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.


 

Recent Economic Analyses of the Lower Snake River Dams

Below are links to a series of five recent reports and analyses examining, and in some cases re-examining, the costs and benefits of the lower Snake River Dams.

Introduction: On May 4, the U.S. District Court in Portland invalidated the federal government’s  new plan for protecting endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia/Snake rivers for the fifth time in a row since 2000. The Court was clear: the government’s proposed measures did not comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) nor the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Court is requiring federal agencies to produce a new Biological Opinion informed by a full NEPA process: information development and analysis, full consideration of all recovery options including lower Snake River dam removal, and public participation and input. This memo summarizes a number of reports completed in the last several years by different Northwest experts that reflect the dramatically changing economic landscape inhabited by the four federal dams on the lower Snake River. These reports do not purport to offer the final word on these dams’ ledger, but rather provide a substantive, informed insight into their likely costs and benefits today.

I. Lower Snake River Dam Navigation Study
Rocky Mountain Econometrics. September 2015.

•    Rail’s flexibility to go to alternate destinations, the lower Snake River navigation channel’s lack of reliability, and shipping benefits dropping from $19.4 million per year to about $7.6 million have all contributed to reduced demand for commercial navigation, an expanding rail network and increased use of rail.
•    The cost of maintaining the four lower Snake River dams and mitigating their impacts has risen significantly. It is now approximately $227 million per year representing an annual increase of roughly 4.5 percent in recent years.
•    Maintaining the lower Snake River navigation now costs around $18 million per year.
•    The Benefit-to-Cost Ratio of navigation on the Snake is now at a shutdown level of .43:1, and this figure excludes the cost of mitigating the lower Snake River dam’s adverse fish and wildlife impacts.
•    The $7.6 million benefit of lower Snake commercial navigation is now dwarfed by the $24+ million it costs to maintain and mitigate the channel.

II. Restoring wild salmon: Power system costs and benefits of lower Snake River dam removal. NW Energy Coalition. August 2015.

•    The costs to maintain the four lower Snake River dams and associated infrastructure are far greater than the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 2002 estimate of $56 million per year. A more realistic estimate is nearly five times as great - $269 million annually.
•    The costs (net of avoided expenses for maintaining those dams) of replacing the power from the lower Snake River dams with a mix of utility-scale solar and market electricity purchases would be nearly imperceptible to the average public power consumer – close to $1 per month.
•    This does not investigate the economics of navigation, flood control, irrigation, fisheries, or the outdoor industry nor the costs of physical dam removal.

III. Lower Snake River Dam Alternative Power Costs.
Rocky Mountain Econometrics. June 2015.

•   The lower Snake River Dams (LSRD) account for less than 3 percent of the total system-wide energy generation. The system is currently running at about 84% of capacity with approximately 4,600 aMWs of surplus energy. If these dams were decommissioned today and their energy not replaced with alternatives, capacity utilization would increase slightly – to roughly 86.5%.
•   Jim Waddell, recently retired Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) engineer, calculates that it will cost $312.9 million annually to maintain these four dams, 90 percent of which, $281.6 million, is attributable to power generation.
•   The simplest way to replace the lower Snake River dam power would be through purchase on the open market. If this had been done from 2009 through 2014, ratepayers would have experienced a net annual savings of about $19 million.
•   If utility scale photovoltaic energy were developed and used in combination with market purchased energy to replace the power from the lower Snake River dams, Northwest ratepayers could expect to enjoy an annual savings of $21.7 million.

IV. National and Regional Economic Analysis of the Four Lower Snake River Dams: A review of the 2002 Lower Snake Feasibility Report/Environmental Impact Statement Economic Appendix (I)
Earth Economics. February 2015

•   The current state of the four Lower Snake River dams yield a yearly benefit-cost ration of 0.15, well below a positive return on investment.
•   A free-flowing river yields a yearly benefit-cost ratio of 4.3 in terms of National Economic Development (NED). These benefits are not realized with the current state of the river.
•   With the possible exception of navigation and irrigation water supply, the current benefits would not be lost, but rather increased, if the dams were breached.
•   Wild salmon are keystone species in trophic webs from the North Pacific Ocean to the far reaches of the Lower Snake River and tributaries. They are important for food provision, cultural value, and for sustaining other key species throughout the Pacific Northwest.

