On Tuesday, the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition announced that Democratic Congresswoman Shelley Berkley of Nevada has signed on as yet another bipartisan supporter of the Salmon Economic Analysis and Planning Act (H.R. 1507).
Introduced by Congressmen Democrat Jim McDermott of Washington state and Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, the Act is designed to confront the failing federal recovery of salmon in the Columbia-Snake River Basin, where wild salmon are endangered.
The Columbia-Snake Basin extends through Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho, California, and Washington. Once upon a time it housed arguably the world’s most prolific salmon runs. But, steadily, the wild salmon as well as the steelhead populations, living legends to Nevada sportsmen and anglers, have fallen off steeply.
Almost 70 federal lawmakers have demonstrated their support for the bill.
There are many factors that have contributed to the demise of the wild salmon populations in the area, and some people fear that they will disappear from the Basin altogether despite the salmon’s prowess for breeding. Pollution of the waters, habitat loss, over-fishing, sometimes ill-planned federal dam construction and operation, diversion of water for irrigation, indoor plumbing, and other uses, competition from hatchery-produced salmon, predation by other species, parasites and diseases, and climate change have all contributed to the demise of the wild salmon in the region. In addition to all of that, probably the greatest threat to wipe out the wild salmon without intervention is the huge human population explosion in and around the Basin.
At this time, there is no clear cut solution to how to preserve the region’s salmon runs beyond the end of the 21st century at best. The bill would fund independent agency and scientific institution research into the problem. Commentators say that there might have to be enormous changes to human behavior and practices in the region, and the trends that have led to the gradual near-elimination of the salmon cannot be ignored for the sake of policy or habit, as the forces at work that need to be confronted are growing more complex all the time.
“We have been working together to ensure that wild salmon continue to inhabit these magnificent western waters, but I fear that time may be running out and that our future generations will be the losers. That is why I strongly support efforts in Congress to explore new options for improved management of salmon stocks along the Columbia and Snake River systems and applaud the broad coalition of support that this issue enjoys throughout Nevada and the West,” said Berkley.
“Losing these fish is devastating rural communities and outdoor recreation throughout the West. Fisheries are closing, recreational tourism is declining, businesses are laying off workers, and communities are suffering,” added Andy Mitchell, a Nevada-based representative of outdoor clothing and gear supplier Patagonia.
Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition (PR Newswire), “Nevada Rep. Berkley Adds Support to Salmon Protection Bill”