Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
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In his inaugural speech in January 2009, President Obama made a clear and explicit commitment to “restore science to its rightful place” in policy-making. Since then, several officials in his administration have echoed this call.
In the Pacific Northwest, however, this is not what salmon advocates and fishing communities have experienced. Despite the campaign promises, inaugural pledges and presidential speeches, the Obama administration recently decided to adopt a flawed 2008 NOAA Fisheries salmon plan for the Columbia and Snake Rivers that was originally crafted by the Bush Administration. This September 2009 decision followed an extended review period and a great opportunity to get it right. During this review, the Obama team received thousands of calls for a new approach from national and international scientists, Members of Congress, former and current governors, regional and national newspapers, and salmon and fishing advocates from across the country.
By failing to live up to its promises in the Columbia-Snake River Basin, the Obama administration has brought yet more uncertainty for endangered salmon and struggling salmon-dependent communities, as well as American taxpayers and Northwest ratepayers.
Neither open nor honest.
“I am also signing a Presidential Memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy… to ensure that in this new Administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology; and that we are open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions."
- President Obama
In the Columbia and Snake Rivers, the Obama administration has been anything but open and honest. This past summer’s review of the Bush salmon plan included a so-called independent scientific review, the bulk of which took the form of a two-day workshop held in Washington, DC. The workshop was not publicized nor was public input sought; the eight scientists who participated were required to sign confidentiality agreements; none of those eight were federal biologists outside NOAA Fisheries; and it appears that views different from NOAA were not presented to these reviewers. So much for transparency! Only after several months, a request from a coalition of conservation and fishing groups, and the urging from federal Judge James Redden did the government grudgingly release a limited number of documents related to this review.
What does assuming do?
Less than a third of the documents associated with this review have been released to date, but they still help paint a clear picture. The scientists who participated in the review had extensive concerns about the 2008 salmon plan, helping confirm that the Obama administration’s tweaks ultimately fail to create a legal and scientifically sound plan. Much of this concern stems from the plan’s reliance on many underlying assumptions – regarding everything from climate change to habitat to river operations. Any scientist can tell you that science-guided policy based on flawed assumptions puts the credibility – and in this case, the legality – of that science, at risk.
Download the top 10 quotes from panel scientists.
AMIP or A Map of More Decline?
On September 15, 2009, when the Obama Administration announced its decision to adopt the 2008 Bush Plan, officials added a new document, known as the 'AMIP' (Adaptive Management Implementation Plan). The AMIP contains a number of rather undefined and largely in-the-distant-future studies and potential plans to make plans (really!) that will be triggered for consideration if and when our already-endangered salmon and steelhead populations decline even further – in some cases to near-extinction levels. As for consideration of lower Snake River dam removal? The AMIP indicates that this already viable option – the one measure that scientists say offers the best chance of recovering Snake River salmon -- might possibly be studied sometime in the distant and still undefined future...maybe.
Unfortunately, this addendum to the 2008 salmon plan does nothing to bolster the original plan’s validity under the Endangered Species Act. Planning for possible additional measures in the years to come can’t mask the 2008 salmon plan’s very real scientific and legal flaws.
Scientists speak out
“We scientists believed the President when he said he would protect science and strengthen the ESA, but Secretary Locke and Dr. Lubchenco have seemingly allowed political pressure to circumvent a decision based on sound science.”
- Bill Shake, retired Assistant Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Since the salmon plan was released in September, hundreds of scientists have continued speaking out against another federal failure of science and the law. In a letter to Judge James Redden, the American Fisheries Society’s Oregon Chapter outlines several key problems with NOAA’s latest plan:
1) Maintains obscure language relating to salmonid recovery (e.g., “trending toward recovery”)
2) Fails to directly and comprehensively address dam breaching as a key component of salmonid recovery
3) Does not specify which body/entity will evaluate the study of the efficacy of dam breaching
4) Proposes several indicators of failure (i.e., “triggers” for management action) but does not clearly specify the remedial actions or offer timelines for remedial actions to occur
5) Offers no benchmarks for success (or how to measure success)
6) Fails to deal with the underlying pressures of human population growth and per capita resource consumption (together producing economic growth) as substantial drivers of salmon extirpation.
The Obama Administration's decision to perpetuate the failed policies of the past, and its opposition to participating in substantive discussions that could develop a legal, science-based salmon plan that works for both salmon and people, is a major disappointment to salmon and fishing advocates, Northwest ratepayers, and taxpayers nationwide. In 2010, advocates from across the country will be continuing the call for real leadership and real change.
Stay tuned for more ways to get involved this year.
