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Committee Discusses Restoration of Salmon Runs Above Grand Coulee Dam

grand_coulee_dam.jpg
cattleclasstraveler via flickr
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Grand Coulee Dam

Washington lawmakers held a committee meeting yesterday to hear testimony for a proposal that asks the federal government to support restoring salmon runs above Grand Coulee Dam.

Salmon runs on the Upper Columbia River were halted by dam construction in the early 1940s. Yesterday in the House Agriculture and Natural Affairs Committee, a hearing was held to ask for federal support of plans to restore the salmon populations.

1st District Democratic representative Derrick Stanford is the sponsor of House Joint Memorial 4014. He says, “Now is a good time because there is an ongoing renewal of the Columbia River treaty and new technology available to get fish past the dams with an impact on hydro generation.”

The measure calls for exploring ways to reintroduce the fish behind the dams and provide passage for them to migrate to and from the ocean.

Republican Lawmaker Joel Kretz testified he like the general concept but felt left out of the discussion, which would impact many in his 7th district. “Some of these things need to be looked at in a collaborative way for everyone effected. And since it’s only my district that's effected, I’m offended not to have been part of this at an earlier point . I’d like to work on this but there is some tremendous impact to counties and tribal government, basically anybody that’s above those dams--basically if there’s ESA listings up there.”

Bill sponsor Stanford said he welcomed Kretz’s input on the plan, and tribal officials tried to reassure Kretz about his concerns with the Endangered Species act.

Spokesman for the Upper Columbia United tribes, D.R. Michel said the concept does not involve using endangered species of fish. “It is our intent to use non-ESA listed salmon runs, specifically summer Chinook and Sockeye, that return to the Okanagan below Chief Joseph Dam.

The legislation would not carry the effect of law, but only be a request for the Feds to support such a program.

It was not expected to come up for a vote before the Friday deadline for bills to make it out of committee.

Spokane Public Radio received support from TVW in obtaining audio of the hearing.