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.


Outside Magazine: What Happens When You Demolish Two 100-Year-Old Dams

elwhadam copyCan the largest river restoration project in history serve as a template for other waterways across the country?

By Patrick Hutchison
Feb. 4, 2015

“A river is never silent…Reservoirs stilled my song.” Narrated from the point of view of Washington's Elwha River, a new documentary about the largest dam removal project in U.S. history starts off on a somber tone before building toward the best possible catharsis: massive charges of dynamite demolishing a pair of meddlesome dams.

The 1,400-square-mile Olympic National Park is the fifth most-visited national park in the country, according to the National Parks Conservation Association, and the 45-mile-long Elwha is its heart. It is fed by runoff from Mount Olympus and, in turn, feeds thousands of acres of forestland and flows into the Pacific Ocean. But for more than 100 years the river’s flow was restricted by two dams initially installed, like so many others in the country, as generators of cheap power. Eventually, the dams were discovered to be a strain on the local environment and nearby communities outgrew the need for them. But removing the dams would not be an easy task. It took more than two decades and countless efforts by local community members and environmental groups to tear the dams down and return the river to its natural state.

Return of the River, currently screening around the Pacific Northwest, tells the story of the fight to restore the Elwha to its former glory, how the project might serve as an example for successful dam removal projects across the country—even ones mired in political discord—and how opening up the river created a myriad of new recreation opportunities.


Salmon and river advocates have much to be thankful for this year!

On August 26th after a twenty year campaign and three year demolition project, the world's largest dam removal project was completed. The Elwha River is once again flowing freely from its headwaters in the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Sediment once trapped behind the dams is rebuilding critical river and nearshore habitats, vegetation is being restored in the once barren landscapes of the drained reservoirs, and anadromous salmon and trout are naturally migrating past two former dam sites for the first time in over 100 years.

It is an incredibly inspiring story of restoration and repair thanks to the vision and tenacity and passion of Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and Northwest conservation and community leaders.

As you begin a long weekend of food, friends, and family, we want to share two additional items with you...

FIRST - on Monday this week, salmon and fishing advocates and the Nez Perce Tribe jointly filed a lawsuit challenging the Army Corps' lower Snake River "sediment management plan" and its efforts to begin harmful and expensive dredging to prop up an economically unsustainable waterway-to-nowhere. Here are links to several recent news stories and our SOS press release:

(1) Seattle Times: Lawsuit challenges approval of Snake River dredging (Nov. 25, 2014)
Environmental groups and the Nez Perce Tribe filed suit in Seattle to challenge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ approval of a $6.7 million dredging project scheduled to begin next month.

(2) Lewiston Morning Tribune: Dredging plan spawns lawsuit (Nov. 25, 2014)

(3) Save Our wild Salmon press release (Nov. 24, 2014)

SECOND - Save Our wild Salmon will kick off its end-of-year fundraising campaign on GivingTuesday - next Tuesday, December 2, 2014. Thank you in advance for your generous support for our work to repair healthy rivers and restore wild salmon and steelhead to the peoples and places of the Pacific Northwest.

You can visit our online donation page here and learn about donor gifts and raffle items here.

Have a wonderful holiday and thank you as always for your support,

Joseph, Sam, and the Save Our wild Salmon Team

Columbia Basin Bulletin: Dam Removal Study Suggests Rivers Return To Natural Conditions
Surprisingly Fast

svc drFriday, October 10, 2014

A study of the removal of two dams in Oregon suggests that rivers can return surprisingly fast to a condition close to their natural state, both physically and biologically, and that the biological recovery might outpace the physical recovery.

The analysis,, published by researchers from Oregon State University in the journal PLOS One, examined portions of two rivers – the Calapooia River and Rogue River. It illustrated how rapidly rivers can recover, both from the long-term impact of the dam and from the short-term impact of releasing stored sediment when the dam is removed.

Most dams have decades of accumulated sediment behind them, and a primary concern has been whether the sudden release of all that sediment could cause significant damage to river ecology or infrastructure.

However, this study concluded that the continued presence of a dam on the river constituted more of a sustained and significant alteration of river status than did the sediment pulse caused by dam removal.

“The processes of ecological and physical recovery of river systems following dam removal are important, because thousands of dams are being removed all over the world,” said Desirée Tullos, an associate professor in the OSU Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering.

