Date: Tue, 06/16/2009 06/16/2009 Trout Unlimited Senior Scientist Testifies Before U.S. House Subcommittee on Two Bills That Will Improve Trout and Salmon Habitat June 16, 2009 For Immediate Release: Contact: Jack Williams, Senior Scientist, Trout Unlimited, 541-261-3960 Steve Moyer, Vice President, Government Affairs, 703-447-8401 Trout Unlimited Senior Scientist Testifies Before U.S. House Subcommittee on Two Bills That Will Improve Trout and Salmon Habitat Washington, D.C.— Jack Williams, Trout Unlimited’s (TU) Senior Scientist, provided testimony today before members of the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans, and Wildlife in strong support of the Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act (H.R. 2055) and the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act (H.R. 2565). “The United States has a variety of laws and regulations aimed at protecting rapidly declining stocks of salmon and steelhead, but nothing to make certain remaining healthy stocks stay that way” Williams testified. “Enacting the Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act will provide a critical missing element to current salmon conservation and management policies by focusing on pro-active, preventative actions to protect North America’s healthiest wild salmon rivers,” he said. The Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act (H.R. 2055) is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) would establish a Salmon Stronghold Partnership program to conserve wild Pacific salmon and for other purposes. The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act (H.R. 2565) is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and would conserve fish and aquatic communities in the United States through partnerships that foster fish habitat conservation. Nine partnerships are already actively pursuing large scale improvements for fish habitat, including the eastern brook trout joint venture from Maine to Georgia, the Driftless Area Restoration Partnership n the Midwest, and the Western Native Trout Initiative in the western states. The bill would provide additional, much needed funding and a useful governance infrastructure that is modeled after the successful North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Williams testified that both the Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act and National Fish Habitat Conservation Act provide a more comprehensive and proactive approach to the management and conservation of fishery resources. “We have invested millions of dollars in salmon recovery efforts, but these efforts alone will not be sufficient to prevent future listings or safeguard against future declines” Williams said, citing research that says almost 30 percent of salmon stocks have already been lost. “Complementing existing salmon recovery programs with the stronghold approach embraced in the Salmon Stronghold Act will invigorate voluntary public and private efforts to protect core centers of wild salmon abundance and diversity…” In the United States, we invest more than $1 billion annually in stream and river restoration yet the extinction rate for freshwater fish is five times that of terrestrial species such as birds and reptiles. Clearly, money alone is not the answer. New approaches are needed. Williams testified that “the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act acknowledges the importance of fisheries to our ecological, economic, and cultural well being and provides a more strategic approach to their management and protection.” “Further, the Act facilitates coordination and cooperation in fisheries management. This is critical because fisheries and the streams and rivers that harbor them know no boundaries.” “It is well past time for our country to adopt proactive approaches to fisheries management,” Williams said. “The potential for additional fisheries losses are too great, especially in an era of rapid climate change,” he said. To read Jack Williams’ full testimony, go to www.tu.org/williams. Prior to his position at TU, Williams was an Endangered Species Specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fisheries Program Manager for Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Science Advisor to the Director of the BLM, Deputy Forest Supervisor on the Boise National Forest, and Forest Supervisor on the Rogue River and Siskiyou National Forests. He is an adjunct professor at Southern Oregon University. TU is a private, nonprofit organization with more than 140,00 members who are dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. In 2009, TU celebrates its 50th anniversary.