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.
Our Year-End Update
Where we've been in 2015 and where we're heading in 2016
2015 has been extraordinarily busy. Our work to protect and restore abundant wild salmon and steelhead populations to the Columbia Basin have expanded support, developed new strategic partnerships, and mobilized public calls for urgent, meaningful changes to how we manage the (too) many dams and reservoirs in this once-fabled salmon watershed. We're holding the federal government accountable, defending hard-won protections and pressing for more. The legal, scientific, economic and moral case today for restoring a freely flowing lower Snake River and modernizing the U.S. - Canada Columbia River Treaty is stronger than ever.
SOS' continued success depends upon your generous support.
Please help us hit the ground running in 2016!
Make your tax deductible donation here before December 31st.
Despite tremendous progress this year, much work remains. With your support, SOS will continue to ensure critical near-term protections such as court-ordered spill while we also steadily build the public pressure and political leadership necessary to achieve two of our nation’s most ambitious and consequential salmon, steelhead and river restoration initiatives: lower Snake River dam removal and a modernized Columbia River Treaty.
Restoring the lower Snake River by removing its four high-cost, low-value dams will bring life back to what was once one of North America’s most productive salmon landscapes. It will reconnect the critical missing link in a unique ecosystem that bridges the marine waters of the Pacific Coast and 5000+ miles of mostly pristine rivers and streams in the wild lands of central Idaho and eastern Oregon and Washington.
A restored lower Snake River will enrich the Northwest’s ecology by restoring wild salmon and steelhead’s productive access to ancestral spawning gravels and allow them to rebuild their populations and finally swim out from under the dark shadow of extinction. Restoring these remnant populations will boost 130+ other fish and wildlife species including endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales who have sustained themselves for tens of thousands of years on the Northwest’s largest and fattiest (and most delicious) of all salmon – the chinook.
A free-flowing Snake River will also re-establish an essential pocket of resilience in the larger Columbia basin as a much-needed defense against intensifying climate impacts.
And done right, a restored lower Snake River will also strengthen this region’s economy. It will create new jobs in clean energy and outdoor recreation, and invest in a more reliable and efficient transportation network while saving taxpayer and ratepayer dollars.
With your support, SOS will continue to advance our two-pronged approach: secure and defend the protections wild salmon and steelhead need now while we make steady stepwise progress toward the big, comprehensive solutions that over the longer-term can restore wild salmon and killer whales and rebuild communities and economies.
Working with our member groups, business partners and tribal and other allies, we’ve covered a lot of ground in 2015. Below is a partial list of what we’ve accomplished with your help, followed by a glimpse of what we aim to do in the new year.
Challenging a failed status quo:
- SOS is coordinating member groups (in partnership with the Nez Perce Tribe and State of Oregon) to challenge the federal agencies’ 2014 Columbia-Snake Salmon Plan. The feds’ previous four plans have all been invalidated in U.S. District court. We now await the next verdict.
- SOS is holding NOAA accountable for its ineffective, ad hoc response to the entirely predictable lethally warm waters in Columbia and Snake River reservoirs last June and July. And we need to prepare now for Summer 2016.
Correcting the record on economics and energy:
- This summer, we hired economist Tony Jones of Rocky Mountain Econometrics to produce the Lower Snake River Navigation Study. It documents the status and trends of an unsustainable barging corridor – with costs rising, usage and benefits falling - and rail lines stepping in to meet a local need.
- SOS also helped develop and promote a new report by the NW Energy Coalition. Restoring wild salmon: Power system costs and benefits of lower Snake River dam removal shows how we can affordably replace the dams’ hydroelectricity with energy efficiency and clean, carbon-free renewable sources.
- Early this year, SOS helped found the Orca-Salmon Alliance (OSA)– a new coalition of regional and national conservation organizations working to restore endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales and the chinook salmon upon which they depend.
- With OSA in October, we hosted renowned scientist and award-winning author Dr. Carl Safina in Seattle for a media tour, meetings with elected officials, and as our keynote speaker at “Intertwined Fate: The Orca-Salmon Connection in the Northwest” that drew a sold-out audience of more than 300 people.
Educating and mobilizing:
- Also in October with Friends of the Clearwater, Patagonia, the Nez Perce Tribe and other allies, SOS co-organized the “Free the Snake!” Rally - a gathering of 350+ people on the banks of the lower Snake – with a boat rally on the water next to Lower Granite Dam.
