Wild Salmon & Steelhead News

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1. Harmful anti-salmon, anti-orca bill gets a hearing in Washington D.C.
2. Governor Inslee raises the alarm on plight of Southern Resident Orca
3. Columbia River Treaty discussion draws a crowd in Seattle
4. Update on court-ordered 'spill' starting in 2018
5. Celebrating a Restored Sandy River – 10 years after dam removal
6. SOS website gets a major upgrade
7. Media Roundup: Northwest orca, salmon and rivers in the press
8. Salmon Mean Business - celebrating NW sustainability leaders: Duke's Chowder House and Eco Depot!

1. Harmful anti-salmon, anti-orca bill gets a hearing in Washington D.C.

congressA bill seeking to stymie salmon recovery in the Columbia-Snake Rivers received a House Congressional hearing October 12th. Spearheaded by eastern Washington’s Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, H.R. 3144 would put in place the illegal 2014 Salmon Plan ruled invalid by Judge Simon last year, rollback the court-ordered expansion of spill, and derail the ongoing agency efforts to develop new analyses and recovery alternatives—including dam removal—to restore wild salmon in the basin. If that weren’t enough, the bill also prevents federal agencies from even studying dam removal or spilling additional water at the dams, a very necessary and effective measure for giving young salmon an easier ride down the river during the spring migration to the ocean. Read a fact sheet about the bill here.

Salmon advocates were allowed one witness at a table of utility industry executives who refused even to acknowledge that the Columbia and Snake River dams harm wild salmon and steelhead runs. Dam proponents, including utility representatives and Rep. McMorris-Rodgers herself, claimed salmon were doing better today than before the dams. Did they somehow miss the headlines this summer on the dismally low runs and shut down fisheries?

Liz Hamilton, Executive Director for the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, did a great job speaking on behalf of fish and fishing people. She set the record straight on the impacts of dams on wild salmon & steelhead and the absolute necessity for spilling additional water over the dams. She spoke forcefully about the real-world effects of the dismally low salmon & steelhead returns this season, about lost income to fishing businesses and curtailed revenues to small towns.

There was no vote on H.R. 3144. So far, Rep. McMorris-Rodgers has not garnered widespread support for bill. SOS is working with its allied organizations to educated elected leaders and the public on why this bill is bad policy. It hurts salmon in the short-term and thwarts ongoing efforts to develop a plan that restores salmon and resolves the crisis.

We need to keep pressure on Members of Congress to actively oppose H.R. 3144 and ensure that it does not find its way through Congress to become law. Read the letter more than 35 conservation and business associations sent to Northwest members of Congress this summer opposing this bill. Send it to your Reps as a reminder. Call them. Take action online below...Thank you.

Here's how you can help:

ACTION ALERT (WA, OR, ID residents): Contact NW elected officials: Oppose HR 3144 - Bad for salmon, orca and fishing communities.

Recent press coverage:

OPB: Salmon-Friendly Rulings On Columbia, Snake Dams Could Be Overturned By Congress

2. Governor Inslee raises the alarm on plight of Southern Resident Orca

insleeLast month, in his monthly Results Washington meeting, Governor Inslee (WA) spent nearly ten minutes asking questions about the plight of the Southern Resident Orcas, including about whether we are at a critical turning point for this endangered, still-declining population.

(You can view the meeting online here. The Governor begins raising his concerns and asking questions about the Southern Residents starting at the 31-minute mark.)

Governor Inslee’s deep affection for the Southern Residents is well known. Orca advocates were elated to see him start to ask tough, focused questions about their status: Are we at a tipping point for this population? Do we need to sound the alarm? Should Washington State do more now to protect them?

The answer of course is YES. The Northwest’s resident orca population is in deep trouble. Several  whales have died or disappeared in just the last year, including young calves, reproducing mothers, and the population’s 100 year-old matriach, Granny. Despite being “protected” under the Endangered Species Act in 2005, the population continues to decline. It is at a 30-year low today, with just 76 individuals remaining.

Research has taught us much in recent years to inform and focus urgently-needed conservation efforts. These orcas rely significantly on chinook salmon for their diet. Satellite-tagging data, direct observation and the analysis of fecal samples make clear that these orca spend significant amounts of time on the Washington State coast and at the mouth of the Columbia River feeding of adult chinook that gather there before heading upriver to spawn in their natal streams.

orca calf 1Hormone analyses from fecal sample demonstrate that all three pods – the J’s, K’s and L’s – suffer from “nutritional stress” at various times of the year. The orca are starving - and this is leading to both early deaths of individual whales and an alarmingly high rate of spontaneous abortions.

