NAMPA – Gov. Brad Little’s salmon workgroup met on March 5; the seventh meeting overall and the first in Canyon County.
Federal agency officials presented their draft report on salmon and dams to the workgroup, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game discussed salmon and steelhead run forecasts. According to IDFG, 2020 will likely be another “poor” year for Idaho’s salmon and steelhead. The only predicted run likely better than the 10-year average is 1,327 hatchery sockeye at Lower Granite Dam.
“Another abysmal forecast for Idaho’s fish means we need to wake up and smell the coffee. We need to double down and work on bold solutions now,” said Justin Hayes, executive director of the Idaho Conservation League. “I’m frankly very frustrated with the feds lack of any concrete goals for Idaho’s fish. Their plan just keeps us treading water. Their plan is the status quo and that’s not working for Idaho. It’s not working for our fish. It’s not working for our communities. Our goal is to recover fish to harvestable levels that are economically and ecologically significant.”
“It’s time that we work to find solutions for salmon and steelhead and all of the communities that care about this issue. We need to work with all the various interest groups that fear the sort of bold action needed to actually save our fish,” Hayes added.
About a dozen people, many of them river and fishing guides, traveled to the meeting held at IDFG’s regional headquarters in Nampa to tell workgroup members they support its mission to “restore abundant, sustainable, and well distributed populations of salmon and steelhead” to Idaho.
“If you believe in the future of this state, you must consider all measures to bring these fish back from the brink. I implore this group and Gov. Little to consider all options and to find an end result that will save our precious anadromous fish and our vital rural Idaho economy”- Colin Hughes, Hughes River Expeditions
“I see our federal government doesn’t have the best interests of our fish in mind. I hope this group does.” – C.J. Pierce
Meetings have been scheduled for at least three more workgroup sessions this year: April 28-29 in Lewiston, May 27-28 in Boise, and July 8-9 in Riggins.
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.