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Ad Campaign Urges Stronger Clinton Breaching Stance

by Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - November 17, 2000

Fearing the uncertainty, and potential political inertia that awaits the conclusion of a still undecided presidential election, regional and national conservation groups this week launched two Northwest advertising campaigns advocating a stronger salmon plan from the Clinton Administration.

The ads call for a plan based on "the best available science" and ask the President to ensure that dam removal be ready in five years as a safety net if the alternative methods contained in a draft federal recovery plan continue to fail to recover salmon, according to a related press release.

The newspaper ads were placed in Portland's Oregonian, the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Salem Statesman Journal, Eugene Register Guard, Willamette Week, Tacoma News Tribune and Enterprise papers. These ads are sponsored by Trout Unlimited, Save Our Wild Salmon, Patagonia, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, Earthjustice and American Rivers.

"Salmon groups have come together to try to get the administration to adopt a more solid salmon plan," said Tim Stearns of the National Wildlife Federation. "We really would like to solidify a plan before there is a new Bush or Gore administration, since we lose so much time in the transition and the next campaign will start too soon."

Federal agencies have said they will release their final hydrosystem biological opinion and Columbia/Snake salmon recovery strategy by mid-December. That plan will dictate federal salmon recovery efforts in the region, including the operation of the federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers, according to the release.

A draft of the federal plan released in July called for delaying the possibility of Snake River dam removal for close to 15 years, too late to save the salmon, while relying largely on the same failed methods of fish barging and trucking in the interim, according to the conservation groups.

"Even with all of the conjecture surrounding presidential politics these days, one thing is certain: President Clinton's environmental legacy will be largely shaped and remembered in history based on his Administration's handling of the Northwest salmon crisis," said Jeff Curtis of Trout Unlimited. "We're calling on the President to do the right thing for salmon before he leaves office."

"Wild Snake River salmon are headed to extinction without a sound recovery plan," said Rob Masonis of American Rivers. "A sound plan must include immediate measures to improve habitat, hydropower operations, and hatchery practices, and a commitment to remove the four Lower Snake River dams in five years as a safety net. By providing that safety net and committing to development of alternative means of providing the economic benefits from the dams, President Clinton will secure his legacy as a champion of the environment and rural communities."

The National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club are also running ads on radio stations in Portland, Spokane, and Seattle. The two groups are working with hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts to build a salmon recovery plan that uses the best available science. That would include removing the four lower Snake River dams and making the investments to fix the transportation, energy and navigation systems to keep communities whole, say the groups. In addition the two organizations say they are committed to working with landowners to improve water quality, in-stream flows and streamside buffers.

"Outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists are urging a common sense approach to recovering Snake River salmon," said Stearn. "The best scientific evidence clearly tells us dam removal has the highest likelihood of success. But, the Administration's fish agencies are telling us that it is OK to let the fuse burn on the extinction time bomb instead of stopping it while there is still time. Without stronger actions, clear and measurable goals, real deadlines and consequences for not meeting these goals, the current plan will fail."

Wild salmon runs in the Snake River -- historically the largest in the Columbia Basin -- have plummeted since the four dams were built, according to the press release.

The conservation groups say that scientists agree that the risk of extinction is high. Extensive scientific analysis shows that removing the four dams is likely necessary to recover wild salmon, says the press release, yet no measures that could achieve recovery without dam removal have been identified.

"The government's salmon recovery plan delays actual dam removal for fifteen years. This will only make the fight against extinction harder on the communities and probably unwinnable for the salmon," said Bill Arthur of the Sierra Club. "Unless the Clinton administration lays out a clear plan to the region that includes significant land and water management changes in addition to modifying dams, salmon runs will continue to decline and go extinct. Dam removal is a safety net that needs to be combined with other aggressive measures."

The advertisements focus on the region's natural legacy and urge outdoorsmen to exert their political might.

by Staff
Ad Campaign Urges Stronger Clinton Breaching Stance
Columbia Basin Bulletin, November 17, 2000

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