Thursday, April 10, 2008

On the road!

Save Our Wild Salmon National Road Show Kicks off in Seattle.

Save Our Wild Salmon, a national coalition of conservation organizations, commercial and sportfishing associations, businesses, river groups and taxpayer advocates, hit the Seattle streets yesterday with a kick-off at Westlake Center. Traveling 10,000 miles through 20 states, the Wild Salmon Road Show bring attention to the plight of endangered wild salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest, and build support for removing the four lower Snake River dams in Washington State.

We have an emergency on our hands, and it is a coast-wide problem. From the Sacramento to the Klamath, to the Columbia-Snake River Basin in the Pacific Northwest, our native fish populations are in crisis due to federal mismanagement of our natural resources, and this administration’s blatant disregard for the Endangered Species Act, which is supposed to protect these fish. We are driving across the country to sound the alarm that West Coast salmon and communities need our help now!

The collapse Sacramento River fishery this year is one more example of a critical natural resource in desperate need of leadership. Across the coast — in California, Oregon and Washington — our largest and most important watersheds are in dramatic decline. It is no accident that both our salmon stocks and our coastal communities are struggling for survival. We need Congressional oversight to ensure that federal agencies uphold the law and ensure that they develop policies based on the best scientific and economic information.

The federal government has failed miserably. We need Congressional leadership across the coast and the country, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, to ensure that the upcoming Federal Salmon Plan for the Columbia and Snake Rivers will finally protect and restore wild salmon and steelhead to healthy, abundant and sustainable populations. Billions of public dollars have been wasted over the last two decades while populations have continued to plummet toward extinction.

Science shows dam removal is essential to the recovery of Columbia Basin salmon runs, which will become even more important as global warming and other environmental factors impact West Coast salmon runs. Salmon from Washington, Oregon and California ply the same West Coast fishing grounds so a major decline in runs on one of these major salmon rivers in any given year impacts the livelihoods of fishermen up and down the coast.

Ultimately, these issues and our policy decisions today are about our communities and the values we hold as a region and nation. This salmon is here today to represent an iconic symbol of the American West and remind everyone that when we speak about environmental protection and species like Snake River salmon, we are also talking about a national treasure that provides us with good jobs and healthy food.

Congress has the power to put us on the path to recovery — one that includes stable jobs, clean, affordable energy, good fishing, abundant salmon, and places in the outdoors for our families to enjoy.

Each individual we can reach who appreciates what we have in wild Pacific salmon represents a potential advocate for the healthy habitat, healthy rivers and access to spawning grounds wild salmon and steelhead need in order to thrive.

We know America is full of salmon and steelhead champions, and we look forward to meeting as many of you as possible through this tour.

If you can't join us in person, I hope you'll check back in regularly, and follow our journey online.

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