Once again, the federal agencies that manage the dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers — led by the Trump administration — have rejected desperately needed salmon restoration actions in favor of maintaining a costly status quo that has failed both salmon and orcas.
The agencies' new plan repeats the mistakes of the past and rejects a critical component of a comprehensive solution: restoration of the lower Snake River by removing four federal dams. Salmon populations, and the highly endangered orcas that rely on them, are in decline, but we can restore thriving salmon runs that literally pump life into Northwest ecosystems if we remove the dams now.
Removing the dams is only the first — though crucial — step to creating the comprehensive solutions that Snake River salmon and Northwest communities need and deserve. We have an opportunity to change direction and not only achieve the largest river restoration and salmon recovery in history, but also to make the investments needed to enhance our regional economy, including creating a strong future for farming, fishing, recreation, port, and tribal businesses. We can do this by working together to build sustainable economies and ecosystems in the Northwest.
The Trump administration's actions to undermine bedrock environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act and further entrench the harmful status quo runs counter to the values we hold. The Northwest deserves a bolder vision for what it can become. Salmon are the lifeblood of the region, so we must correct our past mistakes and secure their future. We can only do this if our senators speak up, champion our values, and do the hard work to build support for a comprehensive solution.
Time is running out — both Snake River salmon and southern resident orcas are in critical condition — and it's clear that the current leadership of our federal agencies isn't going to do what’s necessary to save them. We have the tools to restore abundant salmon runs and create prosperous local economies, but we need the political will to get it done. Tell your senators we need their leadership in D.C. to push for real solutions for our struggling salmon and vanishing orcas.