V. The Costs of Keeping the Four Lower Snake River Dams: A Reevaluation of the Lower Snake River Feasibility Report
James Waddell and Linwood Laughy. January 2015.

•    A professional reevaluation of the 2002 report—correcting earlier cost projections with now available actual costs and addressing omissions, errors, miscalculations and faulty assumptions—demonstrates the Walla Walla District understated the true cost of keeping the dams in place by a staggering $160.7 million on an average annual basis.
•    The reevaluation corrects the assumptions and cost estimates used in the Lower Snake River Juvenile Salmon Migration Feasibility Report (LSRFR) and confirms the estimates based on actual cost over the past 15 years. It then projects the costs over the entire life-span of the project.
•    If the ACOE’s Walla Walla District had conducted a thorough, honest economic analysis in its 2002 LSRFR, the four lower Snake River Dams would likely have been removed by now.

Seattle Times   Judge: Salmon recovery requires big dam changes

sr.damBy Lynda V. Mapes

May 4, 2016

For the fifth time, a federal judge has called for an overhaul of Columbia and Snake River dam operations to preserve salmon and steelhead. In his ruling, he urged renewed consideration of Lower Snake River dam removal.

A federal judge has called for a new approach to Columbia and Snake River dam operations to preserve salmon and steelhead, with all options on the table for consideration, including dam removal on the Lower Snake River.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon in Oregon on Wednesday invalidated the U.S. government’s 2014 Columbia Basin biological opinion, under which federal agencies operate the Columbia River hydropower system. It’s the fifth time a biological opinion written by the agencies permitting operation of the dams has been struck down by the courts.

In his sweeping, 149-page ruling, Simon sounded about out of patience, quoting rulings over two decades by his predecessors denouncing a system that “cries out for a major overhaul,” and urging consideration of breaching one or more of the four dams on the Lower Snake River. “For more than 20 years, however, the federal agencies have ignored the admonishments and continued to focus essentially on the same approach,” Simon wrote. “ … these efforts have already cost billions of dollars, yet they are failing. Many populations of the listed species continue to be in a perilous state.”

Read more...

Seattle Times: Lean year for coho means big worries for Westport salmon charters

Low coho runs could mean more economic hardship for already hard-hit Westport and its charter boats.

westport.boat1

By Erik Lacitis, April 11, 2016

WESTPORT — As pretty much always, it’s windy and cold on this day by the ocean.

A few tourists poke around the main drag in town, maybe stop in a gift shop and buy caramels. It’s the slow time of the year, with just a couple of boats taking customers out for bottom fishing.

In his office at Deep Sea Charters, Larry Giese, one of the two big local fishing-boat operators, talks about its being a nervous time in this little town of 2,100.

The salmon season could be an unmitigated disaster. Coho — one of five salmon species that migrate out to sea and then return to the state — are in big trouble; the Columbia River hatchery coho are expected to return in half the numbers of last year.

State and tribal fish managers are expected this week to decide whether to cut way back on the commercial and recreational salmon fishery in Washington’s ocean waters — or call it off completely.

“We’re fishermen. We’re not hedge-fund managers and bankers and Internet gurus. We’re fishermen,” says Giese, a member of the state’s sport-fishing advisory board. “We’re already operating on a shoestring of what we used to have.”

Read more...

elwha.mouth2An Evening on the Elwha
Town Hall of Seattle
Thursday, May 12, 2016

BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE.

In 2013, after a successful campaign by the Lower Elwha K'lallam Tribe and local conservationists, the nation’s largest dam removal project was completed on Washington’s Elwha River. More than two years have passed and this newly-restored watershed that links Olympic National Park with the salt waters of the Salish Sea is in the midst of a fascinating and unprecedented transformation. “An Evening on the Elwha” will present a series of rapid-fire presentations by renowned experts from the field who will describe how this rich ecological system is coming back to life before our eyes. Presentations will cover salmon recovery, otters, sediment migration, estuary and coastal restoration, reservoir revegetation, a trip down the re-wilded river, and much more.

elwha3

Program: 6:30-8:30 (doors open at 5:30)

Tickets: $10 general / $5 senior/student/limited income. Tickets can be purchased here.

