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NW conservation groups urge regional approach to saving salmon

Salmon generic MGN NRCS Gary Kramer
KTVZ File/MGN/NRCS-Gary Kramer

One favored option - removing four Lower Snake dams - taken off the table

By Eric Tegethoff, Oregon News Service

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Idaho Gov. Brad Little's workgroup to consider what to do about dwindling salmon numbers has wrapped up, as conservation groups in neighboring states say it's time for a regional approach.

Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, said the warming climate is making it difficult for salmon and steelhead to navigate the Columbia and Snake rivers.

He maintained the fish are in a dire situation, and the issues can't be solved by a single state.

"Any solution that's going to work needs to be a regional solution," VandenHeuvel contended. "And I think that's why there's so much effort going in among the states and the federal government, and tribal nations and interested people who rely on salmon, who care about salmon, to come up with solutions."

In October, the governors of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington signed an agreement to work together on recovery of salmon and steelhead in the region.

VandenHeuvel added that restoring salmon populations also is crucial for orcas in the Northwest.

The Idaho Salmon Workgroup was convened in April 2019.

Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation and a member of the group, said the most crucial recommendation - removing four dams on the lower Snake River in Washington - was taken off the table early in the process.

He calls the other proposals that will be in the group's final report "low-hanging fruit."

"The recommendations we did come up with, they will move the needle, they will help fish," Brooks acknowledged. "Unfortunately, they will not get us to those levels of abundance that Idahoans want."

Public comments submitted to the workgroup largely supported removing the dams.

VandenHeuvel sees that as the best solution for restoring salmon and steelhead populations, but he knows it's also the most divisive proposition, with farmers concerned about how it would affect their industry.

"We think that a broad congressional, legislative solution is really needed here," VandenHeuvel urged. "Something that's going to look hard at the transportation issues and the irrigation issues, and make sure that those are addressed."

The Idaho Salmon Workgroup's final report is expected sometime in January.

KTVZ news sources

Comments

13 Comments

        1. Irrigation is a waste of water

          They should just xeriscape and sorry no more golf courses for the proletariat.

          Barge transport? Burns oil. Hyper local farmers markets should be mandatory only eat and consume what’s in bicycle distance of your assigned apartment.

          Power generation? Have you seen all the windmills in the gorge? Those make all the clean Power we need we just use too much and should cut down to what those and solar can provide.

          Plus side windmills don’t impact the wild salmon that were here before us. And there a plenty of birds…

            1. My thought exactly !
              smedley makes excellent suggestions…of course those ideas have been around forever and the fact that he thought he was being sarcastic-and the fact that too many others think that way- is what keeps the climate/salmon death-spiral going.

  1. Seals, Cormorants, damns, gill nets, lots of blame to go around here. Do some research on the life cycle of salmon. Then think about how much of their life is spent in the rivers vs the ocean. We need a global solution, not just a regional one.

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