Simpson: Farmers Will Be OK If Dams Are Breached

Ice Harbor Lock and Dam

Removing the four lower Snake River dams in eastern Washington has been a controversial topic for the Northwest farming community for over a generation. Supporters of removing the dams say it will help the environment and specifically salmon runs as they return upstream to spawn. Meanwhile, many in the Ag community say breaching the dams will result in lost power generation, irrigation, the ability to barge products to the Pacific Ocean and much more.

In February, Idaho Republican representative Mike Simpson proposed breaching those dams to improve fish populations returning to the Gem State. He noted if the earthen berms around the dams are removed, the farming community will be OK.

“The number of bushels of grain going down the river on barges right now are decreasing. They’re less than they used to be. They are decreasing, because we’re finding alternatives to the transportation. And, to say that there’s not any alternatives out there is just to throw our hands in the air and say, okay, the salmon are dead. What we’re doing now is what we’re going to do for the next 50 years, minus the fact that the judge is going to intervene at some point in time.”

Simpson added he would also like to see a 35+ year moratorium on dam litigation while the salmon problem is addressed.

“I can’t tell you what will happen after the 35-to-50-year extension of the, of the licenses. I can only go out so far. But, if salmon are recovered, that takes away a lot of the cause for the lawsuits frankly.”

Simpson says he’s interested in hearing alternative plans, but at this point, he has yet to hear a better idea for fish and farms.

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