It's the Environment, Stupid.

Monday, February 13, 2006

$1 billion to save salmon in the NW

Can $1 billion save salmon? The Seattle-PI reports that’s what a plan is calling for in the Puget Sound. I’ve only read the executive summary but I like the way it reads. It takes a watershed approach to salmon recovery. It takes into consideration future growth of the Puget Sound area (this includes the greater Seattle metropolitan area) and has taken a participatory approach in the planning process (if only all development plans could be as great.) If approved, this plan has a good chance at working, given that current recovery efforts are proving successful. Bottomline: saving salmon saves the integrity of the Puget Sound.

Here’s an excerpt from the exec summary: “This plan’s primary strengths rest upon three factors: 1) the needs of fish and people are addressed together; 2) the plan is built on the foundation of the fourteen local watershed planning areas across Puget Sound with a tailored approach for recovery based on local characteristics and conditions; and 3) although this plan focuses on Chinook recovery, it is done with the whole ecosystem in mind and the environmental and biological processes that create a healthy place for the salmon. Over 137 species of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles depend on salmon for one or more stages of their life, so they too will benefit from the protection and restoration actions to recover salmon.”

I suppose I could be a bit biased though. When I was in elementary school (to date myself, in the mid-to-late eighties) we learned about salmon. We learned the differences between Coho and Chinook salmon. We learned how salmon swim upstream to lay their eggs etc. We took field trips to salmon hatcheries, fixed up nearby creek areas and released hatchlings (or whatever they were called) into the water. So needless to say I’m all for salmon habitat restoration.

Of course the plan isn’t without critics (as the PI article mentions) and even though I believe it is a smart plan - I do have a critique of my own, however not on the plan itself – but on a related issue of water quality.

Part of the goal of this plan is to “recover self-sustaining, harvestable salmon runs in a manner that contributes to the overall health of Puget Sound and its watersheds…” but what good will all of these salmon be if their toxicity prevents us from eating them, or damages their own reproductive systems so they aren't able to spawn? I am all for this plan (and plan on commenting on it during the comment period) but there is still more to be done on curbing pollution in order to save our ecosystems (and in turn ourselves.)

Public comments are being accepted on this plan until February 27. The draft Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan is available at:
Details for submitting comments are in the Federal Register at (this is a link to a long document – but if I read it correctly, I think the e-mail for comments is Include in the subject line: Comments on Puget Sound Salmon Plan.)


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