So what’s going to happen in 2008. Here’s my scorecard:
1. The legal battle over endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia Basin is going to finally come to a head. U.S. District Judge James Redden is going to issue a final decision on the biological opinions for both the Lower Snake and Columbia dams and the Upper Snake dams in Idaho. Since the Bush administration won’t even consider breaching four dams on the Snake and a most scientists say the four stocks of Snake River salmon and steelhead can’t be saved without it, Redden will likely force the region to spend even more money to draw down reservoirs, spill water over dams and flush water from Idaho to help the fish. This will cause a political crisis that may or may not come as Americans elect a new president.
2. The Bush Administration will complete its review of Idaho’s new roadless rule that will drop 600,000 acres of roadless national forest from the 9.3 million acres in Idaho. This will anger national environmental groups who will hope a Democratic President will reverse it in 2009.
3. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will delist wolves in the Northern Rockies in February and March and environmentalists will challenge it in court. I have no idea of the outcome.
4. Two wilderness bills, Rep. Mike Simpson’s White Clouds bill and Sen. Mike Crapo’s Owyhee bill, will be in play this year, both likely getting a hearing. Both bills will change to meet Democratic concerns. Simpson appears prepared to accept all but truly nefarious changes to get his bill passed. But the ranchers in Owyhee County will have to decide whether they can stand the changes that will be necessary to get their bill through the Democrats. If they can’t then they face the potential of a national monument designation in a Democratic administration…if it happens.
5. Growth will remain the major concern of Idaho voters statewide having the most effect at county election ballot boxes.
6. The Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer water dispute will not be resolved in 2008 because it will take at least one or more Idaho Supreme Court decisions on the issues to bring the two sides to the negotiating table in a mood for resolution.