SEATTLE - When the Save Our Wild Salmon coalition put out the word asking its supporters to sign a valentine message to Dr. Jane Lubchenco, it didn't expect more than 1,200 responses.
Lubchenco is the administrator of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the federal agency responsible for protecting endangered salmon species through its National Marine Fisheries Service. The valentine rhyme is simple: "Salmon are red, rivers are blue - let's sit at a table and talk this through." And Bobby Hayden with Save Our Wild Salmon says plenty of people chose to get creative with the message. He offers one poetic example:
"We can make a good plan to save our native stock ... and speedy implementation would totally rock. Much better than chocolate or a beautiful red rose ... is a healthy ecosystem and aquatic flows. So let's get to work, and together we can ... resolve all the issues and deliver that plan."
The valentines, along with some Northwest-made chocolates, will be delivered to Lubchenco at her Washington, D.C., office. Hayden says she'll find that many of the messages are personalized - some serious, others with a sense of humor.
"Here's an orca one that's pretty funny: 'Orcas are black-and-white, Chinook salmon are yummy ... we need to make sure there's enough to fill every orca's tummy.'"
The valentines are a lighthearted way to approach a serious message, explains Hayden. The coalition wants NOAA and the other federal agencies in charge of Columbia Basin salmon to support round-table discussions that include conservation groups, fishermen, farmers, tribes and energy users as they draft plans about the future of the fish.