court, we think that (dam-breaching) will be an option front and center and that the government will have to consider it,'' said Todd True of the San Francisco-based Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, formerly the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund.
The federal plan released in December also did not rule out dam-breaching to halt extinction of the 12 salmon species.
Environmental, fishing and Indian tribes still want the dams torn down, claiming they are the primary reason behind the steep drop in salmon stocks in recent decades.
However, opponents of dam-breaching also blame logging, mining and overfishing for the salmon decline and say removing the dams would cause heavy economic damage to the local economy.
The number of salmon returning from the sea to spawn each year in the Northwest has declined from an estimated stock of 10 million to 16 million a century ago to about 1 million today.
 

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I know we all love those wonderful concrete salmon murdering dams and everything but what does this have to do with trail closures? Are you an avid dam fan or just hate salmon?
 

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don't be such a smart ass berzerker!! This is important biz!

This is really important to me as I grew up on the river and love to fish, but I love my electricity too.....and I will certainly be writing to the prez about this one!
 

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from US Army Corps of Engineers:
The Columbia River Basin is North America's fourth largest, draining about 250,000 square miles and extending throughout the
Pacific Northwest and into Canada. There are over 250 reservoirs and around 150 hydroelectric projects in the basin,
including 18 mainstem dams on the Columbia and its main tributary, the Snake River.
The Columbia River system is the most heavily dammed river system in the world. Most of the dams that they are considering breaching are more important for irrigation purposes than for electricity. Of all the dams on the system there were plans to breach four of them on the lower Snake River. One of the main needs for these dams is for irrigation and transportation purposes. This is much more complicated than a simple attack by environmentalists. It has been proposed by the government to remove these dams for quite some time but there is heavy opposition from area farmers. One of the main concerns by farmers is that it will increase their shipping costs because they will have to ship by rail instead of by barge.

This is certainly a river system that has been exploited well beyond what most people would consider reasonable. I think that in this case these dams need to be removed. This is a fight between fisherman and farmers. If it is done it will make it more expensive to farm the area but people will still farm. If it is not done eventually there will be so few fish to catch that it will not be economically viable NOR environmentally sound. There is good science behind the original decision to breach these dams. This lawsuit comes about because it appears that the government is backing down from it's earlier position which was that the dams needed to be breached.

[ 05-05-2001: Message edited by: Paul G ]
 

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1962 YellowSubmarine
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Discussion Starter #5
<font color="yellow">First of all, I thought this was the land use section, this is land use. I try not to post things unless they are relevant to our sport. I posted this because it shows the greenies attitude, "If we can't do it by the books, we'll sue the government till they cave in." This has been and is the case with most land closures related with our sport. Which kind of brings me to the only reason that I replied to this in the first place.

Bezerker, your attitude is part of the problem. If things don't involve you directly, then they don't require your attention. This "narrow mindedness" leads to apathy. Once someone gets into this mindset, its hard to get them involved, I know this is not the case with you. If you don't want to do anything about it, don't - but don't make other people waste their time responding to your posts...

And for the record, I am not an avid dam fan and I don't just hate salmon. What I do hate is the fact that because the greens have more money than other groups, they can sue the federal government and reach settlements that only benefit them, not US, the people. We as "trail users" need to keep a close eye on any lawsuits filed by the greens, as their settlements can involve things not even remotely connected to the original lawsuit...

For the record, I agree with Paul for the most part. If the government has a way to supply the farmers with water (which I believe was part of the original decision) then I would not have too much of a problem with the breaching. BUT if the breaching leaves the farmers without water, then I would say screw the Salmon, People come first. </font c>
 

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Time to climb up on the soap box.

I live smack dab in the middle of this whole argument. Look back on the map where the Snake River meets the Columbia. You see Ice Harbor dam? I live 5 miles from the thing. McNary Dam, 20 miles.

Yeah, they want to save a few fish. How bout one million people?


Back before the dams, this entire area looked like the surface of Mars. Sand that went on forever, rocks everywhere, and dust storms that would bring in 5 inches of sand in an hour. The dust storms were so bad that visibility was reduced to zero for a week straight. Most of the water you see was not there. The Columbia River where it flows thru Tri-Cities, WA is 4 times wider than what it was before the dams. The dams were put in to bring in much needed electricity, and met an even greater demand for water. 90% of the lakes and streams are a direct result of the daming of the Columbia at Coulee City (Grand Coulee Dam).

After years of service, the amount of sediment and debris that has built up behind the dams would cloud the water and create large earthen dams where the water is low, restricting the flow of water to downstream areas. The clouding condition of the water would also destroy any chance these salmon have of recovery.

Bringing much needed water to the Columbia Basin (thru the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project) has made it possible for the Pacific Northwest to become one of the worlds largest fruit producing areas, not to mention hundreds of other crops that rely on the water these dams bring. One of those crops is near and dear to all of our hearts, (and if you ever went to a high school or college party take note), the hops and barley used to brew our favorite adult beverages is grown only about 70 miles down the road! 70% of the crop used in the beer making process is grown right here.