Lynda Mapes, author and environmental reporter for the Seattle Times, will emcee the evening program

Speakers include:
1.    Frances Charles, Lower Elwha K’lallam Tribal Chairwoman
2.    George Pess, NOAA-Fisheries Program Manager and Research Fisheries Biologist
3.    Ian Miller, Coastal Hazards Specialist for Washington Sea Grant
4.    Kim Sager-Fradkin, Lower K’lallam Tribal Wildlife Program Manager
5.    Sarah Morley, NOAA-Fisheries Research Ecologist
6.    Shawn Cantrell, Regional Director for Defenders of Wildlife
7.    Joshua Chenoweth, Olympic National Park Restoration Botanist
8.    Jonathan A. Warrick, U.S. Geological Survey Research Geologist
9.  David Spiegel, Outdoor Adventurer/Writer/Photographer, Elwha River 2015 Source to Sea expedition    

elwhariver1This event is presented by:
American Whitewater
Defenders of Wildlife
National Park Conservation Association
NatureBridge
Save Our wild Salmon Coalition

With support from:
Sierra Club
Audubon
Student Conservation Association
Olympic Park Associates
The Mountaineers
Mountaineers Books

 

14th Annual Rose' Revival & Cool Whites -
A benefit for Save Our wild Salmon

14th.rays.sos1Thursday, May 26th, 2016
Ray's Boathouse
6049 Seaview Ave NW Seattle, WA
 

Doors open at 6 pm - $35 tickets

Special "Early Entry" at 5 pm - $45 ticket

Event ends at 9 pm.

Proceeds from this event benefit the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition.

What could be more relaxing than sipping tasty rose' and white wines on the beautiful deck of at Ray's Boathouse watching the sun set over the Olympic Mountains across Puget Sound?  

Be part of this Seattle tradition by joining us at the 14th Annual Rose' Revival and Cool Whites Wine Event on Thursday, May 26th from 6-9pm!

This event features a wide array of dry Washington Rose' and interesting white wines - NO reds! Attendees will meet a variety of Northwest winemakers and taste their rosé made in very small lots from Sangiovese, Syrah, Cab Franc, Tempranillo, Grenache, Pinot Noir! The event will also feature a wide array of delicious whites for summer, including varietals such as Semillon, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Albarino, Gruner, & Pinot Blanc!  

Ray's will provide tasty treats to accompany.

Proceeds from this event go to support Save Our Wild Salmon, a Northwest-based coalition of conservation organizations, river groups, fishing associations, businesses, working to protect and restore abundant, fishable populations of wild salmon and steelhead by protecting and restoring their rivers and watersheds.

BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE!

For more information: http://www.wildsalmon.org

Contact:
206-300-1003

This year's Rose Revival and Cool Whites will featuring the following local wineries (so far):

Coral Wines
Corliss/Tranche
Forgeron Cellars
Genoa Cellars
Goose Ridge Estate Winery
Kaella Winery
NHV -Naches Heights Vineyard
Purple Star & Native Sun
Seven Hills Winery
Terra Blanca Winery
Tildio Winery
Waters Winery

More Articles...

