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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
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Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

For the week of December 5 - 11, 2001


Fish mean money

Idahoís salmon and steelhead deserve more respect.

Salmon came back to the state this year in the biggest run since 1997. It put smiles on fishermenís faces and made cash registers ring.

A total of 140,860 hatchery fish returned to Idaho. Fishermen caught 43,300 of them last spring and summer.

A survey by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game showed salmon anglers spent $46.2 million in the state as they pursued Idahoís finned legacy. Thatís an average of $371 per fishing trip.

Thatís not chump change, especially in the depressed hamlets that border the Snake, Salmon, Clearwater and Boise rivers.

Steelhead runs were also at record levels with the highest returns since 1938. They racked up additional revenues for business and the state this fall, but totals arenít in yet.

Given their demonstrated economic benefits, itís a mystery why salmon and steelhead get no respect.

If companies, ranches or farms generated this kind of money in small towns, Idaho officials would fall all over themselves to ensure their survival.

Instead, Idaho has actively opposed measures like breaching dams and drawing down reservoirs to ensure salmon survival. Runs are dying out not only without a whimper from officialdom, but with its approval.

The high fish returns this year are the result of a few high water years that meant fewer smolts died on the way to the ocean. Unless something is done soon to improve survival rates, these magnificent fish will eventually become extinct in Idaho.

Itís one thing to blow off a bunch of fish. Itís quite another to blow off millions in revenue that salmon and steelhead could bring to Idaho every year.

Fish mean money. Idaho should net the bounty instead of letting these trophy species slip away.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.