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Commentaries and editorials

New Federal Salmon Plan Abandons Recovery

by Phil Jensen
The Oregonian, December 9, 2004

Federal officials say easing of streamside rules still would help salmon,
and they rule out removal of Snake River dams

Most Americans are familiar with Black Tuesday, the infamous day the stock market crashed in 1929. It was a day of incredible sadness, when many lives and businesses were ruined. For salmon advocates, we now have its rival: Extinction Tuesday, the day the federal government took an about-face on Pacific salmon and steelhead and the thousands of businesses and lives that depend upon them.

Last week, federal agencies delivered a one-two punch to the many people who rely on salmon and steelhead for their livelihood by finalizing a salmon plan that essentially abandons the goal of recovery for these fish. The plan eliminates previously established protections for as much as 80 percent of the identified critical habitat for salmon and steelhead. What's more, dams will be considered to be immutable parts of the natural landscape.

More than 460 business owners from the Northwest and beyond had banded together this year to ask for a plan that considered the latest science and economic information. Federal agencies, however, have dismissed not only the requests of these businesses, but also the advice of more than 250 scientists who denounced this plan's scientific credibility.

Further, more than 85,000 citizens submitted public comments on the plan and more than 100 members of Congress signed onto the Salmon Planning Act, a bill that would help create a blueprint for a thriving Northwest salmon economy and scientifically defensible salmon recovery.

Our fishing businesses have already suffered the loss of thousands of jobs, and these latest actions signal that we haven't seen the end of it yet. President Bush has said that he and his administration are friends of business and of sportsmen. But slashing protections for habitat and declaring dams to be part of the landscape create high anxiety for this $3.5 billion industry and the more than 2 million fishermen in the Pacific Northwest.

What many Americans do not realize is that this imprudent plan will cost all of us more than $6 billion within the next 10 years. Taxpayer (and region's electricity ratepayers) dollars thrown down the drain -- and no recovery: It sounds like a pay-more, get-less scheme.

This does not bode well for you and your family, and it does not bode well for salmon and the 36,500 family-wage jobs in the Northwest that depend on healthy streams.

My father taught me that success in the business world depends on good information and sensible planning. I think that these latest proposals are seriously lacking in both departments.

Phil Jensen is owner and chief executive officer of Luhr Jensen & Sons Inc., a Hood River-based manufacturer of fishing lures and electric smokers.
New Federal Salmon Plan Abandons Recovery
The Oregonian, December 9, 2004

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