  1. Jan 04, 2016 - CBB: Songbird Study Shows River Ecosystem Recovery After Dam Removal, Return Of Salmon Nutrients
  2. Dec 18, 2015 - 2015 SOS donor gifts and opportunities
  3. Dec 15, 2015 - New York Times: Finding Refuge for Salmon, Cold Water Preferred
  4. Nov 25, 2015 - Happy Thanksgiving 2015!
  5. Nov 19, 2015 - Save Our wild Salmon - Our 2015 Year-end Review!
  6. Nov 03, 2015 - Salmon and fishing advocates: Speak up for fish and wildlife!
  7. Sep 16, 2015 - Intertwined Fates: The Orca-Salmon Connection in the Northwest
  8. Sep 09, 2015 - A Tribute to Zeke Grader - 9.7.2015
  9. Jun 30, 2015 - Free The Snake: Patagonia’s new short film highlights lower Snake dam removal
  10. Jun 09, 2015 - Idaho Statesman: Salmon swim in the Owyhee River (Nevada!) after 87 years
  11. May 01, 2015 - 13th Annual Rose' Revival Benefit Event - June 18 in Seattle
  12. Apr 22, 2015 - Patagonia Ad: Don't Hold Back
  13. Feb 18, 2015 - Outside: What Happens When You Demolish Two 100-Year-Old Dams
  14. Nov 26, 2014 - Happy Thanksgiving 2014!
  15. Oct 13, 2014 - CBB: Dam Removal Study Suggests Rivers Return To Natural Conditions Surprisingly Fast
  16. Sep 23, 2014 - Snake River Sockeye Make Most Endangered List: New Report Highlights Ten American Species Our Children May Never See
  17. Sep 15, 2014 - Seattle P-I: Chinook salmon returning to reservoir sites on Elwha River
  18. Sep 02, 2014 - Associated Press: Orca population in Puget Sound falling
  19. Aug 26, 2014 - New York Times: Large Dams Just Aren’t Worth the Cost
  20. Aug 26, 2014 - Columbia Basin Bulletin: Dworkshak Unit Out
  21. Aug 20, 2014 - Al Jazeera: Elder’s devotion to ugly fish lives on after his tragic death
  22. Aug 19, 2014 - Energy & Environment Publishing: EPA finalizes agreement setting 'buffer zones' around salmon streams
  23. Aug 19, 2014 - Energy & Environment Publishing: Hastings blasts leaking dams settlement
  24. Aug 08, 2014 - KPLU: New Life After Dam Removal: Surf Smelt Spawning In Mouth Of Elwha
  25. Aug 05, 2014 - Associated Press: Army Corps of Engineers will monitor, disclose dam pollution
  26. Jul 31, 2014 - Nature Science Journal: Dam removals: Rivers on the run
  27. Jul 21, 2014 - Associated Press: EPA To Protect Salmon Fishery By Blocking Massive Alaska Mine
  28. Jul 10, 2014 - As dams fall, Elwha River makes stunning recovery
  29. May 09, 2014 - Remembering a legend: Billy Frank, Jr.
  30. May 06, 2014 - Statement on the passing of Billy Frank, Jr.
  31. Mar 20, 2014 - Northwest News: Fish Experts Plan A Salmon Water Slide On Cracked Wanapum Dam
  32. Mar 19, 2014 - Wenatchee World: Wanapum Dam spillway crack, showing algae, likely not new
  33. Mar 02, 2014 - New York Times: A Reprieve for Bristol Bay
  34. Feb 01, 2014 - Join SOS and Idaho River Adventures this July for a wild trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River!
  35. Jan 23, 2014 - Update: a not-so-new Federal Plan for Columbia/Snake salmon and steelhead
  36. Jan 03, 2014 - New York Times Blog: The Law That Save the Bald Eagle
  37. Dec 29, 2013 - Is the Northwest regaining lost ground?
  38. Dec 05, 2013 - An enhanced spill experiment – costs and carbon impacts are modest and manageable.
  39. Nov 20, 2013 - Seattle Times: Elwha River sees largest run of Chinook in decades
  40. Oct 23, 2013 - B.C. Releases Draft Columbia River Treaty Recommendations
  41. Oct 01, 2013 - Action Alert - Salmon Need
  42. Sep 25, 2013 - LA Times: Big chinook run doesn't let Columbia dams off the hook, activists say
  43. Sep 12, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Feds deal blow to Nez Perce Tribe, salmon advocates
  44. Sep 05, 2013 - SOS and Idaho River Adventures on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River
  45. Aug 31, 2013 - Announcing a leadership transition for SOS
  46. Aug 15, 2013 - Save Our wild Salmon submits comments on the Columbia River Treaty