For more information, please contact Bobby Hayden, firstname.lastname@example.org, 541.359.4818
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
After 15 years of fighting tooth and nail in federal court, fishing and conservation groups left U.S. District Court Judge Redden's Courtroom yesterday ready to wait at least an additional 2 weeks for an answer. Will the federal agencies step up and do what is needed to save Columbia-Snake River salmon?
We sure hope so because protecting this iconic species is about more than just saving a fish. It's about family-wage jobs in communities throughout the Northwest. It's about saving a healthy food source, a cultural icon, and a way of life. It's about policy guided by science and the law, not politics. What we really need is for our elected leaders to demand and execute a solid salmon recovery plan for all our rivers. Right now. Today. Not next year. And unfortunately, this plan is nowhere near that.
Outside the federal courthouse, scores of commercial and recreational fishermen came with a clear message, many in their own fishing boats: to remind Dr. Lubchenco and the Obama administration that their jobs matter; that healthy salmon runs mean healthy businesses and strong communities; and that science, not politics, should be at the center of the government’s decisions on this matter.
Check out an interview about the hearing with renowned steelhead guide and Sierra Club Hunter-Angler liaison Jeff Hickman on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog.
Matt Preusch's Oregonian story this morning says this about Lubchenco's position:
Speaking after the hearing, Lubchenco said she supported the science behind the plan “100 percent.” “We paid attention to the science; we paid attention to the law,” she said.What Matt doesn't point out is that Dr. Lubchenco and NOAA's plan runs counter to the science and advice of experts in the field — regional Forest Service, Department of Fish and Wildlife and American Fisheries Society scientists.
In October, the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society wrote a letter to Judge Redden outlining their concerns:
On February 17, 2000, the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society (ORAFS) unanimously passed a resolution (attached) that breaching of the four lower Snake River dams should be considered as an essential component of the recovery of Snake River salmon and steelhead*. When the revised (2008) Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) Biological Opinion (BiOp) was issued, ORAFS members reviewed it and reaffirmed our position that dam breaching should remain an essential element of salmonid restoration. We write today to further reaffirm this position and suggest that it is not adequately addressed in the NOAA Fisheries’ September 15, 2009 Adaptive Management Implementation Plan (AMIP).The Oregon AFS is comprised of over 450 fisheries and aquatic science professionals from federal, state, and tribal agencies, colleges and universities, diverse private employers, college students, and retirees.
While the AMIP is an improvement to earlier BiOp versions, it contains several crucial, but correctable, shortcomings...
Some folks said that having Lubchenco in the Courtroom would sway the judge, but I think Jeff Hickman says it best here:
As you know this “plan” is an ugly leftover from the Bush days. It has a couple bits of fluff added by the Obama folks, but it would effectively shovel dirt onto the casket of wild Columbia River salmon and steelhead.
I am confident that the judge will decide this case based on the law and the evidence, period.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Federal salmon plan fails to follow science, law
PORTLAND, Ore. — Salmon advocates returned to federal court today to fight for the people of the Pacific Northwest.
Represented by a diverse, nationwide coalition, they are challenging a woefully inadequate 2008 federal salmon plan, which does little for the people of the Northwest and too much to protect the status quo.
On Sept. 15 the Obama administration became the most recent architect of this long-standing federal failure when it embraced a 2008 Bush administration plan to mitigate the harmful impacts of dams on endangered salmon and steelhead populations.
"We look forward to explaining to the court just how little this latest effort actually accomplishes," said Todd True, lead attorney for the fishing and conservation groups. "This is not Groundhog Day — we don’t have to keep doing the same old thing over and over and over. It's time to stop the repetition and start to do what these fish need and what the law and science requires. Our fishing communities deserve nothing less. And our Northwest way of life depends on it."
The Obama team adopted a discredited scientific analysis and legal standard despite strong objections from fisheries biologists, former Northwest governors, and people and businesses across the nation. The groups are joined in the litigation by the state of Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho.
“It’s a sad commentary that we even have to be here today to try once again to get the government to follow the law and the science. They should do that on their own,” said Dan Parnel, owner of Leisure Sales, which represents several fishing brands in 14 Western states and the President of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association. “But the Judge’s decision in this case has serious economic implications for our industries’ jobs, our families and our communities. We’re hoping that Judge Redden will help this region finally produce a successful salmon plan and put us on a legal path to protecting our resources, our communities and our way of life.”
Salmon fishing still brings tens of millions of dollars into the regional economy each year and supports thousands of jobs. However, commercial fishing-dependent communities have already lost more than 25,000 salmon fishing jobs because of salmon declines in the Columbia and Snake Rivers over the past three decades. Regional sport and recreational fishing communities have lost tens of thousands more.
