Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Neither the 20th century nor the last half of the 19th have been kind to Pacific Northwest salmon runs. The Columbia-Snake Basin was once the most productive salmon watershed in the world, but today salmon returns number just 1% of its historic salmon and steelhead populations — severely reducing fishing opportunities and fishing economies for scores of communities across the Pacific Coast and inland West. Overfishing, degradation of habitat and the building of the Columbia River system dams have all helped devastate not only the salmon but concurrently, the entire natural ecosystem. For too long the fate of salmon and the salmon economy has been in the hands of a federal bureaucracy that has been unwilling to consider many options for recovering the various endangered species of Pacific Northwest Salmon, even going so far as to ignore science, filter results and establish means by which to ignore both the endangered species act and citizens concerns. In the interim, salmon and the region have continued to pay the price.
This year, many have looked toward the Obama administration to craft an effect plan to reverse this alarming trend. And in a potentially historic move this week, the federal government has sought a delay of up to two months as it develops a plan to save salmon in the Columbia River Basin from extinction. In a letter to a federal judge, the Obama administration said top officials want more time to "more fully understand all aspects" of the salmon restoration and recovery plan.
The Northwest and the nation need a new way forward for Columbia & Snake River salmon that will restore science to decision-making, protect the integrity of the Endangered Species Act, and wisely invest American taxpayer dollars into revitalizing our communities. A lasting solution will recover salmon, create jobs, and help build a clean energy future. With science leading the way, the hope of real salmon abundance can be realized.
Organizations such as Save Our Wild Salmon, have been leading the way in the fight to save the Pacific Northwest Salmon since 1991. A nationwide coalition of conservation organizations, commercial and sportsfishing associations, businesses, river groups, and taxpayer advocates make up this group, working collectively to restore self-sustaining, abundant, and harvestable populations of wild salmon and steelhead to rivers, streams and oceans of the Pacific Salmon states.
With the Obama Administration clearly indicating they want the time to review the science to develop appropriate protocols going forward, now is the time to impress Washington with the plight of the salmon. You can click here to TAKE ACTION or read the letter below being circulated by conservation organizations.
"Wild pacific salmon are a national treasure - an awe-inspiring symbol of healthy rivers, good jobs, nutritious food, and thriving communities. The Snake and Columbia Rivers were once home to the largest salmon populations on the planet.
Today, however, many of these populations are facing extinction. The latest federal plan for the Columbia-Snake Basin perpetuates decades of ineffective federal policies and billions of taxpayer dollars that have failed to protect salmon and steelhead from declining toward extinction. We are in urgent need of a new approach that is firmly grounded in both good science and fiscal responsibility.
Four federal dams on the lower Snake River prevent salmon from surviving to return to some of the biggest, wildest, highest, coldest, healthiest and best-protected habitat remaining in the continental United States. These dams make the downstream migration of young salmon an untenably lethal one, killing as much as 90% of these Snake River fish before they ever reach the Pacific Ocean.
The science and economics are clear: any effective salmon plan must include the removal of these costly and out-dated dams. The federal government's current approach, which ignores the science supporting lower Snake River dam removal as part of a comprehensive suite of recovery measures, fails endangered salmon, fishing communities, and American taxpayers.
I strongly urge your leadership in Congress to craft legislation authorizing the removal of the four lower Snake River dams. This action must be part of a scientifically sound and fiscally responsible plan that will restore wild salmon, create jobs, save taxpayer dollars, revitalize communities, and ensure the survival of this national treasure for future generations. I look forward to hearing from you about your efforts to safeguard imperiled wild salmon. Thank you."