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September 21, 2009 at 4:01 PM

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Obama's salmon plan

Posted by Letters editor

Same old flawed science

Editor, The Times

I was shocked to learn the Obama administration is staying with the flawed science of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and former President George W. Bush’s salmon plan, which U.S. District Judge James Redden has ruled illegal three to four times so far [“New salmon plan includes study of breeching 4 dams,” NWWednesday, Sept. 16].

Obama promised to respect science when he was inaugurated. The Obama administration and NOAA officials tell us the plan will keep the status quo. They also said if they wind up wrong, and the salmon move closer to extinction, they will deal with it then.

So we get more politics and games again? Why are we just trying to keep them barely above extinction? What about fishing, the kids, the orcas and economic impacts? We actually expected a change in salmon-recovery plans.

A national treasure and our highest icon are still in trouble, and now the song remains the same. The old bad plan is now the new bad plan.

— Chuck Barnes, Bothell

Time to apologize

At last the federal agencies admit the failure of their dam-centric plans to recover wild salmon without breaching the Snake River dams. They also acknowledge that it is too late to do anything to bring the fish back, but will they have the courage to go to the fishing communities they have destroyed and make their apologies?

The new position announced by Jane Lubchenco, head of NOAA, and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke is no more serious than the ones that have preceded it.

Their plan follows the same guidelines: After these endangered runs of salmon lose 90 percent of their population, then the government will begin a minimum of eight years of plans and studies to decide whether to remove any dams.

As I understand it, the judge told the federal government the Bush plan was not going to pass muster. What appalling arrogance and a colossal waste of taxpayer funds it is to embrace the plan despite the court’s warning.

— Dan Drais, Seattle

Contradiction in California plan

It does not take a Ph.D. in biology to see the abandonment of science behind the latest salmon-recovery plan for the Columbia and Snake rivers. All one needs to do is look at the way NOAA addresses Puget Sound killer whales.

Despite a recent NOAA finding that salmon-killing dams in California threaten Puget Sound orcas, NOAA’s Columbia and Snake rivers plan stumbles to the unsupported conclusion the Columbia Basin dams are unlikely to adversely affect those very same Puget Sound killer whales.

California’s plan states hatchery fish cannot replace wild fish for purposes of providing adequate prey for orcas, while the Columbia plan relies wholly on hatchery fish to maintain orca populations.

The contradictory treatment smacks of political manipulation that we hoped we had left behind with Obama’s inauguration.

— Rob French, Seattle

Breaking inaugural promises

I make my living as a salmon- and trout-fishing guide, so I was dismayed to read the president’s decision to recognize bad science, ignore a federal judge, and likely bury forever family fishing jobs and Northwest traditions.

To adopt the Bush-era Columbia Basin salmon plan as his own, President Obama abandons his inaugural day promise to restore science to its rightful place, and ensure that science drives policy, not the other way around.

Based on the comments of administration officials who released the new plan, it might maintain current levels of depressed populations or worse, allow them to decline further toward extinction.

With this plan the restoration of healthy salmon populations is not an option, even though restoration will create jobs across Puget Sound, increase opportunities for recreational fishing, and ensure the future of an irreplaceable regional icon. That is the change we need, but that is not the plan we got.

— Mark Rutherford, Vashon Island

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