- Throughout the year, SOS has helped generate and/or inform dozens of media stories regionally and nationally – bringing much-needed attention to the orca-salmon connection, deteriorating dam economics, devastating hot water fish kills in June and July, growing public support for dam removal, and much more.
Moving the politics:
- This year, SOS has organized and participated in 15+ meetings with U. S. Senators, Representatives, Administration officials or their staff in the Northwest and Washington D.C. to press our case for an effective, lawful federal salmon strategy in the Columbia Basin that includes restoring the lower Snake River and modernizing the U.S.-Canada Columbia River Treaty.
- SOS continues to coordinate the “U.S. Caucus” – a collaboration of fishing and conservation organizations and the faith community working closely with Columbia Basin Tribes to modernize a 50-year-old Treaty by adding ‘ecosystem health’ as a new top priority and purpose. After nearly two years of closed-door deliberations in Washington D.C., we are seeing signs of progress. This spring for example the State Department announced its decision to include a new “ecosystem” purpose in its negotiation position. More recently, its newly-hired lead negotiator has begun visiting the Northwest to meet with our Caucus and other stakeholders, and with sovereigns.
With your generous support before Dec. 31st, SOS will defend our successes to date and build new pressure for long-lasting solutions to restore river health and rebuild the Northwest’s irreplaceable fish and wildlife populations and the rich cultures and economies that rely upon them. With your help, we’ll continue to mobilize people and build political support for a lawful salmon plan, a freely flowing lower Snake River and a modernized Columbia River Treaty by:
- Continuing to hold the federal agencies’ accountable to the law and to challenge their deeply flawed salmon strategies.
- Insisting that NOAA develop and implement effective measures to protect Columbia Basin fish from the types of hot water incidents that killed more than 250,000 salmon this last year.
- Fighting to expand spring/summer spill in 2016 and keep migrating salmon in rivers - and out of barges.
- Exposing the lower Snake River dams’ unsustainable economics.
- Deepening our alliance with orca advocates on projects that protect our iconic and imperiled Northwest treasures: wild salmon and killer whales.
- Promoting river and salmon restoration (and economic development) success stories such as the Elwha, White Salmon, and Sandy Rivers.
- Connecting with farmers and other Northwest stakeholders to explore opportunities and common ground.
Salmon and fishing advocates:
Speak up for a free-flowing Snake River
Raise your voice in support of (1) removing the lower Snake River dams and (2) clean and affordable energy in the Northwest's new Power Plan!
Don’t miss this critical opportunity to speak out for the Northwest’s imperiled fish and wildlife populations in hearings and public comments before Dec. 18!
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council was created in 1980 to ensure “equitable treatment” of energy AND imperiled fish and wildlife populations in the Columbia Basin. Thirty-five years later, the Northwest has more energy than it normally needs while 13 wild salmon and steelhead populations remain at risk of extinction. Last summer, a quarter-million Columbia and Snake river salmon died from hot water worsened by the hydrosystem’s many slackwater reservoirs.
By any measure, fish and wildlife populations in the Columbia Basin need serious help.
The Council’s Draft 7th Regional Power Plan offers little help for the Columbia and Snake river’s struggling salmon and steelhead populations. The public has until Dec. 18, 2015, to provide written comments and testimony at public hearings in the Northwest states. An effective Power Plan is critical to charting a Northwest energy future with clean power and healthy fish and wildlife populations. The 7th Plan will be a 20-year roadmap for (1) resource decisions throughout the regional power system and (2) fish and wildlife protection decisions in the Columbia-Snake basin.
While the Draft 7th Plan represents a good start for clean energy priorities, it needs major improvements in its business-as-usual approach to fish and wildlife. We need you to speak up on behalf of our imperiled fish and wildlife populations and insist that they get the equitable treatment to which they’re legally entitled. Improving this draft plan requires fish and wildlife advocates’ active engagement.
HERE'S HOW TO HELP:
- ORGANIZE your friends and urge them to speak up before December 18, 2015!
- TAKE ACTION ONLINE: Submit written comments online here.
- ATTEND A HEARING: Testify on behalf of fish and wildlife and clean energy.
- SHARE this alert link with your friends, families and networks via email and social media!
- CONTACT Save Our wild Salmon to get more involved and help make the 7th Northwest Power and Conservation Plan work better for our imperiled Northwest fish and wildlife populations:
FISH AND WILDLIFE TALKING POINTS:
- The Northwest Power and Conservation Council's 7th Plan must fully assess the costs associated with removing four low-value, high-cost dams on the lower Snake River to recover endangered wild salmon. As the dams in the federal hydrosystem age, their maintenance costs are ballooning. Climate change, meanwhile, is further stressing endangered salmon. The Council should take an honest look at the costs and benefits of maintaining or retiring the four lower Snake River dams to aid the survival and recovery of endangered wild salmon and steelhead populations.
