SPOKANE, Wash. - More than 50 Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho
businesspeople are asking Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray to
back a new approach to saving Columbia River salmon. They want the two
Washington senators to support a new round of discussions with everyone
at the table - from farmers and fishermen to utility companies.
Chris Kopczynski, who owns a Spokane construction company, signed the
letter to the senators. He says an uncertain future for salmon also
means an uncertain future for the region.
"I think I speak for a lot of people who are afraid to speak because
it's such a sensitive issue, with power. None of our elected leaders has
taken a stand - it's a gutsy stand. We've got to get rid of our
arrogance and realize that we have to give back a little bit to this
Sam Mace, inland northwest director of the coalition Save Our Wild
Salmon, notes that groups facing similar challenges to endangered
fish in the West have managed to reach agreements. She thinks all sides
in Washington would also be willing to talk.
"There are costs and benefits to any path that we take, and we have not
had any sort of honest conversation that can actually bring certainty,
not just to the fishermen and recreational businesses, but also farmers
and shippers and others."
Both Washington senators have been supportive of salmon recovery
efforts, but neither has championed any recent plan or legislation. The
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says hatchery fish will be
abundant this year, but wild salmon, particularly Columbia River coho
numbers, are down. The letter appeared as a full-page ad in this week's
Pacific Northwest Inlander.