And I will spare you the details of what this means to electricity. They have pretty much laid it all out above.


Now what does this have to do with wheeling? One of the top ten sand dunes in the nation is in Moses Lake, Washington. Florence, Oregon is also on that list. The Foster Lake Mud Run ( www.themud.com now defunct thanks to the fish lovers) put on by the Santiam 4wheel club. The entire Cascade Mountain Range. Who the hell do you think is gonna drive all they way up here to go 4wheelin with no towns to support the people? No motels, no gas stations, no grocery stores, no place to go for repairs, no convenience stores, no beer runs.

Now stepping down from the soap box.
 

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I had gone to bed and was going to write this in the morning but I was thinking about it and couldn't sleep so here I am. This is going to be a long post but I feel that it is important so please bear with me. I have tried to provide a balanced and fair view on the subject and I have spent the past 3 1/2 hours writing this so if you are going to dispute what I write at least take the time to read all of it.


This issue is very complicated and has far reaching effects. It is not about "saving a few fish." Unlike the Spotted Owl the Pacific Salmon are not coincidental species. They are the keystone species for the animal world of the Pacific Northwest. They are vital to survival of coastal and inland animal and bird species in an area stretching from Northern California all the way to Alaska. They are vital to the survival of other fish species and of marine mammals. They are a food source that has no equal within their range of habitat. They are also a food source for humans and a valuable commercial commodity. Commercial and Sports fisheries for Pacific Salmon are estimated to be worth over $500 million annually and employ many thousands of people with an average catch of 466 millions tons each year.

There is no question that the damming of rivers in the North West has damaged salmon stocks. Neither is there any doubt that there are other factors affecting those stocks. However, over fishing and the predation of salmon stocks by birds, pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), etc does not do the same amount of damage to the stocks that the disruption of migration routes and patterns has done and is doing. In fact they are intensified both as a direct physical result of the dams and due to the reduced resiliency of the depleted fish populations.

There are environmental factors at work as well as the disruption caused by the dams. The unpredictable and variable climate of the region produces natural fluctuations in fish populations. Populations of pinnipeds and sea birds are at record or near record levels. There is absolutely no upstream migration of salmon past the Grand Coulee Dam. There are no fish ladders, nothing can get past. There are high mortality rates as the young fish are squeezed through the turbines of other dams. It is not the blades that kill them but rather it is the pressure of the water being forced through at high speeds. All of these factors stress the fish population.

In the last 55 or so years since the large scale "taming" of the Columbia Basin began the annual returns have decreased from over 10 million spawning salmon to under 2 million. By some estimates from as high as 16 million to as low 1 million now. Fish counting is inaccurate by it's very nature but these sorts of reductions in numbers are unmistakable. Of all the salmonid species that have been placed on or are being considered for the endangered or threatened lists the many of them are Columbia or Snake river populations.

So then what is all the fuss about? Why can't people agree on what to do? Quite simply put this is not a question of science. It is a question of economics. The economics of the situation show that the returns from the increase in salmon migration fall short of what will be lost in agricultural and other production in the Columbia Basin region as a result of the breaching of the dams. Whether these are long term or short term monetary losses is unclear. The breaching of the dams will definitely change the economic landscape of the region.

The breaching of the dams will make it more costly for producers to grow and ship their products. It will affect the production of hydro-electric power. The absolute dollar value is hard to calculate. The money earned by the increase in commercial and sports fisheries will be distributed differently, most likely benefiting in other regions than the desert of the eastern Columbia Basin.

The science supports the breaching of the dams. The economics prevent it. The desert has been made to produce a great abundance and variety of foodstuffs but at great cost to the land. Without the dams and through newer technologies, increased efficiencies and different strategies the desert will still be able to produce large quantities of non-native grains, fruits and others but at a higher cost. With the dams those production costs for agriculture introduced into a desert region will remain stable but at the cost of the commercial and sports fisheries of native salmonid species and possibly at the cost of their ultimate survival in the region. Without the dams both can survive, with the dams it is possible that only one will. Is it worth the risk?

Do a little research on this issue. There is definitely is not a cut and dried answer. There are tradeoffs. Big tradeoffs. It will not be easy or cheap to do but it is not a knee jerk reaction by environmentalists. It is much bigger than that and deserves to be treated as such. To protest in the name of four wheeling and cheap beer is short sighted and irresponsible. There is much more at stake than a few miles of trails. This is a whole different ball game. It is on par with the decimation of the Bison of The Great Plains only in this case it can still be prevented. Something must be done to rescue the already dwindling stocks. The breaching these four dams is a step in the right direction.

Check out these websites and also search the internet for Columbia River dams and Pacific Salmon fisheries. There is more than meets the eye on this one. http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/1salmon/salmesa/index.htm http://www.nwcouncil.org/library/ieab/ieab1999-1.htm

[ 05-06-2001: Message edited by: Paul G ]
 
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