Salmon…and bikinis?

by Amy Baird, SOS communications director

“Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” – Aaron Levenstein

I talk to a lot of people everyday about wild salmon restoration efforts on the Columbia and Snake Rivers here in the Pacific Northwest. Those people vary from elected leaders, to young entrepreneurs, to activists, to the friendly guy who runs the coffee shop up the street. I talk to a lot of committed conservationists, fish biologists, and even those who know little to nothing about salmon except how delicious they taste. It’s a subject with a complex history and political nuances that dwarfs even presidential campaigns. From my vantage point in dealing with business leaders, I realize just how much I take for granted the direct connection between a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

That said, polling conducted over the last couple of decades reflects a need to increase public education about this issue. At a time when our economy is still struggling, unemployment still stubbornly high, and a living wage difficult to come by, recognizing that salmon restoration creates jobs is critical. Our environment and economy are very much tied to each other, not at odds. We can indeed restore salmon and create jobs via innovation in the transportation sector, development in renewable energy, increases in energy efficiency, and increasing access to fish that thousands of Northwest businesses, families, and communities are reliant upon.

Recent polling conducted by Earthfix/DHM reflects the need to provide information on the economics behind environmental protection. Many of the questions in the survey implied a contrast or even opposition between the economy and the environment, when we know the opposite is true (just look at the Sandy or Elwha River restoration projects). Survey results are entirely dependent on how a question is phrased.

At the end of the day, polling like this really reinforces why we need a new approach to salmon restoration on the Columbia/Snake Rivers. A collaborative process that addresses the science and economics behind salmon restoration and addresses the needs of ALL the stakeholders involved is possible, and has worked on other tough conflicts in which the environment and economy are closely intertwined. It’s time to make both our jobs, and our environment, our priority. Join me in asking our elected leaders to convene a solutions table for salmon: TAKE ACTION

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