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Commentaries and editorials

Stanley Leaders Back Salmon Study

by Jason Kauffman
Idaho Mountain Express, June 20, 2007

Bill before Congress would launch study of various recovery options, including dam removal

Noting that wild salmon and steelhead runs are an essential part of the "economic, natural, and traditional values of central Idaho," the Stanley City Council has voted to support a congressional bill authorizing a comprehensive study on how to improve survival rates for the iconic fish.

In a unanimous vote Wednesday, June 13, the council passed a resolution endorsing the Salmon Economic Analysis and Planning Act, a bill now before Congress. The legislation would require an economic and scientific analysis of salmon recovery options in the Columbia River Basin, which includes almost all Idaho rivers.

Prior to the vote, Stanley officials invited community residents to give their views on salmon and steelhead recovery. Everyone in the crowd backed the proposed resolution, Stanley City Councilwoman Laurii Gadwa said.

"We basically asked the public what do you want us to do?" Gadwa said.

While not everyone in the crowd expressed the same reasons for their concerns, all stated that wild salmon and steelhead are critical to Stanley's future, she said.

One aspect of the proposed study for which city residents expressed appreciation is its focus on a broad range of alternatives to address the decrease in fish stocks, Gadwa said.

"It's an unbiased study, which I think is very important," she said.

In its resolution, the council noted that local sport fishing for salmon has been suspended in the Stanley area since 1978. It also states that the limiting factor affecting recovery of wild salmon in the region isn't local river habitat, but rather the degraded condition of downriver habitat and migratory conditions.

As written, the Salmon Economic Analysis and Planning Act would direct the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to seek a scientific analysis of federal efforts to restore salmon and steelhead listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., would initiate an examination of the operation of the four reservoirs and dams on the lower Snake River in Washington. All Idaho salmon and steelhead must pass those impediments on their way downstream as smolts and upstream as spawning adults.

The study would also focus on the potential economic impacts of partially removing the four federal dams on the lower Snake River.

The legislation has 62 cosponsors, and has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans. Neither of Idaho's two representatives, Mike Simpson and Bill Sali, are co-sponsors.


A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF STANLEY DECLARING SUPPORT FOR THE RESTORATION OF HARVESTABLE, SELF-SUSTAINING POPULATIONS OF WILD SALMON AND STEELHEAD IN THE UPPER SALMON RIVER REGION

WHEREAS the City Council of the City of Stanley supports the economic health and welfare of our community and its citizens, and desires to promote a diverse and sustainable economy; and,

WHEREAS abundant wild salmon and steelhead populations make essential contributions to the economic, natural, and traditional values of central Idaho; and,

WHEREAS upper Salmon River species have been listed under the federal Endangered Species Act since the early 1990s, yet existing federal recovery plans and goals have failed to restore wild salmon populations to our region; and,

WHEREAS local sport fishing for salmon has been suspended since 1978, to the detriment of local economic development, jobs, families, and communities; and,

WHEREAS restored wild salmon populations are necessary to sustain recreational fisheries for hatchery salmon, steelhead, and other fish species in the upper Salmon River region and elsewhere in Idaho: and,

WHEREAS the primary limiting factor in the recovery of wild salmon in this region is not local river habitat but rather the degraded condition of downriver habitat and migratory conditions; and

WHEREAS only a small fraction of historic numbers of chinook and sockeye salmon have returned in for each of the past several years, wild salmon and steelhead returns and survival rates are clearly inadequate; and

WHEREAS policy decisions governing salmon recovery must be directed by the best possible economic and scientific data, and a measure is currently before the U.S. Congress to authorize additional studies:


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF STANLEY, THE MAYOR CONCURRING, THAT:

  • The City of Stanley and its leadership endorses stronger efforts and actions to restore harvestable and self-sustaining wild Salmon and Steelhead populations and sport fisheries in the upper Salmon River region; and

  • The City of Stanley supports comprehensive economic and scientific analysis on salmon recovery options, and thus endorses H.R. 1507 (the Salmon Economic Analysis and Planning Act, "SEAPA") now before the U.S. Congress; and,

  • We urge Idaho’s Governor and Congressional delegation to endorse and support SEAPA in the U.S. Congress; and

  • The City of Stanley supports actions to address human-caused limiting factors in salmon recovery, particularly the operation of reservoirs and dams on the Lower Snake River, which have been identified as major factors in the inadequate survival rates of wild Idaho salmon; and

  • We urge that all affected agricultural, transportation, and energy interests in the region be adequately protected, if the removal of Lower Snake River dams is necessary to restore wild salmon populations and fisheries; and

  • We pledge to communicate and act in all available venues to support the recovery of wild Idaho salmon, essential to the economic well-being of our community and the values of our citizens.
Authorized by the City Council the 13th day of June, 2007, and signed in open session in authentication of its adoption.

Jason Kauffman
Stanley Leaders Back Salmon Study
Idaho Mountain Express, June 20, 2007

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