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NW Interests Come Together to Discuss Salmon Recovery, Energy

Salmon populations in the Northwest continue to spiral downward. (biker3/Adobe Stock)
Salmon populations in the Northwest continue to spiral downward. (biker3/Adobe Stock)
April 23, 2019

BOISE, Idaho — Major Northwest stakeholders are gathering today at Boise State University to discuss salmon recovery and the region's power system.

The theme for the 2019 Environmental Conference is "Energy, Salmon, Agriculture and Community: Can We Come Together?" Guests and speakers include Idaho Gov. Brad Little, Rep. Mike Simpson, Bonneville Power Administration leadership, tribes and conservationists. John Freemuth, Cecil Andrus Chair for Environment and Public Lands at Boise State, said a confluence of events makes it the right time for this conference.

"The time had come to try to move the ball down the field, as it were, a little bit on this issue before it's too late for the fish and we fragment into protecting our interests and not doing anything more holistically,” Freemuth said.

Freemuth noted changes in the energy market have brought rates down for BPA, which also means fewer funds for wildlife-mitigation efforts. But a recent agreement to allow more spill over eight dams in the region to support salmon restoration has demonstrated there's opportunity for different interests to come together.

While dams are an impediment for migrating salmon, Freemuth said the point of this conference isn't necessarily to advocate for their removal. He said even salmon-recovery backers recognize the best solution is the one that's best for everyone in the region.

"Some of the salmon advocates today have taken that position that they won't stand for something that harms a bunch of people in the name of something,” he said. “In other words, it's got to be a solution that people can live with."

Freemuth said four-term Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus' style of hammering out agreements is the inspiration for this conference.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID