If you’re wondering why salmon and steelhead populations in the Snake River are in trouble, the answer is obvious: It’s the four dams on the lower Snake and the reservoirs behind them: They kill too many fish.
Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee took two actions over the past week that represent steps backward in steelhead and salmon conservation.
These remarks were delivered on Thursday, May 13, at the 2021 Environmental Conference at the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University by Chris Wood, the President and CEO of Trout Unlimited.
This week, American Rivers named the Snake River America’s No. 1 Most Endangered River of 2021, pointing to perilously low returns of Snake River salmon and steelhead, and the urgent need for lawmakers and communities to come together to develop a comprehensive economic revitalization plan.
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) has stepped up to lead toward a more optimistic future for the entire Snake River basin. Rep. Simpson laid out a proposal that would create new clean energy sources, build new infrastructure, and ensure the needs of local communities, irrigators and shippers are met. The proposal would also restore runs of healthy, harvestable Snake River salmon and steelhead by removing the lower four Snake River dams.
This past Tuesday, 10 of the most respected scientists who, collectively, have studied Pacific Northwest salmon and steelhead for 400 years, penned a letter to the governors of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington stating that achieving healthy and harvestable/fishable abundances of Snake River salmon and steelhead cannot be achieved without removing the four lower Snake River dams.
“It is our collective opinion, based on overwhelming scientific evidence, that restoration of a free-flowing lower Snake River is essential to recovering wild Pacific salmon and steelhead in the basin.”
So reads a remarkable letter recently sent to the governors of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana by 10 of the finest and most-respected salmon and steelhead scientists in the world.
An agreement released today by the Governors of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana establishes the importance of a regional dialogue focused on rebuilding Columbia River salmon and steelhead stocks while addressing the needs of other stakeholders and communities and commits resources to making it happen.
The ROD adopts the preferred alternative developed through the agencies’ environmental impact statement process. The decision recommends a limited increase in the amount of water spilled over the four dams on the Lower Snake River, but allows the dams to stay in place at a significant cost to salmon, steelhead, tribes, anglers, and communities across the Columbia Basin.
Last Friday, Washington’s Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) voted 5-4 to reform its Columbia River Basin Salmon Management Policy (C-3620), which guides salmon management in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.