Maine Governor Fighting Salmon Recovery

How discouraging to see the Governor of Maine, who just bowed and scraped for the voices of ignorance and superstition who are lobbying to keep native alewives out of their biggest sanctuary anywhere, still fighting the recovery of Atlantic salmon. Maine says it wants to be an “equal partner,” but an equal partner in what? Ushering Salmo salar into oblivion? Never has it has committed itself to the recovery of a fish that belongs to the whole nation and that we have essentially lost thanks to state misfeasance.

STATE OF MAINE
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
1 STATE HOUSE STATION
AUGUSTA, MAINE
04333-0001

JOHN ELIAS BALOACCI

June 30, 2008
Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240
Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary
US Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave.,NW
Washington, DC 20230

Dear Secretaries Kempthorne and Gutierrez:

I am writing to you to express my disappointment in both the USFWS and NOAA

Fisheries as it relates to promises made to me related to the Endangered Species Act and
the listing of Atlantic salmon. I ask for a meeting with you at the earliest possible time.

In 2003, the State of Maine agreed to drop our lawsuit against the Services over the
listing of Atlantic salmon. We dropped this lawsuit based on the assurance of then
Secretaries Norton and Evans that Maine would be considered an equal partner in the
development of recovery and annual work plans, and there would be no further expansion
of the geographic area referred to as the current Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of
Atlantic Salmon as defined by the Endangered Species Act without direct and meaningful
consultation.

It is my understanding that the Services are preparing to release a new proposed rule
through the Federal Register and are proposing to expand the current DPS. This
expanded geographic area would include the historic Atlantic salmon habitat in the
Androscoggin, Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers. It is also my understanding that on a
parallel track you will also be releasing a proposed rule that define Critical Habitat in
both the current and the proposed expanded DPS. This expansion will roughly
encompass 2/3 of the State of Maine.

The Endangered Species Act has yet to produce increased returns of Atlantic salmon to
rivers in the Mid Coast and Downeast Maine. Important work has been completed
protecting habitat, improving water quality and identifying threats. However, this work
has not increased the net number of salmon. The best Atlantic salmon scientists from
your Agencies and the Maine Department of Marine Resources believe that we must
focus our efforts on what we have control over. Marine survival is a huge and perplexing
factor that we have little control over. Our efforts here in Maine must be placed in this
perspective.

I am very concerned about the relationship between thetwo federal services - NOAA and
USFWS - and the "joint" responsibility for Atlantic salmon management. This current
approach may be the biggest threat that faces the recovery of the last wild Atlantic
salmon in the United States. The Services continued disagreement over how to proceed
with planning and annual priorities slows recovery and often stymies research and
creative thinking and management options that are needed in this effort. Delays caused
by intra-agency disagreement undermine good wi11for the program here in Maine.
Based on a June 19,2003 letter sent to me by NOAA's Northeast Administrator, Patricia
Kurkul, and then USFWS' s Acting Regional Director, Rick Bennett, the Services agreed
to the following:

1. To work cooperatively with the State to finish the Federal Recovery Plan and to
develop joint annual work plans that focus on the highest priority recovery
actions.

2. Prior to any decisions to expand the existing DPS the Services would publish a
draft rule in the Federal Register and allow full public comment on said rules.
And furthermore it was "[your] intent to involve the State in discussions of
options prior to developing any proposal, if one is warranted."

3. Implementation of any recovery plan would be donejointly by the Services and
the State to avoid any future disputes.

4. All parties will use all ESA tools legally available to help landowners, industry
and the State to accommodate the requirements of the ESA.
This letter also stated the goal of maintaining an open line of communication, "even if
there are points upon which we do not fully agree."

While I am pleased with the Services cooperative approach to the creation of joint
management plans, as well as a new Atlantic Salmon Management Framework, I am
deeply troubled that the promise to discuss ESA options prior to developing a new
proposed rule with open lines of communications on areas of disagreement has not been
fully honored.

At this time I am requesting that you keep the commitments of your predecessors
and come to Maine at your earli%7Est convenience -- and prior to the release of any
Federal Register notice --to discuss listing options with the State. I see this meeting
as the best possible way to ensure continued cooperative collaboration with the State
of Maine.

Please contact Karin Tilberg in my office ((207) 287-3531) to schedule this meeting.

cc Senator Olympia Snowe
Senator Susan Collins
Congressman Tom Allen
Congressman Mike Michaud
Lynn Scarlett, Assistant Secretary of Interior
Dale Hale, USFWS Director
Marvin Moriarty, Northeast Regional Director ofUSFWS
Vice Admiral Lautenbacher, NOAA Administrator
Bill Brennan, Deputy Administrator of NOAA
James Balsiger, Assistant Administrator of NOAA
Pat Kurkul, Regional Northeast Administrator of NOAA
Karin Tilberg, Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor
Mike Mahoney, Chief Counsel
George Lapointe, DMR Commissioner
Dan Martin, IFW Commissioner
Pat Keliher, Director Bureau of Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat