PORTLAND, Oregon – The closure of the Columbia River Basin fishery for endangered fish sparks calls to action before it’s too late.
The number of rainbow trout in the Columbia and its tributaries may be the lowest since surveys began in the 1930s. On the Columbia, the Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife issued a emergency closure of salmon fishing to the Bonneville Dam, although some parts have now reopened with strict limits.
Chris Hager, executive director of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, said the closures were a blow to the fishing industry in the region.
“When you look specifically at the recreational fishing community, it puts the guides on hold so they don’t have to fish or move on to other resources,” Hager explained. “And so you put work on hold.”
Hager argued that removing four lower Snake River dams in southeast Washington would help restore salmon and rainbow trout populations to the area. Earlier this year, Eastern Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., And Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., Praised the spring runs of chinook salmon on the river. Snake, which were higher than in 2019 and 2020. Members of Congress said this was proof that dams and salmon can coexist.
Marcia Brownlee, program manager for the Artemis Sportswomen initiative at the National Wildlife Federation, also supports the removal of the lower dams on the Snake River. She said the region had taken half measures to save endangered fish for too long.
“We need to do everything in our power to ensure that emergency closures do not become permanent closures,” Brownlee said. “And what we saw this summer really illustrated that what we are doing now is not enough. We need to do more.”
Representative Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, has proposed a $ 33 billion plan to save endangered fish species, which includes removing the lower dams on the Snake River. Other leaders in the region have yet to support including this proposal in Congressional budget reconciliation package, which is being debated in Washington, DC.
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