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Small Town Idaho Mayors Want Return of Fish Runs

by Associated Press
Lewiston Tribune, March 23, 2005

SALMON, Idaho -- Mayors of the rural riverside towns of Riggins, Salmon, Challis and Stanley have joined forces to push for the return of healthy salmon and steelhead runs.

Idaho's economy could be pumped up by more than $500 million if salmon and steelhead fishing were fully restored, according to an industry study released this month from Ben Johnson Associates, a Florida-based research firm. It predicted direct spending by anglers could be as much as $195 million annually.

Indirect spending would account for the remainder, with the combined total economic benefit of $544 million, the report says.

Riggins Mayor Bob Zimmerman said that in 2001, in an eight-week season, the town's businesses earned $10 million as anglers lined the riverbanks and filled the town's hotels, restaurants and outfitter shops.

"Right now we feel powerless," Zimmerman said. "We don't necessarily want to have a lot of clout, but I do think that a senator or congressman takes notice when he is hearing from 10 or 12 communities as opposed to a handful of people."

He said the mayors will reach out to Salmon River corridor residents, as well as people living near the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers, areas also affected by the loss of a salmon fishery, to develop a restoration plan and give citizens' voices an opportunity to be heard.

Central Idahoans would just like a chance to enter the discussion, said Salmon Mayor Stan Davis.

"Dam removal is not on our plate," he said, adding the mayors agreed more could be done to make fish passage over and around the dams safer and more successful.

"For this to be meaningful, all the players have to be at the table -- members of Congress, chambers of commerce, federal agencies, the Bonneville Power Administration, right on down the line," Zimmerman said. "All we're trying to do is facilitate that so the real players are hearing what the people actually think about this issue."

Associated Press
Small Town Idaho Mayors Want Return of Fish Runs
Lewiston Tribune, March 23, 2005

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