Dam removal and other strategies will save federally endangered species
Dec. 1, 2016 (THE DALLES, OR) — The Bonneville Power Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will host a public meeting Tuesday, Dec. 6 to seek public input on developing a new lawful, science-based plan to save endangered wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake rivers. Residents of The Dalles, Hood River and surrounding areas who are impacted by the loss of wild salmon will attend the meeting scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, 5000 Discovery Dr, The Dalles, OR. Press conference at 5:30 p.m.
The meeting is one of 15 scheduled in the wake of a U.S. District Court ruling last May that sent dam operators back to the drawing board and set a new planning process in motion. The decision found in favor of fishing businesses, conservation groups, clean energy advocates, the State of Oregon, and the Nez Perce Tribe. It rejected the federal agencies’ previous salmon restoration plan as illegal, inadequate, and unrealistic – especially in the face of mounting climate impacts.
Meeting attendees in The Dalles will urge federal agencies to initiate a new approach by taking action to remove four dams on the lower Snake River. Fisheries biologists have long highlighted this solution as the single most beneficial action to restore dwindling salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia Basin. Wild salmon and steelhead are a valuable and cherished resource and a part of the natural heritage across the Northwest including the Columbia Gorge and area tributaries such as the White Salmon, Hood, Klickitat and Deschutes.
The modest amount of power produced by the four lower Snake River dams can be affordably replaced with climate-friendly renewables that won’t harm fish. Montana’s wind resources can serve as an important component to this regional energy picture, and as a complement to renewable wind and solar that is generated in Washington and Oregon.
"For too long, the federal agencies that manage the Columbia-Snake hydrosystem have erred on the side of preserving the status quo and refused to seriously consider the most promising salmon recovery measure available to us – restoring a free-flowing lower Snake River,” said Mike Fiebig, Northern Rockies Associate Director of American Rivers. “We hope the citizens of the Northwest states take advantage of this public process to state loudly and clearly that we can have plentiful wild salmon, abundant clean energy, and a thriving economy, but only if we follow the science and only if we work together."
“Salmon are a part of the Pacific Northwest way of life, but they are on the brink of extinction. In 2015 hot water killed 99% of the Snake River sockeye run and temperatures will continue to rise in the face of climate change. One of the most effective steps to protecting wild salmon from the impacts of a warming climate is restoring a free-flowing Snake River,” said Lorri Epstein, Water Quality Director of Columbia Riverkeeper.
“Removing four outdated and costly dams on the lower Snake River will pave the way for an economic revitalization for rural river towns like Clarkson, WA and Lewiston ID,” said Sam Mace, Inland Northwest Director of Save Our Wild Salmon. “Restoring salmon and steelhead to the Snake River basin will boost the fishing and recreation economies of eastern Washington and Idaho, and provide Montana anglers and outfitters more opportunities to chase steelhead and salmon.”
“I am an enrolled Nez Perce tribal member and have been involved with our tribal membership and other like-minded groups to remove the four Lower Snake River dams for a number of years. The salmon have not recovered and have not met any return goals upriver in Nez Perce Treaty areas,” said Julian Matthews, board member of Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment. “The dams have created a nightmare for Salmon. Removing the dams is critical to the future of the Salmon and our people (the Nimiipuu) to practice a traditional subsistence that we have for time immemorial. Our Treaty Rights of the 1855 Treaty guarantees hunting, fishing and gathering rights. The removal of the four lower Snake dams will restore our ability to fulfill our Treaty right along the Columbia, Snake, Salmon and Clearwater Rivers. I am asking all Tribal members and allies to make your voice heard to remove these dams.”
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