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Fishing on the Salmon River near Riggins, Idaho. Photo Credit: Jon Kittell

Daily Astorian Opinion: Sea Change

By Chris Hager, Executive Director

Chris Hager is the executive director of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders. He was also appointed by Gov. Brown to serve on the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee and volunteers with the local chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. He recently published an opinion piece in the Daily Astorian on February 20, 2021 highlighting the need for the recreational angling community to engage in Representative Simpson's historic effort to restore Snake River salmon and steelhead.

S almon and steelhead fishing within the lower Columbia River and coastal rivers is at risk.

Every year, fewer fish return, Buoy 10 quotas fill within days and the opportunities to catch salmon and steelhead farther inland get smaller. There is a stark contrast between the abundance we once had before the lower Snake River dams were built on the Columbia's largest tributary, and the scarcity we now experience. The recreational angling community, and the vast economy fishing supports, is at risk unless we take bold action now. Our salmon do not have any more time to wait.

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson's recent announcement for comprehensive basin-wide recovery is the innovative, collaborative problem-solving approach we have been calling for. His expansive $33.5 billion Columbia Basin Fund will support restoring a free-flowing lower Snake River, improving wild salmon returns to the Columbia River each year.

In addition to providing security, stability and certainty to the angling community and fishing industry, it invests in a clean energy future and modernizes our transportation and irrigation infrastructure. This is the moment we've been fighting for 48 years for: A chance for a sea change and a lasting solution to the salmon wars.

However, the details of Simpson's proposal need to be fleshed out. We hope the Northwest congressional delegation gets involved to shape Simpson's concept into a legislative package that the entire region can support.