These orca rely on salmon from many river systems across the West Coast, but the Columbia-Snake system and its salmon can play a critical role producing the large numbers of chinook that these orca need. This will not be realized, however, without “a major overhaul” of the federal system of dams and reservoirs in the lower Columbia and lower Snake Rivers. In the very near-term, federal dam agencies need to increase spill in the spring and summer to increase the survival of juvenile salmon as they migrate to the Pacific Ocean. Several years from now, with a plan in place, we need to remove the four, costly, out-dated, and deadly dams on the lower Snake River. This project represents our nation’s largest river and salmon restoration opportunity – one that can also save public dollars, create many jobs as it also restores endangered fisheries and delivers an essential food source to hungry killer whales. A win-win-win for salmon, orca and people.

Here’s how you can help:
-- ACTION ALERT (Washington residents only): Contact Gov. Inslee - "Protect Columbia-Snake salmon, feed endangered orca!"

-- ACTION ALERT: (Everyone) Contact NOAA-Fisheries West Coast Regional Director Barry Thom - "Protect orca by restoring salmon!"

Recent press coverage:

Press Release: Orca Salmon Alliance calls for an emergency Orca Task Force
NW Public Radio: Orca population hits a 30-year low

3. Presentation on Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty draws a large Seattle crowd

crt.speakersOver a hundred people gathered in Seattle at the Mountaineers Building in late September for a reception and series of presentations and panel discussion with the audience on the necessity and opportunity of modernizing the U.S. – Canada Columbia River Treaty in order to both right historic wrongs and prepare both nations to work closely together to protect and restore health to the river and its fish and wildlife and human communities in the 21st Century

Speakers included Eileen Delehanty Pearkes, author (of an excellent book "A River Captured – The Columbia River Treaty and Catastrophic change") and academic, D.R. Michel and John Sirois of the Upper Columbia United Tribes, and the Evangelical Lutheran Reverend John Rosenberg – a religious leader, teacher, writer and salmon/river advocate.

Eileen started off the first of three presentations with a focus on many of the often unrecognized impacts of the Treaty on communities in the upper watershed of British Columbia – flooded towns, lost farms, dislocation. D.R. and John spoke of the devastating loss of salmon as a result of the large dams built in the upper basin of Washington State – such as Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee – and about the Tribes' persistent efforts and progress toward reintroducing salmon into historic habitats from which they have been excluded from due to last century’s spasm of dam construction. Finally, Rev. Rosenberg focused in on the importance of healthy rivers and wild salmon and the responsibility of non-tribal people in the Northwest tocrt.john.siriosJPG ensure our government honors its obligations to our Tribal neighbors based on other Treaties, made with Tribes in the 19th Century. And to our sacred responsibilities and relationship with the lands and waters and fish and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest. Modernization of the Columbia River Treaty is an opportunity to right historic wrongs and make good on our nation’s commitments to salmon and fishing and other essential values for so many of the Northwest's Tribes.

Speakers spent 30 minutes or more answering audience questions before we adjorned. Unfortunately, we were unable to record the event, but will work on doing so in the future. (any local volunteer/highly affordable A/V specialists - reach out for future projects!)

This event was sponsored by Save Our wild Salmon, American Rivers, Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Earth Ministry, League of Women Voters Washington, Sierra Club, Upper Columbia United Tribes and the Columbia Institute for Water Policy.

4. Update: court-ordered spring 'spill' starting in 2018?

In case you are wondering, here’s an update on the process ordered by the U.S. District Court in Portland last April to increase spring "spill” on the lower Snake and lower Columbia rivers. Salmon and fishing advocates/plaintiffs - joined by the State of Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe - asked the Court to order the dam agencies to increase spill starting in Spring 2017 to help more endangered fish survive the lethal hydro-system. As you may recall, spill releases water over the tops of the dams rather than sending it through spinning turbines or Rube Goldberg bypass systems. “Spilled” fish move through the reservoirs and past the dams more quickly and safely on their way to the ocean and – most importantly – they come back in the greatest numbers as adults several years later. Juvenile fish that are artificially transported in barges (yes, they are still doing this. Sigh.) or that use the dam “bypass” systems or end up going through turbines don’t survive the dams as well anddam.lsr1 don’t return from the ocean as adults as successfully as those fish that migrate in the river and ‘spill’ over the dams. The more natural the river, the less human intervention, the better. Not too surprising really.

In opposing the request for more spill in early ‘17, the dam agencies / defendants cried foul and claimed increasing spill could not happen safely without an extensive time-consuming plan (read: more delay). The agencies also erroneously claimed that more spill will hurt salmon and we really shouldn’t do it.

The Court, feeling the need to be cautious and recognize the agency views, split the baby and ordered increased spill levels starting in 2018 and asked the federal, state and tribal fish experts to work together in 2017 to develop a plan for increased spring spill that maximizes the biological benefit for fish without exceeding any water quality standards or posing significant risks to navigation and human safety. Over the past eight months, state, federal and tribal agencies have been working collaboratively on this court-ordered spill plan for 2018 and beyond. A crew even travelled to Mississippi several times where an Army Corps of Engineers facility has actual models of each of these eight dams. Crazy, right? They run water through these models and look for problems that might harm the fish.

