Early last May, the Biden Administration announced a comment period in the Federal Register titled “Columbia River Salmon and Other Native Fish Request for Information.” Specifically, the Council on Environmental Quality, an entity within the Executive Office of the President, is looking for public input “including but not limited to migration corridor restoration through breaching the four lower Snake River dams,” which would require Congressional authorization. This is a great opportunity to show continued support for restoring the Snake River and breaching the Lower Four Snake River Dams, while ensuring offsets for the Dams’ services.

Salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest are dwindling towards extinction. And while their declines are multi-faceted and incredibly complex, restoring rivers and natural flows and opening up hundreds of miles of prime habitat  by breaching the LSRDs is the solution. The federal government has spent millions on hatchery operations and other efforts to prevent extinction of certain species of salmon and steelhead, but these stocks are not improving. The science says that removing the four LSRDs and restoring the river habitats is the only way to see abundant wild populations of salmon and steelhead return to the stretches of the Snake River Basin. Plus, with evidence of steelhead recovery success post dam removal success on the Elwha, it is clear that these fish are incredibly resilient and will thrive when given the opportunity. But accessible and restored habitats are fundamental prerequisites.

Without a doubt, it is true that dams, including the LSRDs’, produce societal benefits. They allow relatively low-cost barging of agricultural products, they irrigate agriculture products, they provide electricity, BUT their continued costs of operation are substantial–both to salmon and tax-payer funds for maintenance and upgrades. Fortunately, regional political leaders (Representative Mike Simpson, Senator Patty Murray, and Governor Jay Inslee) have developed plans to offset the LSRDs’ service and breach the dams, with the goal of bringing abundant salmon and steelhead populations back to the region.

During a recent federal listening session, Trout Unlimited’s CEO and President Chris Wood noted, “Salmon that pass three dams in the John Day basin are sustainable. Salmon that pass four dams in the Yakima are sustainable. The salmon that must pass eight dams in the Snake are on the path to extinction. We know how to fix the problem. We know how to work together to replace all the social and economic benefits of the dams. We have just seen a massive infusion of restoration and stimulus funding in the form of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. ”

With that TU has developed an action alert for individuals from all over the country to show their support for restoring the Snake River and giving these amazing salmon and steelhead a chance. Check it out HERE!

Boots on the Ground for a Free-Flowing Lower Snake River

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Will Poston
Will Poston has been with us here at Flylords since 2017 and is now our Conservation Editor. Will focuses on high-profile conservation issues, such as Pebble Mine, the Clean Water Act rollbacks, recovering the Pacific Northwest’s salmon and steelhead, and everything in-between. Will is from Washington, DC, and you can find him fishing on the tidal Potomac River in Washington, DC or chasing striped bass and Albies up and down the East Coast—and you know, anywhere else he can find a good bite!


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