By JOHN J. FIALKA
September 19, 2006; Page A1
For more than a quarter of a century, a federal agency in the Pacific Northwest has been running the world's most expensive wildlife restoration program, designed to save 13 species of endangered salmon and steelhead.
The Bonneville Power Administration, responding to concern about dwindling fish populations, has spent more than $8 billion helping salmon travel from the mountain streams of their birth to the Pacific Ocean and back again, where they lay eggs for the next generation. Impeding their journey are several hydroelectric dams.
The agency has little to show for its efforts. In any given year, only 1% to 3.5% of the fish complete the 1,800-mile round-trip fish trek, which begins 20 miles northeast of Lewiston, Idaho, and continues down the Snake and Columbia rivers. Fish scientists say the success rate should be at least double that.