Important editorials and op-ed's published in national and regional news outlets related to wild salmon restoration in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.
Daily Astorian Editorial: Same old story - Obama buys into the sad inertia of low expectations on salmon
Monday, September 16, 2013
Although this year’s relatively abundant returns of fall Chinook might seem to mark a kind of success in the long-running struggle to ensure salmon survival, true progress remains elusive. In particular, a newly revised plan for restoring wild salmon is disappointing.
Going by the peculiar name of biological opinion (bi-op for short), this planning document from the federal NOAA Fisheries service is the essential blueprint for how the federal government will meet its obligations to salmon under the Endangered Species Act. Heroically no-nonsense federal judge James Redden, who recently retired, repeatedly held federal feet to the fire as bureaucrats offered bi-ops that made only superficial progress toward setting salmon on a path to sustainable populations.
Perhaps rolling the dice that a new judge won’t want to continue in Redden’s proud tradition of profound skepticism, NOAA Fisheries’ latest effort remains rooted in the games of the past. In the same way it has enthusiastically embraced other Bush administration priorities like snooping on American communications, the Obama administration also continues offering “stay-the-course” salmon plans. These defer to the Columbia River’s industrial users while making little real effort to permanently repair the disconnections caused by dams and reservoirs.
Daily Astorian Editorial: North of Falcon is good news: There are chinook and coho seasons
Monday, April 15, 2013
“North of Falcon” might sound like the title of a Hardy Boys adventure novel, but it is the key to real-life adventures for thousands of real people who fish in Pacific Northwest maritime and coastal waters.
The 2013 North of Falcon process was concluded last week at the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s meeting in Portland. Council members conduct weeks of meetings leading up to this decision each year, with PFMC staff putting in much additional preparation time. Interested parties avidly monitor the entire process.
The good news is there will be seasons for Chinook and coho salmon in the Columbia River, coastal watersheds and offshore waters. This has not always been the case and it is no small thing. For example, subject to change as salmon runs develop, the iconic Buoy 10 recreational salmon season will start on its traditional date of Aug. 1. Until Sept. 1, there is a daily limit of two salmon, only one of which may be a Chinook. Other opportunities continue through the end of the year.
However, the overall tenor of 2013 continues a long trend of essentially conservative seasons. Managers tend to react quickly to any negative trends, and slowly or not at all to unexpected strength in returns of hatchery-produced fish.
This is a result of the need to rigorously protect any possible wild salmon mixed among the returnees. Minimizing the number of endangered fish that are hooked and injured before being released dictates a degree of caution that can sometimes be agonizing to fishermen and the businesses that depend on them.
The worse news is that salmon returns continue to be little but a shadow of what they once were. The hydropower system, habitat degradation and barriers to passage, past management errors, ocean conditions and other factors all combine to produce seasons that are pathetic by historical standards.
Although she is most familiar with the situation around Puget Sound, comments by the Swinomish Tribe’s fisheries manager are relevant throughout the Northwest:
“Salmon habitat continues to be lost and damaged at an alarming rate, and this trend shows no signs of improvement. Every year it is increasingly difficult to develop fisheries that meet the needs of Indian and non-Indian fishermen while still protecting weak wild stocks. Conservative fisheries, such as those developed for this year, must go hand-in-hand with protecting and restoring habitat to return salmon to abundance.”
Fixing degraded habitat is far easier said than done. It requires money and cooperation. But there are positive developments. Watershed restoration and preservation are now very much on the agenda. They are forethoughts rather than afterthoughts.
Much has been lost that will never be recovered. But from a court order that requires significant culvert restorations in Washington to dam removals on the Elwha and Klamath rivers, incremental improvements are being made. These may or may not be enough to counteract damage elsewhere, but they are a start.
Seattle Times Editorial: BPA, the next 75 years
Managing Northwest hydropower interests puts the Bonneville Power Administration into local frays and national skirmishes.
January 28, 2013
THE Bonneville Power Administration bids farewell to a good steward of a major Pacific Northwest institution and asset, as it welcomes a new administrator.
Steve Wright is stepping down as chief executive of BPA at the end of January. He has been in the top job since November 2000, in a long career that began with the power-marketing agency in 1981.
BPA was 75 years old in 2012, which means its role in the regional economy has long been taken for granted. The availability of cheap hydropower has driven everything from the development of an atomic weapon to the aerospace industry, aluminum plants, agricultural irrigation, server farms and, now, the bright lights to grow marijuana.
BPA’s dams have provided electricity, enabled the development of inland ports and caused havoc with salmon populations.
Wright has been in the middle of all the fights. He gets credit for doing a good job under difficult circumstances in the wake of the West Coast energy-marketing crisis in the early 2000s.
He also receives praise for reviving BPA’s energy conservation and efficiency efforts.
Wright earns lower marks for BPA’s stunted efforts to restore endangered salmon with a mantra about improving habitat.
Wright leaves his post after recent tensions over integrating wind power into the region’s menu of energy options.
His successor is Bill Drummond, who comes on board as an epic federal court battle over salmon, which has been in a court-ordered hiatus, will return to life.
Drummond joined BPA in October 2011 as deputy administrator.
He was manager of the Western Montana Electric Generating and Transmission Cooperative in Missoula, Mont., for 17 years.
He led the Public Power Council, representing the Northwest’s publicly owned utilities, from 1988 to 1994.
Drummond knows the region, BPA and its customers. That was Wright’s strength, along with an affable manner.
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.
- Dec 07, 2012 - Idaho Statesman Editorial: Idaho salmon: The $9,000 sockeye? There is a better answer.