“This was a test for Commerce Secretary Gary Locke — on economics and science — and this plan fails on both accounts,” said Zeke Grader, Executive Director of Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “The Obama administration should be embarrassed that it allowed regional bureaucrats, intent on protecting the status quo, to convince it to buy into this badly flawed plan. We remain convinced that the law and science are on our side and we look forward to working with the administration to get things on the right track.”
Commercial and sportfishing representatives from up and down the Pacific Coast sent a letter to Secretary Locke in September urging him to begin a dialogue on how to address the salmon crisis that has plagued coastal communities over the last eight years. Secretary Locke has not yet met with fishermen since the request was made almost three months ago.
Salmon advocates have long argued that the 2008 plan remains illegal under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and largely ignores the impact federal dams have on ESA-listed threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia-Snake River Basin. In fact, the plan allows a rollback of in-river salmon protections. U.S. District Court Judge James Redden has agreed with salmon advocates in challenges to two very similar prior plans.
“We scientists believed the President when he said he would protect science and strengthen the ESA, but Secretary Locke and Dr. Lubchenco have seemingly allowed political pressure to circumvent a decision based on sound science,” said Bill Shake, retired Assistant Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Tell a salmon biologist that you don’t want to remove the four lower Snake River dams or that you don’t want to spill water over the dams, but don’t tell them those actions aren’t necessary for these imperiled fish. We know better; we know what the science says. We come to Court with hope for more because the fish need more than this plan, and fishing families and communities deserve more.”
The Obama administration’s September 15 plan adopted the old Bush salmon plan with minor tweaks. The administration’s plan does allow for a multi-year study — at some uncertain point in the future — of what is already known to be a viable salmon restoration option — lower Snake River dam removal — and then only if already-depressed endangered salmon numbers plunge even further. Other than this, and some re-arranged monitoring and habitat measures that have been on the table for more than a year, the Obama plan is unchanged from the 2008 plan that has been challenged in court by fishing and conservation interests.
Opponents of following the science have criticized the idea of removing dams, especially in light of climate change concerns. Salmon advocates, however, point to a recent expert analysis from the NW Energy Coalition and an analysis from the Northwest Power and Conservation Council to show that protecting salmon and providing for a clean energy future is both eminently doable and affordable.
“We truly can have both clean, affordable energy and healthy salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest,” said NW Energy Coalition Executive Director Sara Patton. “It’s not an either/or question — the Northwest needs and deserves both, and both are 100 percent possible with the right vision, planning and leadership. We have the technology; now let’s find the political will to make it happen. The Northwest can show the rest of the country how to do this right while creating jobs and providing for a better future.”
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Snake River salmon spawn at the highest habitat in the world in the rugged Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. They swim nearly 1,000 miles inland and climb more than 6,500 feet in elevation — the longest, highest salmon migration in the world. Yep, Snake River salmon do it at altitude.
Snake River salmon spawn at the highest habitat in the world in the rugged Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. They swim nearly 1,000 miles inland and climb more than 6,500 feet in elevation — the longest, highest salmon migration in the world. Yep, Snake River salmon do it at altitude.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Save Our Wild Salmon has been ramping up our social media efforts over the last year and we've seen a huge impact with increased visible public support, stronger relationships with our business partners, increased media attention and even a nod or two from our elected leaders.
Check us out on Facebook and Twitter!
So, what is social media? Social media is all about multi-faceted communication. It's about connecting you with like-minded folks. It’s designed to stream information through social interaction via the internet and social networks. While we still need to support our traditional media goals, social media supports the human need for interaction, and makes it possible to broadcast information to the masses in an instant.
Here's a quick video that amplifies the fundamental shift in the way we communicate today.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Since 1993, The Freshwater Trust (formerly Oregon Trout and Oregon Water Trust) has conducted an award-winning environmental education program called Salmon Watch, which serves over 5,000 public and private school students throughout Oregon annually and has served over 60,000 students to date.
On a cool morning in October we drove a few miles down the Columbia Gorge to one of our favorite local waterfall runs, Eagle Creek, and joined a class of seventh graders from The Dalles Middle School as they learned about salmon ecology from US Forest Service Fish Biologists.
From the Associated Press:
The federal judge overseeing the balancing act between salmon and Columbia Basin dams said he doesn't think he can consider new steps the Obama administration wants to take.
In a letter on Friday to lawyers in the case, U.S. District Judge James Redden wrote he was concerned that federal law prohibits him from considering any of the new parts of the 2008 plan.
The reason he cited is they were developed unilaterally by the federal government, and not, as he had suggested, in conjunction with the other parties involved in the lawsuit challenging federal plans for protecting salmon.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
He has hope: "Where’s the hope? The Columbia/Snake system drains over a quarter square million miles of the continent. Its surviving wild chinook, sockeye salmon and steelhead migrate farther and more significantly higher, into the mountains than any other salmon species. The purity and high elevation of their wild Idaho and eastern Oregon and Washington birth streams make them more capable of surviving global warming than any other salmon species. That’s my big hope. Yet these salmon are endangered, and bound for extinction, due to little more than the brokenness of our political and information systems."
