Thursday, January 28, 2010

More broken promises from Army Corps

by Dr. Steve Bruce
Op-ed in the Idaho Statesman

I am very familiar as a fisherman with another promise the Army Corps made when it built the lower Snake dams: that Idaho's great wild salmon runs would survive them. That is a promise that has been broken. Idaho's wild salmon and steelhead are endangered with extinction.

The Corps also promised Lewiston the Lower Snake dams would bring sustained commerce and jobs by making Lewiston an inland seaport. Another promise broken: Business and jobs at the port are fading away and its remaining customers are actively seeking road and rail transportation options for their future.

One more promise: The Lewiston levees, built with the lower Snake dams, would protect the town (downtown is below the river - think New Orleans), and give Lewiston residents a riverside walking, hiking and biking path. That promise is not yet broken - but it might not be long.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

LA Times: Save The Salmon -- And Us

Photo © Brandon Cole

We couldn't agree more with the words of Carl Safina in his Sunday, Jan. 24 op-ed in the LA Times:

The Obama plan adopts the Bush plan's legal and scientific analysis unchanged and in its entirety. It makes a few small tweaks elsewhere, but does not require anything that would actually save fish. The most "major" change calls for additional actions to be studied -- though not necessarily enacted -- if listed species continue to decline precipitously.

The fundamental problem with the plan is that its goal seems to be to maintain endangered salmon in an endangered state rather than revitalizing them. The administration appears unmotivated to restore salmon abundance and their role in the ecology and economy. Here's what gives the administration's game away: The one salmon species that is already at levels low enough to trigger additional action in the new plan has been exempted from the new triggers.

Jane Lubchenco, the administration's point person for oceans and salmon, insists that "the actions in the plan will prevent further declines." But keeping salmon in a coma and on life support does not heal them, nor help the other species, including people, that depend on them. The likeliest outcome of a salmon strategy based on just avoiding extinction will be extinction -- and not only of salmon.

A wiser strategy would focus on restoring salmon's workhorse role for people and ecosystems. In the Columbia Basin, it would include removing four federal dams on the Snake River, which would open 3,000 miles of healthy streams above the present dams for three salmon species and double the spawning habitat for a fourth.

The Obama administration missed its first chance to hit the "reset" button on Pacific Northwest salmon strategy. But it's not too late to reconsider. It should embrace salmon abundance as the beating heart of the Pacific Northwest -- the flow of energy that connects and sustains people, fishing towns, bears, wolves, orcas, forests and the rivers and seas we all love and use.

There's another photograph I saw recently. Taken just two months ago where Puget Sound meets the Pacific, it shows a new orca calf emerging from the water atop its mother's back. The scientists from the Center for Whale Research who track orcas named her Star, hoping she will guide another seemingly intelligent mammal -- us -- to restore the salmon abundance she will need to become a mother herself 13 years from now. May she inspire the Obama administration to think again.

Read the rest of Safina's op-ed at the LA Times.

Take action to save Pacific Northwest salmon here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Orcas / Salmon in Washington Post

Is Washington's orca baby boom a fluke?

The Associated Press
Saturday, January 9, 2010

SEATTLE -- A little over a year after researchers feared a drop in the Northwest's endangered killer whale population meant disaster, the number of orcas has bounced back with six new babies and no whales lost.

Read more of Tibbits' article.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Something's Fishy

Two respected biologists say President Obama must make good on his vow to “restore science” to salmon restoration

by Kevin Taylor

Like someone tilting a bucket into a sink, the Snake River pours winter into the sea.

In a jumble of wilderness and mountains, nearly a thousand miles from any coast — and more than a mile, in places, higher than the sea itself — snowmelt funnels and gathers from a multitude of points, braiding into a river that sluices downhill with immense mass and remorseless flow.

Don Chapman and Stephen Pettit carry this epic sense of the river as they make a rare visit to newspapers in Spokane to advocate on behalf of wild salmon.

Read more of Taylor's article, Something's Fishy.