Governor's Salmon Recovery Workgroup
by Jerry Painter
The Idaho Governor's Salmon Workgroup meeting will meet again this Wednesday and Thursday in a video conference to discuss ways to save salmon and steelhead spiraling toward extinction.
The workgroup, consisting of a wide cross-section of nearly two dozen stakeholders, began meeting periodically in June 2019. The workgroup has been tasked to collaborate on understanding the problem and coming up with solutions to restore salmon and steelhead populations that have fallen in the recent decade to less than 25% of average. This year's returning numbers to Idaho have also been dismal to the point of canceling spring salmon fishing seasons.
The coming meeting will hear reports from workgroups on habitat, predation, water, economic studies and possible solutions.
One major question facing the group is whether to breach the dams on the lower Snake River. Stakeholders in the workgroup represent environmentalists, ranchers, recreationists, power companies and state officials.
Although billions of dollars have been spent in Idaho, Oregon and Washington to save the 13 species of Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead, population numbers continue to shrink. Four of those fish species are in Idaho.
"I just feel strongly that helping salmon thrive and fostering a strong Idaho economy produces good jobs," Gov. Brad Little said when he formed the workgroup. "Those two things are not mutually exclusive."
After the workgroup hears reports, the public will have an opportunity to comment Thursday afternoon. The public can submit comments online or to the workgroup via the video chat function.
"Each member of the public will be limited to 3 minutes apiece; comments will be taken on a ‘first-come, first-served basis' per the sign-in sheet," according to the workgroup's published agenda. "The Governor's Salmon Workgroup accepts written comments and all written comments will be distributed to the full workgroup."
To submit email comments, go to email@example.com. For information on the Zoom meetings, go to species.idaho.gov/governors-salmon-workgroup.
"Idaho has shown time after time that we are a leader in collaborative conservation efforts," Little said. "I look forward to receiving the policy recommendations from my Salmon Workgroup. Together we will develop effective salmon and steelhead policy for Idaho to ensure that abundant and sustainable populations of salmon and steelhead exist for present and future generations to enjoy."
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