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Salmon Fishing Reels in Big Bucks For Idaho

by Christina Salinas
KBCI-TV Boise, February 19, 2004

RIGGINS -- Salmon are more than fish, they're a livelihood. Without a healthy salmon population many stores in rural cities would fail due to lack of income.

"Salmon are so important. There are businesses in this town that wouldn't survive without it," said Rick Pottenger, owner of Pottenger's Merc.

15 cities in Idaho, specifically, need the money that salmon fishing brings. "People who don't see it, don't realize the impact these fish have on the economy, not just on Riggins, but all of Idaho," said Bob Zimmerman, owner of "Hook, Line & Sinker".

He is not kidding. A widely regarded recent economic study found the impact to the state's economy is almost $90-million a year. Just in the city of Riggins alone, salmon fishing accounts for nearly a quarter of all the money spent there.

"There's another value and that is just it's part of our heritage and our future. It's a magnificent species. It's part of Idaho, and so we want to see the continuation and full recovery of the salmon," said Governor Dirk Kempthorne.

But the best way to completely recover wild salmon continues to be controversial. "It's all about recovering those fish to fishable levels, to sustainable numbers that are actually fishable, like we had back in the 40's, 50's and 60's," said Bert Bowler, the Native Fisheries director of Idaho Rivers United.

"Good populations of salmon and steelhead mean that Idaho's outfitters and guides can work in Idaho," said Grant Simonds, the Executive Director of Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association.

What's clear is that salmon play an integral role in revenue to this state. So why is so much money spent on salmon fishing? Well, they're fun to catch. "I'm just here for the fight. Here to see if they can beat me and so far they're winning, " said Mike Bowlin, Parma resident. "Once you catch a bunch of fish like this, it's hard to go crappie fishing again and get much enjoyment out of it. I live for this big fish fishing," said Mitch Whited, Boise resident. "Now, I've got a third generation. My dad taught me and now I get to teach them," said Raymond Bruderer, Pocatello resident.

And teaching future generations about the value of salmon will insure that a person like Rick Pottenger can continue to feed his family year after year.

Christina Salinas
Salmon Fishing Reels in Big Bucks For Idaho
KBCI-TV Boise, February 19, 2004

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