Feds: No major changes for Columbia Basin salmon

Judge Redden said the Bush Plan for salmon wasn’t good enough, Obama thinks it is.

Well, here is another example of how the Obama Administration has followed the lead of the Bush Administration on environmental issues. As we can see from the Gulf Oil Spill those policies are literally a disaster. While salmon returns have been good the last few years and numbers are high for returning Chinook this year, it should be pointed out that the bulk of these fish are hatchery fish and not those protected under the ESA. It should also be noted that the return of jacks, or male Chinook that spend only one year in the ocean as compared to two or three, is about 72% of the 10-year average which is an indication that next year’s run will likely be lower.

At least, as far as much of Idaho is concerned, habitat is hardly a concern. With the exception of the Lemhi River and a few other places, Idaho has pristine salmon habitat available, there just aren’t enough fish to use it except for hatchery fish which have less success spawning in the wild and have less genetic vigor, there are just more of them because the hatchery gives them protection.

NOAA Fisheries, the agency responsible for recovery of Columbia Basin Salmon, thinks everything is fine with their recovery plan which differs very little from previous plans which Judge Redden has thrown out. They think that the dams are just part of the natural, or as Bush described it an immutable, part of the landscape, and that they just have to collect the fish and put them in barges. But, as a recent study that Roger Phillips points out, steelhead that stay in the river during their downstream migration stray less, and have higher spawning success. NOAA Fisheries, earlier this year because of predicted low flows, wanted to not spill any water and collect all of the fish onto barges but, shortly after a panel of scientists recommended that a mixed strategy of spilling and barging was better, they bowed and went with that strategy.

It seems, once again, that Obama doesn’t give a hoot about environmental issues. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the run of the mill Conservationist/Democrat doesn’t hold politicians accountable and rushes in with their support before they really examine their bona fides (Walt Minnick and Keith Allred come to mind). Or maybe there is another strategy at play here, maybe Obama wants the Judge to make the call against him so he doesn’t have to take the blame for the inevitable political backlash from industry that would come from having an actual plan that would recover salmon rather than maintain the status quo. Maybe I’m too cynical, or too gullible because I voted for the guy.

The Feds: No major changes for Columbia Basin salmon.
By ABBY HAIGHT Associated Press


  1. Maska Avatar

    The problem for many conservation-minded Dems is that they’re caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. For example, in NM’s second district we will end up with a choice of sitting on our hands and ensuring the election of anti-wolf, anti-public lands, pro-oil, former Republican Congress critter Steve Pearce (one of the most viciously anti-nature people ever to serve in Congress), or the incumbent, Blue Dog Harry Teague, who at least hasn’t done anything to actively screw our Mexican wolves, who at least hasn’t tried to sell off our public lands, and whose support for oil (He made his fortune from oilfield services businesses.) is at least slightly tempered by some support for renewables like solar and wind.

    It’s a real Hobson’s choice. As for running somebody against Teague in the primary–he has buckets of personal funds which he’s perfectly willing to spend on the race. It’s too bad, though, that there wasn’t some sacrificial lamb willing to take him on, if only to try to push him into somewhat more favorable positions.

  2. Angela Avatar

    This really bites. It sucks not only for salmon, but also for the Southern Resident Killer Whales that live here in the Puget Sound.

    I’m so saddened that Obama has turned out to be such a disappointment in terms of environmental issues. I realize that he himself might not have a personal interest, but he was supposed to have the best people advising him on these issues. It’s looking like Nixon may have been better on the environment than Obama.

    And what is up with Lubchenko??? The lack of response to the oil situation is pathetic. yeah, just leave it to BP.

    1. jdubya Avatar

      Indeed what is UP with Lubchenko? She either never had any backbone or else it has turned to jelly after joining this administration. Where the hell is the “resignation under protest” that she should perform? She can go back to Oregon State and live her life as a respected professor. Instead she has bitten the fruit of executive power and is quite happy to ignore science to promote her own longevity and career within Obama’s camp. As an ex-Beaver (BS in the later 70’s) I am disgusted by her and her inaction.

  3. WM Avatar

    Impractical (and probably illegal for treaty obligations), I would like to see a ban on all nets and long-line fishing for US, Canadians, and anybody else going after salmon off the Pacific coast for a miniumum three year moratorium. I would also like to see a bunch of sea lions lethally thumped, during this time as well.

    To compensate fishers, including Indians who would not be able to get their treaty obligation quota, grants or subsidies not to fish would be made, and an exception for ceremonial and religious fishing needs would be allowed, along with minor subsistence quotas.

    Any recreational or Indian fisher, could go after salmon with a line, but all native fish (unclipped fish) would have to be returned for endangered species and low count runs. The best way to cut some of this short is to simply not allow nets in the river, which are indiscriminate in their ability to cull for natives and hatchery fish.

    1. WM Avatar

      Oh, yes, and an EFFECTIVE erradication plan put in place to reduce the number of cormorants and terns at the mouth of the Columbia. The only way we are going to improve the river is to comprehensively manage it (we have tried this bits and pieces crap for the last thirty years), ask all stakeholders including Indians to temporarily compromise on their entitlements, and commercial interests to back off. If it takes a temporary subsidy to do it, then lets pony up.

      And, I think Judge Redden would go for it if the legal obstacles can be surmounted.

    2. Angela Avatar

      Sea lions kill and eat less than 4% of the escapement and the money spent “euthanizing” them would be better spent on habitat restoration. The salmon populations are not controlled by sea lions, as you can see from the fluctuations in numbers of returning salmon. It’s estimated that it costs tens of thousands of dollars to kill each sea lion. They figure they saved about 1,200 salmon by conducting the program (I think this was for 2009). Humans kill several hundred thousand.

      “the goal of [sea lion control] is to reduce sea lion predation from a high of 4% of the run down to 1% of the run. At the same time, the very same wildlife officials
      increased fishing limits from 9% of the run in 2007 to 12% in 2008, to 13% in 2009, so that the number of salmon allegedly saved by killing sea lions is offset by the increase in the number of salmon killed by fishermen.”

  4. cobra Avatar

    Why does it cost so much to kill each sea lion. Just doesn’t seem like it should cost so much.

    1. Angela Avatar

      Same reason an O-ring can cost a couple grand. Bureaucracy. They are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, so it’s not as easy as just shooting a sea lion in the head. They are branding them to identify the worst offenders, they trap them, they euthanize them, they do necropsies, have to deal with the press. Factor up all the labor involved, etc.

  5. Elk275 Avatar

    People like to fish and catch fish therefore they want fewer sea lions it that simple.

    Henry David Thoreau: Many men go fishing all their lives not knowing it is not fish they are after

    1. Angela Avatar

      It would be that simple if sea lions affected the number of salmon, or if everyone was a fisherman.


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Ken Cole