Here are my main complaints:
There is no mention or evaluation of lower Snake dam removal, none whatsoever. The biop is loaded with the removal of anthro... (oh I'll just use common English) man-made barriers in tributaries, but from my perspective they are four barrier removals shy of a full deck. So they are begrudgingly going to spill and they are going to do several refits and rebuilds to essentially create a riverine environment as the smolts pass through the slackwater reservoirs and dams. In short, they are going to keep doing what they've been doing and then add some modifications that won't lead to saving juvenile or adult salmon and we waste another four years that could have been the first four years of wild salmon and steelhead recovery versus another four years of holding our breath and wondering if this is when they wink out of existence.
The biop goes on and on about all the various predator management. The pikeminnow sport bounty program is greenlighted. I remind you all of a couple of things, pikeminnow (as annoying as they are) are native species whose population explosion in the Columbia/Snake is directly related to the existence of the hydrosystem. Sea lions at the Bonneville fish ladder, who are the absolute least of the salmon's worries, will get harrassed and killed. Bonneville Dam kills four times as many returning adults as do the sea lions at the base of the ladder and our fisheries that we open up each year do that or more (but sea lions are the reason our salmon don't recover, it's pathetic and people buy into that crap all the time). And because you might need some emotional connection, check out this video of how we brand the offending sea lions first. Here for those of you who technologically challenged here is a video of it right here for you to watch. I'll continue writing below it.
And then the biop is full of study after study of (get this) HATCHERY FISH! OK, perhaps you are new to the Salmon Blog and perhaps you don't realize that in order to get the listed stocks of salmon off the endangered species list (that is the goal action agencies, right? It's not just a reason to get endless funding from taxpayers and ratepayers for endless "scientific" inquiry into the wrong fish, right?) Anyway, in order to get the listed fish off the endangered species list we need the WILD fish (those spawned and reared in the wild) to return to those places at a rate never seen in the 20 some odd years since that one fish came looking for love and didn't find it in Redfish Lake. So, countless studies on hatchery fish ain't getting us toward the goal (if that is indeed the goal). It would be the goal if the action agencies weren't who they are: Bonneville Power Administration (think they need dams to do what they do, market power), Army Corps of Engineers (never met running water they didn't want to block), and Bureau of Reclamation (hello, existence depends on dams). So they are going to waste a whole lot of money studying hatchery fish and at least they are smart enough to get a story in the Idaho Statesman before the deadline on this biop comment period to say the new sockeye hatchery will mean a sockeye fishery for Idaho anglers.
They have divided and conquered on that point all along, anglers are silent when they gots the hatchery fish running.
I think my main complaint with the new biop is there is no pathway to getting these fish off the endangered/threatened lists they are on and that is by design. This simply perpetuates "scientific" study into everything except that which would actually allow these wild stocks of fish to return from the brink of extinction.
Any serious inquiry into COMPLYING WITH THE LAW, would include an evaluation of lower Snake Dam breaching.
It's like the heart surgeon who sees the giant blockage and rather than address that with a stent or bypass, the doctor decides the patient really needs some bandages on the toes and fingers and maybe an antacid. It's the doctor who sees the tumor and decides what the patient really needs is acupuncture.
That's what this biop is, it does not get these wild fish off these lists. It simply perpetuates the bureaucratic beast at your expense and wild salmon and steelhead continue to disappear from our waters.
The problem, however, is I don't see people getting outraged about this at all. At a time when we are some $16 or is it $17 trillion in debt, hardly any of you are outraged about the perpetuation of illegal plans that have no way of being successful in achieving the stated "goals" of the action agencies. Anglers won't care enough because they probably caught a hatchery salmon or steelhead or several in the past few years and the fact that the wild fish are disappearing doesn't matter to them. Anyone can go to the stream bank and if you catch a beautiful wild fish with an adipose fin, the angler next to you will most likely say, "aw, man that's too bad, you have to put that fish back." Yep, it's a shame the fish you have to release will go and either fertilize or lay some 5,000 wild eggs that might mean 2-4 adults returning in a few years. But it's not a shame that I can't take the wild fish home to my freezer.
Where is the outrage? This isn't a time to simply and politely say we disagree. This is the time to put our feet down and demand a plan that actually gets these fish off these lists and recovered. This biop, doesn't come anywhere near that, it ought to be called the buy-off because when you look at all the little projects within, it's easy to see why there isn't a lot of outrage out there because chances are very good that someone you know or you, yourself is going to somehow be enriched by this incredible boondoggle that guarantees the extinction of wild Snake River Basin salmon and steelhead. Seriously, I'm shocked I didn't see a line item to somehow buy me off in the plan. (note to reader, that can only be done by recovering the endangered and threatened wild stocks of salmon and steelhead, so snowball's chance there under current leadership among the inaction agencies)
Read it for yourself, you'll see.