The federal government Friday said its plan to protect the Columbia River’s endangered salmon and steelhead is working. That means little would change for dam operations on the West's biggest river.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is standing by its dam management plans. Officials say the plans are on track to improve the Columbia’s federally protected fish. For more than 20 years, salmon advocates and supporters of hydroelectric dams have fought in court over the plan. This newest version is in response to a federal judge’s 2011 order to make sure salmon and steelhead are properly protected. Officials say this plan does just that – and it has helped some species more than they expected. NOAA says additional fish protection is unnecessary. They did not call for more water to be spilled over dams. That approach has been used to help juvenile salmon migrate down river without passing through dams’ turbines. Environmental groups are disappointed the plan doesn’t do more to help fish. Business groups say improved fish runs show current measures are working. The plan must now win court approval.
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