The Obama administration is poised to make a decision this week that could change the fate of endangered species in this country. On May 20, the Administration will release a federal salmon plan that will do one of two things for endangered wildlife: protect the Endangered Species Act, or weaken it. A decision to weaken the ESA for the West’s iconic Columbia and Snake River salmon could send an ecological ripple across the country — affecting every endangered species in the nation.
And the situation doesn’t look good. Instead of charting its own path, the administration is working off an illegal Bush administration plan for endangered salmon.
Because they return to the biggest, highest and best-protected habitat in America, endangered Snake River salmon are slated as the West’s best chance to save salmon for future generations in an environment threatened by climate change. These cold, crisp waters of spanning three Western states — Washington, Oregon and Idaho, will remain cold under warming climates, protecting these one-of-a-kind salmon with a one-of-a-kind habitat. Making the wrong decision on these rivers would effectively dam (pun fully intended) these salmon to extinction.
The Columbia-Snake Rivers may not be in your own backyard, but the effects of this decision certainly will be.
PHOTO courtesy University of Washington, Thomas Quinn