U.S. Senator joins push for collaborative salmon talks

BOISE — Oregon’s senior senator joined the state’s governor last week, and expressed strong support for a stakeholder-driven collaborative process to resolve legal and biological shortcomings to the region’s salmon and steelhead recovery efforts.

“Time and time again we’ve seen that good things happen when folks agree to meet face-to-face and tackle the tough issues facing Oregon,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore, in an Oct. 4 announcement.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber on Sept. 23 announced his commitment to an inclusive stakeholder dialogue to end decades of legal stalemate over endangered wild salmon recovery in the Snake River basin.

“I’m glad to see that Governor Kitzhaber has taken the initiative and announced his support for a roundtable that will bring together tribes, fishermen, farmers, power customers, conservationists and officials from state and local governments to discuss Northwest salmon issues,” Wyden said. “This is the kind of collaborative process that the region needs to find a solution to such a thorny issue.”

In his Sunday, Sept. 23, guest opinion published in The Oregonian Kitzhaber said the time for collaborative talks has arrived. 

“We are a region with an identity and a fate inextricably bound to that of our salmon and steelhead,” wrote Kitzhaber. “We know where 20 years of litigation has gotten us … We can do better if, over the next year, our region can work out how to manage our Columbia as a river rather than simply preparing for yet another visit to the courtroom.”

Further, Kitzhaber’s and Wyden’s calls for collaboration echo sentiments previously expressed by senior Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo and Sen. Jim Risch.

“Senator Crapo was right when he called for a collaborative table in 2009. Senator Risch was right when called for such a dialogue in 2011. And Governor Kitzhaber and Senator Wyden have it right now,” said IRU Assistant Policy Director Greg Stahl. “We have a real opportunity now to pursue a new and effective path to recover wild salmon, rebuild jobs, protect communities and invest in a clean energy economy.”