Well, long story short, these experts have been working together on this spill gameplan – per the Court’s order. So far, so good. No one has found any biological constraint for NOT spilling water over the dams in the spring at the levels currently allowed by the law (changing water quality regulations to allow for even higher levels of fish-aiding spill is another topic. More on that later.). Nor has anyone found any public safety or navigational reasons to limit or reduce spill. Another fear that defendants had raised.

That said, we still don’t yet have a final plan, either agreed to by the agencies or signed off by the court that will definitively implement maximum spill allowed by the law starting in spring 2018. As a result, there is still time for mischief by the dam agencies who have a long history of mischief when it comes to providing spill to help endangered wild salmon and steelhead. And there is still a chance the Court will have to address some aspects of these issues again this winter before a final plan is in place.

Stay tuned. We will keep you posted on any new developments and reach out to ask for your help if the dam agencies try to take this spill collaboration off the rails.

5. Celebrating a Restored Sandy River (OR) – 10 years after dam removal

river.sandy.or.2012Here’s some excerpts from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife press release marking the 10 year anniversary of freeing the Sandy River in northwest Oregon. The bottom line – yet another still evolving but already highly successful story of removing dams, restoring rivers, and recovering salmon and steelhead.

Ten years ago a new era of salmon and steelhead recovery quite literally started out with a bang when Marmot Dam was removed from the Sandy River. More than a ton of high-grade explosives were detonated, taking off the face of the 47-foot high concrete dam.

At the time, it was the largest dam breach ever attempted. Portland General Electric, owner of the dam, figured it would be more cost-effective to remove the structure than upgrade it to meet new federal relicensing standards.

Biologists, conservationists, anglers, and others hailed the removal of Marmot Dam as a victory for imperiled native runs of Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead. The hope was that fish would benefit from better flows, better water quality and unrestricted access to prime spawning grounds in the uppermost reaches of the river.

So has 10 years of a free-flowing Sandy River been good for fish?

The answer is an unqualified ‘yes’, according to Todd Alsbury, ODFW district fish biologist for the Sandy, and one of the partners in the removal of Marmot Dam.

Now, for the past three years, when other runs of salmon and steelhead around the region have been down, the Sandy has been seeing increasingly strong returns; in some cases, double what they were a decade ago before Marmot Dam was removed...Alsbury noted that in the 10 years since Marmot Dam was removed ODFW has observed the largest returns for all three species in 40 years.

The number of wild spring chinook increased from an average of 809 before dam removal to 2,086 afterwards. Similarly, coho increased from 784 returning fish before dam removal to 1,959 afterward, and wild winter steelhead increased from 898 to 2,757.

Read the full press release here.

And watch a 60-second time lapse of the removal of the Marmot Dam from the Sandy River here.

website6. SOS website gets a major upgrade!
We are happy to invite you to visit our new and improved website. It has been a long time in the works. It is finally done and up and running. We think that it is more attractive, easier to navigate, with updated links to photo galleries, a video collection and detailed policy resources and links to further information on a range of topics: science, salmon and orca, clean energy and climate and more.

Please take a look and send us your feedback – especially if you see broken links, content needs, or have confusion about our programs, etc.

And don’t forget to confirm that our DONATE page is fully functional as well… ; )

7. Media Roundup: selected stories on orca, salmon, rivers

Lewiston Morning Tribune: Time to Breach? By Eric Barker, October 22, 2017

Street Roots News: Nez Perce activists fight to save the Snake River Tribe. By Stephen Quirke, 15 Sep 2017

Idaho Statesman Guest Opinion: Don’t blame ‘the blob.’ Even with good ocean conditions, salmon face hostile rivers. By Tom Stuart, September 23, 2017

Idaho Statesman: Remove 4 dams, leave these fish alone, and they may be able to replenish themselves. By Rocky Barker, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017

8. "Salmon Mean Business" - SOS celebrates two NW sustainability leaders: Duke's Seafood & Chowder and Eco Depot

Save Our wild Salmon salutes these two excellent Northwest-based businesses for their vision and leadership to promote the highest standards of sustainability and responsible businesses practices - including healthy wild salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia-Snake River Basin and across the Pacific Northwest.

Dukes Seafood and Chowder 3 550x236Duke Moscrip, with his son and partner John, own a chain of seven Sustainable Seafood restaurants in greater Puget Sound. They serve delicious, sustainably-sourced meals and are passionate about protecting, preserving and restoring wild salmon and steelhead to the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Duke recognizes the value of healthy habitats and free-flowing rivers necessary to sustain fisheries that support thousands of jobs in the fishing economy, provide the perfect food, and protect the region's unique ecology and way of life. Visit Duke's website here. Read the letter Duke recently sent to President Trump re: Columbia-Snake River Basin salmon here.


