In an open letter to the governors of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, published recently, a group of scientists with several hundred years of collective experience in fisheries conservation wrote that research overwhelmingly shows that Snake River wild salmon and steelhead populations cannot be recovered without the removal of four dams on the lower river. It is a proven way to restore a river. Removal of the Klamath dams is the first step in the most ambitious salmon restoration effort in history. In 2015, some of the earliest and hottest weather on record produced warm river temperatures that killed more than 90% of all adult sockeye salmon returning to the Columbia Basin. Lower Granite Dam, one of the four dams on the Lower Snake River that are driving all remaining Snake River salmon toward extinction. Stay informed on how we hold accountable those who break our environmental laws. In its 2000 plan, the government said, “breaching the four Lower Snake River dams would provide more certainty of long-term survival and recovery than would other measures.”. Kate Benkert / U.S. That’s a return rate of 1⁄100 of 1%! Now, it’s up to communities in the region to work together, and to local elected leaders to join them. Congress should support the dams removal or relocation of the Snake River Dams. But all is not going well. The law makes change. Yet, earliest for dam removal on Snake is middle of this century or early 22nd century. Keep this in mind. Since 2000, scientific understanding of the food sources on which Puget Sound orcas depend has greatly increased. Leaders in Idaho are trying to confront the extinction crisis as well. Endangered Snake River salmon and Southern Resident Orcas can’t wait for long-drawn out efforts. I have seen them bring joy to anyone and everyone who gets a glimpse of the orca pods in the Pacific Northwest. “This is what Earthjustice does so well—enforces the law when government is unwilling to do so.”. Its costs are going up, cash reserves are dwindling, lucrative California markets for excess power that helped keep Northwest rates low have vanished, and its customers are worried about rising rates for BPA power just when it needs to negotiate new long-term power sales contracts. And it’s not just the wildlife that are at risk of losing out. Energy efficiency and renewable energy sources have made the power generated by the Lower Snake River dams unnecessary. To provide an up-to-date and comprehens We now know that each year these whales leave Puget Sound in the winter and travel south along the coast feeding and—if all goes well—fattening themselves for survival and reproduction. The court granted the agencies five years to draft a new plan and change course. “It shows that these agencies are not going to put together the kind of broad comprehensive solution we need that restores the river, that makes sure we have a good electric system, that addresses transportation issues, irrigation, our commitment to the tribes. While 13 species of wild salmon and steelhead are sliding toward extinction, endangered Southern Resident orcas that rely heavily on chinook from the Snake River are also disappearing. And yet, when the federal agencies had the opportunity to bring the region forward together with a plan that reimagines how the river can work for everyone, they failed. Since 2000, our experience with dam removal has grown many-fold. 2. It was updated in July 2020 to reflect the release of the Trump administration's final environmental impact statement. The future of clean power and the challenges facing BPA are a unique opportunity to solve two critical regional problems at once — restoring the lower Snake River to bring back salmon, and charting a new course for BPA that captures new energy market opportunities while replacing the lower Snake River dams with renewable, clean energy. The four dams on the lower Snake River in eastern Washington are part of a vast and complex hydroelectric power system operated by the federal government in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Text JUSTICE to 43428 to receive Earthjustice text message updates. All our remaining Snake River salmon hover dangerously close to extinction. Gov. Further, the removal of those dams would not only aid salmon, it would be a boon for the communities, the regional economy and Pacific Northwest culture. Even though the agencies concede that removing the four lower Snake River dams is the single best action we can take to help recover endangered salmon, they wrongly claim that it would be too expensive. Environmental groups who have pushed for years for the dams to come down immediately blasted the report. And the one thing that has not. In years since, state agencies have had to limit or cancel entire fishing seasons to protect the dwindling fish. Now orcas off the coast of Washington are dying of starvation, the direct result of the near-absence of chinook salmon, the foundation of their diet. Feds reject removal of Snake River dams ... “The science shows that pulling out the four lower Snake River dams is the only way to save Columbia river salmon,” she said. In the ensuing years, study after study showed that river restoration not only is doable, but could benefit more than just the fish. When the River suffers, the Nimiipuu suffer as well. For millennia, the Snake River and its tributaries produced well over half these chinook. Ice Harbor Lock and Dam. The four Lower Snake River dams are money losers for both tax- and bill-payers. Oregon’s Governor Supports Removal Of Snake River Dams. For years, shippers have increasingly turned to rail to transport goods to market because it delivers them more quickly and efficiently. Earthjustice attorney, on the benefits of managing water responsibly on California's California’s Trinity River, which supports major salmon