Conservationists Welcome Proposal For $100 Million Coastal Salmon Fund
But New Money Won’t Buy Time For Columbia/Snake Salmon
1/28/1999 — — The nation’s largest trout and salmon conservation group today praised the Clinton Administration’s proposal to invest $100 million in restoration efforts for coastal stocks of Pacific salmon. The Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund announced today, which is directed at runs of salmon in California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska rivers west of the Cascades and Coastal Mountain ranges, is contained in the Administration’s FY 2000 budget proposal.
“It is encouraging to see this kind of coordinated, targeted money proposed for habitat restoration in coastal rivers,” said Jeff Curtis, Trout Unlimited’s Western Conservation Director. “We are particularly pleased to see money specifically earmarked for continued monitoring of the effectiveness of restoration activities.”
Like the salmon that travel great distances up the Columbia and Snake Rivers to spawn as far inland as Idaho, coastal salmon are threatened with extinction, and several coastal runs of coho and Chinook salmon have already been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Primary threats to coastal salmon stocks include habitat losses from timber harvest and urban development, as well as dams and excessive harvest. The plan announced today focuses on habitat restoration, allocating $100 million for purchasing conservation easements, hands-on stream restoration work like streambank plantings and stabilization, better assessments of watershed health and in-stream habitat and monitoring success of restoration activities.
“Coastal salmon stocks represent a tremendous restoration opportunity, and TU chapters up and down the coast are already working hard to restore critical habitat on coastal rivers,” said Bill Robinson, Executive Director for Trout Unlimited’s Washington State Council. “A coordinated investment in habitat protection and restoration now could make a real difference for these fish.”
At the same time, TU warned that the ultimate success of Pacific salmon restoration will hinge on efforts to save the Columbia and Snake River stocks, on finding a swift resolution to the stalemated US/Canada Pacific Salmon Treaty. Restrictions on ocean harvest for all Pacific salmon cannot be lifted until the Columbia/Snake stocks are returned to sustainable population levels and the continuing dispute over harvest of US- and Canadian-origin salmon is resolved.
“Today’s announcement is a welcome step toward solving the Pacific salmon crisis,” said Robinson.