It’s also time to give a well-deserved shout out to Spokane-based Eco Depot, a family-owned business specializing in solarizing businesses, farms and homes in the Inland Northwest and beyond. Specializing in WA-made solar panels, few outfits provide the friendly and steady customer service of Eco Depot.

Eco Depot regularly sponsors SOS events. Co-owner Bruce Gage provides the fresh-squeezed orange juice for the masses at the annual "Free the Snake Flotilla". Eco Depot’s panels power the Spokane SOS office! Most important, he works hard to educate his customers and colleagues in the solar industry about the declining value of the lower Snake dams, why they need to be removed and why wild salmon are so important to the Northwest. Eco Depot has brought scores of new supporters to the cause. As Bruce likes to say: Solar Saves Salmon!

Check out Eco Depot here.


1. Conservation and business advocates oppose new legislation that would overturn court decision and push imperiled wild salmon populations closer to extinction

2. University of Washington Study: Lack of salmon increasing orca reproductive problems

3. Columbia River Treaty: New economic analysis confirms the Columbia River Basin's immense natural capital value

4. New science webinar: Born to be wild - How science can inform recovery of Idaho salmon and steelhead

5. Spokane churches and Tribal members gather on the banks of the Lower Snake River

6. Patagonia focuses Northwest events this summer on campaign to “Free the Snake!”

7. Save the Date: 3rd Annual "Free the Snake!" Rally on the river - September 8 and 9, 2017

1. Conservation and business advocates oppose legislation that would overturn court decision and push imperiled wild salmon populations closer to extinction

PR.McMoRo.bill.2017 copyBusiness and conservation leaders from across the Pacific Northwest announced their strong opposition to a U.S. House bill that would overturn a decision by the U.S. District Court in Portland finding that the federal government is not doing enough to rebuild endangered salmon and steelhead populations. The legislation would rubberstamp the failed recovery efforts of the federal government, which has spent more than $10 billion without recovering a single endangered salmon population.

On June 29, Pacific Northwest Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), and Greg Walden (OR-02) introduced legislation that seeks to block a federal court order requiring increased protections of threatened and endangered salmon in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.  The bill is aimed at an April decision by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon that requires federal, state and tribal fisheries experts to work together to improve conditions in the Columbia and Snake Rivers for baby salmon that migrate to the ocean in the Spring. The Court’s Order would take effect in April, 2018.

In the meantime, state, federal and tribal fisheries experts have been working together this spring and summer to reach an agreement on the details of dam operations under the Court’s Order.  McMorris-Rodgers' new bill would stifle this cooperation and harm salmon survival and recovery efforts.
The bill is also aimed at the May 2016 decision by the Court that rejected the federal government’s most recent plan to protect endangered wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia-Snake River Basin. Last year's decision was the fifth consecutive plan deemed illegal by three different judges across two decades. As the Court observed in that decision:
"For more than 20 years . . . federal agencies have . . . continued to focus essentially on the same approach to saving the listed species—hydro-mitigation efforts that minimize the effect on hydropower generation [and] focus on habitat restoration. These efforts have already cost billions of dollars, yet they are failing."

This bill, if it becomes law, would lock in the failed, illegal and costly 2014 Federal Salmon Plan for the Columbia/Snake Rivers until 2022 and prohibit any use of federal funds to study (!) the costs, benefits and potential tradeoffs associated with lower Snake River dam removal. In other words, it takes a head-in-the-sand approach to policymaking, overturning the judicial branch and increasing the likelihood of salmon extinctions and orca deaths in the years ahead. This divisive bill will lead to further litigation, further costs for regional businesses and energy consumers, and increased uncertainty about the future.

See the full press release from SOS and its partners here.

TAKE ACTION: If you live in the Pacific Northwest states, please send a letter/make a phone call to your Congressional member: express your strong opposition to this harmful, costly, divisive bill. If your Member of Congress sponsored this bill (McMorris-Rodgers, Newhouse, Herrera-Beutler in WA, Walden and Schrader in OR) express your strong displeasure. If your Northwest Member of Congress (WA, ID, OR) did not join this bill, please reach out and thank them!

KUOW: New Federal Effort Tries To 'Save Our Dams' Along Snake River

2. University of Washington Study: Lack of salmon causing orca reproductive problems

orca.calfA new study by Dr. Sam Wasser, Director of the University of Washington's Center for Conservation Biology, finds that the lack of chinook salmon is a primary cause of the endangered Southern Resident Orcas' failure to rebuild their population. The study measured hormone levels collected in orca scat and found that pregnant nutritionally stressed females were far more likely to lose their calves before or very soon after birth. 31 percent of pregnant females successfully birthed calves while 69 percent were lost. Scientists also indicate that the number of lost calves is likely higher due to difficulties in detecting pregnancy.

In the Pacific Northwest, chinook salmon populations have plummeted by more than 90 percent in recent decades due largely to the destruction of and inaccessibility to healthy freshwater habitat in the Columbia-Snake River Basin and across the West Coast. Southern Resident Orcas rely on primarily on chinook salmon to meet their nutritional needs and are struggling today to find adequate prey to survive and increase their critically low numbers. Today just 78 individual whales remain; NOAA listed this whale population as endangered in 2006. In 2015, NOAA included the Southern Residents as one of eight "species in the spotlight" - species highly likely to go extinct in the very near future without immediate help/action.

Removing four federal dams and restoring a freely-flowing lower Snake River in southeast Washington State is our best opportunity to restore the large numbers of chinook salmon that these orca need to survive and recover. Although dam removal is not a silver bullet for either endangered Snake River salmon or Southern Resident orcas, it is very difficult for experts to see how these populations avoid extinction and recover while these high-cost, low-value dams remain in place.

Seattle Times: A new study nails dearth of chinook salmon as the primary cause of the endangered resident orca whale’s failure to rebound (June 28, 2017)

KUOW: Study: Orcas Lose Two-Thirds Of Their Pregnancies (June 29, 2017)

Science Daily: High pregnancy failure, nutritional stress in southern resident killer whales, study shows (June 30, 2017)

3. New Economic Analysis: The Columbia River Basin Holds Immense Natural Capital Value

CRBV.Report.Cover1A new study from Tacoma (WA) based Earth Economics shows that the Columbia River Basin’s natural capital provides $198 billion in value annually, in food, water, flood risk reduction, recreation, habitat, aesthetic and other benefits. At 258,000 square miles, the Columbia River Basin is the foundation for communities, wildlife and economic activity from the mouth of the river to Wyoming, from British Columbia to Utah encompassing most of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Fifteen Columbia Basin Tribes and several non-governmental organizations including the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition contributed to and supported the development of this report.

The report also shows that modernizing the U.S. - Canada Columbia River Treaty by improving dam management and increasing water flows in low water years would greatly enhance the basin’s natural capital value by enhancing salmon, steelhead and other valuable fish runs.  A modest 10% increase in ecosystem-based function would add $19 billion per year to the basin’s value. The report’s release comes at a critical time for the renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty. Both the United States and Canada have been preparing to begin talks to modernize the Treaty. Adding ecosystem-based function - the health of the river - as a new Treaty purpose is a top priority of Columbia Basin Tribes and conservation, fishing and faith groups in the United States.

"This report comes at a time when the region is poised to take a historic step to modernize the Columbia River Treaty," stated Jaime A. Pinkham, Executive Director for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. "There is vast potential for natural capital remaining in the Columbia River system. These findings tell negotiators that incorporating ecosystem based function (health of the river) into the Treaty will broaden and expand the economic benefits that can co-exist with flood control and energy production. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity.”

View the press release from Columbia Basin Tribes and Conservation Organizations here.

Download a brochure and the full report.

4. New science webinar available online: Born to be wild: How science can inform recovery of Idaho salmon and steelhead (June 2017)

webinar1Two of the Northwest’s most respected salmon biologists teamed up recently to give an online presentation sharing their expertise and perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing endangered wild salmon and steelhead that call the Snake River Basin home. Dr. Rick Williams and Dr. Russ Thurow are both top-notch scientists and excellent communicators. They recently teamed up at the USFS Research Center in Boise to discuss what we know about Snake River wild salmon and steelhead and why despite thousands of miles of excellent river and stream habitat in the wilderness and wild lands of central Idaho, they remain at risk of extinction. Hint: there are four big problems downstream.

Dr. Williams provides an overview of the challenges wild salmon and steelhead face in the Columbia/Snake Basin; Dr. Thurow focuses in especially to the salmon and their circumstances in central Idaho where he has conducted field research every year for decades. Their 1-hour joint presentation online was recorded and can now be viewed online. It includes the Q&A session. This is a very informative presentation by two of the best in the field. Don’t miss it!

5. Spokane churches and Tribal members gather on the banks of the lower Snake

interfaith.2On June 10, three Spokane churches--Salem Lutheran, St. Mark’s Lutheran, and St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral visited the lower Snake River to discuss, salmon, dams, and treaty rights with members of Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment, a Nez Perce tribal conservation organization.  They met at Wawawai, once a gathering place for the tribes before it became an orchard town.  Wawawai now sits underwater as a result of nearby Lower Granite Dam. This special place and its history served as the backdrop for the first of what will hopefully prove to be many interfaith events focused on the restoration of wild salmon.

