Working Snake River:
by Waylon Lewis
The Environment is Our Environment.
Yet another example (think tourism-rich Florida, which banned offshore drilling decades ago, vs. drill rig-happy Louisiana re: the BP Oil Spill) of how tourism can be just as fruitful--economically-speaking--as harming our earth for quick and dirty profit. The below comes via Working Snake River:
In the conservation movement, it's crucial to remember that everything is always interconnected. Be it economics, social or environmental implications, one decision affects another--and often, in a big way. That's what's currently taking place in Washington State, where business and community leaders are taking a stand on an issue that relates to salmon, energy, agriculture, and transportation issues and has political implications for the state and the broader Pacific Northwest region.
The effort is called Working Snake River, and it's a concentrated effort to bring citizens, businesses, and elected leaders together to restore salmon and steelhead and ensure economic prosperity for the state and regional economy.
So how do fish and economy go hand in hand?
"Salmon aren't just a part of our state's natural heritage, they are also important to our economy," said Jeremy Brown, commercial salmon troller and Washington Trollers Association board member. "Especially in our coastal and river communities, salmon has traditionally been a huge source of good jobs and income. The population declines of Columbia Basin salmon in the past several decades have taken a heavy toll on the health of our communities. It's time to sit down together to figure out how we can constructively address these issues for people on both sides of the mountains."
That's why the initiative is bringing multiple interests together - farmers, fishermen, energy users, business owners and local communities - to craft a durable science-based and economically viable salmon restoration plan.
But beyond the economy, the issue also has severe environmental implications. A threatened future for salmon means a threatened future for another iconic Pacific Northwest species: orcas.
Regional orca experts and federal scientists recognize how critical Columbia basin chinook are to the diet of Puget Sound resident killer whales. The Columbia and Snake rivers were once the West Coast's greatest source of chinook salmon."One of the biggest threats facing our resident orcas today is the availability of food," said People For Puget Sound executive director Kathy Fletcher. "Our killer whales depend largely on chinook salmon--whose numbers have dropped significantly in the Northwest. This relationship between orcas and salmon is one more connection--like those of food and energy--uniting the people of Eastern and Western Washington. And its one more reason why we need leadership from our senators to bring our communities together to find effective lasting solutions. No salmon--no orcas. It's that simple."
These are issues that not only effect the region, but have national and international implications as well, especially when it comes to protecting endangered species. Thirteen salmon and steelhead stocks remain listed under the Endangered Species Act despite 20 years of litigation and expenditure of more than $9 billion on failed restoration efforts. Think of what that means for other species whose habitats and livelihoods are currently at risk. In this, the International Year of Biodiversity, it's something that we all should give serious thought to. No matter where we live.
How can we help?
Urge Washington State Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell--two leaders who are regularly proactive and progressive when it comes to environmental and economic issues--to take direct action on an issue that affects their own backyards. The economy and the environment can go hand in hand, and if the BP Gulf oil spill is showing us anything, it's that we should promote policies that focus on both instead of leading to our own destruction.
The Working Snake River (WSR) Project
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