Writer questions legislators’ motives

Recently District 8 Representatives Dorothy Moon and Terry Gestrin voted in support of Senate Joint Memorial 103, a factually inaccurate insulting memorial echoing the idea of “Snake River Dams Forever.”

Historically they have supported the outdoor recreation, the outfitting/guiding industry, and the businesses that industry supports. However, supporting SJM103 raises the question of why they care more about out-of-district special interest groups than their local constituents and communities

Idaho’s dwindling salmon population has a significant effect on the people and rural communities along the Salmon River in Idaho. This keystone species is not only critical for the health of our forests and fisheries, it is also a foundational piece of central Idaho’s economy.

Yet, our local Representatives Dorothy Moon and Terry Gestrin voted to leave their constituents and communities behind and support a broken system that restricts our local economic opportunities while forcing us to pay billions of dollars into it.

Tourists flock to Stanley, Challis and the surrounding area throughout the summer to experience rafting and fishing on the Salmon River. These tourists bring dollars that we depend on to make it through the winter. Stanley, and its community is forced to close this economic lifeline for 25% of the short summer season, September 3-23, so the few remaining salmon can be undisturbed as they attempt to perpetuate their species. Often this closure occurs prior to Labor Day weekend shutting down the opportunity for local businesses to operate on one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year.

The basis for this closure is biological. Idaho’s salmon, in particular the sockeye famous for having once made Redfish Lake “red,” are careening toward extinction. The costs of this are being borne by folks in our communities throughout District 8.

Why are our elected officials voting to support systems (the lower four Snake River Dams) that are the primary culprit in restricting our business operations to 75% and reducing our viable fish runs? While our businesses are being stifled our pockets are also being picked. Many of us in Moon’s and Gestrin’s district pay 1/3 of our power bill to fish mitigation. This mitigation costs us millions of dollars every year and has never worked. Our fish populations continue to diminish, our power bills continue to go up and federal regulations continue to restrict our businesses.

And through all of this our local elected officials honor the requests of a few special interest groups ahead of their struggling neighbors and the communities that depend on their representation.

It is time to demand more from our local representation. It is time to take action that will bring economic vitality to Stanley and throughout Idaho. It is time to support proposals that benefit all Idahoans, not only a select few. It is time for our elected officials to embrace the new potential of a Northwest in Transition and not cater to past political positions and the falsehoods embodied by Senate Joint Memorial 103.

Jared Hopkinson


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