March 15, 2005

Crapo Statement On Water-Salmon Litigation

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo released the following statement today following a plantiffâ??s coalition announcement about legal action regarding Upper Snake River water relative to salmon and steelhead recovery:â??I'm disappointed that the plaintiffs are discussing the Upper Snake in Judge Reddenâ??s court. We take this threat to Idaho water and state water sovereignty very seriously. As long as the plaintiffs pursue a litigation strategy, we will be forced to aggressively defend Idaho's water and we will do just that. â??I'm particularly disappointed with this development in part because of the many face-to-face meetings we have had-the first such meetings in Idaho history-have clearly demonstrated that the negotiation process we've started can be productive. For example, the plaintiffsâ?? concession about the 2004 irrigation/smolt migration season is significant. The negotiation option must remain available and I stand ready to resume this important process when the time is right. I note that the Idaho Water Coalition and the plaintiffs refer to the possibility of continuing negotiations at some point. I particularly appreciate the statement made by the Idaho Conservation League: â??We know the potential of what is possible if motivated and informed Idahoans sit down face-to-face and start talking to each other. â??My other main frustration is that this legal action targeting Idaho water is misplaced. There must be continued effort and increased federal investment in habitat improvement, hatchery reforms, and harvest control. As to the main stem river, the best option is to operationally and structurally modify the downstream projects in a way that preserves their benefits while improving fish passage. I do not support breaching. â??Idahoans have clearly demonstrated that we are prepared to do our part to recover anadromous fish. Over the past decade, Idaho has contributed significant amounts of water to recovery efforts. However, when forced to defend our water in court, we must do so aggressively. Let me be clear-I am committed to protecting Idaho's water and will accept no outcome that jeopardizes it.â??# # #