THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE NORTHWEST SPORTFISHING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION
After extensive consultations with Sovereigns, elected officials and stakeholders, on the fishery and biological and economic aspects of the removal of the lower Snake River dams, Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID) has introduced a conceptual framework for a bold infrastructure package designed to modernize energy, transportation and agriculture systems, and recover salmon. (details at https://simpson.house.gov/salmon/)
The package includes $700 million in funding for hatchery infrastructure, which is critically needed to support fisheries from the Columbia River to Alaska. Guided by discussions with regional tribal leaders and NSIA leadership, which highlighted the vital role that basin hatcheries play for fisheries and recovery, the funding is expected to provide an exceptional and much needed boost to fishing-related businesses, which have been struggling over lost salmon runs.
“We’ve spent decades making minor improvements and adjustments that simply haven’t worked, and what we really need is serious funding and a major overhaul,” said Liz Hamilton, executive director of NSIA. “Judge Malcom Marsh said this about salmon and the Columbia hydroelectic system in 1993 and it’s just as true today.” Said Liz Hamilton, Executive Director of NSIA.
Removal of the four lower Snake River dams has been long acknowledged as the most cost-effective, biologically sound path to recovery for spring and summer Chinook and steelhead. The NSIA Board endorsed this approach in the early 2000’s, when the first federal study provided the science that clearly demonstrated that salmon recovery was only possible with the removal of the four lower Snake River dams.
NSIA has long advocated for this issue from a business perspective and called for a solution that invests in the other industries that rely on the benefits these rivers provide.
“Rep. Simpson has put forward an approach that supports everyone who depends on the use of the Snake River as it is managed today and makes us all stronger. While there are elements of the proposal we expect will evolve, we are committed to the conversations and work to make this plan to recover salmon and river-based economies a reality.” Added NSIA Board Member Buzz Ramsey, recently retired from Yakima Bait.
Rep. Simpson and his staff conducted well over 300 conversations with Sovereigns and stakeholders from around the region in an effort to discern what the critical needs are for infrastructure modernization in a future without the Snake River Dams. His proposal includes guarantees for agriculture transportation and waste management, funding designed to ensure Bonneville Power Administration a secure financial future, funding to replace the firm power needs from the dams with renewable and clean energy, sediment management and more, including economic development for tourism and riverfront revitalization.
Liz continued; “This has tremendous implications for real salmon recovery. The modeled results of dam breaching for spring chinook returns projects one million adults returning in years of good ocean conditions, and 250,000 during low abundance. It turns Snake River populations around, instead of circling the drain, they can begin to replace themselves and start that important climb to recovery. Most important, more fish means better fishing which will supercharge fishing related economic activity throughout the region.”
In Rep. Simpson’s Columbia Basin Fund there are also monies for habitat restoration in Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula rivers.
NSIA supports Rep. Simpson’s approach, which is an important start to a crucial –and inclusive—discussion and is committed to continue to work for salmon and for communities dependent on the river.
Buzz further noted; “We are fortunate to have Pacific Northwest Congressional Delegation members with experience, ability to work with the affected communities and the courage to take on this challenge. It has been their leadership in salmon recovery that has kept salmon as a national priority when administration-after-administration was ready walk away. Our regional senators and representatives chair committees that are key to crafting a path to get this economic development plan over the finish line. But it will not happen until and unless they hear from the businesses and nearly 2 million customers who purchase licenses to fish in Idaho, Washington and Oregon.”