- Dec 03, 2012 - Op-ed in the Columbian: Time for new approach to save salmon
- Nov 16, 2012 - Chinook Observer Editorial: Let’s cooperate on salmon
- Nov 15, 2012 - Daily Astorian Editorial: Salmon recovery waits on Obama
- 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
- Jul 30, 2012 - NYTimes Opinionator: Biological Boomerang
- 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 18, 2011 - News Tribune Oped: Ruling brings opportunity to rebuild fisheries, expand our green economy
- 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
- May 16, 2011 - Seattle Times Op-Ed by Pat Ford: Wild salmon and wind power can work together
- Mar 29, 2011 - Oped in Capital Press by Brett Swift - Fewer dams will improve Columbia-Snake river system
- Mar 17, 2011 - Oregonian: Scientists respond to Lubchenco Op-Ed
- Feb 13, 2011 - Oregonian Op-ed: The reckoning: A looming decision on endangered salmon will set the stage for momentous battles over the future
- Aug 22, 2010 - Columbia salmon policy still driven by ideology, not science - Oregonian op-ed by Steven Hawley
- Aug 17, 2010 - Oregonian - August 16th, 2010: Columbia River salmon: The fishermen's plan is starting to work
- Jun 01, 2010 - Seattle Times: Crafting the operating manual for the Columbia River system
- Apr 22, 2010 - Idaho Statesman Editorial, April 21, 2010 - SALMON: A good day, and a good decision, for Idaho fish
- Apr 11, 2010 - Columbian Op-Ed by Dan Grogan: Protect fish to protect fisheries
- Apr 08, 2010 - Seattle Times Editorial, April 7th, 2010: Water over the dam works for salmon
- Apr 02, 2010 - Lewiston Tribune Editorial - April 2nd, 2010: Feds would shut off tap on fishing economy
- Mar 23, 2010 - Oregonian Op-ed by Rod Sando: Federal approach still harms salmon
- Mar 21, 2010 - Oregonian Op-Ed by Steven Hawley: "What don't we know about the Columbia salmon plan?"
- Mar 12, 2010 - L.A. Times - An upstream battle over chinook salmon
- Jan 28, 2010 - Idaho Statesman - Dr. Steve Bruce: More broken promises from Army Corps
- Jan 25, 2010 - LA Times Editorial: Save the salmon -- and us
- Jan 25, 2010 - Seattle Times Editorial - For healthy returns, juvenile salmon have to reach the ocean
- Dec 27, 2009 - Register Guard Editorial: Release salmon findings - December 26th, 2009
- Dec 21, 2009 - Daily Astorian - Letters to the Editor - Oct. 7th, 2009
- Dec 17, 2009 - Astorian Editorial: Obama was right
- Nov 09, 2009 - Spokesman-Review Guest opinion: Clean energy action crucial by Don Barbieri
- Oct 29, 2009 - Chico News & Review: Saving an American icon
- Oct 26, 2009 - Los Angeles Times Op-ed by Carl Pope: Noah's Ark for Salmon
- Oct 26, 2009 - PLENTY Magazine: Bill McKibben sees the environmental health of a nation in the plight of our salmon and the battle over offshore drilling
- Oct 19, 2009 - Register Guard Op-ed by Glen Spain: Obama’s salmon plan just repackages Bush’s failed effort
- Oct 12, 2009 - Editorials & Opinions - Columbia & Snake River Salmon in the Media
- Oct 09, 2009 - Oregonian Op-ed by Governor Kulongoski: Another flawed plan to protect salmon
- Oct 07, 2009 - Oregonian Op-ed: For wild salmon, more business as usual
- Sep 27, 2009 - Register Guard Op-ed: We need to both help salmon and produce cleaner energy
- Sep 20, 2009 - New York Times Editorial: Not There on Salmon, September 20th, 2009
- Sep 16, 2009 - The Caddis Fly - Oregon Fly Fishing: Meet the new boss: same as the old boss
- Aug 26, 2009 - Tacoma News Tribune Op-Ed by Sara Patton: Salmon, water, energy policies should be considered together
- Aug 17, 2009 - SF Chronicle: Doing away with dams
- Aug 12, 2009 - THE LOS ANGELES TIMES Editorial: Giving Snake River salmon a lift
- Aug 12, 2009 - THE NEW YORK TIMES Editorial: Salmon Test
- Aug 10, 2009 - BUFFALO NEWS: Bust the dams, save the salmon
- Aug 10, 2009 - Oregonian op-ed: Dam decision poses test for Obama team
- Aug 10, 2009 - Boston Globe Editorial
- Aug 05, 2009 - Press Release: Former governors & Fishing Business Letters to President Obama
- Aug 04, 2009 - Register Guard Editorial - August 4th, 2009: Prepare for dam removal
- Jul 24, 2009 - Seattle Times, July 24th, 2009: A new twist in dam removal on the Snake River
- Jul 06, 2009 - LA Times OpEd: Paul VanDevelder July 6. 2009
- Jul 05, 2009 - New York Times: July 4th, 2009 Editorial
- Jun 15, 2009 - Idaho Statesman: Chris Wood Op-ed June 15, 2009
- Jun 05, 2009 - Mike Crapo steps outside Larry Craig's shadow
- Jun 05, 2009 - The false choice on endangered salmon
- Apr 11, 2009 - NEW YORK TIMES: Dr. Lubchenco and the salmon
- Apr 06, 2009 - Cecil Andrus Op-ed: A workable salmon policy for the Northwest
- Mar 31, 2009 - Spokesman Review: Guest Opinion, Dustin Aherin, May 18, 2008
- Mar 24, 2009 - High Country News, March 23rd, 2009: 2017 is just around the corner
- Mar 06, 2009 - Seattle P-I Editorial - Feb 22, 2009 - Washington Century: Salmon