Salmon conference highlights value of community-based efforts
Salmon recovery in North Central Washington has to a great extent proved to be a collaborative, community-centered exercise rather than one by driven by top-down regulatory enforcement.
The culture in this region is that most of us want to work together to build both a strong economy and a healthy environment together. Face-to-face relationship building is key to finding balance.
That’s exactly how salmon recovery has functioned over the past two decades here since the Endangered Species Act listings began. This week, the Wenatchee Convention Center will host the biannual Salmon Conference that will bring together scientists and those working on the challenging dynamics of salmon recovery to share what they are learning.
Ironically, this meeting comes at a time when the Trump administration is recommending zeroing out the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, the primary funding source for this collaborative, community-based approach to restoring salmon runs.
There’s an excellent piece by Barbara Cairns of Pyramid Communications and former deputy director of the Fish and Wildlife Foundation for Crosscut.com on the value of the salmon recovery effort.
“Washington decided not to wait for the federal government to draft and impose recovery plans required under the federal Endangered Species Act,” she writes. “We organized ourselves by region and watershed. Community leaders, science agencies, land trusts and non-profits, conservation districts and fishery enhancement groups coordinated under the leadership of county commissioners and tribal leaders — and we wrote our own recovery plans. Today, we’re halfway through their implementation.”
So many local groups are doing excellent work here, including Trout Unlimited, the Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, Cascadia Conservation District and the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board, to name a few.
Freelance writer Mara Bohman wrote a four-part series in The Wenatchee World highlighting the state of salmon restoration in our region as a preview to the conference. You might also be interested in an interview I did with Bishop Emeritus William Skylstad about the growing faith-based support for a more balanced approach to caring for our environment. That can be found on the artofcommunityncw.com web site.
In the Wenatchee Valley, Trout Unlimited worked with Pioneer Water District a few years ago to get grant funds to pressurize an ancient water system that provides water for users and at the same time has put a significant amount of water back in the Wenatchee River for fish. It was a classic win-win solution that has characterized salmon recovery efforts here.We owe it to future generations to continue and expand this work. Community-centered approaches work.