February 04, 2005

Delegation Hopeful Federal Salmon Program Getting In Gear

As fish numbers hold strong, agencies finishing their homework

Washington, DC â?? Members of Idahoâ??s Congressional Delegation are welcoming todayâ??s news that a new federal draft Biological Opinion will be released in the near future. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationâ??s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) discussed itsâ?? progress in producing the new draft document and some information about it. A Biological Opinion is a document required by federal law in which federal agencies evaluate actions that may affect threatened and endangered species. No Recovery Plan has yet been produced. The NOAA Fisheries draft biological opinion is due in the next week to 10 days. Agency spokesmen said today it will describe changes in the operation of hydroelectric dams, as well as habitat improvement, technical upgrades, and other measures. â??The legal maneuvering and court action regarding salmon recovery has gotten us nowhere. Thatâ??s why what we really need is a collaborative, consensus-based, regional solution as soon as possible,â?? noted Senator Mike Crapo, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. â??After 30 years of the Endangered Species Act we have learned the paperwork doesnâ??t recover species, but collaborative actions to carry out specific commitments do. I hope we are ready to get on with it.â?? "A cooperative effort by federal agencies and many others continues to deliver substantially increased salmon numbers surpassing ten year averages. I join the scientists at NOAA who believe the improvements on the dams will ensure their continued operation while giving our endangered salmon runs the opportunity for full recovery," Senator Larry Craig said."I believe the draft biop will show that we can recover salmon without endangering our economy or putting people out of work. That is good news for everyone in the northwest," said Congressman Mike Simpson. "I also believe the biop will demonstrate that current mitigation efforts are working and that salmon are headed toward recovery."Congressman C.L. â??Butchâ?? Otter said, "It's encouraging that these preliminary findings show our mitigation efforts are making a real difference. Science is reinforcing my confidence that our shared commitment to restoring these runs without putting Idaho's precious water resources at risk will prove effective. With ingenuity and innovation, we can preserve the livelihoods we need and the quality of life we love without endangering Idaho's lifeblood - our water." # # #