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New Bipartisan Support for Salmon-Saving "Solutions Table"

December 1, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. - Congress may not be able to compromise on much lately, but 52 House members from both major parties are asking that all sides in the debate to save native Northwest salmon give it a try.

They've signed a letter asking President Obama to convene a roundtable negotiation to try to end the years of court battles over salmon-recovery strategies. For Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, it seems like a sensible move compared with spending more time and tax dollars in court.

"This at least is worth a try. It's worth a try, and I'm confident that, if we get people there and there's some pressure put on 'em, that we might very well be able to arrive at agreement."

A "solutions table" has been suggested often in recent years, after several government plans for improving salmon numbers have been found inadequate or downright illegal in federal court. Grader hopes the backing of so many members of Congress will get a new approach off the ground.

"We have interest by enough members of Congress; they've never before done a letter like this. Certainly, I think, from our organization's standpoint, we're objective - we're willing to listen to good arguments."

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-3rd District, is the only Oregon congressman to sign the letter. Twenty of the signers are from California, where a similar negotiation process has been credited with restoring salmon runs in the San Joaquin River.

The letter is online at wildsalmon.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR