Recovering Snake River Salmon

Restoring the Columbia River Basin: A future where salmon and clean energy can co-exist.

The magnificent salmon runs of the Columbia River, once the world’s most abundant, are nearing extinction. With 2023 salmon returns dropping to historic lows- and after a decades-long legal battle to save them- we are finally on course toward the right side of history. 

Salmon underwater

In December of 2023, the National Wildlife Federation joined a coalition of fishing, conservation and energy groups in a significant step forward to restore and conserve Snake and Columbia River salmon and steelhead runs. We applaud the Biden administration, which is supporting a bold new blueprint—with considerable federal funding—to continue working together on next steps to support the Columbia Basin Restoration Initiative, developed by the four Lower Columbia River Treaty Tribes and the states of Oregon and Washington.

“Thanks to the leadership of Northwest Tribes, we have specific agreed-upon actions that move the Northwest region one step closer to saving Columbia River salmon and steelhead runs,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The National Wildlife Federation is grateful that the Biden Administration has declared that salmon recovery is a government-wide priority and is willing to seize the solutions within our grasp to move us toward a future where abundant salmon populations and wildlife-responsible clean energy can coexist.

Salmon fry credited


Since the final construction of the Lower Snake River dams in the 1970s, 13 species of salmon and steelhead have been listed threatened according to the Endangered Species Act. Despite decades of habitat recovery attempts at the cost more than $24 billion, salmon returns have remained perilously low, with certain runs approaching the threshold of extinction. Salmon are central to tradition, culture and nourishment for Northwest Tribes and we have an urgent opportunity to make good on upholding Tribal and Treaty rights. Climate change is accelerating the crisis, leading fatally warm waters and forcing emergency fishing closures, resulting in economic devastation in inland and coastal fishing communities.

It is only with bold leadership that can we create an ecologically sound future for the Northwest.

For more than two decades, the National Wildlife Federation has led a coalition of advocates seeking to recover the imperiled salmon runs in the Columbia River Basin. In early 2020, the National Wildlife Federation launched a campaign to bring Snake River salmon back to from the brink of extinction.

This campaign has brought together Tribes, farmers, irrigators and recreational and commercial fishermen. As the impacts of climate change shape our region, the salmon crisis is increasingly urgent.

The Northwest is undergoing an energy transition that is gaining momentum. We believe that we can work together to strengthen our communities, ensure reliable clean energy, and bring wild salmon back to abundance. Together, we can support the largest salmon recovery effort in history.

“Together, we can forge a future where healthy salmon runs thrive in the Snake River and Columbia Basin, Indigenous sovereignty is respected and celebrated, and the cultural heritage of the Nez Perce Tribe, and other Indigenous communities remains vibrant and resilient.” – Claudia Kauffman, member of the Nez Perce Tribe and the Washington State Senate, where she represents the 47th Legislative District.

Join the Campaign to Recover Snake River Salmon

Our Northwest Opportunityis a group of individuals, businesses, and organizations who support a stronger future for the Northwest region. People across the region are sharing their stories and coming together to have conversations that will move our region forward.

You'll find more information on Our Northwest Opportunity and you can take direct action here. Please like and follow this Facebook page to learn more, hear stories from your neighbors, and find out how you can get involved.

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Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. The National Wildlife Federation is on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

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