Monday, April 25, 2011

Editorials Run Amok

In the run up to Judge James Redden's landmark court decision this May, columns and guest editorials by interests on each side of the Columbia BiOp have appeared in news papers across the region. Editorials by NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco and another by Congressmen Peter DeFazio and Doc Hastings appeared in the Oregonian calling for an end to litigation and for the adoption and implementation of the current plan. Another, from editorial staff at the Wenatchee world claimed that recent increases in the abundance of salmon in the Columbia make the current court proceedings pointless. All this begs the question, what reality are these individuals living in and what do they see as an acceptable outcome for the future of Columbia and Snake Salmon?

Since 2000, some stocks of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia Basin have made modest recoveries, but as guest columnists Buzz Ramsey and Ron Richards point out in their reply to the original Wenatchee world editorial; the current "recovery" on the Columbia is from historic lows in abundance during the 1990s which prompted a wave of ESA listings throughout the basin. Furthermore, while many hatchery programs have seen record returns over the last decade, wild fish have only experienced a modest improvement in abundance throughout the Columbia and in some instances have continued to decline. The unfortunate truth about the current BiOp is that it has been largely insulated from the input of many stakeholder groups. Rather than defending a legally dubious plan rammed through by the agenda of a few powerful lobbies and political players, NOAA should adopt a process similar to that which took place in the Klamath Basin; where all of the important user groups are at the table. This would facilitate much more widespread agreement on the future of the Columbia system and specifically the Snake River dams, which many scientists agree are currently the greatest impediment to salmon recovery in the region.

After nearly two decades of litigation, all parties are ready to leave the courtroom. However the insistence on the part of the Federal Government that dam removal not be on the table and the fact that the changes to the current BiOp were made without consultation to the plantiffs in the case, means that we maybe no closer to a resolution than we were in 1998. We owe it to the citizens of the Columbia Basin and the fish to foster a plan for the basin that can truly serve as a guide to recovery and sadly, the current plan falls short.

Read a guest Editoral by Buzz Ramsey and Ron Richards

1 comment:

Bobby Hayden said...

Also a great oped piece responding directly to Congressman DeFazio here: