Federal efforts to recover endangered salmon on the Columbia and Snake rivers can no longer ignore global warming, which already has fundamentally changed the river and ocean habitats of salmon and steelhead, warns a new scientific review.
The report, A Great Wave Rising, by former chief of fisheries for the state of Oregon Jim Martin and National Wildlife Federation global warming expert Patty Glick, is the latest to reaffirm that global warming’s effects are underway with worse changes to come. It is the first to offer federal managers a set of strategic global warming solutions necessary for the recovery of endangered Columbia and Snake river salmon and steelhead and the communities and industries that depend on them.
Those solutions, or any meaningful accounting of climate change, have been missing from federal plans to date. The authors, labeling global warming an “overarching threat” to salmon survival, call for the recommended solutions to be incorporated immediately into federal recovery efforts.
“Neither salmon, the icons of the Northwest, nor the communities and industries that depend upon them can afford to wait any longer for real action,” said Martin, who led Oregon’s salmon recovery efforts under Governor John Kitzhaber earlier this decade, and serves as an advisor to fishing business and conservation groups. “We have entered the age of global warming and any legal and effective federal recovery effort must include global warming solutions.”
“Salmon are exceptionally resilient and flexible, and they will need all that resilience to survive global warming. We offer a scientifically robust strategy that has so far been missing in federal actions,” said report co-author Patty Glick, senior policy specialist with the National Wildlife Federation. “Solutions are not only available; they can and must be implemented now.”
Their findings are being released a month before federal agencies’ expected May 5th unveiling of yet another court-ordered plan to recover endangered Columbia basin salmon and steelhead. The federal plan – called a Biological Opinion or BiOp -- will guide salmon recovery efforts in the seven-state Columbia and Snake river basin for the next decade. Three previous BiOps were ruled illegal for failing to comply with the Endangered Species Act.A Great Wave Rising’s findings, based on a thorough review of the scientific record:
The report identifies three principles to incorporate into Columbia Basin salmon recovery that are global warming specific: reconnect salmon to high headwater habitats; protect healthy flows and cool waters in headwater areas; and reduce human-caused mortalities to adult and especially to juvenile salmon in the main stems of the Columbia and Snake rivers. The report recommends eight detailed actions based on these principles, including:
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