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Army Corps of Engineers: An Assessment of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement of the Lower Snake River Dams
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC RESOURCES COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIV
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Hydropower dams on the Columbia River and its main tributary, the Snake River, provide electric power, inland navigation, irrigation, flood control, and recreation to the Pacific Northwest region. The Columbia and Snake rivers and their tributaries are also home to salmon and steelhead that each year migrate from the Pacific Ocean to spawn in fresh water before dying. As juveniles, their young later swim back downstream to the ocean, before eventually repeating the cycle. These salmon were once abundant but have dwindled from up to 16 million a century ago to less than 1 million today. Federal agencies-the Corps of Engineers, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and Bureau of Land Management-and electricity ratepayers, through the Bonneville Power Administration, are spending about 400 million annually in the region to reverse this decline. The decline has been attributed to many causes, among them overfishing, destruction of habitat, the introduction of hatchery-bred fish, and the presence of hydropower dams. The dams restrict the passage of salmon returning to spawn and may be especially harmful to juvenile salmon as they migrate downstream.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE