The federal dam and salmon managers on the Columbia River released the latest biological opinion today on how they will avoid jeopardizing 13 stocks of salmon and steelhead with their operations.
As expected, they have concluded the surface passage devices they have added to several of the eight dams between Idaho and the Pacific along with the billions of dollars in habitat improvement projects they have funded in tributaries like the Lemhi are doing enough or more than necessary to meet their responsibilities to protect the fish.
Their five-year plan calls for some cutbacks in spilling water over the dams away from hydroelectric turbines to using more barges to haul more fish for a longer period in the late spring. They have no mention of dam breaching and while a NOAA Fisheries official said it remained open to considering a test of spilling even more water over the dams to speed the migration of young salmon through the dams, it was not included in the plan.
So that means the issue will be back in court with sporting groups, fishermen, environmentalists and the Nez Perce tribe expected to challenge the plan that was the result of their last victory in 2011.
I’m working on a column for Monday on the issue.