Former congressman addresses Northwest environmentalists

Former U.S. Rep. Brian Baird delivered a wake-up call to Columbia River scientists and environmentalists on Friday morning: they won’t have much luck unless they present lawmakers with practical and straight-forward solutions.

As a lawmaker, Baird said he was often bombarded with environmental white paper studies that revealed just how daunting some of the area’s environmental problems were.

“It can be helpful, but it can be a little overwhelming,” he told a crowd of about 100 people meeting for a Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership workshop.

He also told the crowd that if the environmental solutions they present to lawmakers are too expensive, they won’t be successful.

Later on Friday, Baird said he wanted his speech to “provoke some new thinking” on environmental issues.

The partnership met to share information brought forward by scientists at the latest Columbia River Estuary Conference. At that conference, scientists discussed the importance habitat diversity plays on salmon restoration, how to protect salmon without harming other species, that environmentalists should use new ways to test how well their salmon recovery programs are working.

Every two years, the partnership comes together to discuss new findings about the Columbia and its restoration. During previous conferences, the group has discussed the effects of climate change on the estuary and harmful toxic chemicals in the area.

State Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, was in attendance on Friday, along with former state legislator Al Bauer.

Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523 or or or

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