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Oregon Hires Idaho Fisheries Fixture

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, October 21, 2000

Idaho is losing one of its top fisheries biologists to neighboring Oregon.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Friday Ed Bowles has been hired as director of the fish division at Portland.

Bowles has worked for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for 15 years and served as the anadromous fisheries manager since 1995.

"I think it's a tremendous opportunity to address some difficult challenges, yet similar challenges," he said. "I'm really excited to work for an outfit that has a strong tradition of resource stewardship and plenty of challenges on their plate."

Bowles is expected to start his new position in December. Before he leaves he will concentrate on putting the finishing touches on the state's comments on the federal salmon recovery strategy.

The scope of his responsibility will expand beyond anadromous fish when he takes the new job. But Bowles said recovery of Snake and Columbia river salmon and steelhead will remain his most important challenge.

"The Columbia River fish issue is still the most significant natural resource issue not only for our region but also for our time," he said.

Scott Bosse of Idaho Rivers United said the state will miss the leadership of Bowles.

"I think it's a tremendous loss for the state of Idaho, and the silver lining is that I think Ed can probably do more for Snake River salmon and steelhead working for the state of Oregon than he could here."

Bosse said the Legislature and the governor's office have effectively hemmed in the Department of Fish and Game through creation of the office of species conservation.

"I think he has done all he can do for Idaho, and it's time for him to move on."

Bowles declined to comment on his relationship with the state's political leaders but said the department was able to make good substantive comments on the federal government's salmon recovery strategy. The comments were compiled by the governor's office.

A spokesman for Gov. Dirk Kempthorne said the state will miss the technical expertise of Bowles.

"The governor appreciates the expertise and technical knowledge that Ed brought to the table in helping the state develop comments to the (National Marine Fisheries Service biological opinion on salmon recovery) and also the four governors' agreement, and we thank him for his service to Idaho."

Bowles said his only regrets about his time in Idaho revolve around not being able to do more to recover salmon and steelhead.

"My biggest regret is the reluctance to seize opportunities and solutions, and I think that takes time and hopefully the fish will give us the time to work through these things." As victories he counts programs that may be biding time for salmon. For instance, he said the program to pull sockeye salmon back from the brink of extinction is promising.

"I'm very pleased we've been able to in a small way provide some safety nets for the fish." Most of all, he said the department's concentration on sound science and being able to keep the federal agencies' focuses on the primary problems facing salmon and steelhead has been rewarding.

He also was pleased with the stance the former Fish and Game Commission took in 1998 that backed the natural river option as the best biological choice for fish.

Eric Barker
Oregon Hires Idaho Fisheries Fixture
Lewiston Tribune, October 21, 2000

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