Final Decision Seals Inadequate Process to Restore Snake River Salmon, Revitalize Northwest Communities

Regional Governors, Tribal Engagement, Congressional Leadership Essential to Save Threatened Salmon Runs, Deliver Renewed Prosperity

SEATTLE — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Record of Decision for the four Lower Snake River Dams finalizes a fundamentally inadequate solution to recover abundant salmon runs. The Record of Decision also fails to deliver the investments Northwest residents have been calling for to revitalize communities, deliver clean and affordable power, support farmers and promote sustainable growth. The National Wildlife Federation and its partners today urged regional governors and Congress to step forward and chart a more comprehensive path forward for the lower Snake River and Columbia River Basin.

“Time is running out and the final decision issued by federal agencies keeps the region on a course that has failed to recover abundant runs of Snake River salmon for two decades while placing the growing financial burden on taxpayers and electricity ratepayers,” said Tom France, Northwest Regional Executive Director for the National Wildlife Federation. “The Northwest can no longer afford to prop up a bloated welfare program for outdated dams that are destroying salmon runs and the jobs and communities that depend on them. It’s time for Congress to take charge and craft a comprehensive legislation package to restore the Snake River to create a healthy, intact river system that works for people, fish and wildlife.” 

The Record of Decision comes on the heels of the Final Environmental Impact Statement delivered last July after a court rejected a 2016 plan for salmon recovery — the fifth to be invalidated by three judges in over two decades. 

Since the final construction of the 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, 2020 salmon and steelhead returns remain perilously low, forcing emergency fishing closures — and economic devastation — in Washington, Oregon and Idaho fishing communities. 

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