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Commentaries and editorials

Fisheries Service has 'Recipes'
for People to Save Steelhead

by Associated Press
Spokesman Review, January 14, 2000

Local agencies, individuals can all help endangered fish

The National Marine Fisheries Service came to Idaho's only port with hopes of recruiting local governments and private entities to what it sees as the best way to protect wild steelhead.

It is encouraging states, counties and Indian tribes to cooperate with proposals to protect threatened steelhead in the Snake River Basin.

But unlike endangered salmon, rules against harming steelhead are just being implemented by the fisheries service. The regulations apply to governments, tribes and individuals.

"As we see it, all levels of government, industry and rural and urban communities have a role to play in saving Pacific salmon," Garth Griffin, branch chief of the agency's protected resources division, told two dozen people at the session in Lewiston on Wednesday.

Road maintenance, storm water discharge, logging and other activities can affect steelhead habitat, and the fisheries service wants local governments to have their regulations on those activities reviewed and pre-approved to avoid an expensive and lengthy permit process.

Under the Endangered Species Act, any activity that harms salmon or steelhead must be approved by the federal agency The service wants people involved in potentially harmful activities to work with it to avoid any severe problems.

The fisheries service will operate on a case-by-case basis, but it also has what Griffin calls recipes to avoid harming steelhead. While more effective and efficient, he conceded that the approach will likely be challenged in court by people who believe the agency is surrendering its enforcement authority.

David Beuke, a local business leader, suggested that the federal government set up special groups to work through the maze of laws and regulations -- some that others view as overly broad.

"If we don't," he warned, "we're going to shut down our ag industry and all of our basic industry in the Northwest."

Associated Press
Fisheries Service has 'Recipes' for People to Save Steelhead
Spokesman Review, January 14, 2000

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