Clallam commissioner touts salmon recovery - Tharinger claims "salmon recovery" and "restoration" may be the industry of the future

    By Diane Urbani De La PAZ
    Peninsula Daily News

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    “A lot of people around the state don’t agree,” Tharinger said, but this “recovery industry, to me, is a huge positive.” - Steve Tharinger

    Clallam County, WA - The millions of dollars paid out for salmon recovery in Washington state could also mean economic recovery on the North Olympic Peninsula, said Clallam County Commissioner Steve Tharinger, the Democrat from Dungeness.

    Tharinger, who represents Clallam County on the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board, touted local farmers’ water conservation efforts and the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe’s restoration of Jimmy-come-lately Creek as examples that bode well for environmental health.

    The two-term commissioner, who’s running for re-election on Nov. 6, introduced William Ruckelshaus, the keynote speaker at Saturday night’s Audubon Council of Washington conference at the Jamestown Tribal Center.

    Ruckelshaus, the original head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, is now on the leadership council of the Puget Sound Partnership to restore Puget Sound by 2020.  He and Tharinger have worked together since Ruckelshaus was appointed chairman of the Salmon Recovery Board in 1999.

    Gov. Chris Gregoire formed the Puget Sound Partnership in July, and “out here [on the Peninsula] it’s not well-known,” said Sue Chickman, a conference organizer.

    “It’s an awesome task…we want to engage people here,” she said.

    Salmon recovery

    Already, Clallam and Jefferson counties have shared in the $190 million pie that is salmon recovery money awarded by the state funding board.

    Counting matching funds, the state and its counties have invested more that $330 million in bringing salmon back.

    “It’s my job to be accountable for those dollars,” Tharinger said, “so the Legislature and Congress continue to fund us.”

    Many have criticized Tharinger and other officials for, “ creating a salmon recovery industry,” he added.  To Tharinger, that may well be the Peninsula’s industry of the future.

    Earlier eras include the carbon age, the space age, the electronic age.

    “Maybe we’re entering the restoration age,” Tharinger said.

    Stream monitoring, engineering of river logjams to provide fish habitat, removal of the Elwha dams, a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory project that grows specialized mushrooms to clean contaminants from local groundwater---all are restoration  efforts that create jobs to grow a new economy.

    “A lot of people around the state don’t agree,” Tharinger said, but this “recovery industry, to me, is a huge positive.”


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