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Asotin Commissioners Hear Pitch Against NMFS

by Elaine Williams, Lewiston Tribune - September 21 1999

ASOTIN -- Framing the issue of endangered salmon as one about keeping local control of land use decisions, an Olympia group Monday won tentative support from Asotin County commissioners for its lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

"Salmon is the excuse to give the federal government control of your land and water,'' said Trent Matson, president of Common Sense Salmon Recovery.

The organization represents the Washington Builders Association, the Washington Association of Realtors, the Washington State Farm Bureau and the Washington Cattleman's Association.

Matson is making rounds of Washington counties seeking endorsements and $250,000 to $350,000 to battle NMFS in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Asotin County commissioners likely will back the suit, but probably won't contribute money, said Commission Chairman James C. Fuller. The commissioners said they wanted time to talk with their constituents before making a final decision.

Many of Common Sense Salmon Recovery's positions reflect statements the commissioners have been making for seven years, Fuller said.

Already, communities and farmers are suffering from the effects of environmental regulations involving salmon, Matson said.

In Richland, for example, he said installation of replacement traffic lights was delayed in a section of the town far from the Columbia River because of a biological assessment.

Farmers have had their access to irrigation systems denied while biological assessments were being conducted.

The goal of the suit is to push NMFS to cut down the number of salmon harvested, Matson said.

Some of the areas, Matson said, in which Common Sense Salmon Recovery wants improvement are as follows:

Elaine Williams
Asotin Commissioners Hear Pitch Against NMFS
Lewiston Tribune, September 21, 1999

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