Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited, shares about his relationship with Shannon Wheeler, the Vice Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribe, and how Chris walks away a little wiser, and a little more passionate, about the need to recover Snake River salmon and steelhead every time he hears him speak on the issue.
This month, Trout Unlimited joined dozens of fish and wildlife groups and major outdoor recreation companies in calling on the Biden administration to develop a comprehensive solution to the collapse of salmon and steelhead populations that includes removing the four dams on the lower Snake River and investing billions of dollars in a reimagining of infrastructure in the Northwest.
Wild Snake River salmon and steelhead are on the brink of extinction, but we can bring these incredible fish back to abundance. Tackling the most ambitious river restoration project in history with the goal of redeveloping and reinvigorating the Northwest economy is not a challenge, it is an opportunity.
Questioning whether dam removal alone could recover Snake River salmon and steelhead misses the point. The question we need to answer is this: Can we recover abundant, healthy, and fishable and harvestable Snake River salmon and steelhead with the four lower Snake River dams in place?
The equation is simple. It’s hot. It’s going to get hotter, which is why it is so urgent to increase access for salmon and steelhead to the thousands of square miles of the most climate-resilient, high-elevation habitat in the Snake River basin by removing the lower four Snake River dams.
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.
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.
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.
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