Treaty rights must include ecosystem-based functions
Conspicuously absent from Bruce Chandler’s guest column on the Columbia River Treaty is any mention of the treaty rights of First Nations people in either the United States or Canada [“Thoughtfully consider the Columbia River Treaty,” Opinion, Nov. 26].
Environmental organizations and native peoples propose rewording the treaty to include “ecosystem-based function” as one of three major goals of a new treaty for two crucial and related reasons:
First, native peoples’ treaty rights in the Northwest and Canada, including fishing rights, have been systematically and illegally ignored for decades. Second, the proposed revision will not only improve the general ecological health of the entire Columbia River system but also help restore salmon runs that have been decimated by dams and narrowly focused irrigation, transportation and power interests, including on the Snake River.
Recognizing and actually implementing First Nations’ treaty rights and managing the Columbia River Basin for ecological values will simultaneously achieve two major and related goals.
No one working toward these goals wants to damage the commercial viability of the Columbia River. Rather, we want to balance this economic value with ecological values that will eventually restore all of this magnificent river system to its full potential as a resource for people and wildlife.
—Michael W. Shurgot, Seattle