He’s not afraid to speak truth to power: "Because the BPA runs the dams, and greases Patty Murray’s political machine, Patty Murray has convinced the Obama administration to accept the biological opinion of the Bushies though that bi-op was driven by nothing but neocon superstition and is not biologically or scientifically or spiritually true at all. The removal of the lower Snake River dams would constitute the largest workable salmon recovery in the world at a time when the ocean’s fisheries have been reduced by 90%. We’re talking about saving our childrens’ freaking lives here. But our “news” and politics have become so manipulative and rhetorical and virtual that they aren’t capable of making contact with reality any more. Acknowledgements of physical reality would occasional be reassuring from our so-called leaders. Expressions of outright love, like those you find in the best science, poetry, film, prose, oral accounts, children’s drawings, local watershed group celebrations, of wild rivers and salmon, would be even better."
He’s funny: "Convince Congress to remove those four damned Snake River dams. Maybe with a filibuster in the meter of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham.
I do not like Snake River dams!
I do not like them Sam I am!"
And his words are incredibly poignant: "One day we’ll become worthy of our incredible world and the souls that tell our hearts to beat and the wild salmon that find the fire in water and use it to create astounding life. In the meantime, I stand in earth’s flowing water as if my life depended on it because, for me, it really does."
Oh, and he rowed through a wheat field to save salmon...
From your friends at Save Our Wild Salmon — Thank you David!
Monday, October 26, 2009
On Saturday, October 24, we joined hundreds of paddlers on the Willamette River in downtown Portland to to form a giant floating 350 as part of the largest global day of climate action ever. Paddlers in this River of Action event joined more than 5,200 rallies in more than 180 nations to urge world leaders to take fast and effective action on global warming, to bring attention to the number 350. Scientists have insisted in recent years that 350 parts per million is the most carbon dioxide (CO2) we can safely have in the atmosphere. The current CO2 concentration is 390 parts per million.
We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day in Portland. The sunny, warm weather helped to keep us all in good spirits as we fought a strong current in the river channel to form the 350. But even with the current, we all came together to make it happen.
From Wend Magazine:
Getting over 200 paddlers to form a large “350″ on a river is no small task, and it took a combination of goodwill, direction from the organizers and photographers standing above us on the Burnside Bridge, excellent communication between all of the boats that were directing on the water and a dash of luck to make it all happen. But we were successful, and when the “ok” came from the bullhorn above, everyone raised their paddles in a communal hurrah. It feels good to take part in a global movement.
And here's another quick video from the good folks at KEEN:
GIGANTIC salmon props go to the Epicocity Project's Andy Maser for organizing this whole action and pulling people together to take action to save our planet, our river and our salmon. Nice work!
Friday, October 23, 2009
Salmon need a lot of cold, clean water to survive, so we at Save Our Wild Salmon are always down to help fight climate change. On Saturday, October 24, we will join more than 100 paddlesports and endangered species enthusiasts to form a giant floating “350” on the Willamette River in downtown Portland, Ore. Participants in this River of Action event will take to the river in kayaks, canoes and on standup paddleboards. The event—one of more than 4,000 rallies in more than 170 nations—is part of the 350.org International Day of Climate Action to urge world leaders to take fast and effective action on global warming.
On Saturday, people and organizations from around the world will take action aimed at bringing attention to the number 350. Scientists have insisted in recent years that 350 parts per million is the most carbon dioxide (CO2) the planet can safely have in the atmosphere. The current CO2 concentration is 390 parts per million.
A couple of months ago, Buster the Wild Salmon and Sassy the Sustainable Sasquatch took part in a test run of the floating 350 idea, and we're excited to get out on the water to take action on October 24!
"We urge folks in Portland to join the River of Action event, and others out of Portland to find an equally exciting event in your local community," said Pat Ford, Executive Director for the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition. "We need to come together today to show our elected leaders that we deserve, and demand, effective global warming policies. For our futures, for our children's futures, and for the species and the ecosystems that give us life, there is no other choice."
To find an action in your area, visit 350.org.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The poster is from 2000, but the words still ring true:
For all the diversity they've given, sun and ocean have managed to bequeath us just one family of creature capable of journeying back and forth between the high altitudes of our continent's interior and the green ocean a thousand miles away — the celebrated wild salmon.
In 25 years, 4 Snake River dams have destroyed 90 percent of hte salmon, stalled the swiftest river of ists size on Earth and threatened the cultural heart of 500 generations of Indians supported by the Snake.
We are the last generation that will have a choice to do something to save the salmon, an epic icon.