Judeo-Christian scriptures regularly refer to the interconnectedness and life-giving properties of all the waters of the Earth, from Genesis to Christ’s baptism in the Jordan. The Pacific Northwest is also defined by its water. Citizens and businesses utilize one of the world’s great waterways, the Columbia and Snake rivers, for recreation, sustenance and industry.

Members of the Inland Northwest Christian community joined leaders of Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment to confront a difficult past and look ahead to the future. Attendees recognized the fact that not so long ago Jesuit priests burned Kalispel canoes, Presbyterian missionaries forced a sedentary lifestyle upon the Nez Perce, and that countless others promoted construction of dams that have devastated the salmon cultures of local tribes. We cannot undo many of these things, and we must not forget them.

The day was marked by excellent weather, with time generously given to all in attendance to introduce themselves, ask questions, and be heard. A portion of the group walked up the hillside to catch a glimpse of Lower Granite Dam while exploring some of the economic issues surrounding the retention and removal of the four Lower Snake Dams. Bryan Jones, a farmer out of Dusty, Washington, joined to share his perspective on this set of issues for the farming community. Nez Perce Tribal members Elliot Moffett and Gary Dorr discussed treaty law and the efforts of Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment to uphold them.

Stay tuned for additional interfaith events sponsored by SOS member organization Friends of the Clearwater, and a Loaves and Fishes event in Spokane in the Fall to celebrate and hear the concerns of the food producers of our region.

Read SOS Intern Jacob Schmidt’s more detailed blog post about this June 10 gathering here.

6. Patagonia focuses Northwest events on campaign to “Free the Snake!”
patagonia.6.22 copy

A. Patagonia Portland celebrates its new store with “Free the Snake!” Reception: Patagonia continues its amazing leadership to restore the lower Snake and its endangered salmon and steelhead by hosting a reception at its newly relocated store in downtown Portland. On June 22, with Always With Honor artwork featured prominently on its 10-foot windows, nearly 100 people gathered with staff and supporters of Patagonia, Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment and Save Our wild Salmon for food and refreshments, speakers and multimedia. The evening began with Tribal music by the Four Directions, by Nez Perce Harold Paul, his daughter Harmony, and fellow drummer Richard. Mr. Paul has been drumming and singing for nearly 40 years, and teaching his craft for 25. Video presentations and speakers from Patagonia, Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment and SOS followed their performance.

B. Patagonia (Seattle) to Celebrate 30 years in Seattle with a party and benefit for SOS - July 13!
On Thursday, July 13 – 7 to 10 pm - Patagonia will celebrate 30 years in Seattle (2100 First Ave in Belltown), and SOS is honored to join the party! We’ll be there with materials, new t-shirts, bumperstickers, action items and information. Proceeds from the party will benefit our work to restore a freely-flowing lower Snake River and its endangered salmon and steelhead. All are welcome. Hope to see you there – to celebrate an amazing, visionary company - it's sure to be a hoot!

7. Save the Date: 3rd Annual Flotilla and Rally to Free the Snake!flotilla
Mark your calendars! September 8 and 9, 2017, for the 3rd Annual “Free the Snake!” Rally and Recreational Flotilla. Camping at Chief Timothy State Park on the banks of the lower Snake River (well – the banks of the reservoir that - for now - has buried the river). It’s just 15 minutes outside of Clarkston (WA) in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley straddling the ID-WA border.

This year we’re featuring speakers and live music on Friday in the late afternoon/evening. We’ll launch the Flotilla on Saturday morning at 10 am. Spread the word, bring your friends and family, bring a boat (or not – we’ll try to find you a spot in a boat, or you can stay on shore and welcome us on our return).

Mark your calendar, stay tuned for additional details, and if you have any questions in the meantime: please contact Sam Mace at sam@wildsalmon.org



1.    Salmon Win in Court - More Dam Spill, More Dam Scrutiny!

2.    Idaho Advocates Call on NOAA: “Stop barging and leave fish in the river!”

3.    SOS leaders attend Tribal Treaty Rights Conference in Lewiston, Idaho

4.    Dam Debate: SOS and IRU go toe-to-toe with former Congressman Doc Hastings at WSU

5.    Make Redfish Lake Redd Again! The Ride for Redd kicks off in Astoria, Oregon

6.    Orca in the News: The Seattle Stranger: Is Anyone Going to Save the Endangered Killer Whales in Puget Sound Before It's Too Late?


Support the work of the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition on May 10 with GIVEBIG 2017!

