The magnificent salmon runs of the Columbia River, once the world’s most abundant, are nearing extinction. With 2019 salmon returns dropping to historic lows, we must rethink how we manage the Snake River, a major tributary of the Columbia River, and the negative impacts of the Lower Snake River dams.
Federal agencies have been tasked with developing a plan to save Snake River salmon from extinction. However, the most recent plan submitted by the US Army Corps of Engineers is wholly inadequate and must be dramatically expanded. As proposed, it cannot recover abundant salmon runs or provide our communities with economic security.
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 $17 billion, 2019 salmons returns remained perilously low, forcing emergency fishing closures — and economic devastation — in inland and coastal fishing communities.
For the past 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 involves tribes, farmers, irrigators and recreational and commercial fishermen. While the salmon crisis is increasingly urgent, we know that the Northwest is up to the challenge. We believe that if we work together we can 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.
Salmon need healthy, free-flowing rivers to survive. National Wildlife Federation and its affiliates, Association of NW Steelheaders and Idaho Wildlife Federation, are working with a broad coalition of partners in the region and across the country to ensure that this fantastic journey continues. Reach out to Jacqueline Koch to learn more.
Our Northwest Opportunity is 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.
Slowing Down Streams for Salmon
Beavers and beaver structures help juvenile coho salmon survive and thrive
Congressman Hopes Politics Align on Divisive Northwest Dams
February of 2021 brought good news for salmon: a plan from Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson to remove the four Lower Snake River dams.
Salmon People: A tribe’s decades-long fight to take down the Lower Snake River dams and restore a way of life
The story of the Snake River salmon, intertwined with the history of the Nez Perce tribe, has been thousands of years in the making. Today, both the fish and the tribe battle for the survival of all that sustained their way of life for so many generations.
Debate Regarding Snake River Dams is Far From Over
The federal government’s new plan doesn’t give us the solutions we need. We have an opportunity to think bigger and bolder — to lead the largest salmon recovery effort in history, invigorate our economy, and honor tribal treaty rights.
The Naturals: Snake River Sockeye Salmon
Sockeye salmon are an amazing species of fish. They swim 925 miles up-current in the Columbia, Snake and Salmon Rivers. They climb 6,548 feet, dodging predators and hazards from the Pacific to Redfish Lake, in Idaho– and eat nothing. We need to act now to save them.
Protecting Fish and Wildlife as We Transition to Clean Energy
The Northwest is transitioning to clean, renewable energy. However, the impacts of some carbon-free sources, like hydroelectric dams, can come at an unacceptably high cost to wildlife. We can meet our energy needs with renewable power sources that are responsibly sited, developed and operated. Here's how.
Salmon Migration: Showing the way toward a healthy ecology
Salmon migration is a Homerian journey and an iconic wildlife event. It prompts us to think about the extraordinary energy that drives this epic movement for many animals across all landscapes—and the increasing barriers they face.
Gardening for Salmon
If you have a green thumb, you might be surprised to discover that you can give salmon a boost, whether you are by the coast or further inland. Plant with a purpose to help protect salmon habitat with your garden.
My Son the Sock Guy for the Sockeye
The tale of Lonesome Larry— the solitary salmon that swam 900 miles upstream back to Redfish Lake, Idaho, the only sockeye to return to spawn that year— transformed a 5th grader into a young conservationist. His mom describes her son’s journey as a salmon advocate and entrepreneur.
The Way Forward Is Together
Our Northwest Opportunity is a group of individuals, business owners, and organizations throughout the Northwest. We believe that together we can restore salmon, strengthen communities, and invest in affordable, clean power, all while honoring the culture and treaties of sovereign tribal nations, through four goals.
Salmon Migration Storymap
Learn about the challenges facing wild salmon on their iconic migration by checking out our new interactive story map.
Our Northwest Opportunity
We can lead the largest salmon recovery effort in history, invigorate our economy and honor tribal treaty rights. And we can do it while continuing our region’s legacies of clean energy and a strong farm economy. Learn more.
A Vision for the Snake River
Can we imagine a brighter future? A new vision for the Snake River would bring clean energy, abundant salmon and thriving agriculture in the Northwest.
The Case for Removing Snake River Dams: The Sightline Institute
The debate over removing the four dams on the lower Snake River is decades old. In 2019, the economic consulting firm ECONorthwest (ECONW) issued a new independent on the benefits and costs of restoring the river.
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.