Recovering Salmon, Creating Jobs, Revitalizing Communities
When Meriwether Lewis and William Clark arrived on the banks of the Snake River in 1805, the Columbia Basin in the Pacific Northwest boasted the greatest salmon stocks on Earth - up to 30 million salmon returned home each year.
Today, however, populations linger near just one percent of that historic number. Wild salmon and steelhead - a valuable economic resource for the Northwest and a treasure to the Nation – are in danger of extinction.
Fortunately, we now have an incredible opportunity to bring them back…
Wild Snake and Columbia River salmon and steelhead are at a crossroads today. Our Nation faces a critical decision. We can “stay the course” — an approach that has failed both salmon and people — or chart a new path that helps both flourish.
Over the last several decades, the federal government has repeatedly failed to develop a lawful, science-based, and economical plan to restore endangered salmon and steelhead to abundance. A lack of leadership from many elected officials has left our wild salmon and West Coast communities that rely on them high and dry.
Through its inaction, the government is allowing wild salmon to swim quietly toward extinction — devastating scores of fishing communities up and down the West Coast in order to preserve four costly, out-dated dams on the lower Snake River. Built in the 1960s and 70s, these dams are primarily used for barge transportation. Immediately after completion, wild Snake River salmon and steelhead populations plummeted by 90 percent. The best available science today demonstrates that lower Snake River dam removal must be at the heart of any effective recovery plan.
The impacts of the Northwest salmon crisis reach across the Pacific Coast economy, ecology and culture. Healthy salmon runs support this region’s unique way of life. A world-class fishery once fed the Nation, generating billions of dollars in jobs and income for commercial, recreational and tribal fishing communities. But in a sharp reversal, endangered Snake River stocks now limit fishing opportunities on the Pacific Coast, reducing the availability of healthy food, and crushing communities from California to Alaska and inland to Idaho and Nevada.
More on the Salmon Economy HERE.
Crafting a Win-Win Solution for Salmon and People
Right now, we have an opportunity to bring people together to craft an effective plan that recovers endangered wild salmon, creates family-wage jobs, invests in our fishing and farming communities, and encourages the development of truly clean energy resources. Using the best scientific and economic information, President Obama and Congress can bring together fishing, farming, and energy interests to tackle the crisis in the Columbia Basin and restore wild Snake River salmon and steelhead to healthy, abundant levels.
More information available in the Myths & Facts section
• With more than 200 dams, the Columbia Basin today is among the world’s most dammed landscapes. Removing four costly dams will restore salmon, create jobs, save money, and establish a clean energy blueprint for the future.
• Thirteen populations of salmon and steelhead are officially in danger of extinction. The four remaining Snake River stocks are either threatened or endangered.
• The Columbia Basin was once home to the largest salmon fishery in the world — supporting tens of thousands of jobs, providing a nutritious food, and generating billions of dollars in economic activity each year.
• Up to 30 million wild salmon and steelhead once returned to the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Today, it is less than one percent of the number.
• Snake River sockeye salmon migrate higher than any salmon in the world: Adults swim 900 miles and climb 6,500 feet in elevation — from the Pacific Ocean to Redfish Lake in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho.
• Central Idaho in the Rocky Mountains contains the largest, wildest, coldest, and best-protected contiguous salmon habitat remaining in the continental United States.
• The four federal dams on the lower Snake River were built to provide river transportation and energy production. These dams’ limited services can and should be replaced with efficient, modern, and salmon-friendly alternatives like rail lines and wind turbines.