Federal Bill Will Block Idaho Salmon and Steelhead Recovery

Federal Bill Will Block Idaho Salmon and Steelhead Recovery
Federal Bill Will Block Idaho Salmon and Steelhead Recovery
Amidst a forced closure of Idaho steelhead harvest due to critically low returns, H.R. 3144 says anadromous fish recovery is working, would force continued path of failing efforts.

H.R. 3144 calls for overturning two recent decisions by the U.S. District Court that found federal anadromous fish recovery plans to be insufficient to recover the fish from looming extinction.  These court decisions simply force the re-evaluation of salmon and steelhead recovery plans to create alternative solutions that will actually work to bring the fish back.  Every alternative must also consider cultural and economic impacts of recovery actions.

The bill will also prevent “max spill” of water over the lower four Snake River dams, the best action to help ocean-ward salmon and steelhead to navigate through lethally hot reservoirs.

If Idaho anglers want to continue fishing for these species, and continue harvesting them both commercially and for sportfishing, then the status quo management that is producing less and less fish returns deserves re-evaluation.  IWF is not calling for specific remedies, but we do believe the current scoping process (EIS) taking place should be allowed to run its course and investigate alternative management options without legislative meddling.

Considering Idaho anglers, guides, and outfitters just had a forced steelhead harvest closure due to critically low fish returns, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) couldn’t pick a worse time to introduce her bill, which is based off claims that fish returns are healthy.

Rep. McMorris Rodgers and her allies claim $10 billion rate-payer and tax-payer dollars spent on anadromous fish recovery is money well spent, yet we have little fish to show for it.  They claim current recovery efforts are working, yet the fish are in steady decline.  They claim re-evaluating recovery plans isn’t needed, yet Idaho guides and outfitters are losing income.

It’s time for sportsmen to speak up.   The status quo clearly isn’t working, which makes this bill’s introduction very bizarre.  What is the harm in studying creative solutions to bring back our salmon and steelhead fishery?

What can you do?

By following this link, you can contact your representatives to ask them to “vote no” and thank them for not co-sponsoring the bill with just a click.

Recent Years Anadromous Fish Returns

Spring/summer chinook at Lower Granite Dam (LGR): Recovery goal is 80,000 wild adults per year
                2015:  21,000 wild 
                2016:  15,900 wild  
                2017:    7,500 wild (IDFG est.)

Steelhead at LGR: Recovery goal is 90,000 wild adults per year
                2015-16:  39,300 wild 
                2016-17:  17,250 wild     
                2017-18:    8,194 wild so far

Sockeye at LGR: Recovery goal is 2,500 wild adults per year
                2015:  11 wild/natural (56 total to Stanley Basin)
                2016:  34 wild/natural (577 total to Stanley Basin) 
                2017:  11 wild/natural (161 total to Stanley Basin)


Sources:  IDFG and Fish Passage Center