(BOISE) Amid a backdrop of poor Idaho fish returns this year, Gov. Brad Little’s workgroup on salmon and steelhead recovery met for the second time July 30 to 31 in Salmon, Idaho.
Earlier this week, Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists forecast another year of poor returns of large steelhead to the Snake and Clearwater rivers and its tributaries, underscoring the urgent need to find a solution for Idaho’s salmon and steelhead.
The Idaho Conservation League’s Executive Director Justin Hayes is a workgroup member along with about 20 interested stakeholders and lawmakers. “Idaho’s fish are in crisis right now. Poor returns are the new normal so we need to act urgently,” said Hayes.
He added, “The workgroup’s goal should be to restore wild fish well-distributed throughout areas in Idaho in harvestable and ecologically significant abundance. Recovery goals and plans need to be based in science.”
Members of the workgroup toured habitat projects in the area where they saw first-hand the efforts of many people in the community to save Idaho’s fish. “Tribes, conservationists, landowners, irrigators, government agencies and other Idahoans have created the most amazing habitat on Earth for our fish. Good work has been done, and we need to do more,” stated Hayes.
“What we heard today was that if we are going to recover salmon and steelhead, we need to focus on all of the things that are limiting our fish. This includes habitat and also hydropower, hatcheries and harvests. By tackling these issues in Idaho and the region, we hope to find win-win solutions together for salmon and steelhead restoration that are equitable, just, sustainable, and prosperous for all Idahoans.”
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.