Most of the conservation community's fight with agencies such as the Bonneville Power Administration, which is a part of this press release, isn't a wholesale condemnation of the action agencies, which BPA is one, but rather it is a fight about the migratory corridor and the fact that the action agencies and NOAA show no signs of doing anything about the four lower Snake River dams and actually wish to roll back conservation community court success when it comes to court won spill. Therein lies the rub. I mean, don't get me wrong, we have some legitimate beefs with the action agencies and other agencies beyond the migratory corridor and dams, like their incessant need to kill all other native species that also happen to eat salmon before they think about altering a dam. Or their creating new and improved problems for salmon through their mitigation for say dredging the lower Columbia and the massive bird city they built on what is largely a Corps creation, East Sand Island. So, we have our beefs, but we do see the benefit in some of these things they are doing.
So, this upcoming press release that I am about to share does fall into the good category, I just wish I knew how good this agreement or this situation in perpetuity really is for salmon and steelhead. That's not a criticism, so much as a request for more information. Since they sought me out, maybe they will see this and respond. A conversation is ultimately the goal of a blog and this blog doesn't get much response, so I am left to assume the audience it does generate is either in complete agreement, illiterate, or a bunch of internet bots.
Anyway, to explain further, the conservation community isn't against these really good achievements in the fight to save wild salmon and steelhead. It's a lot like when I coached basketball, I was a dribble drive coach on offense and a man-to-man and one-three-one flex zone on defense. So, my offensive philosophy was first option, layup; second option, and one situation (offensive player makes layup while being fouled setting up a free throw, for those of you not from Kentucky, I mean for those of you who don't know basketball); third option, two free throws; fourth option, three pointer; fifth option (it better not get to a fifth option) non-stress mid-range jumper. So when I get onto the BPA, or the Army Corps of Engineers or the Bureau of Reclamation it is more to do with them playing a poor brand of basketball. You know, like how the Knicks play. Get to the rim and win, I always say. Take mid-range jumpers, prepare for a thumper. So, the action agencies keep lugging out these plans that keep taking mid-range, non-stressful jumpers (low percentage shots), while we keep suing them to in effect get to the rim, attack the basket, take winning the game into your own hands (breach some dams, fix the migratory corridor).
So, don't mistake that I or other conservation community people don't like this sort of thing you will read about in the press release below, just know saving wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia/Snake is an and one proposition. We have to do all the stuff and the way to win this thing is to drive to the basket and breach some dams.
Conservation agreement secures vital salmon habitat and Idaho ranch land
Easement protects nearly 5,000 acres along the Lemhi River
SALMON, Idaho – An historic agreement signed Wednesday by a Lemhi Valley rancher and state and federal agencies will conserve working ranch lands and protect critical spawning habitat for threatened salmon and steelhead populations.
The conservation easement permanently safeguards more than 20 miles of river and streamside habitat in the upper Lemhi River basin. This represents more than half the salmon and steelhead spawning habitat in the Lemhi Basin and is also important habitat for wildlife such as deer and elk.
“Growing up in Lemhi County, I developed a great appreciation for the land and the people who work it,” said landowner Karl Tyler, an Idaho native who splits time between his ranch near Leadore and a home in Missoula. “I’m proud to be able to make sure a portion of the Lemhi Valley maintains its rural character and to protect the qualities – including the fish and wildlife – that make it a special place.”
The conservation easement covers 4,862 acres of streamside and upland habitat owned by Tyler. It encompasses both sides of 11 miles of the Lemhi River, six miles of Big Springs Creek and four miles of other tributaries. These streams provide critical salmon-spawning habitat in the Lemhi Basin, while also providing clean water for irrigation, sport fishing and other downstream uses.
Under the conservation easement, the land will remain in Tyler’s ownership and traditional land uses will remain intact, but Tyler’s sale of the ranch’s development rights will protect the land from subdivision or other development in perpetuity.
“This is truly a win-win for everyone involved,” said Kristin Troy, executive director of the Lemhi Regional Land Trust, which facilitated the agreement. “It preserves the Lemhi Valley’s tradition of wide open land and cattle operations and will help achieve broader goals of protecting our valuable Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead.”
Funding for the agreement was provided jointly by the Bonneville Power Administration and Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation. Both agencies used funding pools set aside for salmon recovery to secure the easement with Tyler.
“This is a significant and historic agreement that all of the region can be proud of,” said Lorri Bodi, BPA’s vice president of Environment, Fish and Wildlife. “BPA and its partners have been working in the Lemhi for years to restore habitat. This agreement helps consolidate that progress. It’s a testament to the strength of partnerships and a demonstration of what we can accomplish by working together.”
The Idaho Office of Species Conservation said intact, healthy streams and banks such as those on Tyler’s ranch have a disproportionate benefit for wildlife habitat, particularly in arid eastern Idaho.
“This agreement is an investment with multiple benefits that will pay off for generations,” said Mike Edmondson, program supervisor at the Idaho Office of Species Conservation. “It protects a working Idaho landscape and it aids in the recovery of threatened salmon and steelhead – a perfect example of agriculture and the natural environment in harmony.”
About Lemhi Regional Land Trust
Established in 2005, the Lemhi Regional Land Trust, based in Salmon, is dedicated to conserving working ranches, clean water and wildlife habitat through voluntary conservation agreements that respect local values and private property rights. www.lemhilandtrust.org.
The Bonneville Power Administration, headquartered in Portland, Ore., is a nonprofit federal power marketer that sells wholesale electricity from 31 federal dams and one nuclear plant to 142 electric utilities in eight western states. BPA also funds one of the largest fish and wildlife programs in the world, including programs dedicated to salmon recovery. www.bpa.gov