“Dams are a significant element in our nation’s aging infrastructure,” she said. “In many cases, the dams haven’t been adequately maintained and they are literally falling apart. Depending on the benefits provided by the dam, it’s often cheaper to remove them than to repair them.”


Snake River Sockeye Make Most Endangered List:  New Report Highlights Ten American Species Our Children May Never See

sockeye.webSeptember 23, 2014

Washington, D.C. – Our children are less likely to see monarch butterflies, a bumblebee, and a host of other once-common wildlife species due to farm pesticides, declining ocean health, climate change and dirty energy production, according to a new report by the Endangered Species Coalition. The report, Vanishing: Ten American Species Our Children May Never See, highlights ten disappearing species and the causes of their dramatic population declines. Additionally, the report identifies everyday actions that people can take to help slow the disappearance of our nation’s iconic wildlife. The report can be viewed and downloaded from the website:

“With each passing day, our children are less and less likely to experience the full beauty of nature and see the kind of wildlife that baby boomers, Gen Xers, and even Millennials experienced,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “We owe it to our future generations of Americans to protect our vanishing wildlife and the special places they call home.”

According to the report, up to a billion monarch butterflies used to color our skies each summer, yet only about 33 million remain – a decline of more than 90 percent. Additionally, the once-common little brown bat has been decimated by the fungal disease, White-nose syndrome, and is now virtually extinct in the Northeast United States. Finally, the rusty-patched bumblebee, an important pollinator, has disappeared across 87 percent of its range, and diseases are thought to be responsible.

Coalition member groups nominated wildlife species in the report. A committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the nominations, and decided which species should be included in the report. “Scientists agree that climate change is a huge threat in many direct and indirect ways to species diversity and survival,” said Dr. Jan Randall, Professor Emeritus of Biology at San Francisco State University, and chair of the scientific advisory committee for the report.

“As the situation for many species grows ever more dire, our direct actions are able to rescue some of them from extinction,” said Dr. Peter Raven, President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden. “This list should inspire hope and at the same time lead us to devote full attention to the species most in need.”

The ten species in the report are the mountain yellow-legged frog, monarch butterfly, North Pacific right whale, great white shark, little brown bat, whitebark pine, rusty patched bumblebee, greater sage-grouse, polar bear, and the Snake River sockeye salmon.

“Snake River sockeye are among the highest and farthest migrating salmon on the planet – climbing 6,000 feet in elevation and 900 miles against the current to return to their spawning grounds,” said Sam Mace, Inland Northwest Program Director for the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition. “We are the last generation that can save these extraordinary fish from extinction.”


Seattle P-I: Chinook salmon returning to reservoir sites on Elwha River

elwhariverSeptember 12, 2014

By Joel Connelly
The largest dam removal in history experienced a key first signal of success this week, as three adult Chinook salmon were spotted above the site of recently blasted-away Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River in Washington’s Olympic National Park.

The discovery, by snorkeling Park Service biologists, marks the first return of Chinook in 102 years to upper reaches of the Olympic Peninsula’s master river.

“When dam removal began three years ago, Chinook salmon were blocked far downstream by Elwha Dam.  Today, we celebrate the return of Chinook to the upper Elwha River for the first time in over a century,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.

The dam removal will open up an estimated 70 miles of salmon habitat in a river system once populated by thousands of Chinook salmon, some reaching 100 pounds in size.


Associated Press: Orca population in Puget Sound falling

orca eating salmon CFWRNot only are Puget Sound’s resident killer whales continuing to decline in numbers, but their behavior is changing, too, according to scientists. The orcas seem to be splintering from their basic social groups and spending less time together.

August 30, 2014

FRIDAY HARBOR — With two new deaths this year and no new calves since 2012, the population of endangered killer whales in the Puget Sound continues to decline.

The number of whales in the J, K and L pods has dropped to 78, a level not seen since 1985, according to a census by the Center for Whale Research. Adding to the concerns, the whales appear to be “splintering” from their pods, which are their basic social groups.

Since 1976, Ken Balcomb of the research center has been observing the Puget Sound orcas, or Southern Residents as they’re known among scientists. Balcomb compiles an annual census of the population for submission to the federal government.

