Washington and Oregon recently closed salmon and steelhead recreation fishing for parts of the Columbia River. Upstream, the Idaho Department of Fish & Game Commissioners voted to close the steelhead season throughout the Clearwater Basin, as well the Snake River near Lewiston. Soon thereafter, the Lewis Clark Valley Chamber of Commerce voted to cancel the annual weeklong Clearwater Snake Steelhead derby.
The economic repercussions of these closed fishing seasons are now being felt. Many local guides are being laid off and scrambling to find jobs elsewhere. In-state and out-of-state anglers are cancelling trips, including large corporate groups. These individuals spend money on plane tickets, car rentals, hotel rooms, groceries, and souvenirs in our region. According to Idaho Fish & Game, salmon and steelhead anglers on average spend $350 per fishing trip. According to Idaho Department of Labor, these same anglers bring in over $8.5 million per month to our region. None of this takes into account money these local outfitters, guides and other business owners spend in local communities through wages earned.
Thank you to members of the Idaho River Community Alliance for writing Governor Little and imploring him to consider the vast benefits of breaching the lower Snake dams. By the time the governor's salmon work group finalizes its mission statement, Idaho's fish runs will be extinct, and our communities will be impoverished. One of the greatest fisheries in America is on the verge of collapse. It’s time to transport our grain via rail.