Yesterday on December 14th, the Biden Administration announced a comprehensive plan to restore wild salmon, expand clean energy production, increase resilience, and provide energy stability in the Columbia River Basin. This announcement comes months after another Presidential directive ordering other federal agencies to explore options to restore wild fish populations and comply with tribal treaty obligations in the Basin. The status quo in this region must change, as Columbia River salmon and steelhead are on a trajectory towards extinction. This plan is another step in the right direction to give these fish a fighting chance to complete their life histories all the while advancing innovative solutions towards replacing the services afforded by hydropower and dams.

This historic agreement includes:

  • Millions of dollars of new funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Support from the Department of Energy to develop 3 gigawatts of clean energy, to assist in offsetting the energy produced by the four lower Snake River Dams.
  • Studies to replace the other services provided by the Snake River Dams, in preparation  of Congress possibly authorizing their removal.
Lower Granite Dam, one of the lower four Snake River dams to hopefully be removed.

“This is another brick in the road to recovery of snake river salmon and steelhead,” said Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “The first brick was laid by Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID), who demonstrated that we could meet all the social and economic needs of those who depend on the dams and still recover salmon. The second brick was the Murray-Insley report. The third brick was laid by NOAA fisheries scientists who said that the only way we could ever recover these fish would be through removing the four lower Snake River dams. This all leads to an essential question for the Pacific Northwest: do we want a future with wild salmon and steelhead? We can replace every benefit provided by the dams, but the fish? They need a river.”

“The only way we will get to success is if we start working together to solve each other’s problems,” said Tom Kiernan, President and CEO of American Rivers. “We applaud the Biden Administration, the Six-Sovereigns, and all other parties for coming together in an historic agreement to advance solutions for the Northwest salmon and people. American Rivers will continue to stand with our partners and Tribal Nations across the Northwest to advocate for restoration of the Snake River, ensuring the survival of salmon and steelhead, and upholding Tribal Treaty Rights.”

“It wasn’t that long ago that the removal of the Lower Snake Dams was just a pipe dream, said Ed Sozinho, Wild Steelhead Coalition Board Chair. “With this historic agreement, the administration is taking the first concrete steps to begin the process of restoring more salmon and steelhead runs and habitat in history.”

This agreement is clearly a step in the right direction, but a firm commitment by Congress and involved stakeholders to remove the four lower Snake River Dams is sorely needed. We’re running out of time to save these runs of wild salmon and steelhead and all the ways of life dependent on them.

White House Requests Public Input on Snake River, Lower Four Dams

New Poll Shows Majority of Washington Voters Favor Removing Lower Snake Dams

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


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