the film
Commentaries and editorials

Bush Budget Would Mean Salmon Extinction

by Save Our Wild Salmon
Press Release, April 16, 2001

Groups Urge President To Stop The Waste And Deliver Solid Salmon Recovery Plan

The Bush Administration’s proposed budget appears to fall far short of what is needed to save threatened and endangered Snake and Columbia River salmon and steelhead, warned American Rivers and Save Our Wild Salmon. President Bush has pledged to restore salmon while retaining the Snake River dams.

While campaigning in the state of Washington last year, then-candidate George W. Bush stated: "[The state of] Washington faces important challenges, and there is no greater challenge than to save salmon. For fishing families and businesses the salmon are a vital resource. For Native Americans they are a cultural cornerstone. For all of us these fish are a wonder of nature and they must be preserved."

The federal salmon plan issued in December embraces the kind of recovery actions the Bush Administration must pursue if it is to make a meaningful effort to restore salmon without breaching the Snake River dams. Such actions include improving salmon spawning and rearing habitat, water quality and flows, better screening of irrigation diversions, hatchery and harvest management, and dam structures and operations.

Now, salmon advocates say that President Bush's budget breaks his campaign pledge by failing to adequately fund the recovery plan. The new budget proposes some modest cuts to some programs, and modest increases to others, but on the whole appears to fall far short of the substantial additional funding necessary to implement the new federal salmon recovery plan. For instance, funding the salmon plan would require increasing the National Marine Fisheries Service’s salmon budget by $183 million – the president's proposed budget would actually cut NMFS's salmon funding.

Gov. John Kitzhaber (D-OR) has estimated that funding the federal salmon recovery plan will require total funding of $718 million for fiscal 2002. That would be an increase of $438 million over the $280 million salmon recovery budget for the current fiscal year. If the salmon recovery plan is not funded and implemented, or if it does not succeed in recovering Snake River salmon, the plan calls for the federal agencies to seek congressional authorization – as soon as 2003 – to remove the four lower Snake River dams.

Funding the salmon recovery plan, said the salmon advocates, is even more important now than it was when the plan was written, thanks to low river flows and a so-called power "emergency" that has led the Bonneville Power Administration to run the rivers in a way that generates electricity at the expense of salmon.

"This budget is a day late and hundreds of millions of dollars short" said Justin Hayes, Associate Director of Public Policy for American Rivers. Continued Hayes, "President Bush promised during the presidential campaign to save salmon without removing the lower Snake River dams, and it looks like this budget, which doesn't even mention the new salmon recovery plan, will break that promise."

"This drought year and BPA's short-sighted dam operations are going to take their toll on salmon populations this year, so it's all the more important that we invest now in maintaining this Northwest icon for future generations," said Jeff Soth, Legislative Director of Save Our Wild Salmon. "Since the Bush Administration is failing to follow through on its commitment to fund salmon recovery, we are looking to Congress to correct Bush's mistake."

For Further Information, Contact:
Michael Garrity, American Rivers (202) 347-7550, ext. 3031
Jeff Soth, Save Our Wild Salmon (202) 347-7550, ext. 3050

Save Our Wild Salmon
Bush Budget Would Mean Salmon Extinction
Press Release, April 16, 2001

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