runs. In 1999, activists bought an ad in The New York Times claiming that unless the dams were removed, “wild Snake River spring chinook salmon … will be extinct by 2017.” When 2017 arrived, the Snake River Chinook population was six times larger than in 1999. Pacific Northwest residents take a stand for salmon. The US Army Corps took 7 years to complete this report at a cost of $33 million. Maggie joined Earthjustice in 2014 after eight years as an award-winning newspaper reporter and magazine journalist. Oregon’s Democrat Gov. Right now, Members of Congress can help by introducing a bill authorizing the partial removal of the four lower Snake River dams, the replacement of the limited services the dams provide, and the protection of communities affected by that action. Oregon’s Governor Supports Removal Of Snake River Dams. It gave them a unique opportunity to get it right: to save wild salmon by restoring the lower Snake River and removing four dams there, along with other actions and investments that would move the Northwest toward a cleaner energy future and restore the prosperity of fishers and farmers. We now have a clear understanding of the potentially catastrophic effects of warming on our remaining salmon. -- A long-awaited federal report out Friday rejected the idea of removing four hydroelectric dams on a major Pacific Northwest river in a last-ditch effort tosave threatened and endangered salmon, saying such a dramatic approach would destabilize the power grid, increase overall greenhouse emissions and more than double the risk of regional power outages. The Snake River dams in Washington would remain in place under a final study released Friday, July 31, by federal agencies. For more than 20 years, federal judges have called for an overhaul of dam operations on the Columbia and Snake rivers to boost salmon survival. By David Kinney / TU. Tribes that rely on the salmon not only for sustenance, but for important cultural and ceremonial reasons are experiencing the gravest injustices from the dams. Fish & Wildlife Service. The court mandated the agencies take a hard look in particular at whether they should restore a 140-mile stretch of the lower Snake River by removing four federal dams there. To save the orca, we must rebuild healthy populations of Snake River salmon—and to do that, we have to restore the Lower Snake River by removing the four dams. In this piece, we will analyze the cost of replacing the energy and fully mitigating the carbon emissions associated with replacing energy lost from removal of the four Lower Snake River dams. “The way we’re going to get there is through the political leadership that is beginning to emerge in the region... and conversations with people actually talking to each other,” said True. Following the court win, hundreds of thousands of people across the country spoke out in favor of restoring a free-flowing lower Snake River. The Columbia River Basin was once among the greatest salmon-producing river systems in the world. That conclusion relies on outdated information that is no longer relevant to today’s reality. Scientists have long said removing the dams is foundational to the recovery of both endangered salmon and critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales (orcas) that depend on salmon as prey. We take on many of the biggest environmental and health challenges of our time and stick with them. The Corps’ own conclusion: dam breaching is the best way to recover Snake River salmon, a conclusion that remains valid today. Not one species has recovered. For the fifth time the issue is back in federal court, and once again, a judge has called for federal agencies to take a hard look at the removal of Lower Snake River dams. Today, the Elwha River once again flows freely from its headwaters in the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. But agencies instead produced a plan that largely maintains the status quo. We have proof that restoring rivers recovers salmon. The context for a decision about dam removal is dramatically different today than it was the last time the agencies looked at this issue in 2000. LONGVIEW — A new study commissioned by an association of river commercial groups says removing the four Lower Snake River dams to improve salmon … The lower Snake once acted like a superhighway for migrating salmon, connecting some 5,500 miles of pristine spawning streams with the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. In the summer of 2018, the world watched helpless as a mother orca carried her dead calf on her head for 17 days in a parade of mourning. Neil Ever Osborne / Save Our Wild Salmon / iLCP. The Northwest can replace energy generated by the four lower Snake River dams at a nominal cost to ratepayers. Leaders in the Pacific Northwest must step up where federal agencies have failed. It brought international attention to the severe plight of the region’s native “blackfish.”. Economic Tradeoffs of Removing the Lower Snake River Dams The debate regarding the potential removal of the four Lower Snake River dams in Washington has been ongoing for over two decades, but much of the existing information is either outdated or incomplete. Earthjustice brought a lawsuit against these federal agencies in 2001, led by True. In early 2016, a judge ruled in favor of these groups — and the salmon — and ordered the agencies to design a new operating plan. Staff Attorney, Earthjustice. A mother orca’s 17-day long vigil for her dead calf touched people around the world and brought to light the dire straits of her kin. In this May 15, 2019, file photo, the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River is seen from the air near Colfax, Washington. Since 2000, the Northwest electric grid has changed dramatically. Federal agencies had a once-in-a-generation opportunity to save wild salmon and