by Alex Uber
Given record-low returns of Columbia Basin spring chinook this year, the lawsuit in front of Judge Jim Redden could not be more urgent. As many have been saying for years now, we need a legal and effective recovery plan for these fish.
Restoring Columbia Basin salmon will not occur with a cookie-cutter approach. From the Snake River's pristine upper reaches to its confluence with the Columbia River 500 miles downstream, successful recovery depends on the Snake and Columbia rivers being managed as one living ecological river system. Hopefully, Judge Redden will use this sound biological principle to counter the failed and illegal "recovery" strategies policies repeatedly sent his way by the federal government. Beyond wasting billions of taxpayers' dollars on ineffective plans, the government has done precious little to protect, much less restore, salmon.
While I stand with the salmon and fishing advocates in court, real recovery needs political leadership more than another lawsuit. Where is the leadership in the governor's mansion and in the halls of Congress to take us from lawsuit to lasting solution? By this point, most people understand that those costly dams on the lower Snake River need to go (and yes, we need to replace their meager benefits at the same time). It is long past the time for people to come together and craft a real recovery plan that works for our citizens and our fisheries. Let's get on with it.
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