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.


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.


New York Times: Large Dams Just Aren’t Worth the Cost


muddy waters 01THAYER SCUDDER, the world’s leading authority on the impact of dams on poor people, has changed his mind about dams.

A frequent consultant on large dam projects, Mr. Scudder held out hope through most of his 58-year career that the poverty relief delivered by a properly constructed and managed dam would outweigh the social and environmental damage it caused. Now, at age 84, he has concluded that large dams not only aren’t worth their cost, but that many currently under construction “will have disastrous environmental and socio-economic consequences,” as he wrote in a recent email.

Mr. Scudder, an emeritus anthropology professor at the California Institute of Technology, describes his disillusionment with dams as gradual. He was a dam proponent when he began his first research project in 1956, documenting the impact of forced resettlement on 57,000 Tonga people in the Gwembe Valley of present-day Zambia and Zimbabwe. Construction of the Kariba Dam, which relied on what was then the largest loan in the World Bank’s history, required the Tonga to move from their ancestral homes along the Zambezi River to infertile land downstream. Mr. Scudder has been tracking their disintegration ever since.

Once cohesive and self-sufficient, the Tonga are troubled by intermittent hunger, rampant alcoholism and astronomical unemployment. Desperate for income, some have resorted to illegal drug cultivation and smuggling, elephant poaching, pimping and prostitution. Villagers still lack electricity.

Mr. Scudder’s most recent stint as a consultant, on the Nam Theun 2 Dam in Laos, delivered his final disappointment. He and two fellow advisers supported the project because it required the dam’s funders to carry out programs that would leave people displaced by the dam in better shape than before the project started. But the dam was finished in 2010, and the programs’ goals remain unmet. Meanwhile, the dam’s three owners are considering turning over all responsibilities to the Laotian government — “too soon,” Mr. Scudder said in an interview. “The government wants to build 60 dams over the next 20 or 30 years, and at the moment it doesn’t have the capacity to deal with environmental and social impacts for any single one of them.

“Nam Theun 2 confirmed my longstanding suspicion that the task of building a large dam is just too complex and too damaging to priceless natural resources,” he said. He now thinks his most significant accomplishment was not improving a dam, but stopping one: He led a 1992 study that helped prevent construction of a dam that would have harmed Botswana’s Okavango Delta, one of the world’s last great wetlands.


More Articles...

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