Rep. Labrador Co-Sponsors Bill To Cease Creation of New Salmon Recovery Plans

Rep. Labrador Co-Sponsors Bill To Cease Creation of New Salmon Recovery Plans
Rep. Labrador Co-Sponsors Bill To Cease Creation of New Salmon Recovery Plans

H.R. 3144 would force continued path of failing salmon and steelhead recovery, and end the current process to find alternatives to recovery.

In the midst of critically low salmon and steelhead returns, Labrador has just put his name on a bill that claims recovery efforts are going swimmingly, and that the current court ordered mandate to research and evaluate alternate recovery plans must cease. The court mandate simply says the current plans clearly aren’t working and alternative options must be explored.  The mandate does not offer potential solutions.

We addressed the strange timing of the bill in an article posted when then bill was introduced.  At that time, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game closed the steelhead harvest season temporarily.  Nothing says recovery plans are working like an emergency harvest closure.

Why is Labrador co-sponsoring a bill that will keep us on the current downward trajectory and prevent exploring options for fish recovery?  Proposed fixes are plentiful.  Sportfishing and conservation groups argue that maximizing spill over dams works best, but is a band-aid solution.  Some advocate state control, restoring the Snake River, water law changes, and in-stream regulation changes would help. Even a “salmon cannon” has been proposed. Blocking the path to innovative solutions seems un-American at best.

So, it’s confusing why someone who champions less federal oversight and less intrusion by politicians would sponsor a bill that silences Idaho’s independent voice to speak for itself on this issue. Why rope Idaho into the failing federal plans? Perhaps the $10 billion rate-payer and tax-payer dollars spent on the current anadromous fish recovery plan seems like money well spent?  Maybe, Idaho towns like Riggins, Lewiston, Kooskia, Orofino, Salmon, Challis, Stanley, and others pleaded to have less diversified economies? Could be, that Idaho shouldering the cost of less fish while Oregon and Washington reap the benefits is alluring somehow? Simply refusing to look at any options that could bring fish and dollars back to Idaho, especially rural Idaho, is incomprehensible.

HR 3144 silences Idaho’s ability to make it’s own decisions on salmon recovery. Who is Raul speaking for?

Recent Years Anadromous Fish Returns as of December 3, 2017

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.) of 36,300 total

Steelhead at LGR: Recovery goal is 90,000 wild adults per year
2015-16:  39,300 wild
2016-17:  17,250 wild
2017-18:  11,638 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