Four tribes broke rank with conservationists yesterday and cut a deal with the federal government to end their longstanding opposition to dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers. In return, the Yakama, Colville, Umatilla and Warm Springs tribes will receive $900 million for restoring salmon habitat. The tribes see this as a solution to the enduring legal wars over salmon. “It’s moving our energy from courtrooms to streambeds,” John Ogan, attorney for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, told the Portland Oregonian.
Conservationists, on the other hand, are devastated at losing their key allies. But they’re not changing course. “(W)hat does the Endangered Species Act say needs to be done?” Todd True, a lawyer for Earthjustice, said in the New York Times. “And what does the science say needs to be done?”
The Oregonian has the definitive report, although the story is covered in most of the big regional media outlets. The Boise Idaho Statesman, meanwhile, focuses on the Nez Perce’s position. They are the only tribe out of the five involved in the lawsuits to reject the deal.
In other news, see a great op-ed in the Juneau Empire by a 100-year-old Tlingit elder who was born the same year Alaska’s Tongass National Forest was established. He compares the history of the Tongass (the traditional territory of the Tlingit) to his own journey through life—and the struggles of his people for equal rights.
(The accompanying photo was taken at a Portland demonstration to remove dams from the Klamath River, which flows through Southern Oregon and Northern California. Thanks to Patrick McCully, via flickr.)