Bush's eagerness to take dam breaching off the table defies common senseClaiming that dams don't jeopardize threatened and endangered wild salmon is a little like claiming DDT doesn't jeopardize bald eagles.

Just because there are more eagles now shouldn't mean bringing back a hazardous pesticide. And just because there are more salmon now shouldn't mean going back to business as usual in the Columbia-Snake River system.

The Bush administration wants to keep dam breaching off the list of options for rebuilding certain salmon stocks. The idea of restoring portions of the river system to free-flowing status is hotly controversial, and there are commercial users of the river who want to use recent improvements in salmon returns as an excuse to take dams off the table.

Most credit better salmon returns to more favorable temperatures and food supplies in the ocean. It's possible recent improvements in fish ladders around dams and other steps will help in the long run, but it's far too early to tell for sure.

In the meantime, unique salmon runs still teeter on the verge of extinction. Responsible stewardship dictates we manage the river system in ways that ensure species survival no matter what conditions are like in the ocean.

Dam breaching must remain on the menu of options.


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