A recent commentary (“Salmon, orca can’t survive on talk and promises,” The Herald, June 13) by Justin Hayes of the Idaho Conservation League, elevates the unique merging of both crisis and opportunity for the Pacific Northwest. The crisis at hand is the possible extinction for both wild Columbia/Snake River salmon and the Tribes of the Northwest from inaction and keeping the status quo. Extinction is forever.
The opportunity Congressman Simpson, R- Idaho, has put forth, will benefit the entire Northwest region by investing over $33 billion in real solutions that bring back our fish, honor commitments to Tribes, invigorate our communities, increase clean and renewable energy supply, bolster farmers and irrigators, and ensure reliable transportation options in the Northwest.
For those of us near the Salish Sea, Simpson’s proposal includes restoring Salish Sea salmon runs that will support the Coast Salish tribes who depend on them and increase prey availability for the highly endangered Southern Resident orca population. By removing the Snake River dams, we will restore 140 miles of significant river habitat and reconnect salmon to 5,500-plus miles of pristine, protected rivers and streams in the wildlands of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
Restoring this historic river will be the largest and best salmon recovery project in the continental U.S. That is a legacy we can be proud of but our time is short. We need urgent action from Northwest congressional delegation — especially our powerful senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell — to lead with developing a comprehensive solution that restores salmon, protects orcas and meets the needs of our communities and create solutions that work for everyone.