Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber Endorses Breaching of Lower Snake River Dams
Trout Unlimited Strongly, Loudly Applauds the Governor
(PORTLAND, ORE., Feb. 18, 2000) Trout Unlimited, the nation’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, strongly and loudly applauds Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s announcement today that he endorses breaching of the four Lower Snake River dams as a necessary measure to recover at-risk salmon and steelhead stocks. Currently, 12 salmonid stocks in the Columbia Basin are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Kitzhaber made the announcement in a speech to the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. Kitzhaber called on the region – as well as his elected colleagues – to work cooperatively and to recognize that a salmon recovery plan including breaching was the best combination for the Northwest as a whole.
“This is not about sacrificing economic benefits for environmental health –it is about working together as a region to have both,” he said. “It is about striking a victory for regionalism over parochialism.” And about, he said, quoting Wallace Stegner, “building a society to match our scenery.”
“Governor Kitzhaber today faced a tough decision and made the right call,” said Jeff Curtis, western conservation director of Trout Unlimited. “To have the regional leader who has invested the most energy in the issue come out in support of breaching the Lower Snake dams sends a clear message that this is the right thing to do for the fish and for the region.”
Kitzhaber’s announcement – by adding the first major dose of political weight onto the side in favor of breaching – immediately changes the complexion of what has become a hotly contested regional debate over the future of Snake River salmonids and dams.
Trout Unlimited was further pleased that the governor in his comments recognized the importance of the highest level possible of economic mitigation for any negative impacts that would result from breaching.
“That is an absolutely necessary ingredient in getting this thing done, and done right,” said Curtis. “We will need to concentrate our investments in those areas where human impacts are greatest, and the governor’s comments today clearly reflect that.”
March 20, 2000 update: Trout Unlimited ran a conspicuous advertisement in the March 10 edition of the Oregonian, one of the Pacific Northwest’s most prominent newspapers, praising Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber for his courageous stand in support of breaching four Lower Snake River dams to restore salmon and steelhead.
The ad was a letter from TU’s Western Conservation Director, Jeff Curtis, and Oregon Council Chairman Tom Wolf. The purpose of the letter was to give the Governor a highly visible sign of TU’s gratitude for his position on the Lower Snake dams. His support for dam breaching is one of the most signicant develoments in the history of the long fight to restore Snake River salmon and steelhead.
Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater conservation organization, dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. The organization has more than 110,000 members in 472 chapters in North America, including over 8000 members in the Pacific Northwest.