Statement of Jeff Curtis, TU’s Western Conservation Director, in response to the Clinton Administration’s Snake River Plan
12/21/2000 — — “It has long been recognized by conservationists and the vast majority of the scientific community that two key steps must be taken if we want to assure the survival of the Snake River salmon. The first step entails improvements to habitat, hatcheries and the harvest of salmon. The second step requires removal of the four salmon killing dams on the lower Snake River. While the Clinton Administration’s plan to save the salmon took the first step, it does not require that the second step will be taken.
“This decision, while unfortunate for the survival of the salmon, is not surprising when you consider that it was made using overly optimistic models and projections as to the salmon’s prospects for survival. If the same model the Administration has used for the scientific backbone of this biological opinion had been used when the 1995 biological opinion was issued, it would have projected 15 times more salmon today than we actually have. Real science and real data tells us that we do not have much time to save the Snake River salmon.
“The fact is, as well intentioned as they may be, improvements to habitat, hatcheries and harvest will not be enough to save the Snake River salmon, as the Bush Administration will soon learn. Yes, improvements to these areas are a critical step in the effort to save the salmon, but the need to take the second step is equally critical if we want the salmon to survive.
“The Bush Administration would be wise, if they want to see this icon of the Northwest survive another generation, to not only fully implement the Clinton Administration’s biological opinion but also begin the process necessary for dam removal. They must recognize that the time for studies and for trial and error is over. Snake River salmon are literally running out of time.”
Founded in 1959 in Grayling, Michigan, Trout Unlimited is America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization. TU’s 125,000 members in 500 chapters nationwide, including 8,500 members in the Pacific Northwest, are dedicated to the conservation, protection, and restoration of North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds.