Congress Introduces Bill to Protect Wild Salmon
Last Friday, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) and 23 other co-sponsors introduced the Salmon Solutions and Planning Act (SSPA) in the House of Representatives. The bill would provide timely and crucial information to agencies and Congress regarding the best ways to protect and restore populations of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake River Basins. This bill comes at a time when taxpayers have spent more than $8 billion on recovery efforts since the Snake River salmon were listed under the Endangered Species Act in the 90s. Despite those efforts, salmon runs continue to decline in the Columbia, Snake, and elsewhere. These decreasing runs are having serious consequences in regional economies throughout Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho.
The studies conducted under the SSPA would come at a very opportune time. Senators from Oregon and Idaho have called on the Obama administration to convene a roundtable discussion between stakeholders regarding the best way to proceed. Simultaneously, the administration is reviewing a flawed Colubmia-Snake salmon plan. All options are on the table, including removing the lower Snake River dam. The unbiased and rigorous studies required by this legislation would be of incalculable value to these discussions.