Time for a Salmon Plan That Works
The salmon and steelhead that return to the Columbia and Snake Rivers are like no other fish in the world. They migrate nearly 1,000 miles, connecting coastal and river communities from California to Alaska and inland to Oregon, Idaho and Nevada.
When Lewis and Clark arrived on the banks of the Snake River in 1805, the Columbia Basin of the Pacific Northwest boasted the greatest salmon stocks on Earth – up to 30 million salmon returned home each year. It must have been quite a sight!
Today, however, populations linger near just one percent of that historic number. Every run of salmon and steelhead on the Snake River are either extinct or listed under the Endangered Species Act.
As a Pacific Northwesterner, the impacts of the salmon crisis on our economy, ecology and culture are very apparent. Wild salmon support rural communities and tribal cultures, stable jobs, world-renowned fishing opportunities and thriving communities.
Over the last several decades, we have seen the federal government repeatedly fail to develop a lawful, science-based, and economical plan to restore endangered salmon to abundance. A lack of leadership from many elected officials has left our wild salmon and West Coast communities that rely on them high and dry.
Fortunately, President Obama and Congress now have a rare opportunity to bring together fishing, farming,energy interests and others to collaboratively solve this long-running conflict in a way that restores salmon, creates jobs, and invests in our communities and a clean energy economy.
Within just a few weeks, the Obama Administration will decide whether to “stay the course” on the Bush Administration’s failed federal plan or to chart a new path that helps both people and salmon flourish.
Salmon recovery in the Columbia and Snake Basin is still possible, but it depends on immediate and strong actions to counter threats to their survival. Let’s make sure that our iconic Columbia and Snake River salmon survive today and thrive tomorrow.