PAT NEAL: Thank you for reading this

Thank you for reading this. Somebody must. I know this from all of the wonderful cards and letters you send.

In this country, we have a First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Which dovetails with a system of free enterprise that we call a newspaper. In which, I have demonstrated that virtually anyone, even a guy who rows a boat for a living, can write a freelance newspaper column.

The term “freelance” is newspaper talk for “unemployed.”

Meaning I don’t work for a newspaper, I just send stuff in. Writing a weekly wilderness gossip column is more than a job and more than an honor. It is a privilege. It is something that I would never attempt alone. It takes a village.

That is why I would like to take this opportunity to thank the myriad government agencies that work overtime providing the raw material for this column.

For example, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has us buy our new fishing licenses on April Fool’s Day, but they don’t reveal the fishing rules until June or July or whenever. They prefer to keep the fishing laws a secret for as long as possible so that as many people as possible will buy a license before they find out they can’t go fishing.

That’s funny. I have to write it down.

Then, in the event you actually do get your fishing license and punch cards, these documents are printed with ink that disappears when it gets wet, making it nearly impossible for you to record your catch.

You have to admit that’s funny. I couldn’t possibly make that up.

I never claimed to know everything, but I do know something. And that is you judge people and institutions by what they do.

Using this analysis, I have been critical of the so-called Salmon Restoration Industry or what I call the Extinction-for-Profit Industry, since it seems like the more tax money we give them, the more endangered our fish become.

Upon examination, it is revealed that this industry doesn’t claim it will restore salmon.

Instead, they will restore the habitat the salmon might one day return to. When asked why there are threatened or endangered fish inside pristine habitats like Olympic National Park, they say it is because of what happens when the fish leave the pristine habitat. I agree.

However, this logically would mean that habitat restoration alone will not restore our salmon.

While some environmentalists claim hatchery fish harm native populations, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals does not agree.

In its 2017 ruling, the National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA and the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe prevailed in their argument to use hatchery fish to restore the Elwha River.

It is not true that I badmouth fish hatchery managers. It is true that I “bash fish and wildlife agencies.”

Just look at page 128 of our current Washington fishing regulations, where it says you must release all invasive green crabs. You know, the ones that are predicted to wipe out our Dungeness crab, oysters, clams and the eelgrass they live in.

Or check out page 21, where it says release all of the so-called threatened or endangered Dolly Varden/Bull Trout. These fish are neither threatened nor endangered — or a trout. They are a prolific predator of our salmon that endangers salmon restoration.

It’s all part of a pattern where we protect the predators of our fisheries, then wonder why our fisheries are endangered.

Exposing these and other obvious frauds is an easy job, but somebody has to do it.

Thank you for reading this.

_________

Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via [email protected]

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