the film
Commentaries and editorials

Salmon Recovery Must Address All H's

by Patricia R. McCoy, Idaho Staff Writer
Capital Press, October 14, 2005

BOISE -- Salmon recovery plans need concrete, measurable goals, and must address the five H's of habitat, harvest, hatcheries, hydropower and humans, says Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.

"I'm committed to recovery, but it will only succeed if it is biologically sound, economically viable, and politically palatable," Kempthorne said at the opening session of the second Practical Paths to Salmon Recovery Conference here Oct. 4.

"The burden of salmon recovery should not be placed solely on the backs of any single stakeholder group. Throughout Idaho and the region we need to commit to equitable and sensible sacrifices for recovery," he said.

The population of the Pacific Northwest is expected to quadruple by the year 2100, placing increased demands on resources, he said.

"Recognizing and mitigating the impacts of millions living within urban centers in the Pacific Northwest will be just as important to recovery as improving and maintaining habitat in the headwaters," Kempthorne said.

Five years ago the governors of Montana, Oregon, Washington state and Idaho agreed upon a landmark series of consensus policy recommendations for the recovery of salmon and steelhead in the Northwest. Since that time, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council completed 57 comprehensive, scientific, collaborative sub-basin plans in two years, under budget. Idaho made many sacrifices and investments in habitat protection and development, the governor said.

For instance, the state spent $22 million to purchase 90,000 acre feet of water from the Bell Rapids Project. Minimum stream flows were established in the Salmon River and its tributaries, and over 100 successful conservation projects were completed in the Upper Salmon and Clearwater Basins, the governor said.

"I'm dismayed by the lack of federal progress. Over a decade after salmon were listed under the Endangered Species Act, most stocks still don't have a recovery plan," he said. "Such plans are necessary direction for ultimately determining success. Proceeding without federal recovery plans is like running a race without a finish line -- it is frustrating and a reckless expenditure of time and resources. To date, however, there is still no mandate for recovery under the Endangered Species Act."


Kempthorne called for continued development of better fish passage measures at all dams on the Columbia and lower Snake rivers. He also called for more prominent attention to hatcheries and predator control, and more dialogue on the impacts of commercial harvest.

"How can Idaho justify its continuing sacrifices for salmon if it only amounts to increased ocean and downstream harvests prior to achieving recovery?" Kempthorne asked. "Commercial harvest of listed species is simply counterintuitive to successful recovery. Pacific salmon are the only threatened or endangered species that we harvest. Why is that? If we are serious, we have to reduce commercial harvest and give these fish a chance to reproduce and contribute to recovery. If that means compensating the commercial fishing industry we need to consider that."

A series of panels gave progress reports on hydro operations, habitat recovery and hatcheries. Another offered an overview of related litigation in the federal courts. The concluding speaker on that panel was James Buchal, an Oregon attorney who likened the role of the federal judiciary in salmon recovery to ancient pagan priests who ordered the sacrifice of various tribal members to appease angry gods.

"Today we?re seeing a shedding of money and the destruction of certain industries. We have a corrupt harvest empire running these fish into the ground. If 50 percent of the fish are harvested, that's okay, but if the dams kill 3 percent, it's the end of the world," Buchal said.

"We have choices. We can continue feeding the crocodile, sacrificing one group of people after another. We can look to improve the law, and find better judges who are willing to be fair, neutral and listen to all the evidence before they issue opinions. Or we can turn around and pull the same things on these people. Only when we all have to follow the same rules will they make any sense," he said.

The two-day conference was jointly sponsored by the Idaho office of the NWPCC and the Idaho Council on Industry and the Environment.

Patricia R. McCoy, Idaho Staff Writer
Salmon Recovery Must Address All H's
Capital Press, October 14, 2005

See what you can learn

learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs
discussion forum
salmon animation