Issue 265                                                                     March 15, 2007


In this issue:
It�s not whether to study, but what to study for fish
Water Resources Development Act introduced in the House
2007 PNWA Mission to Washington � SUCCESS!


It�s not whether to study, but what to study for fish


Reps. Jim McDermott (D-WA, 7) and Tom Petri (R-WI, 6) introduced the Salmon Economic Analysis and Planning Act in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R.1507) March 13. They were joined by 31 original cosponsors. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR, 3) is the only member from the Pacific Northwest on the list of cosponsors.

 

PNWA does not object to increasing knowledge about effective recovery measures. But we do object to telling the scientists what the answers should be. This bill focuses on one recovery measure, breaching the Snake River dams. Congress should not spend taxpayer money on a narrowly focused study that will simply increase the divide between the interest groups in the region.

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If Congress wants to study the needs of fish, they should address the full range of current and potential actions. Even Judge Redden has cited the Northwest Power and Conservation Council�s independent Scientific Advisory Board in casing doubt on the flow-survival relationship that is the rationale for dam breaching. There are plenty of other controversial issues that are worthy of analysis. We know spill costs millions. We also know there is great debate over its effectiveness. Are we doing all we can to reduce mortality of endangered fish from non-selective harvest practices? Which hatcheries and hatchery practices help rebuild endangered salmon runs and which hurt them?

 

There are also other environmental, social and economic effects for each of the recovery measures. If we are going to study a set of measures, we not only need to know their impact on fish, we also need to know their impacts on water quality, air quality and global warming. We believe dam breaching will have negative effects on all three.

 

A $20 million federal Environmental Impact Statement focusing directly on the question rejected dam breaching. That study was completed in 2002. Some say that is old information, yet they ignore the science that has developed since then. Since 2000, adult salmon returns to the Basin have been the highest on record since counts began in 1938.

 

Dam breach advocates say that the decline in juvenile fish survival in the 1970s was due to the building of the Snake River dams. Improvements at the dams have increased survival three-fold since the seventies. And, improvements continue. According to the federal agencies in charge, survival today is as high, or higher, than it was in the 1960s, before the last four dams were built. A study released last month showed Yakima River salmon, which do not pass the Snake River dams, had identical survival rates to Snake River salmon, despite passing through four fewer dams.

 

Twenty-two Northwest fish runs that do not pass the Snake River dams are also listed under the ESA. Many of those are from watersheds without any dams at all. It is simply not credible to claim that taking out the Snake River dams will solve the endangered fish problem in the Northwest.

 

Staff Contact: Glenn Vanselow

Water Resources Development Act introduced in the House


The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) was introduced yesterday in the House (H.R.1495).The bill is largely the same as the version seen in the last Congress.Committee leaders expressed a desire not to add new projects to the bill, as they work to pass it quickly.There is a possibility that another water projects bill could be pursued later in this Congress.

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Most of PNWA�s supported provisions are included in this bill.Of special note is another proposed extension of Section 214, the permit funding authority first authorized in WRDA 2000, and the subject of a great deal of PNWA and stakeholder efforts to avert sunset over the last few years.The authority is currently authorized through December 31, 2008.We are pleased to announce that the House WRDA bill proposes extension of the authority through 2010.While this is a positive development, PNWA�s position has been that this authority should be made permanent, to provide greater predictability to both the Corps and the non-federal stakeholders who provide this additional regulatory staff capacity.PNWA will continue to urge Congress make the authority permanent in WRDA this year.

 

Other PNWA-supported provisions contained in the House WRDA bill include deed restriction provisions for the Ports of Lewiston and Pasco, a siltation study for the Ports of Ilwaco and Chinook, language regarding the Port of Sunnyside�s aquatic ecosystem restoration project on the Yakima River, a provision allowing seismic considerations and additional non-federal funding for the Elliott Bay Seawall study, and dredge material placement provision for Puget Island in Wahkiakum County.

 

The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee is expected to take up their version of WRDA later this month.Stay tuned for more WRDA news, and to view PNWA�s WRDA documents, please visit www.pnwa.net.

 

Staff Contact: Kristin Meira

2007 PNWA Mission to Washington � SUCCESS!


The PNWA Mission to Washington was a great success this year and we would like to thank everyone who participated!PNWA members and staff were able to effectively present our issues to the decision makers in DC and set the stage for continued dialogue with the federal government throughout the year.���

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This unique opportunity on Capitol Hill is also a great way for our members to learn first-hand the workings of the federal government, the Corps of Engineers and Congress. The time we spent with each member of our Northwest Congressional delegation provided invaluable insight and gave our members an opportunity to personally thank the delegation for their continued support.It also allowed PNWA to inform the delegation of our concerns, educate them on the facts, and learn how we can better work with them to maintain a productive navigation system in the Pacific Northwest.

 

We were also extremely happy with our �Taste the Northwest� reception.This festive evening is an amazing opportunity for our members to interact with key Congressional staff, industry leaders, and Administration officials in an informal environment.PNWA members were able to connect with over 250 attendees, forming working relationships that will be invaluable in the coming years as we address current issues and respond to new challenges.PNWA would also like to say thank you to our members who sponsored the event.The Northwest fish, beverages, cheeses, candies and other goods that were shipped in by our membership are what guarantees to make our event special!

 

Thanks to all of our friends in Washington, DC and to all of our members for your continued participation and support!

 

Mark your calendars for the 2008 Mission to Washington

 

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008 � Friday, March 7th, 2008

Washington Court Hotel

525 New Jersey Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20001

Reservations: 800-321-3010

www.washingtoncourthotel.com

PNWA room rate: $270 single/$290 double

 

Staff Contact: Heather Kenneson


Pacific Northwest Waterways Association                                www.pnwa.net

 

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