Environment Alaska On How Feds Can Help Solve State’s Salmon Crisis

Alaska Environment Action state director Dyani Chapman wrote a column for the Alaska Beacon about how federal funding would be a massive help to the state’s struggling salmon runs. Here’s a sample:

Warming oceans are a real threat to Alaska’s salmon. Additionally, global warming has created droughts in parts of the state and has fed historic wildfires. Loss of vegetation can cause erosion that spills into streams, disrupting salmon spawning beds. Similarly, disappearing glaciers mean less water flowing into those streams, threatening the fish’s ability to return for spawning. Man-made hazards like mines and dams present existential threats.

Better than waiting for a species to decline, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act allows state fish and wildlife officials to take proactive measures such as comprehensive and ongoing monitoring to set the right limits on fishing each season, ensuring water is only diverted when there is sufficient flow, habitat restoration and pollution reduction. We’ve watched as salmon populations in the Lower 48 declined and even disappeared. There’s no excuse for that happening again. It would be particularly traumatic in Alaska. Here, salmon feed people and other wildlife and, after death, fertilize riverbanks. 

Salmon, fisheries and Alaskans all benefit if we take meaningful action before any species gets to the point where they need to be added to the endangered list. We must maintain and restore the abundance of Alaska’s salmon; Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will provide necessary resources to act.

After the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act initially made it through Congress, but a late snag prevented the bill from being finalized. GOP House members offered up an amended bill, so we’ll see how it progresses.