5/10/2000 -- -- Contact: Jeff Reardon, New England Conservation Director, Trout Unlimited: (207) 882-4791
May 10, 2000. Camden, Maine...Trout Unlimited (TU) applauded U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins today for ushering $5 million in federal funding to help Maine Atlantic salmon. The funding was included in agriculture legislation passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, but still needs to be approved by the full Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
Despite strong differences in opinion over the listing of Maine's Atlantic salmon under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), TU and the two Maine senators agree that substantial increases in federal funding for habitat protection and restoration are necessary.
"Five million dollars is a lot of money, and if directed properly will accomplish meaningful results on the ground," said Charles Gauvin, TU's President and CEO. "Snowe and Collins deserve credit for getting this done. Efforts to save Atlantic salmon require money and the senators showed important leadership by pressing for federal funding that will help advance the restoration of Maine salmon. This is a step in the right direction."
Trout Unlimited, which filed a lawsuit last August to press for the listing of the Atlantic salmon under the ESA, took exception to the senators' assertion that "the emergency nature of this funding shows that the Atlantic salmon need not be listed under the Endangered Species Act."
"Listing is not a luxury for Atlantic salmon-we have long passed the point were any other option exists if we hope to actually recover Atlantic salmon in Maine," said Gauvin. "The bottom line is that salmon need substantial federal funding and legal protection now to work in tandem with an aggressive state conservation plan and substantial state funding."
Trout Unlimited expressed disappointment that $500,000 of the $5 million had been earmarked for a National Academy of Sciences' study of the underlying data used to make the listing decision. TU would rather see that money spent to generate information on how to best recover salmon populations, such as how to improve salmon hatchery practices. "We ought to be past the point of wondering whether Maine salmon are worth saving," said Jeff Reardon, TU's New England Conservation Director. "Let's use the money for science that will help us save them."
Trout Unlimited's Maine Council includes 1,200 members, and TU's members and local chapters have played a leading role in documenting and protecting the remaining populations of Maine's wild salmon. Founded in 1959 in Grayling, Michigan, Trout Unlimited is America's leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization. TU's 115,000 members in 500 chapters nationwide are dedicated to the conservation, protection, and restoration of North America's trout and salmon and their watersheds.