A coalition of conservation and sportsmen groups called on the Northwest’s salmon survival managers on Wednesday to adopt a recovery strategy for next year that abandons barging for a combination of in-river schemes it claims have shown promise in the past.
After 20 years, Idaho River United spokesman Charles Ray said, “barging has obviously failed to rebuild declining runs and so far has proven unable even to check the decline.”
But the plan includes dropping Lower Granite Reservoir 28 feet below its minimum operating level for two weeks during the two peak weeks of the spring migration to the ocean and the prospect that 2.6 million acre-feet of Idaho water could be required to increase flows as it was in 1994.
Idaho Gov. Phil Batt, who has been given the proposal to review, has objected to lower Snake River reservoir drawdowns in the past and to use of Idaho water to increase flows in years when the state is short on water.
The proposal contemplates adequate water in 1996 based on the fact that reservoir carryover in Idaho is at twice the level it was at the end of 1994 going into 1995 when supplies were sufficient to allow releases to heighten downstream flows. The carryover from 1994 to 1995 was among the lowest ever, however, and 1995 water supplies were adequate only because of the normal winter snow pack and wet spring.