  47. Jul 15, 2013 - Save the law that protects America's natural capital.
  48. Jul 15, 2013 - Seattle Times: Lamprey Eel - bringing back an ancient species
  49. Jun 07, 2013 - High Country News Book Review: Elwha, a story of today's West
  50. May 13, 2013 - All Scientists Are Saying Is…"Give (More) Spill A Chance."
  51. Apr 10, 2013 - Chicago Tribune: Interior Department recommends removal of Klamath River dams to aid salmon
  52. Mar 05, 2013 - Farewell to Fenton Roskelley - outdoor writer, sportsman, and conservationist
  53. Jan 30, 2013 - Change on the Fly
  54. Jan 17, 2013 - Save Our wild Salmon Coalition welcomes new BPA administrator Bill Drummond
  55. Jan 11, 2013 - In Gratitude
  56. Jan 08, 2013 - Thank you for a successful End-of-2012 Fund Drive!
  57. Dec 04, 2012 - Confusing sockeye hatcheries with sockeye recovery
  58. Nov 07, 2012 - NOAA, We Have a Problem
  59. Oct 25, 2012 - Thank you for 13 excellent years
  60. Oct 22, 2012 - Looking to the Future: New report challenges the Northwest’s aging dam infrastructure
  61. Oct 08, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon athletes exceed their goal.
  62. Oct 04, 2012 - Senator Wyden Supports New Approach to Salmon Restoration
  63. Oct 01, 2012 - Feds Maintain Status Quo as Salmon Numbers Struggle
  64. Sep 27, 2012 - Author attempts world record run for salmon
  65. Sep 25, 2012 - “I’m Pro-Salmon, and I Vote”
  66. Sep 21, 2012 - A Baker's Dozen
  67. Sep 18, 2012 - Salmon, Coal, and the Columbia River’s Future
  68. Sep 14, 2012 - The salmon aren’t celebrating Bonneville’s 75th
  69. Sep 07, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon - Meet the Runners
  70. Aug 30, 2012 - Boil On Columbia
  71. Aug 28, 2012 - 2012 Salmon and Steelhead Returns Still Poor
  72. Aug 14, 2012 - The Worst Dam Bill Ever
  73. Aug 06, 2012 - The Most Interesting Fish in the World
  74. Aug 03, 2012 - In Virginia: Dam Removal Helping Eels
  75. Aug 01, 2012 - Outdoor Retailer is here!
  76. Jul 25, 2012 - Outdoor Idaho Focuses on Idaho's Salmon
  77. Jul 23, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon - Portland Marathon 2012
  78. Jul 19, 2012 - If you un-build it, the fish will come
  79. Jul 16, 2012 - Rivers Gone Wild! - Patagonia-style...
  80. Jul 13, 2012 - Roll On Columbia Roll On
  81. Jun 29, 2012 - Sockeye Numbers at Bonneville Dam are Encouraging
  82. Jun 28, 2012 - Saving Salmon to Save Orcas
  83. Jun 25, 2012 - Maine's Great Works and the Columbia-Snake Opportunity
  84. Jun 21, 2012 - Lamprey Summit Sets a Good Example
  85. Jun 20, 2012 - Victory: Highway to Hell Defeated
  86. May 21, 2012 - Book a river trip and help support SOS
  87. May 18, 2012 - TAKE ACTION: Visualize your support for salmon!
  88. May 15, 2012 - Solutions for one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers
  89. May 11, 2012 - Spill, Judge Redden, and the Need for a New Process
  90. May 03, 2012 - Mother's wants a seat at the table
  91. Apr 26, 2012 - Judge Redden Supports Dam Removal
  92. Mar 24, 2012 - Men's Journal Features LSR Dam Removal
  93. Mar 07, 2012 - Court-Ordered Spill Helps Salmon Returns and Jobs
  94. Feb 22, 2012 - HB 4101: Serious Issue, Bad Bill
  95. Feb 21, 2012 - Paul Fish: Salmon Super Hero
  96. Feb 15, 2012 - Showing NOAA Some Love for Valentine’s Day
  97. Feb 07, 2012 - Toxic Oil Spill on the Lower Snake; What Next?
  98. Feb 01, 2012 - Sea Change for Port of Lewiston?
  99. Jan 25, 2012 - Mascot Love at Outdoor Retailer
  100. Jan 19, 2012 - Osprey Packs to host Buster, Ice-P, Bigfoot, and Timmy O'Neil at Outdoor Retailer
  101. Jan 12, 2012 - Outside Sees Momentum for Dam Removal in 2012
  102. Jan 10, 2012 - Patagonia’s Salmon Super Heroes
  103. 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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