Salmon, Dams Await Ruling From Federal Judge

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A federal district judge will soon decide the fate of Idaho salmon and steelhead while considering the operations of federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. Judge James Redden heard arguments Monday in a Portland courtroom on whether dams and salmons can coexist while meeting the standards of the Endangered Species Act.

Redden will need to a biological opinion drafted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries bureau, the fourth such plan of its kind, recently revamped by the Obama White House. Officials with Idaho Rivers United said the plan fails to address the needs of salmon.

"It is sad that this administration has allowed the interests of a few commercial and industrial river users to influence its decision on Columbia-Snake river salmon," said IRU executive director Bill Sedivy.

But NOAA officials told the Associated Press following the hearing that the government's plan rarely satisfied conservationists.

"They're willing to do anything to push for dam breaching," said NOAA deputy regional administrator Barry Thom. "That seems to be the heart of their argument."