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Letter to George W. Bush

from 118 Members of House of Representatives
Letter, Oct 10, 2003

The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As you acknowledged during your presidential campaign, restoring salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest is an issue of national importance. In particular, Snake and Columbia River salmon and steelhead are an economic and environmental asset the preservation of which is a national responsibility. We urge you to join us in working to restore self-sustaining, harvestable populations of wild salmon to the Snake River.

This effort should be guided by the best available economics and science. We have spent more than $3.3 billion in federal taxpayer and Northwest ratepayer dollars trying to mitigate the impacts of the federal Columbia-Snake hydropower system on our nation's salmon resources. The 2000 Biological Opinion, recently invalidated by a federal court, required an increased annual expenditure of nearly $1 billion to fully implement. Yet in FY03, funding levels reached only $549.3 million for salmon recovery projects.

Also, we do not have data to conclude that these efforts are successful and cost effective in saving salmon. A GAO study found "little conclusive evidence" to quantify the extent to which federal recovery programs are working. Judge Redden's recent finding of the federal salmon recovery plan's insufficiency means that your administration is now faced with crafting a new, scientific and economically viable plan that not only protects but restores salmon to self-sustaining, harvestable populations.

Our nation has made treaty commitments to Native Peoples of the Northwest and to the government of Canada to ensure the protection and restoration of these species. Only complete restoration will provice the level of healthy salmon and steelhead necessary to meet the requirements of both law and treaty while simultaneously providing an economic benefit to the Pacific Northwest.

For these reasons, we urge that all scientifically credible options -- including modified versions of present policies, partial removal of the four dams on the lower Snake River, acquisition of significant additional water for flow augmentation from Idaho and Canada and any other alternative recommended by your agencies or developed within the region - be considered.

We must develop a plan that affirms our commitment to complying with federal endangered species laws. the sooner we start, the easier, cheaper, and more effective it will be. We cannot continue to rely simply on Mother Nature - the exceptional ocean conditions and water years that are primarily responsible for recent relatively strong salmon runs - to protect and restore these fish.

Without prompt and impartial considertion of all scientifically credible and economically viable alternatives for the recovery of salmon on the Snake and Columbia rivers, we risk the loss of additional investments and one of the nation's greatest national treasures, the wild salmon of the Pacific Northwest.

Signed by 118 Members of the House of Representatives.

Related Sites:
Save Our Wild Salmon

118 Members of House of Representatives
Letter to George W. Bush
Letter - October 10, 2003

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