By Eric Barker, Lewiston Morning Tribune
October 9, 2020
The governors of the four Pacific Northwest States pledged in a letter of agreement to work together, and with Native American Indian tribes and regional stakeholders, to rebuild Columbia River salmon stocks.
The letter, released today, outlines their commitment to develop a collaborative process aimed at finding actions that will help the region meet abundance goals set by the Columbia River Partnership Task Force, a group sanctioned by federal fisheries officials that has been meeting for the past three years. The diverse group authored goals that exceed delisting criteria for wild salmon and steelhead runs protected under the Endangered Species Act.
The agreement comes on the heels of the federal government finalizing its plan to manage the Columbia and Snake river dams in a way intended to reduce the risk of extinction of the iconic fish. The federal plan however, is not expected to lead to recovery.
The letter pledges to seek salmon and steelhead abundance that will uphold tribal treaty fishing rights, state fisheries goals, and support river-dependent communities while recognizing clean energy objectives and long-standing goals for reliable and affordable power supplies.
“We wish to congratulate NOAA Fisheries and the Columbia Basin Partnership Task Force members for their achievements in setting the goals for abundant and sustainable native salmon and steelhead. We will commit to engaging our tribal and federal partners, and other stakeholders, in this collaborative effort which we fully expect to lead to meaningful actions to achieve these goals,” reads the letter signed by Govs. Brad Little of Idaho, Jay Inslee of Washington Kate Brown of Oregon and Steve Bullock of Montana.