Adding insult to injury, Idaho’s endangered salmon and steelhead got bad news from Washington, DC, on April 25.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 3144, also known as the Salmon Extinction Act. The bill enshrines Snake and Columbia river and dam management practices that federal courts have twice found to be inadequate to save the fish from extinction. Should any river and dam management changes ultimately be made, the bill gives Congress, not scientists, the final say as to whether those changes are appropriate.
Multiple stocks of Idaho’s salmon and steelhead are endangered; however, the situation is particularly dire for Idaho’s B-run steelhead. Through the early 1960s, up to 40,000 B-run steelhead were documented in Idaho’s Clearwater River. Unfortunately, their numbers have been dropping consistently ever since. And this year, that number dropped to less than 1,000. The passage of this bill enshrines the status quo, which has led these steelhead to the edge of extinction.
Proposed by Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R), the bill was cosponsored by Idaho representative and gubernatorial candidate, Raul Labrador. Despite his cosponsorship, Labrador failed to even show up on the House floor and vote on the bill. Disappointingly, Idaho’s Rep. Mike Simpson voted for the bill.
Typical next steps send this bill to the Senate, though as of this writing, no hearing date is set. Now we need you to contact your senators and let them know that you oppose HR 3144 and urge them to oppose it as well. Its passage in the Senate could spell extinction for our iconic steelhead and salmon.