Salmon 2100: The Future of Wild Pacific Salmon

Follow the Money

Larry L. Bailey and Michelle L. Boshard


The failure of wild salmon recovery is obvious and so are the reasons for it. The failure is not occurring because we do not have the plans, technical knowledge, or ability; we have shelves full of plans, libraries of knowledge, and the ability to build or do almost anything we like. Instead, we have failed to integrate that messy variable, real life, into our salmon recovery equations.

We recognize that having well-designed, technically sound, and efficiently coordinated plans of attack for an issue as technically and socially complicated as wild salmon recovery is both necessary and prudent. But what has happened in the salmon recovery process is that we “experts” have collectively lost sight of the larger context in which salmon recovery occurs, the context in which we remember what we are trying to accomplish and who, logistically, needs to be involved. We have failed to include ground-truthed community feedback loops, which we believe has rendered all other attributes useless.

The tone of this chapter may, at times, seem angry. While we have experienced considerable frustration and disappointment during our years of work in salmon recovery, anger—implying a certain lack of reason—is not our approach. New, different, or passionately held ideas threaten the status quo. Those who are indeed angry—the landowners, legislators, and community leaders who have taken the blunt end of salmon recovery—often say that our work, including early drafts of this chapter, speaks for them by articulating what they see and feel. It is essential that this point of view be included in any discussion of the future of salmon recovery. Seeing these ideas and observations as an angry outburst may make them easier to dismiss, but it will not make them go away or be any less true.