- Abundant self-sustaining populations of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia Basin are priceless and irreplaceable to the ecology, economy and culture of the Northwest. Salmon enrich the lands, waters, and people of the Northwest. Salmon and steelhead support jobs and businesses; cultures and communities, and other fish and wildlife populations. Many populations today face extinction and effective restoration programs are needed more than ever.
- The Council has not lived up to its responsibilities to assure “equitable treatment” of energy and fish and wildlife resources in the Columbia/Snake Basin. Simply incorporating an inadequate Fish and Wildlife Program Amendment into the 7th Plan and ‘calling it good’ is unacceptable.
- Every year, U.S. taxpayers and Northwest utility bill payers are assessed hundreds of millions of dollars for salmon recovery plans that the federal courts have NEVER considered legal. The Courts have ruled government plans illegal four times since 2000. Thirteen populations are listed under the Endangered Species Act; none has recovered.
- Climate change damage is mounting and the Council’s plan does virtually nothing to mitigate these impacts. River temperatures are rising and flow patterns are changing. A quarter-million salmon died in the Columbia and Snake rivers last summer, the result of hot water made worse by the dams and reservoirs.
- Only 1% of the adult Snake River sockeye - just 45 fish - that returned to the Columbia River mouth survived to reach Redfish Lake in central Idaho. Of the 250,000 smolts that swam to the ocean two years ago, just two out 1,000 survived and returned. We need at least 10 times that return ratio just to maintain the population.
- Five years ago, the Council’s 6th Power Plan modeled the affordability of replacing the energy of the lower Snake River dams. Despite many trends – economic, legal, public and climate-related – indicating that dam removal makes even more sense today than it did 5 years ago, the Council has failed to update that analysis.
- The Final Plan must include a full assessment of the costs and benefits of maintaining and removing the 4 lower Snake River dams and replacing the energy with clean, carbon-free resources.
- The Council cannot continue to allow playing effective wild salmon recovery against clean energy. The Northwest needs both wild salmon AND clean energy. It is the Council’s duty to strike this balance and provide for "equitable treatment", as required by law.
CLEAN ENERGY TALKING POINTS:
Carbon-free, salmon-friendly energy is good for fish and wildlife, too! Fish and wildlife advocates support a final 7th Plan that:
- Increases use of energy efficiency, our cheapest, surest and most climate-friendly new resource.
- Avoids construction of new natural gas-fired power plants. We don’t need them.
- Deeply cuts carbon emissions.
Tribute to Zeke Grader - 9.7.2015
From the desk of Joseph Bogaard
Fishing people, conservationists, friends and family are mourning the loss of a great friend and a giant. William F. “Zeke” Grader Jr. died of pancreatic cancer Monday night in San Francisco, CA. Words cannot begin to convey the sense of loss felt by so many.
Zeke was many things: warm, tough, dedicated, funny, fearless, relentless, open-minded and open-hearted. He was a loyal friend, a visionary leader, a mentor to many, a brilliant strategist, a warrior for fish and fishing people across the West Coast. Skilled in the art of disputation, Zeke was also highly respected by his adversaries.
Zeke was born the son of a fish broker in Fort Bragg – a fishing town on the north coast of California. After growing up on the docks, he trained as a lawyer and served for decades as executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Institute for Fisheries Resources. Zeke was a tireless and unequaled advocate for fishing families on the West Coast. He committed his entire life to preserve a way of life, to protect and restore sustainable fisheries and the natural systems that fish and fishing families depend upon – healthy habitats, healthy rivers, healthy watersheds, healthy oceans.
Like the wild salmon that he championed, Zeke was a "connector" of people and issues – and he was a great friend to Save Our wild Salmon and a healthy Columbia Basin. He brought fishermen and conservationists together in effective, durable, strategic partnerships. He convinced even hardened skeptics of our common ground and shared interests. He forged alliances and friendships and understandings and a mindset that will live on.
Zeke was a giant – and his life’s work lives on in the form of friendships, alliances, healthy rivers and watersheds and fisheries and businesses and communities. His passing saddens, but I hope it also inspires. I learned a tremendous amount through the years working with Zeke. I always found it a great pleasure, and I know that I am not alone. His memory will live on in the hearts and minds of many, many others. His legacy will live on in the healthy fisheries, communities and habitats for which he so relentlessly advocated.
