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.
SOS Blog: Wild Salmon and Climate Change: The Law*
From the Desk of Pat Ford - August 8, 2016
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon’s May 2016 verdict in the long-running Columbia-Snake salmon and dams case sets clear legal sideboards for helping salmon migrate climatic changes. (You can read the court’s verdict at [url here]. The salmon and climate change section is pages 86-102.)
First, it makes plain what the law requires, and thus sets basic standards for any strategy and recommendations on the subject. The standards will apply to the government’s sixth attempt in 18 years to craft a lawful plan to restore Columbia-Snake wild salmon and steelhead.
Second, it crisply summarizes the basics of climate-salmon science as we know them today. Scientists at NOAA, the Universities of Washington and Oregon, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, and others have published much research on salmon and climate change in the past 15 years. The court finds that “the best available information indicates that climate change will have a significant negative effect” on endangered or threatened salmon and steelhead species in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. The court finds that NOAA paid illegally scant attention to this information, much of it developed by NOAA’s own scientists, in its 2014 plan to restore Columbia-Snake salmon.
Third, the court established a public process in which that science must be assessed, and in which Northwest people’s views on salmon and climate change must be heard.
SOS Blog: Lessons from the 2015 Columbia-Snake Salmon Kill
From the desk of Pat Ford
August 1, 2016
In late spring and summer of 2015, an estimated 250,000 adult salmon died in the main-stem Columbia and Snake Rivers while trying to reach their home waters to spawn their next generation. The main cause was 70 days of sustained hot water in both rivers. Water temperatures at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia, and Ice Harbor Dam on the lower Snake, hit 68 degrees F on June 24, rose quickly to 72-73 degrees for two weeks in early July, and did not fall below 68 degrees again at either dam until early September. (68F, or 20C, is the reference temperature – an aim, not a requirement – established by NOAA Fisheries to protect Columbia-Snake salmon and steelhead from the adverse effects of hot water.) Two other factors also contributed to the kill: a low 2014-15 snowpack that led to low 2015 runoff, and the dam-and-reservoir system whose baseline stresses to migrating salmon in both rivers exacerbated the hot water effects.
This major salmon kill has sparked wide concern among people who care about the salmon and health of the Columbia and Snake. Spring and summer river temperatures in both rivers have been rising for several decades now, and Northwest climate and salmon scientists expect the trend to continue as human-caused climate change pushes global air temperatures upward. In the wake of 2015, many Northwest people are asking with urgency, what can we do to help salmon successfully migrate climate change? What’s in our toolbox now, and what new tools can we add?
To tackle these questions in some detail, I have been reading and talking to Northwest climate and salmon scientists, be they researchers, fish managers, or both. The full result will be released in a few months, but the Hot Water Report 2016 presents an opportunity to preview some of the findings, and solicit reaction. I begin with the first question I am asking scientists: what lessons should people who care about salmon, and people making salmon, energy and water policies, take from 2015’s salmon kill? Here are the main answers so far.
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.
Seattle Times Judge: Salmon recovery requires big dam changes
By 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.”
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.
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.”
- Mar 24, 2016 - An Evening on the Elwha Town Hall of Seattle Thursday, May 12, 2016
- Mar 23, 2016 - 14th Annual Rose' Revival and Cool Whites - An SOS fundraiser
- Jan 04, 2016 - CBB: Songbird Study Shows River Ecosystem Recovery After Dam Removal, Return Of Salmon Nutrients
- Dec 18, 2015 - 2015 SOS donor gifts and opportunities
- Dec 15, 2015 - New York Times: Finding Refuge for Salmon, Cold Water Preferred
- Nov 25, 2015 - Happy Thanksgiving 2015!
- Nov 19, 2015 - Save Our wild Salmon - Our 2015 Year-end Review!
- Nov 03, 2015 - Salmon and fishing advocates: Speak up for fish and wildlife!
- Sep 16, 2015 - Intertwined Fates: The Orca-Salmon Connection in the Northwest
- Sep 09, 2015 - A Tribute to Zeke Grader - 9.7.2015
- Jun 30, 2015 - Free The Snake: Patagonia’s new short film highlights lower Snake dam removal
- 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?