The Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday released a plan outlining the steps to evaluate the potential breaching of one or more dams on the Lower Snake River if necessary to ensure survival of endangered wild salmon and steelhead.
A study -- which would include a technical phase and public policy phase and possibly the development of an environmental impact statement -- is not imminent.
A dramatic decline in the four-year average of wild salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act or a natural catastrophe are among the "trigger" events that would have to happen to launch the study -- which would take several years to complete, Corps officials said.
"There's a lot of things that would have to fall into place before we could ever get to this step," said Greg Graham, chief of planning for the Corps' Walla Walla District.
And even if a plan of study -- which would incorporate information gathered for a 2002 study of breaching the four Snake River dams -- were initiated and dam removal recommended, the final decision would be up to Congress, the Corps said.
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