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Kitzhaber Criticizes Salmon Recovery Plan

by Associated Press
Salem Statesman Journal - July 29, 2000

He says the plan does not do enough to improve river conditions for the fish.

While the federal government’s plan for saving Columbia Basin salmon from extinction contains good points, it falls short in key areas, Gov. John Kitzhaber said Friday.

Kitzhaber said the plan, which leaves out immediate breaching of four dams in southeastern Washington, relies too heavily on “technological fixes” and fish barging instead of improving in-river conditions for salmon.

“If the administration does not intend to consider dam breaching at this time, it must demonstrate a commitment to other meaningful modifications to the hydropower system,” the Democrat said.

Kitzhaber, the only Northwest governor to advocate breaching, made the comment a day after George Frampton of the White House Council on Environmental Quality issued the plan that Frampton described as the biggest ecosystem restoration project since the spotted owl.

Kitzhaber said he supports the recommendation for retooling Columbia River hatcheries so they can assist with the recovery and harvest operations, while not competing with efforts to rebuild wild stocks. On habitat restoration, the federal plan calls for increasing river flows, protecting 10,000 acres of wetlands and 3,000 acres of uplands.

Kitzhaber said the proposed habitat improvements need to be spelled out in more detail and federal officials need to identify a strategy to pay for the program.

“Without adequate funding, we will never restore the health of the Columbia River Basin ecosystem,” he said. “Any credible recovery plan must have a detailed budget through which the administration and Congress can demonstrate their commitment to the effort.”

The federal strategy also calls for capping harvest rates on listed species, and mass marking of hatchery fish, so they can be harvested while wild fish are thrown back, although Kitzhaber said he would prefer to see reductions in the fall Chinook fishery.

“The recommendations for hatcheries are strong and significant, but much more work is required in the areas of harvest, habitat and the hydropower system if this biologic opinion is to emerge as a credible road map to recovery,” he said.

Associated Press
Kitzhaber Criticizes Salmon Recovery Plan
Salem Statesman Journal, July 29, 2000

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