Working Snake River: How we can save Salmon, Orcas—and Jobs.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jun 22, 2010
get elephant's newsletter

The Environment is Our Environment.

It’s not external to us. It’s vital to our health—and to our jobs. Tourism can be just as fruitful—economically-speaking—as plundering our earth for profit.

The below comes via Working Snake River:

In the conservation movement, it’s crucial to remember that everything is always interconnected. Be it economics, social or environmental implications, one decision affects another—and often, in a big way. That’s what’s currently taking place in Washington State, where business and community leaders are taking a stand on an issue that relates to salmon, energy, agriculture, and transportation issues and has political implications for the state and the broader Pacific Northwest region.

The effort is called Working Snake River, and it’s a concentrated effort to bring citizens, businesses, and elected leaders together to restore salmon and steelhead and ensure economic prosperity for the state and regional economy.

So how do fish and economy go hand in hand?

“Salmon aren’t just a part of our state’s natural heritage, they are also important to our economy,” said Jeremy Brown, commercial salmon troller and Washington Trollers Association board member. “Especially in our coastal and river communities, salmon has traditionally been a huge source of good jobs and income. The population declines of Columbia Basin salmon in the past several decades have taken a heavy toll on the health of our communities. It’s time to sit down together to figure out how we can constructively address these issues for people on both sides of the mountains.”

That’s why the initiative is bringing multiple interests together – farmers, fishermen, energy users, business owners and local communities – to craft a durable science-based and economically viable salmon restoration plan.

But beyond the economy, the issue also has severe environmental implications. A threatened future for salmon means a threatened future for another iconic Pacific Northwest species: orcas.

Regional orca experts and federal scientists recognize how critical Columbia basin chinook are to the diet of Puget Sound resident killer whales. The Columbia and Snake rivers were once the West Coast’s greatest source of chinook salmon.“One of the biggest threats facing our resident orcas today is the availability of food,” said People For Puget Sound executive director Kathy Fletcher. “Our killer whales depend largely on chinook salmon—whose numbers have dropped significantly in the Northwest. This relationship between orcas and salmon is one more connection—like those of food and energy—uniting the people of Eastern and Western Washington. And its one more reason why we need leadership from our senators to bring our communities together to find effective lasting solutions. No salmon—no orcas. It’s that simple.”

These are issues that not only effect the region, but have national and international implications as well, especially when it comes to protecting endangered species. Thirteen salmon and steelhead stocks remain listed under the Endangered Species Act despite 20 years of litigation and expenditure of more than $9 billion on failed restoration efforts. Think of what that means for other species whose habitats and livelihoods are currently at risk. In this, the International Year of Biodiversity, it’s something that we all should give serious thought to. No matter where we live.

How can we help?

Urge Washington State Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell—two leaders who are regularly proactive and progressive when it comes to environmental and economic issues—to take direct action on an issue that affects their own backyards.

The economy and the environment can go hand in hand, and if the BP Gulf oil spill is showing us anything, it’s that we should promote policies that focus on both instead of leading to our own destruction.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


6 Responses to “Working Snake River: How we can save Salmon, Orcas—and Jobs.”

  1. LookingforLeaders says:

    It's a sad day when Idaho's elected officials show more leadership on a salmon issue than Washington's do, but that day has come. Longtime eastern Washington farmers I know are damned tired of 20 years of uncertainty. A few also remember how it was before the dams — and remember that things worked just fine.
    Murray and Cantwell have a history of being chicken on this issue, and that history isn't winning them many new friends in Clarkston.

  2. LookingforLeaders says:

    "Damned tired" – no pun was intended, believe it or not.

  3. Redd says:

    This is a great piece – thanks! I really don't understand why the WA senators cannot see the need to do something about this issue, so I hope this message starts to get through to them.

  4. FreeTheScience says:

    Thank you for showcasing this issue. There are a multitude of groups and interests involved in the web of declining salmon and steelhead populations on the Snake River. Senators Murray and Cantwell have the opportunity to bring these interests together to form real solutions to this complex problem. We have chosen them as our leaders, and it is now time for them to stand up and lead. Murray and Cantwell: I hope you're listening!

  5. Demelza says:

    Salmon was sacred to the native people of the coast and NW tribes ( not the same as Christian/Jewish meaning) and this went beyond a food for pleasure and survival. Salmon was/is a connection to Mitakuye Oyasin (all my relations) and the ancestors. I am suggesting that as we focus upon and concern ourselves with the pragmatic aspects of Salmon protection ie. jobs, food source, income, that we also reference for the sacred in wildness and 'return to the source' , the power of four directions and elements, the cycles of birth-death-rebirth.

  6. John says:

    When will elected officials start to make decisions that are right for the people and the environment and not just what's right for their bank accounts? Native fish species are taking a beating across the U.S. and they need our help if they are going to have a chance to survive.