On Oct. 9, the four Northwest governors (Jay Inslee, Kate Brown, Brad Little and Steve Bullock) issued a statement making a joint “commitment between the four signatory states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana to work together to rebuild Columbia River salmon and steelhead stocks and to advance the goals of the Columbia Basin Partnership Task Force.”
This is potentially good news.
Conservationists and commercial and recreational fishing advocates have been calling on our elected leaders to step up and bring together sovereigns and stakeholders to accomplish what the federal government has failed to do over the past 20+ years: recover endangered Columbia Basin salmon, steelhead and salmon-dependent Southern Resident orcas.
And here they are, four Northwest governors promising to do just that.
But, and it’s a big but, this is good news only if their as-yet-undefined process is infused with a sense of the urgency of the situation; is decision- and action-oriented; fully involves Northwest tribes; and commands the support and active engagement of our U.S. senators and representatives.
Otherwise, there’s danger of it devolving into a multi-year talkfest, while salmon and orcas remain in peril, as do the North Olympic Peninsula tribes and communities that cherish and depend on these iconic creatures.