Bellingham Herald Op-ed: Basin stakeholders talks could break stalemate
By Buzz Ramsey
December 30, 2012
With the election over, it’s time for our new and returning elected officials to get to work making good on their campaign promises.
At the top of everyone’s list is job creation. We’ve got to get people back to work. Fortunately in the Northwest, I see some good prospects to do just that.
One of our region’s biggest challenges, to restore endangered Columbia Basin salmon, is also a tremendous opportunity to craft a comprehensive plan that recovers salmon while creating — some of us would say re-creating — good jobs right here in the Northwest.
Last year, a federal judge rejected the federal government’s Columbia and Snake Rivers salmon plan. It was the government’s third consecutive failed plan in a decade. The court ordered a new plan, due in just over a year at the end of 2013.
Rather than ask the agencies to simply update their old plan with small tweaks, however, my company, Yakima Bait, and hundreds of other Washington businesses believe that our economy and our towns would be far better served by a new, collaborative approach.
The Obama administration and our region’s leaders need to recognize that the Columbia Basin’s salmon problem is also a jobs problem. The opportunity is to fix both together. Done right, a lawful, science-based plan crafted by the people of the region can create thousands of new jobs in Washington and across the Pacific Northwest.
Thirty years ago, five or six major tackle companies operated in the Northwest, each with a strong customer base here, along with a national market.
Today, Yakima Bait is the only one left standing. The others went out of business or shrunk and were bought out. The decline of these businesses has paralleled the decline of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia Basin. I fear our sector will continue losing ground without serious and durable improvements in the fishery.
I know that times change. We can’t re-create the past, nor should we. But we can work toward a better future, as Northwesterners who care about healthy salmon, clean and affordable energy and a reliable inland freight transportation system.
If we succeed in moving salmon and steelhead off the endangered species list by dramatically rebuilding their numbers, we can create conditions that will lead to fishing and recreation jobs on a scale much greater than today’s.
Just the modest bumps in salmon numbers that we’ve seen over the past couple of years (the result of good ocean conditions and more spill at the dams, ordered by the court to help fish) have helped give our industry some temporary relief after years of decline. Completing the job by achieving sustained salmon recovery is our next step.
Yakima Bait is a $10 million-a-year company, based in Central Washington, supporting 200 family wage jobs here and in Mexico. I see young people coming to work for us, full of ideas and wanting to raise their families here. They deserve a bright future, and they can have it — right here in central Washington — if these salmon recover.
I know other good jobs also depend on the Columbia and Snake rivers. None of our sectors can stand still. Changes are under way to the federal dams and their role in our economies quite apart from salmon. The sportfishing and tackle industries believe further change is needed at the dams to restore salmon, but I also believe we can find paths forward, together, that work for fishermen, farmers, energy producers and users and others with a stake in a thriving Columbia Basin.
In that spirit, hundreds of Washington businesses have asked the president and our members of Congress, to change salmon policy so it is lawful, science-based, puts job creation center stage and lets river users collaborate directly with each other — along with Northwest states, Columbia River tribes and federal agencies — to find lasting solutions. The time for that collaboration is now. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.
A cold-water sport fishing authority, Buzz Ramsey is brand manager for Yakima Bait Co. He lives in Klickitat with his wife, Maggie, and their boys Blake and Wade.
Daily Astorian Editorial: Will NOAA’s new process matter?
Stakeholder consensus may show divisions over salmon are shifting
Monday, December 17, 2012
To borrow a metaphor from the Bible, it can seem easier to fit a hundred sea lions through the eye of a needle than it is to find regional agreement on wild salmon recovery efforts.
Such consensus is the goal of a new effort by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the front-line agency in charge of bringing Northwest salmon and steelhead back from the brink of extinction.
NOAA Fisheries is spending more than $200,000 with the Oregon Consensus program at Portland State University and the William D. Ruckelshaus Center in Washington state for interviews with about 200 stakeholders. A report will be produced about regional opinions on how best to proceed with the long slog toward viability for iconic species that were hammered flat.
Oregonian Editorial: Saving Columbia Basin salmon requires a boost in the Northwest's focus and ingenuity
December 20, 2012
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, not typically given to hyperbole, issued a call in September decrying failures in "the war to save salmon." The problem with the word war is that it connotes immediacy and, even in the long term, daily calamity. But a war over salmon?
How about attention fatigue?
The region has spent more than $10 billion over the past two decades struggling to rebuild wild runs of the once-profuse Northwest fish. Along the way, U.S. District Court in Portland has four times rejected as inadequate the federal government's plan to save our salmon despite mandates to do so under the sweeping Endangered Species Act.
Yet here we are, anticipating from a new presiding judge in 2013 another ruling on whether the correct fish-saving measures are being taken. That's while some wild runs remain at risk of extinction and the Bonneville Power Administration <http://www.bpa.gov/Pages/home.aspx>; annually forks over hundreds of millions of dollars in ratepayer money to underwrite habitat restoration projects and bolster water flows through the Columbia Basin's hydroelectric system, the engine of modern life and commerce hereabouts.
If it isn't war, it is one fight with no apparent end in sight. The weapons are legal briefs, and among the combatants are biologists who dispute whether a wild fish differs from a hatchery fish and throw into question the effectiveness of remedies. Throughout, core strengths of Pacific Northwest culture -- a frothy mix of rural and urban interests, riverfront industries and irrigation-dependent farms, tribal values and federal management of Columbia River dams -- often collide, with wreckage landing in court. Lost in the many ecologic, political, cultural and economic benefits assigned to salmon is the amount of work their survival has meant to lawyers.
