(Nespelem, WA)—The Chairman of the Colville Business Council expressed support for finding a regional solution to restore salmon in the Columbia River and expressed appreciation for the willingness of Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID) to offer a region wide proposal.
Earlier this month, Congressman Simpson released his “Northwest in Transition” proposal after nearly three years of stakeholder meetings. The proposal calls for more than $33 billion for various activities, including salmon restoration, in exchange for certainty for the energy, agriculture, and transportation sectors. The proposal can be found on Congressman Simpson’s website at https://simpson.house.gov/salmon/.
“The Colville Tribes agrees that the Northwest has been stuck in the status quo when it comes to restoring salmon on the Columbia River” said Rodney Cawston, Chairman of the Colville Business Council, the governing body of the Colville Tribes. “We share Congressman Simpson’s vision that a region wide solution is achievable by working with Tribes both in the lower and upper Columbia River and affected stakeholders.”
Cawston noted the Colville Tribes’ obvious interest in the proposal given the geographic proximity of the Colville Reservation to the Columbia. “We are one of two Northwest Indian tribes that is located on the mainstem of the Columbia River,” Cawston said, noting that the Tribes’ presence on the river extends northward to Canada when including the North Half, a 1.5-million-acre area set aside as part of the undivided Colville Reservation in 1872. The Colville Tribes continue to exercise hunting, fishing, and other federally secured rights in the North Half despite the area being opened to the public domain in the late 1800s.
“The Colville Reservation and the North Half collectively border 215 miles of the Columbia, so we are a huge presence on the River,” said Cawston. Cawston added that reintroducing salmon to the Upper Columbia has been a goal since the Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams blocked that habitat more than eight decades ago. The Upper Columbia United Tribes, an organization that represents the Colville Tribes and four other upper Columbia Indian tribes, demonstrated the feasibility of reintroduction of salmon in those areas in a 2015 report.
“The Colville Tribes looks forward to engaging with stakeholders in hopes of finding common ground and wishes to thank Congressman Simpson for focusing our collective attention on the importance of salmon to the region,” Cawston said.