Little vows to fight for abundant, sustainable salmon populations through work group

Following through on a promise that he would assemble a panel to address salmon issues, Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Wednesday announced the panel’s members and plans for its first meeting.

He first announced the formation of the panel during the April 23 Andrus Center Environmental Conference in Boise.

The first meeting of the Governor’s Salmon Workgroup will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 28 in the Idaho Room at the Idaho State Museum in Boise’s Julia Davis Park. The meeting is open to the public. Little is scheduled to address the group at 8:30 a.m.

“Idaho has shown time after time we are a leader in collaborative conservation efforts in the Northwest,” Little said in a news release. “I sincerely look forward to receiving the policy recommendations from my Salmon Workgroup. Together we will develop effective salmon and steelhead policy for Idaho to ensure that abundant and sustainable populations of salmon and steelhead exist for present and future generations to enjoy.”

Little has directed the group to develop Idaho-based, innovative policy recommendations for Idaho salmon and steelhead recovery.

The workgroup, comprising 20 representatives from industry, conservation, sportsmen, state and local leaders, along with a staff member from the state’s Office of Species Conservation, will host several public meetings throughout Idaho. The meeting schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.

Workgroup members include:

Roy Aikin, Idaho River Community Alliance

Paul Arrington, Idaho Water Users Association

Merrill Beyeler, former state representative and rancher

Brian Brooks, Idaho Wildlife Federation

David Doeringsfeld, Port of Lewiston

Brett Dumas, Idaho Power

Ladd Edmo, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes

Kira Finkler, Trout Unlimited

Will Hart, Idaho Consumer Owner Utilities Association

Scott Hauser, Upper Snake River Tribes Foundation

Justin Hayes, Idaho Conservation League

Sen. Dan Johnson, Idaho State Senate

Aaron Lieberman, Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association

Mark Menlove, The Nature Conservancy

Joe Oatman, Nez Perce Tribe

Scott Pugrud, Office of Species Conservation administrator

Stacey Satterlee, Idaho Grain Producers

Richard Scully, sportsman

John Simpson, Barker Rosholt & Simpson LLP

Rep. Fred Wood, Idaho House of Representatives

Jim Yost, Northwest Power and Conservation Council

Following Wednesday’s announcement, some of the group’s members issued news releases applauding Little’s actions:

Kira Finkler, Trout Unlimited: “Idaho’s salmon and steelhead runs are shadows of their former selves. We need innovative thinking and bold action to bring them back to healthy, abundant levels throughout the Snake Basin. Gov. Little’s decision to form the salmon working group is exactly the kind of leadership that will help us come together to find Idaho-grown, collaborative solutions. We look forward to working with all of our fellow participants to develop recommendations for the governor.”

Justin Hayes, Idaho Conservation League: “We thank Gov. Little for his leadership in convening a working group on salmon recovery and appreciate his invitation to participate. We look forward to working together with other stakeholders to find a solution for bringing healthy, sustainable populations of wild steelhead and salmon back to Idaho.”

At the same Andrus Center conference, U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, also advocated for new salmon recovery efforts and vowed to look into enacting a new Northwest Power Plan. The plan addresses the Columbia River’s hydroelectric dams’ impact on fish and wildlife.

Related stories from Tacoma News Tribune

Idaho Statesman investigative reporter Cynthia Sewell was named Idaho Press Club reporter of the year in 2017 and 2008. A University of Oregon graduate, she joined the Statesman in 2005. Her family has lived in Idaho since the mid-1800s.