A series of open-house-style public hearings on plans to save endangered wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Pacific Northwest comes to Boise today, set for 4-7 p.m. at the Grove Hotel. The hearings are being held by the Bonneville Power Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, following a U.S. District Court ruling last May that rejected the last federal plan for protecting the endangered fish.
The federal judge who ordered the review said federal agencies had “done their utmost” to avoid considering breaching the Lower Snake dams, and suggested that a proper review under federal law could require that analysis. The agencies are gathering public comments as they prepare a new environmental review of the system’s impact on salmon and steelhead.
More than 200 people turned out at the Davenport Hotel for the Spokane hearing Nov. 14. Pro-salmon groups say that removing the four Lower Snake dams is one of the most important actions needed to help wild salmon and steelhead runs. The dams impede access to thousands of miles of wilderness streams – habitat that will help salmon survive as the climate warms, they say.
Hearings have been held so far in Spokane, Lewiston, Bonners Ferry, Priest River, Libby, Missoula, Kalispel, Pasco and Walla Walla; additional hearings are still to come in Seattle, The Dalles, Portland and Astoria, plus two webinars. There’s more info online here.
The hearings are “scoping meetings” regarding the operation of 14 federal hydropower projects in the Columbia Basin; the agencies say public input is being solicited on impacts of the projects from flood risk management, irrigation, power generation and navigation to fish and wildlife, cultural resources, recreation and socioeconomics.