Skeptical ranchers mark salmon project's 20th year
Written byJOHN MILLER, Associated Press
When state and federal officials swooped into Salmon, Idaho, in 1992 to herald a new effort to help restore the Lemhi River's damaged salmon and steelhead habitat, Don Olson feared it was yet another bureaucratic takeover of his valley.
Olson, who runs 500 head of cattle in this isolated central Idaho region, thought ranchers already were doing enough to restore fish runs that had plummeted from thousands of Chinook salmon in past decades to just 15 pairs and resulted in an Endangered Species Act listing.
Twenty years later, the Upper Salmon Basin Watershed Program not only has survived, but it's been expanded to include the Salmon River's entire upper reaches in addition to the Lemhi and Pahsimeroi rivers. Its conciliatory aims remain unchanged: Improving areas for migratory fish to reproduce, while making sure ranchers can stay in business.
And the once-skeptical Olson? He's become an ardent backer of the program.VIEW ORIGINAL ARTICLE