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Congressmen: Serve ID Salmon on a Stakeholder Table

December 1, 2011

BOISE, Idaho - Fifty-two members of Congress from all around the country, and both parties, sent a letter to President Obama this week, asking him to move the controversy over endangered wild salmon and steelhead out of the courtroom and onto a table. Specifically, they want all stakeholders to meet and come up with a restoration plan.

Although Idaho's two congressmen did not sign on, Greg Stahl with Idaho Rivers United says he doesn't think they are opposed to the idea of having all affected by the issue sit down to talk.

"For 20 years, the lines have been drawn in the sand. We think it's time, and more than 50 members of Congress think it's time, to get out of the courtroom and get on the ground and talk about how to do this."

Idaho Rivers United has been involved in those lawsuits, which mostly accuse the federal government of not doing enough to restore endangered fish native to the Gem State. The court most recently deemed the federal plan "illegal."

The most contentious possibility in restoration is breaching the dams that kill the most fish. Those are on the Lower Snake River, and Stahl admits there would be implications for more than just fish. He says that's why everyone needs to sit down and start over in figuring out how to restore salmon and steelhead while keeping local economies and traditions intact.

"Interests as various as the tribes, conservation groups, utilities, shippers, irrigators - everyone who's affected by this journey leading toward salmon recovery needs to be at the table."

Congressmen from Washington, Oregon and California were among those who signed the letter.

A copy of the letter is available at http://ht.ly/7KmZw.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID