Save Our wild Salmon: The Blog

Where we candidly and accurately react to and reflect on current affairs impacting wild salmon and salmon jobs.  And of course, never missing the opportunity to point out that those obsolete dams on the Lower Snake River need to go. Bloggers include SOS staff, with occassional guest entries.


Associated Press: EPA To Protect Salmon Fishery By Blocking Massive Alaska Mine

pebble.mineJuly 18, 2014 | AP

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Friday it is proposing restrictions that would essentially block development of a planned massive gold-and-copper mine near the headwaters of a world premier salmon fishery in Alaska.

The announcement came as the EPA was being sued by Pebble Limited Partnership, the group behind the proposed Pebble Mine, and the state of Alaska for allegedly exceeding its authority.
The state and Pebble Partnership, which was created to design, permit and run the mine, argue the EPA should not be able to veto the project before a mine plan is finalized and evaluated through the permitting process. Pebble has asked that a judge block the EPA from taking any additional steps, but no ruling has been made.

EPA regional administrator Dennis McLerran said the science is clear “that mining the Pebble deposit would cause irreversible damage to one of the world’s last intact salmon ecosystems. Bristol Bay’s exceptional fisheries deserve exceptional protection.”

The EPA said as part of its analysis it used plans filed by the mine’s owner, Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2011. That information indicated the Pebble deposit is likely to involve excavation of the largest open pit ever built in North America, reaching a depth that rivals that of the Grand Canyon at nearly a mile, the EPA said in its report.

The agency looked at three mine scenarios, one based on the worldwide median size deposit that contains copper-, gold- and molybdenum-bearing minerals, which was the smallest scenario analyzed, and two that it said were based on statements made by Northern Dynasty, of mine sizes of 2 billion tons and 6.5 billion tons.

The restrictions proposed by EPA are in line with the estimated impacts of the smallest scenario, including loss of at least 5 miles of streams with documented salmon or loss of 1,100 or more acres of wetlands, lakes and ponds that connect to salmon-bearing streams or tributaries of those streams.
The EPA said if the proposed restrictions were finalized, mining of the Pebble deposit would still be possible, but only if the environmental impacts were smaller than those laid out.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, who has said Pebble is the wrong mine in the wrong place, said he’s seen noting in the EPA document that would prevent Pebble from applying for a permit.

“Instead, it sets the ground rules for responsible development that the Pebble Partnership, or any other business, must abide by in order to mine the Pebble deposit in this critical habitat,” he said.

The EPA called its analysis conservative, focused on the use of certain waters in the region for disposal of materials associated with mining the Pebble deposit. The agency said it did not include impacts associated with build-out and operation of a mine, like roads, pipelines and housing for workers, or potential effects of accidents or mine failures.  

•    Read Why An Alaska Mine Worries Fishermen In The Northwest

The EPA also said the proposal is specific to the Pebble deposit, and does not affect other deposits or claims.

In 2011, the EPA, petitioned by Alaska Native tribes and others to protect Bristol Bay, initiated a review that culminated in the finding earlier this year that large-scaling mining in the Bristol Bay watershed posed significant risks to salmon and Alaska Native cultures that rely on the fish. The agency later invoked a rarely-used process through which it could ultimately restrict or prohibit development of the proposed Pebble Mine to protect the fishery.

The announcement Friday is the next step in that process. EPA plans to take public comment beginning Monday through Sept. 19 and to hold public meetings in Alaska next month. After that, McLerran would have to decide whether to withdraw the proposed action or send it to EPA headquarters for consideration.

Tom Collier, CEO of the Pebble Partnership, said while his group needed to analyze EPA’s proposal, it was outraged that the agency took this next step with litigation pending and EPA’s inspector general reviewing whether EPA followed laws, regulations and policies in developing its watershed assessment.
“We will continue to fight this unprecedented action by the Agency, and are confident we will prevail,” he said in a statement.

Spokesman-Review:  As dams fall, Elwha River makes stunning recovery

Fish runs soar, new habitat being created in only two years

elwhariverPhuong Le
Associated Press

PORT ANGELES, Wash. – The final chunks of concrete are expected to fall this September in the nation’s largest dam-removal project, but nature already is reclaiming the Elwha River on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.

So much sediment, once trapped in reservoirs behind two hydroelectric dams, has flowed downstream that it has dramatically reshaped the river’s mouth, replenished eroding beaches and created new habitat for marine creatures not observed there in years.

Meanwhile, Chinook salmon and steelhead have been streaming into stretches of the Elwha River and its tributaries previously blocked by the Elwha Dam, which stood for nearly a century before it came down in 2012.

With the first dam gone, the ocean-migrating fish have been swimming as far upriver as they can. Scientists have observed them at the base of the second 210-foot-tall Glines Canyon Dam about 13 miles upstream, as if they want to continue on.

As they move into areas previously blocked, salmon and steelhead are acting as a fertilizer for the ecosystem, delivering marine nutrients to river otters and other wildlife.

Demolition crews this month are waiting for river flows to drop, so they can begin removing the remaining 30 feet of the Glines Canyon Dam. By the end of the year, the Elwha River is expected to flow dam-free from the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, about 80 miles west of Seattle.


Remembering a legend: Billy Frank, Jr.
A kinship with the natural world and his own heritage was imprinted on his character - and ours.

Billy FrankBy Martha Kongsgaard in May 8, 2014

“I don’t believe in magic,” Billy once said. “I believe in the sun and the stars, the water, the tides, the floods, the owls, the hawks flying, the river running, the wind talking. They’re measurements. They tell us how healthy things are. How healthy we are. Because we and they are the same. That’s what I believe in. Those who learn to listen to the world that sustains them can hear the message brought forth by the salmon.” 

So said Billy Frank, Jr., the legendary Tribal elder, moral lodestar and unflinching advocate of the national tribal sovereignty movement, an Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize winner, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, “uncle” to thousands and a founding Leadership Council member at the Puget Sound Partnership. Billy passed away on Monday at the age of 83. He was on that day, as most days, on his way to a meeting about fish and tribal treaty rights.  

For many, it can take a lifetime to know what you mean and to convey it unambiguously, to have your first essential audience, your people, and understand the meaning of the lesson — the life lesson. Not so for Billy. His demonstrable kinship with the natural world is a phenomenon he did not work at. It is something that was imprinted on his character “prehistorically”— long before the battles at Frank’s Landing or the triumph of the Boldt decision or the wonders of bringing children into this world. It is this hereditary kinship with nature and his ancient heritage that kept him vigilantly at this work until Monday, May 5.


Statement from Joseph Bogaard, executive director of Save Our Wild Salmon, on the passing of Billy Frank, Jr.

Nisqually BillyFrankJr2 studioshotMay 5, 2014

“Today, the Pacific Northwest lost a giant among salmon champions, Billy Frank, Jr.

Mr. Frank was a tireless, eloquent, warm, humorous, passionate, unrelenting and effective advocate for salmon and their rivers, for Indian people and Tribal treaty rights.

Mr. Frank's life of activism began as a teenager on the Nisqually River in the 1940s. He rapidly became a respected and formidable leader of the decades-long struggle for the right of tribal people to fish for salmon. His at times confrontational style (Mr. Frank was arrested dozens of times) helped bring national and international attention to injustice against Tribal people. His activities helped lay the foundation for the 1974 landmark Boldt Decision that affirmed the right of Tribes to harvest half of the fish returning to the region’s waters and established Tribes as co-managers of the resource.

In the decades since, his work to recover salmon, restore rivers, bring people together, and effect constructive change has known no equal. He fought steadfastly for salmon, rivers, watersheds, and wildlife on all fronts, and in all venues where progress could be made – in courtrooms, Congress, state capitols, public meetings and one-on-one conversations. Mr. Frank altered forever the landscape of Northwest salmon and Tribal people, and our region is forever changed - diminished - by his passing.  

We send our deepest condolences to all of Mr. Frank’s family, friends, and colleagues, a wide circle that encompasses much of our region – and beyond.

Fish Experts Plan A Salmon Water Slide On Cracked Wanapum Dam

wanapum1The ongoing issue with the cracked Wanapum Dam in central Washington is now creating a problem for migrating salmon.

By Anna King, Northwest News Network | March 20, 2014

The drawdown of water between the Wanapum and the Rock Island dams to relieve pressure on the crack means the water levels are down about 25 feet at the base of both dams.

That leaves fish ladders high and dry.

Now, government fish scientists and engineers are trying to figure out just how to get adult salmon by both hulking concrete structures. At Wanapum, engineers plan to pump water into the fish ladder and create a sort of waterslide for salmon.
Russell Langshaw, a fisheries scientist with Grant County utility district that owns and operates Wanapum, says record numbers of fish are headed that way, so they have to get it figured out by mid-April.
“We have a lot of fish coming back this year, and we agree it’s an absolute necessity that we have safe and effective passage at both Wanapum and Rock Island dams.”
Langshaw says the smaller, juvenile fish are expected to be fine. They’re going downstream, and can move through the spillways and turbines.

Wenatchee World: Wanapum Dam spillway crack, showing algae, likely not new

wanapumThe 2-inch-thick underwater crack at Wanapum Dam, on the Columbia River near Vantage, Wash., extends horizontally across the upstream side of the 65-foot-wide pier called a monolith. It’s one of 12 monoliths on the spillway.

Christine Pratt, Wenatchee World
March 19, 2014
BEVERLY, Wash. – The large crack in part of the Wanapum Dam spillway may have been there long before divers detected and photographed it Feb. 27.

The crack, which measured about 2 inches thick by 65 feet wide when divers first observed it near the base and across the full width of one of the dam’s concrete support piers, had algae growing on the fracture, Dawn Woodward, director of hydro operations for the Ephrata-based utility, told the Wenatchee World’s editorial board last week.

Other parts of the fracture appeared clean, indicating that they may have been more recent.
“We see some evidence that the fracture began some time ago,” Woodward said. “The critical path is to determine the root cause."

The fracture is on the upriver side of the Number 4 concrete pier, also called a “monolith” by public utility district staffers. It’s between spillgates 3 and 4.


More Articles...

  1. Mar 02, 2014 - New York Times: A Reprieve for Bristol Bay
  2. Feb 01, 2014 - Join SOS and Idaho River Adventures this July for a wild trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River!
  3. Jan 23, 2014 - Update: a not-so-new Federal Plan for Columbia/Snake salmon and steelhead
  4. Jan 03, 2014 - New York Times Blog: The Law That Save the Bald Eagle
  5. Dec 29, 2013 - Is the Northwest regaining lost ground?
  6. Dec 05, 2013 - An enhanced spill experiment – costs and carbon impacts are modest and manageable.
  7. Nov 20, 2013 - Seattle Times: Elwha River sees largest run of Chinook in decades
  8. Oct 23, 2013 - B.C. Releases Draft Columbia River Treaty Recommendations
  9. Oct 01, 2013 - Action Alert - Salmon Need
  10. Sep 25, 2013 - LA Times: Big chinook run doesn't let Columbia dams off the hook, activists say
  11. Sep 12, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Feds deal blow to Nez Perce Tribe, salmon advocates
  12. Sep 05, 2013 - SOS and Idaho River Adventures on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River
  13. Aug 31, 2013 - Announcing a leadership transition for SOS
  14. Aug 15, 2013 - Save Our wild Salmon submits comments on the Columbia River Treaty
  15. Jul 15, 2013 - Save the law that protects America's natural capital.
  16. Jul 15, 2013 - Seattle Times: Lamprey Eel - bringing back an ancient species
  17. Jun 07, 2013 - High Country News Book Review: Elwha, a story of today's West
  18. May 13, 2013 - All Scientists Are Saying Is…"Give (More) Spill A Chance."
  19. Apr 10, 2013 - Chicago Tribune: Interior Department recommends removal of Klamath River dams to aid salmon
  20. Mar 05, 2013 - Farewell to Fenton Roskelley - outdoor writer, sportsman, and conservationist
  21. Jan 30, 2013 - Change on the Fly
  22. Jan 17, 2013 - Save Our wild Salmon Coalition welcomes new BPA administrator Bill Drummond
  23. Jan 11, 2013 - In Gratitude
  24. Jan 08, 2013 - Thank you for a successful End-of-2012 Fund Drive!
  25. Dec 04, 2012 - Confusing sockeye hatcheries with sockeye recovery
  26. Nov 07, 2012 - NOAA, We Have a Problem
  27. Oct 25, 2012 - Thank you for 13 excellent years
  28. Oct 22, 2012 - Looking to the Future: New report challenges the Northwest’s aging dam infrastructure
  29. Oct 08, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon athletes exceed their goal.
  30. Oct 04, 2012 - Senator Wyden Supports New Approach to Salmon Restoration
  31. Oct 01, 2012 - Feds Maintain Status Quo as Salmon Numbers Struggle
  32. Sep 27, 2012 - Author attempts world record run for salmon
  33. Sep 25, 2012 - “I’m Pro-Salmon, and I Vote”
  34. Sep 21, 2012 - A Baker's Dozen
  35. Sep 18, 2012 - Salmon, Coal, and the Columbia River’s Future
  36. Sep 14, 2012 - The salmon aren’t celebrating Bonneville’s 75th
  37. Sep 07, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon - Meet the Runners
  38. Aug 30, 2012 - Boil On Columbia
  39. Aug 28, 2012 - 2012 Salmon and Steelhead Returns Still Poor
  40. Aug 14, 2012 - The Worst Dam Bill Ever
  41. Aug 06, 2012 - The Most Interesting Fish in the World
  42. Aug 03, 2012 - In Virginia: Dam Removal Helping Eels
  43. Aug 01, 2012 - Outdoor Retailer is here!
  44. Jul 25, 2012 - Outdoor Idaho Focuses on Idaho's Salmon
  45. Jul 23, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon - Portland Marathon 2012
  46. Jul 19, 2012 - If you un-build it, the fish will come
  47. Jul 16, 2012 - Rivers Gone Wild! - Patagonia-style...
  48. Jul 13, 2012 - Roll On Columbia Roll On
  49. Jun 29, 2012 - Sockeye Numbers at Bonneville Dam are Encouraging
  50. Jun 28, 2012 - Saving Salmon to Save Orcas
  51. Jun 25, 2012 - Maine's Great Works and the Columbia-Snake Opportunity
  52. Jun 21, 2012 - Lamprey Summit Sets a Good Example
  53. Jun 20, 2012 - Victory: Highway to Hell Defeated
  54. May 21, 2012 - Book a river trip and help support SOS
  55. May 18, 2012 - TAKE ACTION: Visualize your support for salmon!
  56. May 15, 2012 - Solutions for one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers
  57. May 11, 2012 - Spill, Judge Redden, and the Need for a New Process
  58. May 03, 2012 - Mother's wants a seat at the table
  59. Apr 26, 2012 - Judge Redden Supports Dam Removal
  60. Mar 24, 2012 - Men's Journal Features LSR Dam Removal
  61. Mar 07, 2012 - Court-Ordered Spill Helps Salmon Returns and Jobs
  62. Feb 22, 2012 - HB 4101: Serious Issue, Bad Bill
  63. Feb 21, 2012 - Paul Fish: Salmon Super Hero
  64. Feb 15, 2012 - Showing NOAA Some Love for Valentine’s Day
  65. Feb 07, 2012 - Toxic Oil Spill on the Lower Snake; What Next?
  66. Feb 01, 2012 - Sea Change for Port of Lewiston?
  67. Jan 25, 2012 - Mascot Love at Outdoor Retailer
  68. Jan 19, 2012 - Osprey Packs to host Buster, Ice-P, Bigfoot, and Timmy O'Neil at Outdoor Retailer
  69. Jan 12, 2012 - Outside Sees Momentum for Dam Removal in 2012
  70. Jan 10, 2012 - Patagonia’s Salmon Super Heroes
  71. Jan 06, 2012 - Salmon…and bikinis?
Save Our wild Salmon is a diverse, nationwide coalition working together to restore wild salmon and steelhead to the rivers, streams and marine waters of the Pacific Northwest for the benefit of our region's ecology, economy and culture.



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