Monday, August 23, 2010

Stacking the Deck: Senators Murray and Cantwell limit dialogue in Columbia-Snake salmon recovery

According to documents surfacing from several Freedom of Information Act requests, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have been working behind the scenes to limit communication between Obama administration officials - NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco among them - and leaders within the Northwest salmon community.  The senators appear to be stacking the political deck against real dialogue about long-term solutions to recover Columbia and Snake River salmon to abundance and meet the needs of our Northwest communities. 

These findings and more can be found in a great op-ed from author Steven Hawley, published in the Oregonian on August 21st.  Read Hawley's op-ed here.

Many in Washington will remember that former Governor Gary Locke is now head honcho at the Commerce Department, which overseas the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency that crafts the salmon and steelhead plan for the Columbia-Snake Basin.  Senators Murray and Cantwell appear to have been in close contact with both Secretary Locke and Dr. Lubchenco through the course of the Obama administration's review of the Bush-era salmon policies (as you will recall - they eventually decide to stick with the Bush plan). 

While we have yet to hear from Senators Murray and Cantwell about these specific issues uncovered by Mr. Hawley, this is not the type of leadersip we expect or need from our elected officials.  A commitment to science, transparency in decision-making, and substantive public involvement focused on solutions is what the Northwest needs to solve these types of challenging natural resource issues.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Big Spill = Big Dollars, Big Fun & River Health

In his Op Ed piece on, Oregon fishing guide, Bob Rees sheds light on the role that court-ordered spill over the federal dams has played in bringing back large numbers of steelhead and salmon to the Columbia Basin. Sadly, this spill program is missing from the Obama salmon plan. In recent years recreational fishing organizations as a part of a larger coalition, pressed the federal government to spill water for out-migrating juvenile fish. The courts enforced a spill program and today we see the results.

It's clear that anglers get the simple truth of letting salmon smolts migrate in the river vs. taking a lethal ride in a government barge… when a river runs like a river, fish respond positively, coming back home in droves. When the system works, recreational opportunities abound. These angling opportunities translate to money spent in our towns, local businesses that thrive and a great quality of life for all who live in, or travel to the Snake River corridor.

The spill program and its positive results suggest a way forward... towards opportunity. The time is right for stake-holders to discuss the fact that actual salmon recovery will require dialogue, accurate science, true accounting and a willingness to discuss real solutions. Charting this course will allow a win-win for all stakeholders. The Obama Administration's salmon plan offers little in the way of hope in this regard. It is time to write Senators Cantwell and Murray and tell them that recovered runs of wild Snake River salmon and steelhead equals money in our pockets, healthy rivers and smiles on all of our faces!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Outside Blog: Dams Fall Apart, Kayackers See Opportunities

Free flowing rivers provide amazing benefits to society. Restoring the flow of rivers by removing outdated dams returns their whitewater recreation potential which always benefits surrounding communities economically and socially...

The Lower Snake River had over fifty large rapids before four dams drown them... It's time to boat them again!

Check out this post by Kyle Dickman on Outside Magazine's Outside Blog... Dams Fall Apart, Kayakers See Opportunities 

"The average age of America’s 86,000 dams is 51, and the estimated price to repair just the high-hazard dams, or those near homes, is a staggering $16 billion. Don’t expect that investment to be made anytime soon (things like wars and unruly banks are demanding more of Washington’s attention), but until it is, more dams will break.

One solution rightly being championed by enviros-- American Whitewater, Save Our Wild Salmon, American Rivers--is to purge old and unproductive dams from the inventory, like Washington State did when they tore Hemlock Dam down last August. Check out Outside's July issue for coverage and this film for more info...." Read on...