The 2010 Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund was not funded by the US House of Representatives in the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill. President Obama had called for $50 million to aid restoring the species, but Congressman Doc Hastings’ (R-WA) amendment was rejected by House Democrats. Funding for salmon recovery was not eliminated entirely, but the money will be transferred to a “broad, nationwide, federal-agency-driven recovery program that dilutes salmon dollars to any project of any sort anywhere in the country, including salmon that aren’t endangered or at risk.”
After a second consecutive canceled commercial salmon season in California and a third year of drought, west coast salmon are on the brink. The Salmon Recovery Fund provides grants to tribes and states for “recovering endangered, threatened, at-risk and important tribal salmon runs, including through habitat conservation.” Representative Hastings explains why funding the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund is so important:
The Recovery Fund has earned bipartisan support for almost a decade due to its on-the-ground focus by allocating funds directly to states…It simply makes no sense to eliminate a successful grants-to-states program with bipartisan support and steal the funds away for a new, hollow nationwide program that places no emphasis or value on endangered Northwest salmon over thriving fish runs elsewhere. My blocked amendment sought simply to support the Obama Administration position on funding Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery and rejecting its elimination.
The US Senate may come to the rescue of the Salmon Recovery Fund. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) “included $80 million for the salmon fund in the fiscal year 2010 Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill.” Senator Murray explains:
When it comes to salmon recovery, ignoring the specific needs of the Northwest is unacceptable. Our region’s economic, historic, cultural and recreational well-being is tied to a sustainable salmon population.
Representative Hastings has applauded her efforts, “I appreciate Senator Murray’s strong leadership on this issue and applaud her successful efforts to restore funds needed to protect endangered Pacific Northwest salmon.” With Obama’s support, the Salmon Recovery Fund may still provide vital funds to this important fishery. If we can bail out the banks, can’t we bail out the salmon?