February 22, 2005

Crapo Says Decision Not to List BurbotFurthers Collaborative Effort

Has enlisted tribes, conservationists, & county leaders on N. Idaho fish

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo said a decision announced today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not to list the Kootenai River burbot as a threatened or endangered species will result in both help for the fish and provide a valuable example in collaboration regarding species recovery. Crapo, who has worked with a number of Idaho groups, federal agencies, and others on burbot recovery, said the decision will allow a local, collaborative process time to aid the species.Crapo is chairman of the Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over changes in the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Last year he met in Boundary County with a burbot working group and visited the Kootenai Tribeâ??s fish hatchery aiding in burbot recovery. Crapo said todayâ??s announcement should reinforce the importance of local leadership in the recovery process.â??I have met and corresponded with several federal agencies, the Kootenai Tribe, the Idaho Conservation League, Bonners Ferry Mayor Darrell Kerby, and the Boundary County Commissioners regarding the burbot. It is encouraging that federal agencies are working to give this local recovery plan the time needed to succeed,â?? Crapo said. â??Backing local decision- making when everyone is at the table is critical to avoid top-down directives from federal agencies. Both the conservation groups and federal agencies deserve credit for staying at the table and working closely with this process.â??Crapo helped to secure $150,000 in federal funding to assist the local group working on a burbot conservation agreement. He wrote the Army Corps of Engineers seeking flexibility in operations of nearby Libby Dam in Montana that would slow water flows to aid in burbot reproduction. â??An ESA designation by one federal agency should not be required for other agencies to take the proper action,â?? Crapo added. â??Burbot may not be listed but the community has made a commitment to do the right thing and develop a conservation agreement strategy for the fish. "We need to develop and implement further recovery for the Kootenai River burbot, but todayâ??s announcement signals the agency is willing to engage in positive collaboration to find a solution that is good for the community as well as the fish. Other federal agencies need to take note, the bar for good sound community based decision making has been raised,â?? Crapo concluded.The Kootenai River burbot is a freshwater cod which was once a popular sport fish before the Kootenai River was dammed at Libby, Montana. The Kootenai Tribe operates a hatchery near Bonners Ferry to aid in the recovery of the burbot and white sturgeon. . # # #