Thanks for giving a dam for salmon, Patagonia!
Monday, October 19, 2009
by Glen Spain
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Here's just a few snapshots to introduce you to the folks taking it to the House of Congress this week...
Northwest steelhead guide and The Sierra Club's Jeff Hickman, teamed up with Dave Bitts, a commercial fisherman from Eureka, Calif. and the president of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.
Taxpayers for Common Sense's Autumn Hanna, The Club's Jeff Hickman and Save Our Wild Salmon's (SOS) Gilly Lyons.
The Idaho crew representin'! SOS's Linnae Nelson, Idaho Rivers United's (IRU) Greg Stahl and Mayor Hannah Stauts of Stanley, Idaho.
IRU's Greg Stahl, SOS's Nicole Cordan, Mayor Hannah Stauts, The Club's Jeff Hickman and Trout Unlimited's New Jersey Council executive director.
Thanks to all of these folks for urging Congress for salmon solutions on the Columbia-Snake Rivers. You can help! Take ACTION today!
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Stakeholders from across the nation are taking to the halls of Congress to urge representatives to support the Salmon Solutions and Planning Act (SSPA; H.R. 3503).
Contact your Congressperson TODAY!
Rick Ege, Jr. - Executive Director of New Jersey State Council of Trout Unlimited
Hannah Stauts -Mayor of Stanley, Idaho
Greg Stahl -Assistant Policy Director, Idaho Rivers United - Boise, Idaho
Dustin Aherin -President, Citizens for Progress - Lewiston, Idaho
Dave Bitts -President of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations - McKinleyville, California
Jeff Hickman -Northwest regional hunter and angler organizer for the Sierra Club, based in Portland, Oregon
More in-depth information on the stakeholders CLICK HERE.
Update on Latest Meetings: Day 2
4:00pm - Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) with Celina Cunningham
3:00pm - Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) with member and Staci Wheeler
3:00pm - Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) with Janine Benner
2:00pm - Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) with Todd Wolf
2:00pm - Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) with Jamie Girard
2:00pm - Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (TX) with Brenda Muniz
1:30 - Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) with Dana Richter
11:30am - Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ)
11:30am - Rep. David Wu (D-OR)
11:00am - Rep. Michael McMahon (D-NY)
11:00am - Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
10:00am - Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ)
10:00am - Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)
He introduced the Salmon Solutions & Planning Act (H.R. 3503)!
Thank you Congressman McDermott!!!
9:30am - Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT)
4:30pm - Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) with Eleen Trang
Dave Bitts, President of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, along with Jeff Hickman and Emily Nuchols, met with the office of Congresswoman Lofgren, from the great state of California.
4pm - Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) with Elena Keydal
Two of Idaho's finest - Greg Stahl from Idaho Rivers United and Dustin Aherin of Citizens for Progress - sat down with Congressman Filner's office.
4pm - Rep. John Adler (D-NJ) with Nancy Sopko
Rick Ege and Linnae Nelson team up again to meet Congressman Adler's office.
Rep. Adler's district includes Ocean County, New Jersey, which supports a vibrant sportfishing industry. They know that fishing means business!
3:30pm - Rep. Christopher Murphy (D-CT) with Jesse Young
Dustin Aherin and Jeff Hickman team up again, this time they met with Congressman Murphy's office to discuss the Salmon Solutions & Planning Act. They were interested in making sure we can recover salmon and save money in the long run. Dustin and Jeff answered with a confident "YES".
2:30pm - Rep. Christopher Carney (D-PA) with Sloan Giampa
Lewiston, Idaho community advocate and whitewater guru Dustin Aherin along with Jeff Hickman, Fly Fishing hero and Sierra Club Hunting & Fishing Organizer, met with Congressman Carney's office to discuss the Salmon Solutions & Planning Act. They were very interested in the work of Taxpayers for Common Sense.
2:30pm Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) with Cathy Collentine
Rick Ege, Jr., Executive Director of New Jersey State Council of Trout Unlimited, and Linnae Nelson from SOS sit down with Congressman Rothman's office to discuss H.R. 3503.
1pm EST - Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH) with Tony Baker
Emily Nuchols from SOS and Dustin Aherin from Lewiston, Idaho's Citizens for Progress met with Congresswoman Sutton's office. Representative Sutton's region enjoys the benefits of a multi-billion dollar salmon and steelhead industry in the Great Lakes. Many of those fish stocks originated from Snake and Columbia River salmon runs.
1pm EST - Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) with Teresa Frison
Rep. McNerney's office sat down with Dave Bitts, President of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations and Linnae Nelson from SOS. Congressman McNerney is already a co-sponsor! Give his office a thank you call: (202) 225-1947
If you use Twitter, please check out:
Contact your Members of Congress TODAY!
