Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What to Watch in 2013 #4: Changes in Rhetoric on the Columbia

4. NOAA's New Approach on the Columbia: After 20 years of acrimony and litigation over the federal recovery plan for ESA listed Columbia River salmon, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration indicated this fall that they would be taking a new approach. Taking a break from the ongoing legal battle over the Columbia, the feds have hired two University led consensus building teams to conduct interviews with as many as 250 of the most important stakeholders in the Columbia, from tribes and conservation groups to irrigators and shipping interests that rely on the dams in part for their business. While the success of the process remains to be seen, it represents a refreshing departure from the continuous legal wrangling and subsequent minor tweaking of the plan by NOAA to try and convince the courts they have a legally robust plan for salmon recovery. Having failed for 20 years it was clear a new approach was necessary and we hope this will be a first step towards a lasting recovery plan on the Columbia River.

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