Obama Failed the Salmon
by Stephen Pauley
Idaho Mountain Express, October 7, 2009
Change we can believe in? Hardly. President Obama and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke (who oversees NOAA Fisheries Service) have failed their first big environmental test. They produced the same old salmon recovery plan we had under President Bush. Against his campaign promise, Obama has ignored the best science and favored big ag and utility companies over enforcing the Endangered Species Act.
All the chest thumping about the bigger sockeye returns fails to mention that the 2009 adult sockeye returnees are "museum fish." Their adult grandparents were taken from Redfish Creek and spawned and killed at the Eagle hatchery. As hatchery smolts, the returnees' parents were grown to adults at the hatchery over two years, and then as adults were released into Redfish Lake to spawn.
After two more years, those smolts migrated down river where most were either killed by the eight dams or sucked into barges to be dumped into the estuary unprepared to handle salt water. Very few survived two years at sea to grow to adulthood and make the 900-mile journey back through the same eight dams to RedfishLake.
Sorry, the ESA requires natural breeding conditions and far higher returning numbers over several years before a species is taken off the endangered species list. Now recovery is totally up to Judge Redden who will decide if the Obama plan meets the standard for recovery under the ESA. If Judge Redden fails the salmon and the four Snake dams are not removed by order of Congress, get the "God squad" ready. Under the ESA, cabinet-level people must gather to authorize the extinction of our once-magnificent Columbia-Snake River salmon. Sadly, our fish will have run out of options.
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