SEATTLE — U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s newly unveiled draft report outlining an actionable plan for removing the lower Snake River dams and replacing their services underscores 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 draft report clearly outlines that services the dams provide can be replaced — and improved — with infrastructure investments in energy, irrigation and transportation. A 30-day public comment period is now underway ahead of the report’s final release by the end of July.
"Snake River salmon are barreling toward extinction, and unless we act, the communities, jobs, and traditions they support will vanish with them," said Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. "We urge the Biden Administration to work with Congress to create a future where salmon — and the Tribes and communities that depend upon them — thrive by removing the lower Snake River dams. This is paramount if we are to save this natural resource of national importance, honor our nation’s commitment to Northwest Tribes, and ensure all communities are made whole."
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.
"The lower Snake River Dams — and the costs to prop them up — are actively hurting businesses, hurting people and hurting communities in Idaho while benefiting the few. This report proves that we have a choice to change direction — that we can implement a system that benefits all of us. The report proves we can breach the dams and meet the needs of agriculture, energy production, fish and fish reliant communities. It's unconscionable to see the two paths before us and choose the one that leaves so many of us behind," said Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation.
Tribes, communities, anglers, commercial fishermen and families across the Northwest region are counting on Murray and Inslee to lead the way and to push Congress to advance durable solutions that will save salmon while strengthening the region as a whole.
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