Fish Plan Ready Earlyby Pat McCoy
Capital Press, June 2, 2006
BOISE -- Federal agencies don't usually make plans public until they're at least in draft form and open for public comment.
NOAA Fisheries is swimming against the tide. The material they're gathering to develop a draft plan for salmon and steelhead recovery in Idaho is on the Internet right now.
"We're trying to make the process available to the public in different ways, and hoping for feedback early in the process," said Dave Mabe, Idaho state director for NOAA Fisheries. "We want to know if the limiting factors we've identified agree with your knowledge. We want public review and comments, no only on the information on the website, but also on this approach to providing people with information.
"One goal was to avoid burdening people with paper, yet have an opportunity to look at whatever portion of our work is of interest to them, then ignore the rest," he said.
The website address is www.idahosalmonrecovery.net, he said. A work in progress, it is being updated and added to regularly. Comments and reactions are requested by May 15, but that deadline is no longer valid and should be ignored, the director said.
The site will eventually include links to portions of other states' recovery plans, Mabe said.
"Our ultimate conclusions are not on the site. Rather, this is a first snapshot of what we think Idaho's recovery plan needs to be. It is in no way a final draft, or a balanced equation yet," he said. "This is just a first snapshot of what we think a recovery plan may need to be."
Because the document is not a final draft, the site isn't even classified as an official NOAA Fisheries or state of Idaho website, Mabe said.
"At this stage, we are interested in peoples' review of the information we've compiled, the way it's been used, and our conclusions," he said. "We invite feedback on our methods, including population identification, our assessments of the current status of the species, recovery goals, limiting factors, threats and risks, and priority actions that should be taken to recover the populations.
"We would also appreciate comments on our preliminary recovery strategies, even though they will be modified when the limiting factors assessment is complete," he said.
NOAA Fisheries hopes to have the draft recovery plan available for public comment by the end of June, and the final document out by the end of the year, he said.
NOAA Fisheries is developing the plan in partnership with Idaho's Office of Species Conservation. Four salmonid species will be covered by the plan. They are the Snake River sockeye salmon, listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act; and three threatened species: Snake River fall Chinook, Snake River spring/summer Chinook, and Snake River steelhead.
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