Salmon 2100: The Future of Wild Pacific Salmon

The Keys to Success: A Landscape Approach and Making Economics Work for Conservation

John H. Lombard


Fundamental, unprecedented changes in the way our society uses land and water, and how we price many goods and activities in the marketplace, are necessary to recover wild salmon runs across much of the Pacific Northwest and California over the next century. In advocating these changes, this chapter makes four fundamental arguments:

• Most parts of the Pacific Northwest and California can maintain or recover significant, sustainable runs of wild salmon even with a doubling or more of their human populations. Sustainable growth is not possible forever, but the impacts of large and probably unavoidable increases in population can be mitigated at the landscape scale if we make difficult but not unworkable choices concerning land use and water withdrawals.
• The substantial cost of this effort can be met by eliminating or dramatically reducing subsidies for environmental degradation. We currently withdraw water for free, paying only to treat and convey it; we subsidize roads and development with general taxes; and we grant permits for the free discharge of pollutants. Taxes and fees to reduce or eliminate these and other subsidies for environmental degradation could easily pay for an ambitious conservation program while addressing all four “policy drivers” for the decline of salmon identified by Lackey et al. (2006, this volume) in Chapter 3.
• Success or failure is largely in the hands of the people who live in the region.—The key issues of land and water use and natural resource tax policy are largely under the control of state, provincial, and local governments. To the extent that national governments influence the outcome, their policies regarding population levels (particularly immigration) and tribal treaty rights may prove at least as important as national environmental regulations, programs, or spending.