Historically, all three pods of orcas have come together in the San Juan Islands during summer months, often feeding and socializing in large groups, Balcomb noted. But for the past few years, the pods have divided themselves into small groups, sometimes staying together but often staying apart.

“What we’re seeing with this weird association pattern is two or three members of one pod with two or three from another pod,” Balcomb said. “It’s a fragmentation of the formal social structure, and you can see that fragmentation going further. They are often staying miles and miles apart and not interacting.

“If we were trying to name the pods now, we couldn’t do it,” he added. “They aren’t associating in those patterns anymore.”

Among killer whales, offspring tend to stay with their mothers for life, sustaining identifiable “matrilines” that typically contain youngsters, their mothers and their grandmothers. So far, the matrilines have stayed together, though many of these groups are now smaller.

Balcomb suggests the primary factor for the population decline is a lack of food for the killer whales, which generally prey on chinook salmon passing through the San Juan Islands on the way back to Canada’s Fraser River. The whales have a strong preference for chinook, typically larger and fatter fish, but they will eat other species of salmon and even other fish sometimes.

“The salmon issue is huge, and it is ongoing,” Balcomb said.


More Articles...

  1. Aug 26, 2014 - New York Times: Large Dams Just Aren’t Worth the Cost
  2. Aug 26, 2014 - Columbia Basin Bulletin: Dworkshak Unit Out
  3. Aug 20, 2014 - Al Jazeera: Elder’s devotion to ugly fish lives on after his tragic death
  4. Aug 19, 2014 - Energy & Environment Publishing: EPA finalizes agreement setting 'buffer zones' around salmon streams
  5. Aug 19, 2014 - Energy & Environment Publishing: Hastings blasts leaking dams settlement
  6. Aug 08, 2014 - KPLU: New Life After Dam Removal: Surf Smelt Spawning In Mouth Of Elwha
  7. Aug 05, 2014 - Associated Press: Army Corps of Engineers will monitor, disclose dam pollution
  8. Jul 31, 2014 - Nature Science Journal: Dam removals: Rivers on the run
  9. Jul 21, 2014 - Associated Press: EPA To Protect Salmon Fishery By Blocking Massive Alaska Mine
  10. Jul 10, 2014 - As dams fall, Elwha River makes stunning recovery
  11. May 09, 2014 - Remembering a legend: Billy Frank, Jr.
  12. May 06, 2014 - Statement on the passing of Billy Frank, Jr.
  13. Mar 20, 2014 - Northwest News: Fish Experts Plan A Salmon Water Slide On Cracked Wanapum Dam
  14. Mar 19, 2014 - Wenatchee World: Wanapum Dam spillway crack, showing algae, likely not new
  15. Mar 02, 2014 - New York Times: A Reprieve for Bristol Bay
  16. Feb 01, 2014 - Join SOS and Idaho River Adventures this July for a wild trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River!
  17. Jan 23, 2014 - Update: a not-so-new Federal Plan for Columbia/Snake salmon and steelhead
  18. Jan 03, 2014 - New York Times Blog: The Law That Save the Bald Eagle
  19. Dec 29, 2013 - Is the Northwest regaining lost ground?
  20. Dec 05, 2013 - An enhanced spill experiment – costs and carbon impacts are modest and manageable.
  21. Nov 20, 2013 - Seattle Times: Elwha River sees largest run of Chinook in decades
  22. Oct 23, 2013 - B.C. Releases Draft Columbia River Treaty Recommendations
  23. Oct 01, 2013 - Action Alert - Salmon Need
  24. Sep 25, 2013 - LA Times: Big chinook run doesn't let Columbia dams off the hook, activists say
  25. Sep 12, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Feds deal blow to Nez Perce Tribe, salmon advocates
  26. Sep 05, 2013 - SOS and Idaho River Adventures on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River
  27. Aug 31, 2013 - Announcing a leadership transition for SOS
  28. Aug 15, 2013 - Save Our wild Salmon submits comments on the Columbia River Treaty