Kitzhaber's call was heard widely and apparently by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration <http://www.noaa.gov/>; , headed by former Oregon State University marine biologist Jane Lubchenco. NOAA, long involved in the fight to save salmon, this month announced it will underwrite a survey of the region's diverse interests in salmon with an eye to helping Northwest leaders find a productive way forward. Up to 200 interviews will be conducted across four states by neutral representatives from the Oregon Consensus program at Portland State University and the William D. Ruckelshaus Center in Washington state.
But there will be no quick solutions on a plate. NOAA's first goal, according to Deputy Regional Administrator Barry Thom, will be to establish by mid-2013 whether it's even possible to structure a regionwide conversation that could find enough common purpose to end the fight. If so, promising approaches will be outlined.
We're weary of any next discussion rooted in belief. The fish made it plain in their decline that modern life and development brought them within sight of doom before an historic effort was mounted to save them. But we're all for any discussion that can have as an outcome fewer lawsuits, fewer collisions of fish-saving strategies, fewer derailments in policy-setting. And we're all for Kitzhaber's argument that changes ahead in energy production -- from renewables to plain old conservation efforts -- could increase flexibility in dam operations for the benefit of fish.
The salmon are worth saving. But so many diverse constituents in the region will need to get on the same page to do so. We look to NOAA and Kitzhaber to bring what it takes to end a fight that, in taking so much money and so much time, threatens the recovery effort itself.
Op-ed in the Columbian: Time for new approach to save salmon
By Bob Rees
Sunday, December 2, 2012
It's the end of another long campaign season. Hopefully the attention of our politicians -- both new and returning -- will shift quickly to the critical work of governance by reaching across the aisle, using creativity and innovation, and bringing diverse constituencies together to craft effective, pragmatic solutions.
As a fishing guide who makes my living on the lower Columbia River, I urge our political leaders to begin work now to tackle one of our region's most vexing problems: Columbia Basin salmon recovery. It's time to start a dialogue among Northwest people about how to restore salmon, boost clean energy, improve inland transportation, and create good jobs in all these sectors. Only a dialogue that directly engages people and communities can lead to actions that jointly pursue these goals rather than pit them against each other.
Across two decades and three administrations, federal agencies have led somewhat half-hearted efforts to protect endangered Columbia and Snake River salmon and steelhead populations from extinction -- and protect the many jobs and businesses those efforts support. Despite big spending, these programs haven't worked. Four of five plans have been rejected by the courts. Costing more than $12 billion so far, it's our nation's most expensive endangered species program. Thousands of commercial, recreational and tribal fishing jobs in the region have been lost as wild salmon populations -- and fishing opportunity -- have declined. Perhaps the most telling evidence are the salmon themselves. Nearly all our imperiled salmon populations in the Columbia and Snake rivers remain at levels far below those needed for recovery.
Chinook Observer Editorial: Let’s cooperate on salmon
WITH A NEW WASHINGTON GOVERNOR AND A RE-ELECTED PRESIDENT, IT’S TIME FOR STRONG COLLABORATIVE LEADERSHIP
November 13, 2012
“Divide and conquer” is the oldest political strategy in the world but assumes there is a single opponent pulling the strings. When it comes to Pacific Northwest salmon recovery, there is no villainous manipulator. It is a failure to work together that keeps us away from effective long-range answers.
With President Obama about to begin his valedictory term in the White House and a new governor taking office in Washington state, the time is ripe for genuine leadership. This leadership must take the form of bringing all interested parties together in a unified process of finding common ground and agreeing on a path forward.
The old ways have worked somewhat, but at enormous expense. Unlike the 1990s, there isn’t the sense of immediate dire crisis that resulted in fishing-season cancelations and fears of near-term extinction for important upriver salmon runs.
Daily Astorian Editorial: Salmon recovery waits on Obama
Sen. Wyden’s committee chairmanship should get the president’s attention
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
“Divide and conquer” is the oldest political strategy in the world, but it assumes there is a single opponent pulling the strings. When it comes to Pacific Northwest salmon recovery, there is no villainous manipulator. It is a failure to work together that keeps us away from effective long-range answers.
With President Obama about to begin his valedictory term in the White House and a new governor taking office in Washington state, the time is ripe for genuine leadership. This leadership must take the form of bringing all interested parties together in a unified process of finding common ground.
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden will soon become chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. That will give Wyden a platform from which to get President Obama’s attention on this pressing matter.
The old ways have worked somewhat, but at enormous expense. Unlike the 1990s, there isn’t the sense of immediate dire crisis that resulted in fishing season cancelations and fears of near-term extinction for important upriver salmon runs.
- Nov 15, 2012 - Settling fish vs. dams: Is there a better time?
- Nov 15, 2012 - Bend Bulletin Op-ed: Clean energy plans must not forget endangered salmon
- Oct 16, 2012 - Governor's call for salmon collaboration is an economic opportunity
- Oct 16, 2012 - Sac Bee Viewpoints: Collaborative solutions will benefit 'Pacific Salmon States'
- Oct 16, 2012 - We can end the Columbia basin salmon wars now by balancing energy, conservation
- May 29, 2012 - The Columbian: Twin milestones illustrate importance of Endangered Species Act
- May 09, 2012 - Lewiston Tribune Editorial: Fish or dams? Why not try a third choice?
- Jan 05, 2012 - Sustainable Business Oregon: Let's stop defending failure in the Columbia Basin by Jeff Hickman
- Dec 05, 2011 - Idaho Statesman Editorial: A judge has stepped up for Idaho’s fish. Now it’s our turn.
- Nov 09, 2011 - Oregonian Op-ed - Saving salmon: Northwest businesses deserve seats at the table
- Aug 15, 2011 - Register Guard Oped: Give stakeholders a chance on salmon survival plan
- Aug 12, 2011 - New York Times Editorial: The Salmon Deserve Better
- Apr 06, 2009 - Cecil Andrus Op-ed: A workable salmon policy for the Northwest