Presidential memo urges steps to restore NW salmon
Monday, October 2, 2023
The Biden administration wants to get serious about restoring salmon populations to the Northwest.
A presidential memorandum directs federal agencies to assess how they can improve fish numbers in the Columbia River Basin.
Mitch Cutter, salmon and steelhead associate for the Idaho Conservation League, applauded the memo, saying other presidents have dodged the issue because it is tricky to address.
"What we're seeing that's very different about this administration is that they are ready to embrace that complexity and ready to get to a level of 'How do we solve this problem?'" Cutter explained. "We've been putting this off across multiple administrations for 30 years now. How do we move this issue forward?"
Cutter pointed out salmon and steelhead populations over the past few decades have been in severe decline in the Columbia River Basin, including on the Snake River stretching into Idaho.
Cutter added working with Indigenous tribes is also prominent in the presidential memo.
"We're seeing this administration treat tribal justice much more seriously than past administrations have," Cutter observed. "At least say the right things about how it is paying attention to what tribes want and is going to factor them in not just as stakeholders but as coequal partners."
Cutter argued breaching the four lower Snake River dams in southeast Washington is important, especially for Idaho fish. He added the Bonneville Power Administration is critical to this decision.
"Because Bonneville Power in large part controls these dams and the energy that is created from them, they are the key player," Cutter contended. "They are someone that we would like this administration to really take a close look at, in regard to how they're treating these fish."
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