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Eye On Boise

Fri., March 1, 2013, 4:59 a.m.

Lawmakers, lobbyists rewrite state water plan

An informal group of Idaho legislators, lawyers and lobbyists rewrote the Idaho Water Plan, reports Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker, deleting references to climate variability, minimum stream flows and endangered species. The revised plan is up for introduction in the Senate Resources Committee this afternoon; the original one had been updated over the past five years by the Idaho Water Resources Board and completed last year after a series of public hearings around the state. Water Board Chairman Roger Chase told Barker many of the public's concerns were incorporated into the final draft.

But cutting out references to minimum stream flows, fish screens and water-storage banks - which help farmers and ranchers in the Lemhi and Pahsimeroi basins avoid enforcement action under the federal Endangered Species Act - could become evidence that the state is not serious about protecting fish, Chase worries, actually increasing the power of the federal government in Idaho. "It really puts the state in a weaker position," Chase said. You can read Barker's full report here.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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