Be well, good friend. And thank you. -jb
Free The Snake: Patagonia’s new short film highlights lower Snake dam removal
SOS extends a huge "thank you" to PATAGONIA for their ongoing campaign in support of lower Snake River dam removal. Their latest short film Free the Snake currently featured on National Geographic's website highlights the ecological benefits of a free-flowing Snake River and the declining benefits of the high-cost low-value Snake River dams. Watch the film here.
We are very grateful for the tremendous work Patagonia continues to do on behalf of free-flowing rivers and wild salmon and steelhead. The company and its founder Yvon Chouinard have supported lower Snake River dam removal for decades. Patagonia's award-winning film DamNation has inspired thousands of people around the country to call for removing these salmon-killing money-losing dams. More than 70,000 citizens have signed the petition urging President Obama to put dam removal back on the table. And thousands more contacted Senators Murray and Cantwell urging them to do the same after Patagonia sponsored these ads in Washington State.
Thank you Patagonia!
- Jun 09, 2015 - Idaho Statesman: Salmon swim in the Owyhee River (Nevada!) after 87 years
- May 01, 2015 - 13th Annual Rose' Revival Benefit Event - June 18 in Seattle
- Apr 22, 2015 - Patagonia Ad: Don't Hold Back
- Feb 18, 2015 - Outside: What Happens When You Demolish Two 100-Year-Old Dams
- Nov 26, 2014 - Happy Thanksgiving 2014!
- Oct 13, 2014 - CBB: Dam Removal Study Suggests Rivers Return To Natural Conditions Surprisingly Fast
- Sep 23, 2014 - Snake River Sockeye Make Most Endangered List: New Report Highlights Ten American Species Our Children May Never See
- Sep 15, 2014 - Seattle P-I: Chinook salmon returning to reservoir sites on Elwha River
- Sep 02, 2014 - Associated Press: Orca population in Puget Sound falling
- Aug 26, 2014 - New York Times: Large Dams Just Aren’t Worth the Cost
- Aug 26, 2014 - Columbia Basin Bulletin: Dworkshak Unit Out
- Aug 20, 2014 - Al Jazeera: Elder’s devotion to ugly fish lives on after his tragic death
- Aug 19, 2014 - Energy & Environment Publishing: EPA finalizes agreement setting 'buffer zones' around salmon streams
- Aug 19, 2014 - Energy & Environment Publishing: Hastings blasts leaking dams settlement
- Aug 08, 2014 - KPLU: New Life After Dam Removal: Surf Smelt Spawning In Mouth Of Elwha
- Aug 05, 2014 - Associated Press: Army Corps of Engineers will monitor, disclose dam pollution
- Jul 31, 2014 - Nature Science Journal: Dam removals: Rivers on the run
- Jul 21, 2014 - Associated Press: EPA To Protect Salmon Fishery By Blocking Massive Alaska Mine
- Jul 10, 2014 - As dams fall, Elwha River makes stunning recovery
- May 09, 2014 - Remembering a legend: Billy Frank, Jr.
- May 06, 2014 - Statement on the passing of Billy Frank, Jr.
- Mar 20, 2014 - Northwest News: Fish Experts Plan A Salmon Water Slide On Cracked Wanapum Dam
- Mar 19, 2014 - Wenatchee World: Wanapum Dam spillway crack, showing algae, likely not new
- Mar 02, 2014 - New York Times: A Reprieve for Bristol Bay
- Feb 01, 2014 - Join SOS and Idaho River Adventures this July for a wild trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River!
- Jan 23, 2014 - Update: a not-so-new Federal Plan for Columbia/Snake salmon and steelhead
- Jan 03, 2014 - New York Times Blog: The Law That Save the Bald Eagle
- Dec 29, 2013 - Is the Northwest regaining lost ground?
- Dec 05, 2013 - An enhanced spill experiment – costs and carbon impacts are modest and manageable.
- Nov 20, 2013 - Seattle Times: Elwha River sees largest run of Chinook in decades
- Oct 23, 2013 - B.C. Releases Draft Columbia River Treaty Recommendations
- Oct 01, 2013 - Action Alert - Salmon Need
- Sep 25, 2013 - LA Times: Big chinook run doesn't let Columbia dams off the hook, activists say
- Sep 12, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Feds deal blow to Nez Perce Tribe, salmon advocates
- Sep 05, 2013 - SOS and Idaho River Adventures on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River
- Aug 31, 2013 - Announcing a leadership transition for SOS
- Aug 15, 2013 - Save Our wild Salmon submits comments on the Columbia River Treaty
- Jul 15, 2013 - Save the law that protects America's natural capital.
