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Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho

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The tribe canceled an early August weekend ceremony in commemoration of the Big Hole Battle of the Nez Perce War of 1877. Wilfred A. Scott, vice chairman of the tribal committee, said that after consulting with National Park Service officials, tribal leaders decided to cancel the memorial because of fire danger. "It is very important for us to honor those who participated in the Battle of the Big Hole, but we cannot jeopardize the safety of those who would attend," Scott said. The Battle of the Big Hole began in the pre-dawn hours of August 9, 1877, when U.S. troops attacked a sleeping village of Nez Perce Indians. Federal troops massacred women and children in their early morning assault. "Despite the fact that we cannot be at the battlefield to conduct a ceremony this year, we will always honor all those who gave their lives, and those who were able to survive this terrible attack," Scott said. The memorial was scheduled Aug. 5.

Acting EPA Regional Administrator Charles Findley criticized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for indicating it does not have to live up to the Clean Water Act at four lower Snake River dams. "As a matter of policy, not as a legal requirement, the corps complies with applicable water quality standards to the extent practicable ... ," Corps Brig. Gen. Carl Strock said in a letter to the EPA. Findley argues the corps must follow the act and names several court decisions to back up his claim, including an ongoing case where environmental groups and the tribe sued the corps for non-compliance over water temperature and dissolved gas in the lower Snake River. A U.S. district judge ruled the corps must follow the law in that case. Findley said corps actions have undermined efforts by his agency, Idaho and the tribe to improve the lower Snake River. The tribe and environmentalists say they feel vindicated by Findley's interpretation. "The corps' defiance of the law is exactly why the tribes and others initially were forced to file suit," Tribal Chairman Samuel Penney said. Findley and Penney contend failing to include the price of meeting water standards could result in overestimating the cost of dam breaching to improve water quality.

The Idaho Water Resource Board has started producing power and will begin selling it to the Bonneville Power Administration by Aug. 4. The hydropower plant has been in the works for about a decade. The city of Orofino, tribe and the BPA all are part of the project. The power sold to BPA will generate about $1 million a year. Most initially will be used to pay back the $5 million cost of the project, financed through revenue bonds. The sale will generate a few thousand dollars for the Idaho Water Resource Board's grants and loans program during the first few years and more money in later years as the construction costs are paid off. Work started last October on the hydroelectric plant near the Dworshak and Clearwater fish hatcheries downstream from Dworshak Dam. The project includes a 2.5-megawatt turbine and a 0.4-megawatt turbine. An official dedication ceremony for the project is set for Aug. 25.

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