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Find out more about the Salmon Lobby Week in DC.
More about the campaign to restore the Snake River and recover wild salmon and steelhead.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
by Bobby Hayden
On healthcare, the Obama administration’s current call for change is based on the notion that doing nothing means Americans will continue to pay the price – in both cost and quality of care. That we can all agree upon. Unfortunately this notion is not being applied in the Northwest to the administration’s new plan for Columbia and Snake River salmon. After roughly $10 billion in American taxpayer and Northwest energy ratepayer money spent on measures that have brought wild salmon and the salmon economy no closer to lasting recovery, it’s time for a new direction.
The federal government has called their latest plan for Columbia and Snake Rivers an “insurance policy” for salmon. While this new health care messaging is clever, the truth is the plan will continue the same system that has kept wild salmon on life-support for two decades. In their plan, NOAA Fisheries has included a suite of contingencies for salmon based on “significant decline triggers” (levels that would trigger action). Based on the numbers, however, salmon returns would have to get dangerously low for several years running before any initial actions are taken. And none of these initial actions include a substantive look at real changes to the biggest killers of juvenile salmon: the dams.
So basically, we know your arteries are clogged and your blood pressure is skyrocketing but we’ll just wait until you’re going into cardiac arrest before you go into surgery… for a knee replacement.
According to officials at NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – the agency in charge here), the plan will “prevent further declines.” Aspiring to prevent further declines? We already have thirteen populations of salmon and steelhead officially at risk of extinction under the Endangered Species Act. This plan, at its very best, promises only to stabilize the already severely depressed populations. There’s no game plan here to position these fish for actual recovery in the future, and that should be unacceptable to those of us who care about salmon, about smart public policy, and about sound science.
NOAA has announced that it will use the same exact jeopardy standard developed by the Bush administration. This meager benchmark could be met if only one additional fish returns to spawn compared with the previous year. Make no mistake: if upheld, this plan will weaken the Endangered Species Act and the result will set a clear – and harmful -- precedent across the country. The future of efforts nationwide to restore ecosystems and imperiled wildlife, and to hold the federal government and private industry accountable, is at stake.
But this isn’t just about the law; it’s about jobs too. By striving to only "prevent further declines," this plan will leave fishermen along the West Coast in dry dock, tackle and fly shops struggling or closing, and fishing guides out of work. Many other businesses in the Northwest, while not directly tied to salmon, will feel the hit as well. Fishing communities have already made big sacrifices and suffered tremendous job losses to compensate for the dams' deadly impacts in the Columbia-Snake Basin, and this "new" plan includes no promise of actions that could lead to the actual recovery of healthy, abundant, and fishable populations.
At best, the Obama administration’s plan protects the current status quo - depressed salmon populations threatened with extinction and a depressed salmon economy with communities struggling to get by. Rather than an “insurance policy” that only kicks in once salmon populations are in the ICU, how about ensuring healthy and abundant salmon in the Columbia and Snake Rivers for future generations? Our region’s communities deserve a way forward that gives salmon - and the salmon economy - a plan not for relapse, but real and lasting recovery.
The Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, it’s partner groups, and thousands of advocates around the country will continue to encourage the establishment of a truly inclusive collaborative process that includes all the interests who have been involved in this debate for the last two decades. A science-driven stakeholder negotiation process represents our best opportunity to develop a cost-effective, biologically-sound salmon restoration plan that is durable, works for both salmon and people, saves money, and creates good family-wage jobs in areas like fishing, clean energy, and construction.
Take Action: please join Save Our Wild Salmon’s Social Network
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Bobby Hayden is the Western Regional Representative for the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition. He splits time between Eugene and Portland, Oregon.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Judge James A. Redden of Federal District Court in Oregon will decide whether the plan meets that requirement. We do not believe that it does. Judge Redden has already rejected two federal plans for restoring salmon, one from the Clinton administration and one from the Bush administration. He was on the verge of ruling on a second Bush plan when the Obama administration asked for time to review it and strengthen it where necessary.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
by Karl Mueller
We’ve all been there before. The hope that a fresh face will bring needed changes and make our lives better. So it was in the Columbia-Snake basin. Hopes ran high as the Obama administration declared that it would place science before politics...
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Well, then drop what you're doing this Thursday and make your way to the PDX Sierra Club office for a free screening of Hustle & Fish!
Friday, August 21, 2009
Idaho's iconic "red fish" are nothing if not survivors. Consider this: Snake River sockeye swim more than 900 miles inland and climb more than 6,500 feet to their mountains spawning grounds in the Sawtooths of Idaho. That's a pretty epic journey in itself, but throw in the fact that they tackle eight dams on top of that, and that's pretty incredible.
Read more about their epic journey.
