Salmon Protection Rules
by Associated Press
PORTLAND -- New salmon protection rules for the Northwest are drawing capacity crowds to National Marine Fihseries Service hearings throughout the region, and they are also drawing strong protests.
"This is ridiculous," said Glen Stonebrink, executive director of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association. "We object to any more restrictions being imposed by the fisheries sevice."
The fisheries service wants comments on its proposals covering 14 federally protected salmon and steelhead runs in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and California.
Described as groundbreaking by fisheries service officieals, the rules allow landowners to follow local regulations when they are sufficient and avoid federal penalties under the Endangered Species Act.
But Stonebrink views the new rules as more restrictive, not less.
"They are saying that if we build an even stronger gallows than they have, they'll let us do our own thing," he said. "Isn't that sweet?"
Nearly two dozen hearings have been held or are planned on the package that has found only rare support to date.
"It is essential that NMFS adopt strong, comprehensive provisions," said Mike Houck, urban naturalist for Audubon Society of Portland.
He said "inappropriate urban developent patterns and practices" have led to the loss of fish and wildlife. But Houck was pleased the fisheries service singled out a plan by Metro -- the three-county agency overseeing the metropolitan area -- as an example of local rules that could meet standards. Among the provisions is a construction restriction near streams.
"We want to save fish and keep Portland on its jobs-and housing course," said Hank Ashforth, president of Ashforth Pacific, after a recent hearing in Portland. "I saw a lot of consensus building between business and conservation groups."
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