Mark your calendars! The Seattle Foundation’s big day of giving is fast approaching! You can make an online pledge starting on April 27. We’re talking with a few supporters to arrange for a fundraising match. If you are interested in contributing to our match, please contact us ASAP. Stay tuned for further details and thank you as always for your support!

gavel11.  Salmon Win in Court - More “Dam” Spill, More “Dam” Scrutiny!
On March 27, the federal judge overseeing the court case on Columbia/Snake River salmon and dams issued a two-part decision regarding salmon/fishing plaintiffs’ (joined by the State of Oregon and Nez Perce Tribe's) request for injunctive relief to help endangered salmon. In order to provide additional, much-needed help for migrating salmon, Judge Michael Simon ordered additional spill starting in 2018. While he denied plaintiffs' request to bar specific spending on the lower Snake River dams, he did order the agencies to provide greater transparency on their spending plans in a timely fashion for lower Snake dams so that salmon plaintiffs have an opportunity to challenge that spending if warranted. We’re worried that agencies will pour tens or hundreds of millions of dollars into these dams in the next few years before the NEPA Review is completed, and bias their upcoming decisions on whether to remove these four dams.

Mother Nature Comes to the Rescue: Plaintiffs asked the Court to order expanded levels of spill starting immediately – April 2017, but it decided to provide the Defendant Agencies some time to prepare for this change. So the higher spill levels will start next April. Conservation and fishing groups first won court-ordered, salmon-helping spill - water releases over the dams during the spring-summer migration - in 2005, over the vehement objections of the dam agencies. 

Fortunately for salmon (and orcas, fishing communities and many others), Mother Nature has blessed us with a heavy snowpack this winter. In fact, we have so much water moving in these rivers this spring that the dams can’t handle it all and we are in what’s called “involuntary spill” mode. Mother Nature is pushing water over the dams far in excess of what the Court has ordered. This is very good news for juvenile salmon en route to the ocean. They will arrive more quickly, more safely and with less stress, less predation and less effort than they would have under more “normal” river/migration conditions. And this will translate into larger adult returns in a few years, than we would otherwise expect. Look for more from us on spill conditions this spring and summer!

Follow these links to the judge’s decision, a few choice excerpts from the ruling, and media coverage on the recent Court decision to grant plaintiffs injunctive relief in the form of increased spill and scrutiny on spending on the dams.

Judge Simon's decision to grant injunctive relief to the plaintiffs.

Excerpts from Judge Simon's March 27 ruling on injunctive relief.

Media: Spokesman Review: Spill more water over Snake dams for salmon, judge tells Corps of Engineers

Media: Idaho Press Tribune: Judge: More water must be released from Columbia, Snake dams

2.    Idaho advocates to NOAA: “Stop barging and leave the fish in the river!”
sockeye copyIn mid-April, Idaho conservation groups (Idaho Rivers United, Friends of the Clearwater, Idaho Sierra Club, Idaho Conservation League, Idaho Wildlife Federation, Snake River Waterkeeper and a north Idaho chapter of Trout Unlimited) called on the federal government to end barging of Snake River sockeye salmon, a practice that harms Idaho’s most imperiled and endangered salmon.

In a letter to NOAA Fisheries and the Army Corps of Engineers—the two agencies in charge of fish passage at dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers—the groups said "artificial transportation of endangered sockeye interferes with the fish’s homing ability, making them even more vulnerable to hot water and other dam-related challenges they face when they return as adults.”

In 2015, 95+ percent of Idaho’s returning adult sockeye salmon were killed before reaching their spawning gravels high in the Rockies due to two months of steady hot water in the Columbia and Snake rivers. Idaho’s sockeye salmon are the most endangered in the Columbia Basin, and any measures we can take to bolster survival are imperative.

“This request is based on NOAA’s own science,” said IRU Executive Director Kevin Lewis. “That science says sockeye that are hauled around dams in barges have a smaller chance of surviving than those left in the river to migrate on their own.”

Sockeye salmon were listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act 26 years ago, in 1991, and 25 years ago a lone sockeye salmon dubbed Lonesome Larry returned to Redfish Lake in central Idaho, drawing attention to the plight of Idaho’s salmon from around the nation.

“Since the 1990s when sockeye populations consistently hovered in the single digits, fish biologists have prevented extinction of the species through a captive broodstock program run by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, but this iconic species is still in big trouble,” said Sierra Club Idaho Director Zack Waterman. “Instead of employing actions like barging, which works against recovery, we should be focusing more on measures like spilling water at the dams, a practice proven to help fish.”

The bottom line (and it should come as no surprise!): the more the river system works and acts like a river, the better wild salmon do.

Press release and link to the letter to NOAA-Fisheries: Idaho groups seek end to barging Idaho’s sockeye salmon

Media Coverage:  NWPR/OPB: Conservation Groups Ask To Stop Barging Sockeye Around Dams

3. SOS leaders attend Tribal Treaty Rights Conference in Lewiston Idaho

tribalconference2 copyWhat does it mean to be an "ethical colonist?" This question was one of several provocative conversations at the Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment conference on March 17.  The event explored the role and relevance of treaties in the ongoing environmental battles in which Native Americans and their allies are engaged.

