Northwest NEWS

July 17, 2000


Everyone must share in effort to save salmon

   Residents of Snohomish County have contacted me with comments and questions on the recent listing of chinook salmon and bull trout as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

   These letters and calls generally fall into two categories: some strongly support action to restore salmon; and some are concerned about the potential impacts to landowners, especially those in rural areas. Almost all of those who are concerned with effects to landowners also express support for restoring salmon.

   My experience as a member of the Snohomish County Council, a professional fish biologist, and an active participant in regional negotiations on these issues continues to convince me that the successful recovery of salmon, steelhead, and bull trout populations requires comprehensive solutions.

   First, all causes of decline need to be addressed. These include harvest, the impact of hatchery practices, and the destruction of habitat. We cannot take strong actions to protect habitat unless sport and commercial harvests are strictly regulated, as well.

   Second, when taking local measures to protect and restore habitat, citizens, business, and government must share in the effort. This means that action needs to be taken in urban areas as well as rural areas, and that neither area should bear a greater share of the burden.

   There are many productive streams in urban or urbanizing parts of the county that are very important to the restoration of salmon runs. There are some in Snohomish County that feel we should avoid regulation of urban development altogether, and only protect habitat in rural areas--solely at the expense of our farmers and rural landowners. This is unacceptable. Salmon are a public resource and we should all contribute equitably to their restoration.

   Third, regulatory restrictions alone are not going to restore salmon. While strengthening laws that protect salmon and their habitat plays a role, the real key to long-term recovery is the restoration of habitat throughout our watersheds. This will take the cooperation of landowners, a massive education program, and funding sources.

   We have enormous potential to restore habitats, particularly in some of our rural areas, but we will need the financial assistance of our urban residents to make this restoration possible.

   I believe strongly that the public will support measures to protect and restore salmon, but only if these measures, are equitable, fair, and meaningful. I am doing all I can to ensure that the rules adopted to implement the ESA meet these criteria.

Dave Somers, Snohomish County Council, District 5