We’ve signed Save Our Wild Salmon’s letter calling on President Obama and Oregon Senator Merkley to support long-term solutions on the Columbia-Snake River Basin. Below is the official Save Our Wild Salmon’s press release. You can also learn more on Save Our Wild Salmon’s blog.
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
Today, more than 100 outdoor and recreational fishing businesses called on President Obama and Oregon Senator Merkley for leadership on one of the nation’s most important natural resource issues: the protection and restoration of wild salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia-Snake River Basin.
“With the new Obama administration and a new Congress, we now have our best opportunity to end the political and legal deadlock of the last eight years and bring our salmon back from the brink of extinction,” Gareth Martins, Osprey Packs Marketing Director, said. “The former administration’s disregard for the value of these fish and the health of our rivers to the people of the Northwest and beyond is hurting thousands of businesses around the country, including the outdoor industry. Only by putting science first can we meet the vital challenge of salmon recovery head on.” Osprey is based in Cortez, CO.
Spanning seven western states (Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and Utah), the Columbia-Snake River Basin was once home to the world’s most prolific salmon runs, with 30 million salmon once returning. Today, less than 1 percent of that historic number remain.Thirteen stocks of Columbia-Snake River salmon and steelhead, including all four remaining Snake River stocks, are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Populations of wild Snake River salmon have shown little improvement since being listed in the 1990s. In fact, numbers published today by the Pacific Fishery Management Council show that the five-year average for these fish hover around those 1990 levels and all populations are well below levels required for recovery.
“Conservation is a core priority of our values as a company that cares about the world around us,” James Curleigh, KEEN President and CEO, said. “We’re proud to advocate for the protection and restoration of wild salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest. We ask our nation’s leaders to support long-term solutions to restore these iconic species for our future generations. For us, protecting the Columbia-Snake River Basin is good for the environment, good for the outdoor industry, and good for outdoor enthusiasts.” KEEN is based in Portland, Ore.
Snake River sockeye, the most endangered salmon in the Columbia Basin, travel higher and farther than any other salmon in the world. Swimming 1,000 miles inland and climbing 7,000 feet in elevation to reach their spawning grounds in the mountains of Idaho, these fish are truly unique.
“Salmon are an awe-inspiring icon of the American West and symbolize the hope, strength and resiliency of our country. For too long, laws, like the Endangered Species Act, developed in a bipartisan spirit have been revoked or ignored. We have the power and the responsibility to demand the government live up to its obligation to protect our natural resources. We have an opportunity like never before to make amends on this river, with this species-to take on a tremendous river restoration project-and recover salmon populations, revitalize recreation, create jobs and breathe new life into our rural and coastal communities. And this all begins by removing the four lower Snake River dams.” Patagonia, based in Ventura, CA, selected Snake River salmon its Freedom to Roam Campaign this year. Its goal is to create, restore and protect wildways or corridors between habitats so animals can survive.
The letter to President Obama comes on the heels of another key announcement for Pacific salmon. The Pacific Fishery Management Council is expected to release new numbers on Pacific Coast salmon populations, including the Sacramento, Klamath and Columbia-Snake populations. While the Sacramento chinook have plummeted again, the Columbia-Snake chinook are holding their own because of court-ordered protections in the river when the young salmon were migrating downstream. Fishermen looked to the new numbers on the Columbia-Snake with renewed hope for a solution to the endangered salmon populations there.
“We’re talking about much more than a fish here, this is a jobs issue for the sport fishing industry, a food source and an integral part of our Northwest way of life,” said Liz Hamilton, Executive Director of Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association. “Frankly, the Bush administration’s policy has done nothing but ignored science and the law. We had to fight to give salmon a river and they responded with slightly improved returns last year and we expect the same again this year. If we give these fish a fighting chance, they will survive, but we need President Obama to step in right now, or we’ll see economic devastation in the Northwest like never before.”Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association is based in Oregon City, Ore.
According to the Fish Passage Center, a government-funded, independent science and data analysis agency that monitors Columbia-Snake River salmon and steelhead, 2008 and 2009 (forecasted) improved returns are likely the result of the spilling of additional water over dams in 2006 when the now-returning fish were migrating to the ocean as young salmon. Judge Redden court-ordered those in-river improvements after Hamilton’s group along with other fishing and conservation groups fought to have them instituted – over the vehement objections of federal agencies. Fishermen are calling the improved runs the “Redden effect”.
“Fishermen right now are looking at these numbers and we’re just grateful that Judge Redden ordered the increased spill over the Columbia-Snake dams in 2006,” said Jeremy Brown, a commercial fisherman from Bellingham, Wash. “If it weren’t for those spill measures that were fought for in court by fishermen and conservationists, the numbers of returning 3-year-old salmon would be dismal. But with this sliver of hope in the midst of a national salmon crisis, President Obama has an opportunity to seek a solution that will restore fishing jobs and help boost the fishing economy up and down the West Coast.”