It’s not really new, this plan to protect the “last best salmon habitat,” as proposed in a bill submitted to Congress by Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell and several of her fellow senators. See my story in today’s Kitsap Sun.
The legislation is called the Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act.
Cantwell acknowledges that the focus of the bill is consistent with a basic principle of conservation biology: protect the best first. See Cantwell’s press release.
In Washington state, “Critical areas ordinances,” adopted by local governments as a requirement of the Growth Management Act, require protection of fish and wildlife habitat, not just for endangered species. But these are considered minimal standards, probably not the kind of protection envisioned by the new Salmon Stronghold Act.
While the idea of protecting the best is not new, this may be the first time anyone has proposed a dedicated pot of money for such a cause, money to be overseen by a partnership of state and federal officials throughout the region.
Cantwell is quick to point out that the bill doesn’t need to take away from ongoing efforts to restore salmon.
“While current federal salmon recovery efforts focus on recovering salmon listed under the Endangered Species Act aiming to restore what we’ve lost, the Salmon Stronghold Act aims to protect what we already have,” said Cantwell. “This legislation complements ongoing recovery efforts to ensure the future viability of healthy wild Pacific salmon runs for generations to come.”
Bill Ruckelshaus of the Puget Sound Partnership endorses the
“This bill is an excellent complement to the Endangered Species Act and international salmon treaties. By protecting the best remaining Pacific salmon ecosystems throughout their range, wild salmon cannot only survive, but thrive, for generations to come.”
Download a copy of the bill and check out some additional background on the Web site of the Oregon-based Wild Salmon Center.