Thank you to David Cannamela for reminding us in last week’s Mountain Express that we must speak out for Idaho’s salmon or lose them.
Since Idaho’s sockeye salmon were listed as endangered species in 1991, Chinook were listed in 1992 and steelhead in 1997, those who care about these iconic creatures have been studying how to restore healthy populations. Scientists agree that our salmon must have a free-flowing river. Following the completion of the four lower Snake River dams, salmon populations were decimated on their way to the ocean as tiny smolts and then on their way home to breed and die. As smolts, they languish in the reservoirs behind the dams, and as adults must swim 900 miles over eight dams and climb nearly 7,000 feet of elevation to our pristine mountain waters. They bring ocean nutrients to Idaho’s sterile high country, enriching life for all.
Healthy salmon populations bring millions of dollars to Idaho’s economy, and the removal of the lower Snake River dams could restore a fishery worth $544 million annually. For the eighth time over three decades, federal agencies have refused to comply with three federal district court judges’ orders to include dam removal in their draft environmental impact statement; dam removal is the solution that will save our salmon.
Congressman Mike Simpson has taken a strong stand for salmon. We thank him for his leadership to bring back healthy salmon populations to Idaho. It is deeply disappointing that our own governor and his workgroup have declined to stand up for Idaho’s salmon, given what they mean to our state, its economy, ecosystems and way of life.
Join me in speaking up for our salmon, for ecosystems and for Idaho’s fishing and recreation communities and to live up to our obligations to Native American treaty rights. For more information, please go to idahorivers.org, saveourwildsalmon.org and idahoconservationleague.org.