"The $900 million deal federal agencies have made with tribal foes may not end a long-running court battle over endangered salmon and the big federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.
But it does represent progress, because it does two things: It implicitly recognizes that four controversial dams on the Snake River are not going away anytime soon, and it spends ratepayer money on action instead of lawyers.
Under the agreement announced Monday, four Northwest tribes would abandon their legal opposition to federal fish management policies in exchange for $900 million earmarked for habitat improvement and other salmon recovery efforts.
The tribes and the Bonneville Power Administration, which markets power from the dams, hailed the settlement as a landmark agreement that could help move beyond litigation to collaboration. If they’re right, it would be a boon for a region that has spent money and time fighting over endangered and threatened fish runs that could have been better invested in actually restoring them.
As truces go, this one is incomplete. Tribes that are party to the settlement could not sue for 10 years, in the hopes that will allow enough time for demonstrable progress toward recovery of vulnerable salmon runs. But plenty of others stand ready and willing to continue the pursuit of a goal that’s just not going to happen: partial removal of four dams on the lower Snake River."
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Editorial: Dam breaching or not, fish recovery will be pricey
(The Tacoma News-Tribune 4/9)
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