Take action to save our wild salmon!
Monday, August 17, 2009
Washington Outdoor and Fishing Businesses Ask Senators Murray and Cantwell for Leadership on Columbia-Snake Salmon Recovery
On September 15, the Obama administration, led by Commerce Secretary (and former Washington Governor) Gary Locke, will announce its decision on a federal plan for recovering Columbia-Snake salmon. Salmon advocates, fishermen, scientists, members of Congress and businesses across the nation have been calling for that decision to include a Northwest “solutions table” – a settlement process convened by the Obama administration and supported by the region’s lawmakers, such as Senators Murray and Cantwell – that will bring together stakeholders to work collaboratively to craft an effective solution to the Columbia-Snake salmon crisis. In a time of increased economic uncertainty, such a process would help provide a stable future for businesses and jobs that rely on Washington’s great outdoors and beautiful rivers.
“Our industry benefits from healthy rivers and fisheries for the outdoor recreation they provide our customers,” said Paul Fish, CEO of Mountain Gear in Spokane. “My company and employees benefit from the great recreation eastern Washington has to offer. Quality of life is a valuable economic asset. It allows our company to attract and keep skilled people. Restoring wild salmon and steelhead in the Snake River will make our region an even better place to live and recreate. That’s not just good for Mountain Gear’s bottom-line, it’s a boon to our region’s economy. It’s time Senators Murray and Cantwell joined other Northwest Senators to bring stakeholders together to find a solution that takes care of farmers, irrigators, ratepayers, and our industry as well.”
Other Northwest lawmakers are showing support for a solutions table that would include stakeholders from all over the region. Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, Republicans, and Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat, have indicated their support for a settlement process on the Columbia-Snake salmon crisis. Senators Murray and Cantwell represent a state that depends heavily on salmon for economic success, so Washington business leaders hope both Senators add their voices to others calling for a Northwest solutions table to restore Columbia-Snake salmon and sustain and produce future jobs in the outdoor and recreation fishing industries.
“Most of us see salmon and steelhead fishing as part of our birthright here in Washington State,” said Karen Wilken of Redington Tackle & Apparel Company based on Bainbridge Island. “But it is much more than a recreational activity – it supports jobs and businesses throughout the Pacific Northwest. The fate of Redington and Sage and so many other companies in our industry is tied closely to the fate of Pacific salmon and steelhead. Finding solutions for endangered Columbia Basin salmon in ways that also benefit our Northwest communities is a really important piece of the puzzle for our region. We can do it, but we’re going to need leadership from ‘both Washingtons’ – here and in DC – in order to make it happen.”
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Obama administration poised to adopt flawed Bush salmon plan despite scientific, economic and legal failings
Monday, August 10, 2009
This issue of WSSN is part-call-to-action and part-update:
A) CALL TO ACTION – Please contact Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke: With only a few days left before the Obama Administration announces how they will address the salmon crisis on the Snake River, please take a moment to contact Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. Formerly the governor of Washington State, Locke now leads the Department of Commerce. NOAA-Fisheries is one of the agencies within the Commerce Department. This makes Sec. Locke NOAA-Fisheries Administrator Jane Lubchenco’s direct boss. It also means that Sec. Locke will have a lot of influence on the Federal Salmon Plan that emerges from the NOAA-Fisheries at the end of this week. He needs to hear from salmon and fishing advocates today!
B) AUGUST 14 DECISION APPROACHES: Three months ago, attorneys for the new Administration asked the judge overseeing the litigation over Columbia and Snake River Salmon Plan for additional time to review the 2008 Bush-era Plan that it inherited earlier this year. The deadline for that review is this Friday.
At this point, it is not clear what path the new Administration will choose. Will it stick with the failed status quo of the past or bring people together to work on an effective, forward-looking science-based solution? We will have to wait until Friday to find out. They seem to have three basic options:
(2) It could submit the 2008 Plan to the court with revisions in an attempt to satisfy the judge. Salmon and fishing advocates are highly skeptical that such a move would succeed. The judge, in his mid-May letter, identified a number of substantial improvements that would be needed in order for him to find the plan lawful under the Endangered Species Act, including a look at lower Snake River dam removal. The deficiencies of the current plan are so profound that a major overhaul would be needed. Modest tweaks will be inadequate.
(3) Time for a Collaborative Stakeholder Process? The Administration could, in recognition of the plan’s severe inadequacies, decide instead to change course and undertake an approach that many – including newspaper editorial boards, three former governors, a growing number of senators and representatives in Congress, businesses and organizations - are calling for. The Administration should convene an inclusive, settlement process (involving e.g. fishermen, farmers, utilities and energy consumers, tribes, states) to work together to craft a legal, science-guided salmon plan that both restores endangered salmon and steelhead and ensures that local, affected communities benefit at the same time.