the orca whales that depend on them. The proposed removal of four Lower Snake River dams has been the subject of legal battles since 1991. Overwhelmingly, the evidence has led us to conclude that removal of the four lower Snake River dams is the single most important step we can take to recover abundant, fishable and harvestable Snake River salmon and steelhead. Overwhelmingly, the evidence has led us to conclude that removal of the four lower Snake River dams is the single most important step we can take to recover abundant, fishable and harvestable Snake River salmon and steelhead. To be sure, dam removal requires careful technical planning, but removing the four dams on the Lower Snake River is no longer unprecedented. In fact, new renewable energy projects in the final stages of permitting and approval in the Northwest alone exceed the power generated by these four dams. And we have achieved energy savings many times the production of these dams through conservation and efficiency. As part of this process, tribes, fishing communities, farmers, utilities, and other river users have gathered to discuss what they need in order to make dam removal feasible. For more than 20 years, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council has said we need sustained return rates of 2%–4% for salmon survival and 4%–6% to move towards recovery. Paradoxically, that process will likely start with further stress on fish populations, as some 30 million cubic yards of sediment trapped behind the dams flushes downriver. Removal of Snake River dams would harm economy, environment Mar 15, 2020 Mar 15, 2020 ... FCS Group, contends that, with no lower Snake River dams and … The advocacy group says this means dam removal doesn’t have to be a choice between salmon and renewable energy. They opted to stick with status quo dam operations, without considering the opportunities and benefits a restored river would bring to the Northwest. The debate over whether to remove the four federal dams that have turned the lower Snake into a series of steelhead-killing slackwater pools became prominent around the year 2000, soon after Columbia basin salmon and steelhead runs were listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act because of their precipitous decline. During the past two decades, regional and national stakeholders and many others — Native American tribes, state and federal scientists, and business leaders — have been urging the agencies to remove the four Lower Snake River dams, the single biggest action we can take to restore the salmon. Another study focused on the economics of the issue concluded that river restoration would have a positive overall impact on the regional economy. The four dams impede the migration of adult salmon trying to return to spawn in the clean, cold waters of high elevation tributaries. She believes that a powerful story told well can change the world for the better. The agencies had four years to get it right — but when they stepped up to the plate, they whiffed. The lower Snake River dams are Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite, all located in southeastern Washington. 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In an open letter to the governors of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, published recently, a group of scientists with several hundred years of collective experience in fisheries conservation wrote that research overwhelmingly shows that Snake River wild salmon and steelhead populations cannot be recovered without the removal of four dams on the lower river. Some activists claim Snake River salmon are near extinction. Text JUSTICE to 43428 to receive Earthjustice text message updates. One of the most effective steps is to restore a free-flowing Lower Snake River so adults and baby salmon can move more quickly through this crucial stretch of river that currently consists of four lethally warm slackwater reservoirs — and four salmon-killing dams. Removal of the century-old Elwha Dam, October 23, 2011. Despite spending billions of dollars on salmon restoration in the Snake and Columbia basin, including hundreds of millions of dollars to jerry-rig expensive contraptions to get baby salmon downstream past the dams, a 2007 joint analysis by federal, state and tribal scientists concluded that over 70% of human-caused mortality to these fish is associated with upstream or downstream passage through these dams and reservoirs. Now, the operation of those four dams — Ice Harbor, Little Goose, Lower Monumental, Lower Granite — is under reconsideration. Aug. 4, 2020 To Save Orcas, Removing Snake River Dams … Way to many politics on the Snake. The way forward is together, through finding solutions that work for communities across the region, and from strong leadership from our elected officials in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. These effects are not abstract or speculative. On litigation to remove abandoned dams in Oregon that had blocked prime salmon habitat for more than three-quarters of a century. While Northwest RiverPartners applauds Brown’s recent agreement to help remove the Klamath River dams, the lower Snake River dams are much different. In truth, while the four Snake River salmon and steelhead populations will benefit the most from the removal of the four lower Snake River dams, this action will also help improve water quality and flow in the lower Columbia River, thus benefiting all 13 … Lower Snake River dams could be replaced by a variety of renewable energy resources, according to a new study by the NW Energy Coalition. If the Klamath River Salmon return after dam removals then the Snake has a good shot of getting its dams removed. We take on many of the biggest environmental and health challenges of our time and stick with them. 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