Monday, August 17, 2009

Washington Outdoor and Fishing Businesses Ask Senators Murray and Cantwell for Leadership on Columbia-Snake Salmon Recovery

SPOKANE, Wash. – Today more than 30 outdoor recreation and fishing businesses from the state of Washington wrote to Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell thanking them for their work in protecting the Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF) and urging their leadership to restore wild Columbia-Snake salmon and steelhead. The businesses on the letter range from across the state, including Spokane, Sequim, Granger, Longview, Seattle, and Tacoma.

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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