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Gov. Little opposes dam removal proposal, warns of 'devastating impacts'

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson announced earlier this month that he was proposing the breach of four hydroelectric dams to help save the salmon population.

BOISE, Idaho — Note: The video in this article is from a Feb. 8, 2021 story on Rep. Simpson's dam removal proposal.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little says he is not in favor of a proposal to remove dams on the lower Snake River in order to aid the recovery of salmon populations.

"My position on the lower Snake River Dams has not changed. I remain unconvinced that breaching the dams is a silver bullet for salmon recovery," he said. "Breaching the dams would have devastating impacts on Idahoans and vital segments of Idaho's economy."

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson announced earlier this month that he was proposing the removal of four hydroelectric dams, a move that would allow the fish to move freely through the river. The proposal, which garnered support from conservation groups, comes with a $33 billion price tag. Nearly half of that money would be put towards replacing the dams with other clean energy sources.

Not everyone was convinced. Port managers and ranchers have argued that Simpson has no guarantee that breaching the dams would help save the salmon, and that the plan would badly hurt their own livelihoods.

Little said in a statement that he was committed to finding a solution to the problem of falling salmon populations, even though he is against Simpson's plan.

"We must continue to find creative, consensus-based solutions that help salmon thrive and foster a strong Idaho economy. Last year, I signed an agreement with the Governors of Washington, Oregon, and Montana, stating Idaho's commitment to working collaboratively on a regional level to advance our shared goal of successful salmon recovery and economic prosperity," the governor said. "I am also proud of the work of my Salmon Workgroup – a diverse group of stakeholders that worked for 20 months to come up with dozens of pragmatic recommendations that promote healthy salmon populations and thriving river communities in Idaho. It was the first time that broad interests worked collaboratively to help shape Idaho's policy on salmon and steelhead. While a lot remains to be done, I am confident we are moving in the right direction"

"I have immense respect for Congressman Simpson and all the work he has done on behalf of the people of Idaho," the statement continued. "We may not see eye to eye on this issue, but I am committed to continuing to work with local and regional stakeholders and the entire Idaho congressional delegation to improve salmon returns and ensure Idaho industries not only remain whole but are better positioned for the future."

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