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Commentaries and editorials

Trillhaase Missed the Point

by Donald Chapman
Lewiston Tribune, November 25, 2018

Graphic: Snake River Steelhead have triggered the Early Warning Indicator of the Federal Columbia River Power System's 2014 Supplemental Biological Opinion Marty Trillhaase's Nov. 17 editorial about the steelhead angling closure misses the most important issue. Conservation groups sued over the multiyear absence of a National Marine Fisheries Service "take" permit in order to force Idaho to address wild steelhead run collapse in 2017 and 2018.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has unrealistically understated catch-and-release mortality to wild fish, preferring to concentrate primarily on securing enough steelhead eggs to fill hatchery incubation troughs.

The department has not applied the "preserve, protect and perpetuate" mandate in the Idaho Code so far as wild steelhead are concerned. It allows use of treble hooks, bait, and out-of-water fish handling. It does not know the wild fish escapement numbers required to send the most smolts possible to the ocean so that steelhead can adapt to a global warming ecological reality.

I have long awaited a position statement from the Lewiston Tribune editors that strongly favors removal of the four lower Snake River dams, the measure most likely to increase runs of both hatchery and wild steelhead to Idaho.

Fish and Game has been silenced on this issue, muzzled by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

Blame for economic hardship in river towns like Riggins will abound. Senators will be contacted, and letters to editors will multiply. Fish and Game will reopen the fishery as soon as it can and go back to business as usual.

Absent dramatic, significant and symbolic changes, including dam removal, wild steelhead will continue to slide toward extinction.

Related Pages:
Riggins Discovers Who Its Friends Are Not by Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune 11/17/18

Donald Chapman
Trillhaase Missed the Point
Lewiston Tribune, November 25, 2018

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