Q: Isn’t it too late? I’ve been working on this issue for the past 30 years and I don’t think the fish will come back in my lifetime.
This is a great question, and probably our most frequent. To which the answer is resoundingly NO — it’s not too late! There is still a great chance for recovery, but we need to act with urgency. The duration of this issue has been very frustrating and disheartening to many working to save salmon and steelhead, and rightfully so. The fact of the matter is that even though the past 30 years have been difficult, that time was used wisely to set ourselves up for success in the present day.
For example, all of the habitat restoration over the past 30 years has played an incredibly important role. Years when good ocean conditions existed resulted in a spike in return numbers and strongly demonstrate that if the fish can make it back to their pristine Idaho habitats, they thrive.
Additionally, social efforts made by those who deeply care about these iconic fish have translated to Idahoans around the state feeling the same way. In a 2018 BSU political poll, 90% of Idahoans reported caring about Idaho’s salmon and steelhead. That is a HUGE part of the process. The importance of these slow and steady victories should not be undervalued.
Finally, in addition to past important work, there have been recent shifts in Idaho’s state government. Our elected officials are beginning to take a stand for Idaho’s salmon and steelhead because they realize how important they are to the Idaho public. Idaho has been a leader in collaborative efforts to protect and fight for natural resources. Although sometimes the process takes a long time, we have been moving forward step by step. Salmon and steelhead issues are no different.
However, what will make this issue grind to a halt is if individuals discontinue their involvement. The reason this issue isn’t too late for action is because over the course of 30 years, people remained engaged. We believe that we have the power to restore these fish in this lifetime. We need to continue to show our friends, family, small businesses, and elected officials in the state that Idaho’s salmon and steelhead matter. They are a part of our identity, our economy, and our culture and history. We need to make a commitment moving forward to continue to value these iconic species.