Salmon 2100: The Future of Wild Pacific Salmon

Saving Wild Salmon: Moving from Symbolic Politics to Effective Policy

Brent S. Steel


When our society encounters environmental problems—such as the demise of wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest and California—it is typically natural scientists and technical experts who have first identified the problem and then been recruited to research policies to mitigate or solve it. Our society assigns tremendous prestige to science and scientists; it is not surprising that citizens and policymakers alike have called upon them to resolve environmental challenges. While some members of the public and political establishment are skeptical about science, and others misuse or manipulate the scientific process, research conducted by myself and others across the Pacific Northwest has found strong support among the public, interest group representatives, and natural resource managers for the ability of science to be objective and to provide important information to agencies and decision makers when formulating policies concerning natural resources (Steel et al. 2004).