It’s Time for Idaho’s Leaders
by Stephen Pauley
In response to your editorial of Nov. 16, “Threat of salmon lawsuit undermines negotiations.”
At this moment, the reality is that the federal courts are the only friends in high places that the salmon have.
Two federal biological opinions (1994 and 2000) have been found by the courts to be in violation of the ESA. Federal judges sent them back for revision.
If the federal agencies (Army Corps of Engineers, Bonneville Power Administration, and NOAA Fisheries) seriously want native salmon recovery, they surely have no track record to show for it. The General Accounting Office found that 3.3 billion of taxpayer dollars were spent on “fish recovery” over the past 20 years, and native fish are still endangered. Despite recently improved ocean conditions and the returns of large numbers of hatchery salmon and steelhead, native fish counts are still below the numbers needed to remove them from the ESA´s endangered or threatened list.
Of course, congressional delegates everywhere are driven by local politics. In the Northwest, re-election depends on continually delivering water, power and crop subsidies to farmers and ranchers. If salmon and steelhead recovery were to fall under Idaho´s politicians, the wild fish in the Snake and Salmon rivers would never receive the amounts of water nor the velocity of water needed to prevent their extinction.
Sen. Crapo will continue to pose as a salmon recovery mediator when his true allegiances are to his electorate, the farmers and ranchers, and not to the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead.
It´s time for Idaho´s Sens. Crapo and Larry Craig, and Reps. C.L. “Butch” Otter and Mike Simpson, to enter Idaho´s 21st century and give equal weight to both economic interests.
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