‘Inaction Is the Ally of Extinction’: Murray, Inslee Report Delivers Roadmap for Dam Removal, to Prevent Salmon Extinction, Strengthen Northwest Economies

SEATTLE – U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee have just released a final report outlining an actionable plan for removing the lower Snake River dams and replacing their services, underscoring the urgent need to save Northwest salmon from extinction.

The removal of the lower Snake River dams is critical to recovering Columbia River salmon runs, which are on the brink of extinction. The report clearly outlines that services the dams provide can be replaced — and improved — with infrastructure investments in energy, irrigation and transportation.

“Inaction is the greatest ally of extinction and today's report from Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee provides a critical roadmap of the actions necessary to save imperiled salmon populations. The Murray-Inslee report, combined with the recent words and reports from the Biden administration, and the ongoing leadership of Rep. Simpson, Rep. Blumenauer, and Gov. Brown, together demonstrate a shared commitment to a comprehensive and inclusive approach to salmon recovery that leaves no one behind. Now it's essential that we transform these commitments into action, including breaching the Lower Snake River dams, to ensure we restore abundant salmon populations, fulfill treaty obligations to Columbia River Tribes, and revitalize the Northwest’s economy for future generations,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. 

Since the four lower Snake River dams were completed in 1975, Columbia River salmon and steelhead populations have declined by more than 90 percent. The impacts of these dams, magnified by the effects of climate change, are pushing salmon and steelhead to extinction — violating the federal government’s commitments to Northwest tribes and putting the communities, businesses, ecosystems, and orca that depend on these fish populations even more at risk. 

"This moment is urgent for salmon recovery in the Columbia River Basin, and we are closer than we’ve ever been to resolving the decades-long conflict between dams and salmon in the Pacific Northwest. We are inspired by the Murray-Inslee report, and the leadership of Gov. Brown and Rep. Blumenauer. We look to our elected leaders across the Pacific Northwest to join them to swiftly advance a comprehensive solution to replace the services that the lower Snake River dams provide and save salmon from certain extinction,” said Jason Wedemeyer executive director, Association of Northwest Steelheaders.

Tribes, communities, anglers, commercial fishermen and families across the Northwest region are counting on the Murray-Inslee report to push Congress to advance durable solutions that will save salmon while strengthening the region as a whole. 

“Through inclusive involvement from the many and broad stakeholders entwined with the future management of the lower Snake River, the Murray-Inslee report confirms that we are capable of a future that brings our iconic salmon and steelhead back from the brink of extinction while doing no harm to the vital needs of agriculture power generation demand," said Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation. “The report recognizes the important value of the dams and goes to great depths to ensure the current beneficial services are accounted for, even surpassed. Knowing we have the option to meet those needs and the needs of fish-reliant communities, it seems unconscionable to choose the path of inaction when we have the historic opportunity for all to win within our grasp."


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