‘Inaction Is the Ally of Extinction’: National Conservation Organizations Call on Northwest Legislators for Solutions to Escalating Salmon Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. — National conservation organizations with more than 15 million members nationwide have urged the congressional delegations of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington to urgently seek a comprehensive solution to address the precipitous decline of the Columbia and Snake River salmon. In a letter to the Northwest delegation specifically called for the removal of the four lower Snake River dams, which scientists confirm have led to the collapse of Snake River salmon runs. 

“We need members of the Northwest delegation, the Biden Administration, and state leaders in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington to forge durable solutions that address the root cause of the precipitous decline and make stakeholders whole,” the chief executives of the National Wildlife Federation, American Rivers, Earthjustice, the Endangered Species Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, the League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, and Trout Unlimited wrote. “The science is clear: the biggest step we can take to bring back abundant salmon is to restore the lower Snake River and breach the four federal dams that have led to the collapse of Snake River salmon runs. We can do this and build a stronger future for everyone if we act now.

“Decades of lowest-common-denominator compromises and half-measures have unsurprisingly failed to recover Columbia River salmon, despite costing taxpayers more than $17 billion. We need solutions that not only recover abundant salmon, but also support the region’s farmers, ranchers, outfitters and guides, outdoor recreationists, and utility customers.”

The letter comes as pressure mounts for solutions to the escalating salmon crisis. U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Washington Governor Jay Inslee are engaged in a region-wide initiative to develop an action plan by July 2022.  In addition, a year ago, Congressman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) released a framework for a comprehensive solution. Simpson’s framework has strong support from more than 50 Northwest Tribes and the 573 Tribes that make up the National Congress of American Indians.  The Northwest delegation, the Biden Administration, and state leaders in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington must now move quickly to develop a comprehensive solution.

The full text of the letter can be accessed here.

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