  29. Jul 15, 2013 - Save the law that protects America's natural capital.
  30. Jul 15, 2013 - Seattle Times: Lamprey Eel - bringing back an ancient species
  31. Jun 07, 2013 - High Country News Book Review: Elwha, a story of today's West
  32. May 13, 2013 - All Scientists Are Saying Is…"Give (More) Spill A Chance."
  33. Apr 10, 2013 - Chicago Tribune: Interior Department recommends removal of Klamath River dams to aid salmon
  34. Mar 05, 2013 - Farewell to Fenton Roskelley - outdoor writer, sportsman, and conservationist
  35. Jan 30, 2013 - Change on the Fly
  36. Jan 17, 2013 - Save Our wild Salmon Coalition welcomes new BPA administrator Bill Drummond
  37. Jan 11, 2013 - In Gratitude
  38. Jan 08, 2013 - Thank you for a successful End-of-2012 Fund Drive!
  39. Dec 04, 2012 - Confusing sockeye hatcheries with sockeye recovery
  40. Nov 07, 2012 - NOAA, We Have a Problem
  41. Oct 25, 2012 - Thank you for 13 excellent years
  42. Oct 22, 2012 - Looking to the Future: New report challenges the Northwest’s aging dam infrastructure
  43. Oct 08, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon athletes exceed their goal.
  44. Oct 04, 2012 - Senator Wyden Supports New Approach to Salmon Restoration
  45. Oct 01, 2012 - Feds Maintain Status Quo as Salmon Numbers Struggle
  46. Sep 27, 2012 - Author attempts world record run for salmon
  47. Sep 25, 2012 - “I’m Pro-Salmon, and I Vote”
  48. Sep 21, 2012 - A Baker's Dozen
  49. Sep 18, 2012 - Salmon, Coal, and the Columbia River’s Future
  50. Sep 14, 2012 - The salmon aren’t celebrating Bonneville’s 75th
  51. Sep 07, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon - Meet the Runners
  52. Aug 30, 2012 - Boil On Columbia
  53. Aug 28, 2012 - 2012 Salmon and Steelhead Returns Still Poor
  54. Aug 14, 2012 - The Worst Dam Bill Ever
  55. Aug 06, 2012 - The Most Interesting Fish in the World
  56. Aug 03, 2012 - In Virginia: Dam Removal Helping Eels
  57. Aug 01, 2012 - Outdoor Retailer is here!
  58. Jul 25, 2012 - Outdoor Idaho Focuses on Idaho's Salmon
  59. Jul 23, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon - Portland Marathon 2012
  60. Jul 19, 2012 - If you un-build it, the fish will come
  61. Jul 16, 2012 - Rivers Gone Wild! - Patagonia-style...
  62. Jul 13, 2012 - Roll On Columbia Roll On
  63. Jun 29, 2012 - Sockeye Numbers at Bonneville Dam are Encouraging
  64. Jun 28, 2012 - Saving Salmon to Save Orcas
  65. Jun 25, 2012 - Maine's Great Works and the Columbia-Snake Opportunity
  66. Jun 21, 2012 - Lamprey Summit Sets a Good Example
  67. Jun 20, 2012 - Victory: Highway to Hell Defeated
  68. May 21, 2012 - Book a river trip and help support SOS
  69. May 18, 2012 - TAKE ACTION: Visualize your support for salmon!
  70. May 15, 2012 - Solutions for one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers
  71. May 11, 2012 - Spill, Judge Redden, and the Need for a New Process
  72. May 03, 2012 - Mother's wants a seat at the table
  73. Apr 26, 2012 - Judge Redden Supports Dam Removal
  74. Mar 24, 2012 - Men's Journal Features LSR Dam Removal
  75. Mar 07, 2012 - Court-Ordered Spill Helps Salmon Returns and Jobs
  76. Feb 22, 2012 - HB 4101: Serious Issue, Bad Bill
  77. Feb 21, 2012 - Paul Fish: Salmon Super Hero
  78. Feb 15, 2012 - Showing NOAA Some Love for Valentine’s Day
  79. Feb 07, 2012 - Toxic Oil Spill on the Lower Snake; What Next?
  80. Feb 01, 2012 - Sea Change for Port of Lewiston?
  81. Jan 25, 2012 - Mascot Love at Outdoor Retailer
  82. Jan 19, 2012 - Osprey Packs to host Buster, Ice-P, Bigfoot, and Timmy O'Neil at Outdoor Retailer
  83. Jan 12, 2012 - Outside Sees Momentum for Dam Removal in 2012
  84. Jan 10, 2012 - Patagonia’s Salmon Super Heroes
  85. 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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