BOISE Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s workgroup on salmon and steelhead recovery wrapped up its Twin Falls meeting Oct. 30. Little’s Office of Species Conservation planned the Twin Falls session over two days to allow more time for group members to talk and listen to one another, ask questions, and dive deep into specific topics, like the Columbia Basin Partnership, water flows, and dams and migration of young fish to the ocean.

Sam Eaton from the governor’s office noted past collaborations they considered a success and viewed as models for the salmon workgroup, such as the Owyhee Initiative and Idaho Roadless Rule. 

The Idaho Conservation League’s Executive Director Justin Hayes, a workgroup member, stated, “ICL has come to the table willing to work with other interested stakeholders and we’ve started to hold frank, creative discussions on how to solve the urgent crisis facing Idaho’s wild salmon and steelhead.”

“This is our fourth meeting and workgroup members are now comfortable with each other and coalescing. That’s an important step in working together in a collaborative way to find lasting and agreed upon solutions.” He added, “We’re encouraged to hear from the governor’s office that our workgroup is empowered to set the agenda, define our mission, and consider all solutions to restore wild Idaho salmon and steelhead in ecologically significant, sustainable, healthy and abundant numbers. In order to succeed, we need to address all of the issues threatening our fish.” 

The next scheduled meeting will be held in Boise Nov. 19. The workgroup will continue to meet next year (schedule TBD) with a deadline of Dec. 2020 for recommendations to Idaho’s governor. 

ICL is working to save Idaho’s salmon and steelhead. Idaho’s iconic fish populations are spiraling toward extinction despite the hard work of many local communities. If Idaho loses salmon and steelhead, not only will these species perish, an integral part of Idaho’s history, culture, economy and outdoors life will also disappear. Bold action is needed now to develop solutions together that will keep communities whole and not leave Idahoans behind.