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State Spending $220 million to Prevent Extinction of Salmon — Recent Reports Reveal 10-Year High

Salmon recovery board budget is 220 plus million
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Gov. Jay Inslee recently announced new appointments to the Salmon Recovery Board.

A press release said, “Jay Inslee’s Salmon Recovery Office, which coordinates the efforts to return salmon from the brink of extinction...”

In 2009 the Public Power Council¬†published an in-depth report on the health and populations of salmon and steelhead on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. The Council is considered one of — if not the leading — advocate for consumer-owned electric utilities in the Northwest and a leading supporter of hydroelectric power and dams. The report used federal and state data from various dams and the Washington Department of Fish And Wildlife and showed that salmon and steelhead are making a strong comeback.

As far back as 2009-2010 the data showed the following:

  • Summer Chinook salmon – 24% greater than 10-year return average.
  • Fall Chinook salmon – 60% higher than 10-year return average.
  • Sockeye salmon – Twice the levels observed over the last 10 years.
  • Coho salmon – third highest return since 1986.

The data says salmon counts (2009-2010) are higher than when they were first counted at Bonneville Dam in 1938, when the fish counting began. The data being compiled today shows improvements or at least maintenance of those 2009-2010 levels.

Salmon and some steelhead populations were protected by an Endangered Species Act in the early 1990s, but considerable restoration and environmental efforts have brought them back strongly.

The Salmon Recovery Board 2011-2013 budget has, according to its website, an operating budget of $4.2 million and $216 million in capital. That’s a total of $220.2 million annually. The capitol money is given in grants towards projects the state deems will improve salmon runs, spawning grounds, and habitats.

While salmon recovery efforts should continue, and science and technology need to continue to improve power generating methods that involve water and dams,   the belief at the state level that salmon are near extinction is just not accurate.





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