Real quick, because it has been the holiday season and you might have missed these various articles here's the one that seemed to get the ball rolling from the Seattle Times (The Extraordinary effort to save sockeye salmon). Then there have been some really good posts over at Save Our Wild Salmon, seriously good stuff here and here and here. The first one of those especially as I have been desperately trying to get that point across with just about every sentence I form here. And then the Idaho Statesman got on board a train it never left since 1997 with another call for breaching here. And tomorrow it seems the Lewiston public will be treated to the first day of a two-month long exhibit brought to them by Washington State University design students; look for "Alternating Currents," at Cafe Sage in Lewiston from Dec. 6-Jan. 31. Read about it here. And while you are at it go visit the Friends of the Clearwater, because they do great work and alerted me to the exhibit in Lewiston.
And finally (kind of feels like the Academy Awards around here) the Idaho Conservation League is doing a good thing by suing Midas Gold who wants to reopen Stibnite in search for gold. Stibnite is an old mining town in my home county that springs to life when the price of gold goes through the roof. Midas Gold, a Canadian Company, is the next company to try to make a go of it at Stibnite. The problems are potentially numerous and let's be honest and realize that Stibnite hasn't been properly reclaimed from the last bunch. Maybe Midas Gold is the cleanest mining company ever to come around, and maybe they won't go bankrupt when the gold runs out (or when the price plummets again) and will stay around for many years after reclaiming the area in the greatest mine site reclamation ever known to man. Maybe. Maybe the Payette National Forest will demand the appropriate amount of a bond so that if they tuck tail and run rather than tuck their tailings somehwere safe, 14 years from now when this regime says the mine will be done, kaput and finished it can be reclaimed properly with or without Midas Gold. Maybe. But there are serious problems that this lawsuit could at the very least bring to the proper light. The operation is located in the upper stretches of the world's first river named by a property attorney (The East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River) no, seriously, that's the name and it probably has made more than one cartographer quit his job.
For those of you who sort of pay attention to things, the East Fork of the South Fork (for short, rimshot) is sort of recently famous in that a main tributary (Johnson Creek, now there's a good solid 'Merican name, or the South Fork of the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River) is the place where the Nez Perce said now wait a minute we've got hatchery Chinook making it with natural Chinook and we ain't seeing any problems. See, not only do I give you the proper names, I also provide context.
And therein lies the problem. We've got Chinook in this stream and Johnson Creek. Steelhead and bull trout are there too. This E.F.S.F.S.R. (for the government employees out there) dumps into the South Fork of the Salmon River (Chinook, steelhead, bull trout, kayakers). The kayakers aren't endangered, well individually, many of them are when they take on these streams, but not as a group or in the context of the Endangered Species Act. And the South Fork of the Salmon River dumps into the Salmon River and that leads to the Snake River and that leads to the Columbia River and then we get the Pacific Ocean.
Anywho (hate's a strong word, but don't you just hate people who use anywho?), geography buffs, this gold mine has some serious potential for environmental damage and at the very least this lawsuit should bring those risks to light. Perhaps it is also being filed to test this company's resolve or this company's financial resources (they do seem to get an enormous amount of articles that read like investor solicitations in the local paper) and these are important things that need to be tested. Why? Well, Valley County has not and may not recover from the last group that came in promising the world, who then disappeared leaving enormous debt, displaced unemployed workers and families and a resort that relies solely on its very good homeowner's association. So, it is good to see if this company has resolve and if this company has the resources. If they can't handle a lawsuit, then they sure shouldn't be allowed to start turning over dirt. So, again, recent news has really been rather pleasant.
So to sum up, there have been a lot of things happening in the let's save some wild salmon and wild steelhead world that are right down yours truly's alley (these are fat fastballs about mid-shin high and inside to a left hander, we golf those out of the park in case you wondered). But in case some of this stuff escapes you, do you remember your salmon history from about eight years ago or so when the Bush Administration wanted to count hatchery fish with the wild fish to determine if a fish should be on the Endangered Species List? Well, don't lose sight of this, because someone seriously needs to tell the Bonneville Power Administration that the Bush Administration left office in early 2009 and the Obama Administration is about to start its second term and hatchery fish don't count toward delisting. Sorry BPA, they just don't.