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Restoring the Lower Snake River

October 28, 2015

letter.to.stelle.oct.2015 copyContacts:
Rod Sando, rosando@mindspring.com  /  503-982-3271
Joseph Bogaard, joseph@wildsalmon.org  /  206-300-1003

Northwest Fisheries Biologists Raise Serious Issues re: NOAA, climate change, and Columbia-Snake River salmon recovery efforts in letter to West Coast Administrator Will Stelle.

Please find the “Oct. 2015 Fisheries Biologists’ Letter to NOAA’s West Coast Regional Administrator Will Stelle RE: Columbia Basin Salmon and Climate Change”. It was delivered earlier today.

This Letter was drafted in large part in response to Mr. Stelle’s op-ed in the Seattle Times on August 29 (link below). Mr. Stelle’s op-ed was itself a response to an Aug. 2 op-ed (also below) by Pat Ford charging that NOAA has taken/is taking very little meaningful action to help ensure the survival of Columbia/Snake River salmon and steelhead faced with intensifying climate impacts.

This past summer, for example, the Northwest experienced high, prolonged temperatures in June and July and low stream flows (due to low snowpack) in the Columbia Basin. These conditions, in combination with the dam-created reservoirs on the Columbia  and Snake Rivers, raised water temperatures above the survival range for many salmon and steelhead. An estimated 250,000 adult sockeye were killed by these hot water conditions in the Columbia and Snake Rivers this summer. Other species were also harmed and killed in large numbers, including scores of imperiled sturgeon, chinook, and others.

While Summer 2015’s conditions may have been unusual, they were not unexpected. They are exactly the types of conditions long predicted by scientists in and out of NOAA-Fisheries. Despite these predictions, NOAA’s Columbia Basin salmon plans have contained virtually no meaningful strategies or measures to address or mitigate these types of hot water episodes. Last summer, NOAA and other agencies did respond on a last-minute ad hoc basis in an effort to assist struggling fish populations. The benefits of these efforts so far appear to have been very limited.

The attached “Scientists’ Letter to Mr. Stelle”, signed by eight accomplished and well-respected Northwest salmon biologists (listed below) representing approximately 250 years of salmon, fish and wildlife science and policy experience in the Northwest, outlines a number of specific ways in which NOAA’s current strategies for Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead are inadequate. The letter urges Mr. Stelle and NOAA to change course, follow the best available science, and take meaningful actions to protect Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead populations facing intensifying climate impacts.

Here are links to the two op-eds that appeared in the Seattle Times this past August that helped spur these 8 scientists into action in the form of a letter to Regional Administrator Stelle.

Seattle Times Guest Opinion by Pat Ford: Dead salmon, climate change and Northwest dams (Aug 2)

Seattle Times Guest Opinion by Will Stelle: NOAA Fisheries embraces — not ignores — climate research (Aug 29)

Coincidentally, this letter is being sent just after the following article on NOAA’s report on the extremely poor survival of juvenile salmon in Summer 2015: Preliminary 2015 Spring Juvenile Survival Estimates Through Snake/Columbia River Dams Dismal – the main conclusion of a recently released NOAA Fisheries report on juvenile salmon survival this summer in the Basin.

Thank you.


Joseph Bogaard
Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition
206-300-1003 (cell)
www.wildsalmon.org

Letter Signers:

Rod Sando
Former Chief Executive of Natural Resources for Minnesota                                                           
Former Director of Idaho Fish and Game Department
 
Don Chapman, Ph.D.
Fisheries Biologist (Retired)
 
Douglas A.  DeHart, Ph.D
Former Fisheries Chief, ODFW
Former Senior Fisheries Biologist, USFWS
 
Daniel H. Diggs
Former Assistant Regional Director for Fisheries
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
 
Jim Martin
Former Chief of Fisheries
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
 
Steve Pettit
Fisheries Biologist (Retired)
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
 
Bill Shake
Former Assistant Regional Director of Fisheries
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
 
Don Swartz
Fisheries Biologist (Retired)
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

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