Op-Ed: Concern about Idaho's waterways

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend the 34th Annual Water Law and Resource Issues seminar held by the Idaho Water Users Association.

The two day seminar was incredibly informative and Iím glad I attended.

I left thinking seriously about how these discussions applied to those of us living in southwest Idaho near the Snake River.

Last legislative session, several bills were passed to reinforce the primacy of Idahoís control over its waterways.

There has been a push by bordering states to force Idaho to implement their policies by holding long term agreements, like the Hellís Canyon project, hostage.

In particular, our neighbors want to impose fish passage and introduction into Idaho waterways on their own terms, regardless of Idahoís assertion of state sovereignty.

In addition to the Hellís Canyon demands made by the state of Oregon, a NOAA task force has been created involving multiple states and parties regarding Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead population management.

The purpose of the task force is to discuss salmon recovery population numbers after potential delisting as an endangered species.

I was happy to hear that Idaho had taken a lead in this project in an attempt to curb the often overly aggressive policies of bordering states and federal regulators.

The Idaho work group made an effort to set real objectives on actual recorded historical populations rather than create hypothetical wish lists.

These results have been provided to other interested parties and states and are even being used in some of their own projections.

It is my hope that with solid Idaho leadership, we can have reasonable and attainable goals when delisting occurs rather than unreasonable federal mandates.

Though the NOAA task force solution is still in process and currently has no enforcement authority, the sooner Idaho gets out in front with a solution that best suits the citizens of our great state, the better.

We should always strive for real, attainable, locally set goals rather than those imposed upon us by the federal government or any other jurisdiction.

As Idaho leads in this project, it reinforces the importance of state sovereignty and control of our waterways.

As always, if you have any additional questions, concerns or suggestions, you can e-mail me at mblanksma@house.idaho.gov.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve and I look forward to hearing from you.

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