(1) Three former Northwest governors sent a letter to President Obama urging him to abandon a 2008 Bush administration biological opinion (BiOp) for the Columbia-Snake rivers, and pull stakeholders together to create a solutions settlement table. Read more on their letter to the President.
(2) Nationally-recognized lawyer and natural resources law professor Charles Wilkinson advised President Obama that, after many years of federal failure, sleight of hand, declining salmon populations, he needed to get this important decision right, including removal of the four lower Snake River dams.
(3) New York Times, Boston Globe, Buffalo News, and Eugene Register Guard Editorials in support of solutions and dam removal options:
Boston Globe Editorial - August 10th: Salmon: A dam shame
Buffalo Editorial - August 10th: Bust the dams, save the salmon
Go HERE for more complete list of links to lots of the advice for the Obama Administration from scientists, organizations, businesses, United State Senators, and many others.
Friday, July 31, 2009
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI), joined by 20 additional co-sponsors from across the nation, introduced the Salmon Solutions and Planning Act (SSPA) in the House of Representatives. The bill would provide Congress and federal agencies with up-to-date, thorough information about how best to protect and restore wild salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia and Snake River Basin.
Challenging the expensive status quo while calling for an approach that puts all recovery options, including lower Snake River dam removal, on the table, Congressman McDermott said, “I'm not willing to practice the politics of extinction, doing nothing until there is nothing left to do, until there are no more wild salmon left to save. I'm willing to listen, but I'm not willing to wait.”
United States taxpayers and Northwest ratepayers have spent more than $8 billion on efforts to protect and restore endangered wild salmon in the Columbia and Snake River Basin. And yet, populations of wild Snake River salmon have shown little improvement since being listed under the Endangered Species Act in the 1990s; most are hovering well below levels required for recovery. Declining runs have curtailed fisheries and hurt regional economies throughout the Pacific salmon states of Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
“For the fishing industry, it’s all about the jobs — and we’ve lost more than 25,000 fishing-related jobs coastwide due to the decline of Columbia-Snake River salmon. Without abundant, harvestable populations of salmon, our coastal communities will never economically recover,” said Glen Spain, Northwest Regional Director of Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, a major commercial fishing industry group. "This new bi-partisan bill gives President Obama and Congress a chance to step in and ensure an economic future for salmon-dependent communities through sound science and effective salmon restoration, instead of the denial and bungling of the past."
Federal recovery efforts have been stymied and taxpayer dollars misdirected, in large part, due to incomplete and outdated information.
"We have a responsibility to make sure that the wild salmon of the Snake River and the rest of the Columbia Basin in the Pacific Northwest survive and thrive for future generations, but we should do so in a fiscally responsible manner. Current efforts appear to be inadequate, in addition to being costly,” said Congressman Petri. “We must stop throwing good money after bad; it’s past time to do some fresh thinking and take the right actions before it's too late."
The legislation comes on the heels of a letter signed by outdoor clothing company Patagonia and more than 90 other national business leaders asking Congress to support a salmon “solutions” table and to act on legislation that will help bring about a durable resolution to the long-standing challenge of salmon recovery.
“Conservation is a core priority for the outdoor industry, and wild salmon play an important role in the recreation economy. We simply can’t afford to lose them,” said Lisa Pike-Sheehy, Patagonia’s Director of Environmental Initiatives. “We need updated, comprehensive and unbiased information so we can evaluate, on a level playing field, all potential salmon recovery options, including lower Snake River dam removal. We applaud the members of Congress supporting this bill.” See the
The solutions legislation comes at an opportune time. The Obama administration is reviewing the flawed Columbia-Snake salmon plan, while three Northwest Senators — Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Jim Risch (R-ID) — have called on the administration to convene a salmon solutions table that brings together key stakeholders to discuss all scientifically-credible options, including lower Snake River dam removal, to help recover endangered salmon and enhance the region’s economy while saving taxpayer dollars. The studies authorized in SSPA would provide information needed to make such stakeholder discussions even more successful.
"If we don’t alter our current course, taxpayers will continue to foot the bill for costly salmon recovery and will shoulder the massive cost of extinction as well,” said Autumn Hanna, senior program director for Taxpayers for Common Sense. “We need an effective, fiscally responsible federal salmon recovery strategy that is based on an examination of all available options including lower Snake River dam removal. We urge Congress to support this bill and authorize the necessary studies to vet this option and protect taxpayers from billions more in wasted dollars.”
Contact: Emily Nuchols, Save Our Wild Salmon, 503.230.0421 ext. 13 or firstname.lastname@example.org
PLEASE SUPPORT THESE SALMON-FRIENDLY BUSINESSES! For more information, or to sign the letter, please email email@example.com.