Businesses, lawmakers press Obama for action on salmon

Lawmakers and business leaders are calling for a new process to restore endangered wild salmon.

Lawmakers and business leaders are calling for a new process to restore endangered wild salmon.

In a letter to President Barack Obama, 52 members of Congress asked for action in the quest to protect and restore endangered wild salmon in the Northwest.

The letter follows one sent earlier this month by some 1,200 businesses — an effort that was launched in August. The group, which includes nearly 200 Oregon businesses is calling for a collaborative process to solve the problem of diminishing populations of wild salmon and steelhead.

In the letter from lawmakers, a group led by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Jim McDermott, D.-Wash., and Tom Petri, R-Wis., supporters ask Obama to to convene a "solutions table" of leaders who could work together to come up with a plan for salmon restoration.

The restoration is focused on the Columbia-Snake River Basin, which once saw as many as 30 million fish returning annually. That number has dropped to less than 1 percent of that historic number, according to the nonprofit Save Our Wild Salmon.

In August, a U.S. District Court ruled the current Columbia Basin federal salmon plan illegal. It was the fourth salmon plan to be struck down by the courts over three presidential administrations. Federal district Judge James A. Redden announced last week he would step down prior to the next plan being filed, energizing the call for a collaborative process.

"For years I have strongly supported the notion that all scientifically credible options to restore historic Columbia-Snake River salmon runs should be thoroughly evaluated," said Congressman Blumenauer in a statement. "The (Obama) Administration has a significant opportunity to convene the region’s sovereigns and stakeholders and begin having a comprehensive discussion.”

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