Senator Crapo speaks forbidden words about Idaho salmon

Crapo “Does that mean dam breaching must be on the table? Yes.”

Senator Craig would never allow that kind of talk, nor would Idaho’s water political establishment. Crapo didn’t say he favored breaching the 4 salmon- killing dams on the lower Snake River in Washington State. He just said it had to be on the table. He also said that environmental groups, sport fishing groups, and fishing industry groups had to be at the table. A “collaboration” by the Bush Administration had excluded them.

Crapo finished his statement by saying “not dam breaching must be on the table too.”

This is an important move in the glacial politics of Idaho water and fish. There might be a little more perception of self interest in water politics than in grazing politics, although a collaborative solution of these problems could take decades.

Sen. Crapo says all options including breaching must be on table for regional salmon collaboration. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.



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  1. Brian Ertz Avatar

    the irony is that the “collaborative” in this instance is held at the end of a judge’s gavel, and it’s clear that he (and the law) will be enforced – he has made clear he will not allow a product that usurps the law. Rocky did the same story months ago, right after the judge weighed in on breaching needing to be legitimately considered – and he celebrated the same “collaborative” window-dressing opportunity. it’s as if the word doesn’t mean anything anymore.

    If only all collaboratives like this were held at the end of such integrity.

    the collaborative is a stall, so that these guys have a few more quarterly statements without the financial liability of the breach showing up on the balance-sheets – it’s so they won’t have to pay – or resolve it in bankruptcy court. ultimately, the collaborative will put that cost on the tax-payer, whereas the law clearly puts that liability on the industry.

    Buy hey, i guess it gives the process more political cover to get what we want (eventually) – regardless of who pays – so who gives a rip about the truth-value of the claim, and whether the looting happens in the wallet rather than with the fish, right ?

    they should rip the bandage quick. how many more decades will it be before what everyone knows is the eventual outcome will be allowed to happen ?

  2. Ryan Avatar

    The Obama administration excluded the same groups in recent salmon recovery meetings in PDX. Different face, same old shit.

  3. jdubya Avatar

    Ryan, which groups were excluded??

  4. Tom Page Avatar
    Tom Page

    This represents another (small) crack in the dam that is blocking progressive water policy in Idaho. I’m encouraged when I read this, as I am when I see that there’s even more fish restoration money in the federal budget for the upper Salmon region according to a related article in today’s Idaho Mountain Express.

    These little baby steps, along with the acceptance of drying up irrigated ag (gasp!) in writing in the Department of Water Resources Eastern Snake River Aquifer Management Plan are what we need as we move towards establishing water markets and the recognition of fish and wildlife habitat improvement as a beneficial use in Idaho.

    We may see other legally and operationally creative projects that work around the restrictive Idaho instream flow laws come to the forefront relatively soon.

  5. Dean Malencik Avatar
    Dean Malencik

    For all of us that have flown over the Snake River basin and have seen the thin thread of green that extends a few miles on each side of the Snake River, a question comes to mind. Obviously a lot of fertlizer, herbicides, and pesticides have been used over the years to keep this thin green line going. This then leaches into the Snake River. Have there been any studies on this and could we be underestimating these effects on salmon and steelhead?

  6. jdubya Avatar

    Dean, the major effect of what you describe would be on water quality in those stagnant lakes. Between lowering the oxygen content due to algae blooms and the like, raising the temperature of the water behind the dams (which lowers the oxygen carrying capacity) and the general siltation from the farming, the water quality can suck. Plus those types of waters can promote the reproduction of unwanted warm water fish that are predators on the salmon smolts. But fortunately the fish, both coming and going, are doing just that, coming and going, with not a lot of reproduction in between. Killing the dams will only improve the water quality and thus improve the health of the fish making the trek.

    Seriously Rayn, what groups were excluded in the Portland meetings?

  7. Brian Ertz Avatar

    A lot of the water quality/agricultural chemical issues we still don’t understand. There are very few efforts put into researching the TPs (Tranformational Products), how the different chemicals, or their degradates interact with one another, and other naturally present compounds, to form new compounds. Active ingredients may be evaluated, but often studies have found that surfactants can be just as bad if not worse and can persist longer in the environment. As soon as a University finds ans publishes the negative impact of one formulation of chemicals, a dozen more have been mixed and matched to pass standards that are really permissive and much slower to keep up with the best science regarding health – slower than industry is able to concoct new formulations for which it claims critical studies of harm shouldn’t apply. Fish can be particularly sensitive, obviously. There is no Precautionary Principle – Ag gets exempt.

  8. Ryan Avatar

    Sorry I haven’t checked this in a while. Basically it was just the Nez Perce and Feds from what I understand.

    Groups excluded: Sports Fishermen, Commercial Fishermen, About 40 other Tribes, Power companies (they still deserve a say)

    Same ol shit as far as I’m concerned, 1 feel good user group, publicity stunt, and a whole lot of nothing will come from it.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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