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Northwest businesses seek new salmon policy

Northwest business, fishing and food industry leaders are asking for a new approach to salmon policy. From Richland, Courtney Flatt has more.

A group of one thousand businesses is using a ruling recently issued by federal judge James Redden to call for a new look at salmon policy.

In a news conference, business owners and fishermen say they hope to bring key regional stakeholders to the table to restore all salmon runs to the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Spokane outdoor retailer Paul Fish says a healthy environment goes hand-in-hand with a healthy economy.

“The outdoor industry, which includes hunting and fishing, has a $730 billion impact on the United States economy.”

Business owners say healthy salmon runs affect much more than tourism and restaurants. Liz Hamilton is the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association executive director. She says there’s also a “hidden infrastructure”: Things like banking, tire manufacturers and insurance agencies.

Some federal agencies don’t see Redden’s opinion as a gateway to rehauling salmon policy. Rather, they look at it as way to retool the River’s habitat program. Organizers say they want to keep all options available, from habitat restoration to dam removal on the lower Snake River.