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Report Blames Bureaucracy and Politics for Failed Salmon Recovery

Despite being listed as endangered species and nearly two decades of recovery efforts, Columbia River salmon face extinction due to mismanagement and political interference, according to a report released today by the Resource Renewal Institute, a San Francisco-based think tank for environmental policy. The 12-page report, prepared by a panel of former government employees and scientists, calls on the Obama Administration to take immediate action to restructure salmon recovery programs at the risk of pushing the species over the brink. The report is available online at:  http://www.rri.org/index.php.
REFORM URGENTLY NEEDED TO SAVE PACIFIC SALMON, EXPERTS SAY
Report Blames Bureaucracy and Politics for Failed Salmon Recovery


SAN FRANCISCO--Without strong action by the White House, Pacific Northwest salmon face extinction, according to a report released today by the Resource Renewal Institute, a San Francisco-based think tank for environmental policy.

The 12-page report was prepared by a panel of former government employees and scientists, the Council of Elders, having extensive senior policymaking and regulatory experience. The report is available online at:
 http://www.rri.org/index.php.

The report identifies corrupt political influence, subversion of the Endangered Species Act, failure of governance by agencies charged with salmon recovery, and a management quagmire for undermining salmon recovery and dragging down the region's economy. It calls upon the Obama Administration to take immediate steps to provide oversight to address the critical state of the endangered salmon.

Despite federal laws giving salmon survival equal status to the sale of hydroelectricity, billions spent on fish recovery programs, and numerous court orders to protect the species, salmon populations are not recovering. The species is worse off 18 years after the salmon were first listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act, the report finds.

The Council's recommendations include:

* A federal audit of the Bonneville Power Authority (BPA), which is responsible both for operating hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River, and implementing the recovery of fish populations depleted by the dams, and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, which is charged with balancing the region's power needs with the needs of the salmonóconflicting dual missions the Council strongly criticizes, along with federal agencies' failure to comply with laws and court orders to protect and restore endangered salmon.

* Reassigning responsibility for implementing salmon recovery and mitigation programs to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

* Consolidating within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service responsibilities for implementing the Endangered Species Act for salmon recovery.

* Including climate change research in Biological Opinions for salmon protection and protecting independent science and scientists contributing to the implementation of federal programs.

* Supporting a congressional request for a thorough analysis of removing four Lower Snake River dams.

* Assigning the White House Council on Environmental Quality to develop and implement a salmon recovery plan for the Columbia Basin, and review the status of the current federal lawsuits.

The Council of Elders includes career wildlife biologists, foresters, land managers, scientists, and policymakers with 300 years of combined experience in resource management and government agencies dealing with the plight of Pacific salmon, according to Huey D. Johnson. Johnson, who served as California Secretary of Resources from 1976-1982, is founder and president of Resource Renewal Institute, which published the report.

"Members of the Council have been first hand witnesses to special interests manipulating natural resource science and policies," Johnson says. "We're now out of government and in positions where we can't be silenced. With a new administration committed to addressing corruption and inefficiency, we believe we can effectively offer our collective knowledge to solve intractable environmental problems, such as the decline of salmon."

The Obama Administration has the opportunity to rescue the Pacific salmon, the report says. Adds Johnson: "The White House will need to act fast or it will be too late for the salmon."

Resource Renewal Institute is dedicated to strengthening society's ability to secure the future health of the planet by fostering innovative solutions to increasingly complex environmental problems (www.rri.org).

Those authoring the report include:

Lynn Axelrod, Staff Attorney, Resource Renewal Institute, San Francisco, California

Bert Bowler, Snake River Salmon Solutions, Boise, Idaho

Ed Chaney, Natural Resources Consultant, Eagle, Idaho

Don Chapman, Fisheries Consultant, McCall, Idaho

Steve Huffaker, former Director, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Huey Johnson, President, Resource Renewal Institute, former California Secretary of Resources

Jim Martin, Conservation Director, Pure Fishing; former Chief of Fisheries, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Rod Sando, former Executive Director, Columbia River Fish and Wildlife Authority; former Director, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Bill Shake, former Assistant Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon


To obtain printed copies of the report, please contact: Resource Renewal Institute, 415-928-3774.


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