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Plan to Save Salmon Roils Northwest ; Change Seen Causing Ripples in Economy
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post (pre-1997 Fulltext) - Washington, D.C.
Author: Kenworthy, Tom
Date: Dec 15, 1994
Start Page: a.03
Section: A SECTION

The power council's plan includes recommendations for reducing fish harvests, improving salmon habitat and modifying dams. But its heart is a complex scheme for changing dam operations to increase and alter timing of flows in the Columbia and its largest tributary, the Snake. Its most controversial element calls for drawing down the huge pools of water behind four federal dams on the lower Snake River to speed passage of juvenile salmon to the ocean.

Although fishing, habitat degradation and other factors have contributed to the salmon's decline, the eight federal dams on the main stem of the Columbia and lower Snake are estimated to account for about 80 percent of salmon mortality. Particularly for young salmon smolts headed for the ocean, the dams are a killer: the large lakes behind the dams raise water temperatures, increase predation and slow the smolts' journey, causing millions to perish.

In the last two years, three Snake River runs of chinook and sockeye salmon have been listed as endangered or threatened and other Columbia River runs are being considered for the endangered list. The American Fisheries Society in 1991 said that 214 of about 400 stocks of Northwest salmon and other anadromous fish are at risk of extinction. Anadromous fish are saltwater fish that move into bodies of fresh water to spawn.

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