If Idaho’s potato, beet or wheat harvests were threatened, state lawmakers would be up in arms. If the dairy and cattle industries were under siege, they would give speeches and wave bills on the floor of the Legislature. Idaho’s governor would proclaim in his annual State of the State address that the Idaho way of life is under attack.
Yet, with fishing for our famous salmon and steelhead disappearing because of nearly extinct runs caused by failure to breach four obsolete dams on the lower Snake River, we hear crickets in Boise.
Where’s the outrage? Why isn’t Idaho Gov. Brad Little leading a charge to keep the industry from disappearing? Why hasn’t the Legislature drafted flurries of resolutions and bills demanding that federal agencies take urgent action to restore the runs before it’s too late?
Study after study has shown that fishing puts millions of dollars into the state’s economy and generates thousands of jobs. Salmon and steelhead fishing are major parts of the economy in Riggins, Salmon, Stanley, Challis, Orofino and towns along north Idaho’s Clearwater River.
Idaho fishing guides and outfitters who met in Lewiston last week decried the decline. Riggins outfitter Roy Akins told the group that the fight to save fish is also a fight to save the state’s small river towns.
Breaching the dams is the scientifically recognized solution. Yet, Gov. Little says he opposes breaching and doesn’t want his salmon working group to talk about it because it would produce “gridlock.”
Well, Governor, silence will produce nothing but unremitting destruction of salmon and steelhead runs, further economic destruction and the death of the state’s revered outdoor lifestyle.
Silence and shushing is killing fish. It’s time for some noise out of Boise.