- Jul 15, 2013 - Seattle Times: Lamprey Eel - bringing back an ancient species
- Jun 07, 2013 - High Country News Book Review: Elwha, a story of today's West
- May 13, 2013 - All Scientists Are Saying Is…"Give (More) Spill A Chance."
- Apr 10, 2013 - Chicago Tribune: Interior Department recommends removal of Klamath River dams to aid salmon
- Mar 05, 2013 - Farewell to Fenton Roskelley - outdoor writer, sportsman, and conservationist
- Jan 30, 2013 - Change on the Fly
- Jan 17, 2013 - Save Our wild Salmon Coalition welcomes new BPA administrator Bill Drummond
- Jan 11, 2013 - In Gratitude
- Jan 08, 2013 - Thank you for a successful End-of-2012 Fund Drive!
- Dec 04, 2012 - Confusing sockeye hatcheries with sockeye recovery
- Nov 07, 2012 - NOAA, We Have a Problem
- Oct 25, 2012 - Thank you for 13 excellent years
- Oct 22, 2012 - Looking to the Future: New report challenges the Northwest’s aging dam infrastructure
- Oct 08, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon athletes exceed their goal.
- Oct 04, 2012 - Senator Wyden Supports New Approach to Salmon Restoration
- Oct 01, 2012 - Feds Maintain Status Quo as Salmon Numbers Struggle
- Sep 27, 2012 - Author attempts world record run for salmon
- Sep 25, 2012 - “I’m Pro-Salmon, and I Vote”
- Sep 21, 2012 - A Baker's Dozen
- Sep 18, 2012 - Salmon, Coal, and the Columbia River’s Future
- Sep 14, 2012 - The salmon aren’t celebrating Bonneville’s 75th
- Sep 07, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon - Meet the Runners
- Aug 30, 2012 - Boil On Columbia
- Aug 28, 2012 - 2012 Salmon and Steelhead Returns Still Poor
- Aug 14, 2012 - The Worst Dam Bill Ever
- Aug 06, 2012 - The Most Interesting Fish in the World
- Aug 03, 2012 - In Virginia: Dam Removal Helping Eels
- Aug 01, 2012 - Outdoor Retailer is here!
- Jul 25, 2012 - Outdoor Idaho Focuses on Idaho's Salmon
- Jul 23, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon - Portland Marathon 2012
- Jul 19, 2012 - If you un-build it, the fish will come
- Jul 16, 2012 - Rivers Gone Wild! - Patagonia-style...
- Jul 13, 2012 - Roll On Columbia Roll On
- Jun 29, 2012 - Sockeye Numbers at Bonneville Dam are Encouraging
- Jun 28, 2012 - Saving Salmon to Save Orcas
- Jun 25, 2012 - Maine's Great Works and the Columbia-Snake Opportunity
- Jun 21, 2012 - Lamprey Summit Sets a Good Example
- Jun 20, 2012 - Victory: Highway to Hell Defeated
- May 21, 2012 - Book a river trip and help support SOS
- May 18, 2012 - TAKE ACTION: Visualize your support for salmon!
- May 15, 2012 - Solutions for one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers
- May 11, 2012 - Spill, Judge Redden, and the Need for a New Process
- May 03, 2012 - Mother's wants a seat at the table
- Apr 26, 2012 - Judge Redden Supports Dam Removal
- Mar 24, 2012 - Men's Journal Features LSR Dam Removal
- Mar 07, 2012 - Court-Ordered Spill Helps Salmon Returns and Jobs
- Feb 22, 2012 - HB 4101: Serious Issue, Bad Bill
- Feb 21, 2012 - Paul Fish: Salmon Super Hero
- Feb 15, 2012 - Showing NOAA Some Love for Valentine’s Day
- Feb 07, 2012 - Toxic Oil Spill on the Lower Snake; What Next?
- Feb 01, 2012 - Sea Change for Port of Lewiston?
- Jan 25, 2012 - Mascot Love at Outdoor Retailer
- Jan 19, 2012 - Osprey Packs to host Buster, Ice-P, Bigfoot, and Timmy O'Neil at Outdoor Retailer
- Jan 12, 2012 - Outside Sees Momentum for Dam Removal in 2012
- Jan 10, 2012 - Patagonia’s Salmon Super Heroes
- Jan 06, 2012 - Salmon…and bikinis?