Today, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) took another step in the ongoing effort to restore our wild salmon and steelhead runs, as required under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and court order.

While the 4(d) rule announced today includes the standard prohibitions, it also provides more flexibility than we have ever seen in any previous ruling. The extended comment period will give communities time to study the rule and work on plans to comply with it. This rule encourages future flexibility and also protects the innovative programs that have already received NMFS approvals for ESA compliance.

As many of our communities have learned first-hand, the Endangered Species Act is a tough law. It requires that we all act to restore our wild salmon runs. Complying with the law will require difficult choices.

Currently NMFS is badly under-staffed which makes complying with the law even more difficult. I will continue to work to increase funding for NMFS so that the agency has the staffing it needs to respond in a timely manner to questions and proposals.

Unfortunately some will try to play politics with today's action as they have with other salmon recovery efforts. They will seek to divide our state; urban versus rural, farmer versus fisherman, environment versus the economy. That is a path toward extinction and economic upheaval. When it comes to restoring our wild salmon runs, we must face the challenge as one Washington.

Some have suggested that the answer is to change the Endangered Species Act. Even with the current Republican majorities in the House and Senate, and after much talk about this issue, not a single piece of legislation to change the ESA is currently moving forward. The bottom line is that we must work now to comply with the ESA.

Successfully complying with this law will mean our communities will be economically- vibrant and remain great places to live, work, and raise a family. It will also mean that the water in our streams, rivers, lakes and the Puget Sound will be cleaner and healthier for our children and grandchildren, as well as the salmon.

I pledge to work with communities to assist their efforts to comply with this law and the ensure their concerns are heard by NMFS.