Thank you Mr. Chairman for calling this important hearing today. I commend you for your leadership on this issue. I would just like to include this brief statement in the record because although Montana does not have salmon and steelhead, we are impacted by operations at Libby and Hungry Horse dams that are intended to benefit those species.
Mr. Chairman, Montana has often felt a bit left out of the debate over the operations of the Columbia River System. Montanans understand our obligations as part of the Columbia River Basin and the Northwest to do our part to help recover these magnificent fish. But Hungry Horse and Libby dams are extremely important to the economy of western Montana, for recreation, resident fish and wildlife, irrigation, and flood control. Operations of these dams pursuant to the requirements of the 2000 Biological Opinion for the aid and recovery of Columbia River salmon impact all of these Montana priorities.
I just want to make sure that Montana’s needs and concerns are considered seriously by the Federal Agencies involved in implementing the Biological Opinion, and in adhering to their other duties under the Endangered Species Act and the Northwest Power Act. In particular, Montana has concerns about its own endangered, threatened and sensitive species of fish and how the operations of Libby and Hungry Horse dams impact those species. Montana also does not want to wait at the end of the line when it comes to sharing the benefits of the Columbia River System.
Again, I would like to thank the Chairman for holding this hearing, and I look forward to submitting questions for the record to the witnesses, particularly the Northwest Power Planning Council and the Bonneville Power Administration. I thank all of the witnesses for taking the time to be here today.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.