The conference - held ironically in the Red Lion’s “Seaport Club” in Lewiston Idaho - began with a performance by the Lightning Creek Drummers and the presentation of the Eagle staff alongside the flag of the United States. Day One focused first on the history, significance and meaning today of 150+ year old treaties signed by the Native American tribes and the United States goverment. Gary Dorr, a member of the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) Tribe and a litigant against the Keystone XL pipeline set a tone for the 2-day event as he invoked the Tribes' moral, legal, and political authority in their struggles and guarantees under the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The panel discussion that followed considered the position of Native Americans today. Nez Perce Tribal Chair Mary Jane Miles spoke of the slow movement of her people in a fast-paced world, both as a difficulty when defending their rights against new threats, and a trait that sets Native peoples apart. Activist Jacqueline Keeler communicated confidence and optimism as she discussed the growing power and influence of historic treaties in the 21st Century, non-western ways of thinking, and the new inter-tribal solidarity that the world witnessed at Standing Rock in the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. A central theme of the discussion was that those of us who came here to occupy land once belonging to the tribes cannot escatribal.conference1 copype our colonial heritage. Despite this history, a new “ethical colonism” is possible, but requires wholly new approaches to working and sharing power with Native people.

The afternoon sessions began with a panel of Earthjustice attorneys who spoke about their work representing tribal interests in court that connect with legal recognition of treaties, and the limited applicability of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the United States has yet to officially recognize this declaration.

Sam Mace led the day's final discussion with Steve Mashuda, Kevin Lewis, John Sirois, Nathan Piengkham and Rebecca Miles. They tackled the state of play in the battle to protect and restore Columbia Basin salmon and to "Free the Snake!" John and Nathan highlighted work using canoe projects as tremendous opportunities to bring tribal people together and build a strong sense of community. Rebecca spoke about the importance of recovering lamprey to the Nimiipuu and other Tribal communities, and Steve recounted key milestones in the legal struggle to restore wild salmon by removing the four lower Snake River dams.

In addition to these and other panels and presentations, the conference brought together more than 150 Tribal and non-Tribal participants to meet, greet and learn from each other.

4. Dam Debate: SOS and IRU go toe-to-toe with Congressman Doc Hastings at WSU.

Adobe-Spark-5-Washington State University in Pullman, WA hosted a debate on March 28 spotlighting the fate and future of the lower Snake River dams. Many students attended the debate in person and others were able to watch it streaming on Facebook Live.

Save Our wild Salmon’s Inland Northwest Director Sam Mace and Idaho River United’s Executive Director Kevin Lewis went toe-to-toe with former Congressman Doc Hastings and the conservative think-thank Washington Policy Center’s Director Todd Myers. Doc Hastings represented the 4th Congressional District in eastern Washington between 1995 and 2014 and was notorious for his unrelenting attacks on popular laws that safeguard our nation's environmental health - including the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act - and agencies like the EPA. Mr. Hastings remains an unwavering defender of all dams, regardless of their costs to taxpayers, communities and economy, or their impacts on ecosystems, fish and wildlife populations.

Video of the debate is not available, but Sam Mace squared off with Todd Myers the following morning on the radio – and you can listen to their lively discussion here:

LISTEN: WSU Sound Policy: Select Episode 5: Should the Snake River dams be removed?

5. Make Redfish Lake Redd Again! The Ride for Redd kicks off in Astoria, Oregon

This April, in partnership with SOS-member organization Idaho Rivers United, three women and their horses embarked on "Ride For Redd" - a nine-hundred mile trek from the mouth of the Columbia River in Astoria to the salmon spawning grounds of Redfish Lake in the Rocky Mountains of central Idaho to bring attention to diminishing salmon runs. Their journey will take them up the Columbia, Snake, and Salmon rivers - to finally reach Redfish Lake at more than 6,000 feet in elevation. Red Fish is home for both Kat Cannell and the critically-endangered Snake River sockeye salmon.

Kat is the leader of this journey. In 2016 she rode more than 1,000 miles on horseback, much of it alone. She grew up in Stanley Idaho where the loss of salmon runs has been felt profoundly. Katelyn Spradley is a horse lover at heart, but when she’s out of the saddle can be found rock climbing, kayaking, fly fishing, snowboarding, or guiding all of the above. MJ Wright is a young rider and rancher from northern Nevada who couldn’t pass up the chance to join in the adventure. These women are riding to inspire progressives, conservatives, farmers, tree huggers, anglers, city dwellers, and everyone in our country to fall in love and stand up for Idaho's irreplaceable wild salmon and steelhead populations and the rivers they depend upon.

Ride for Redd gets its name from the spawning nests - redds - built by female salmon in which to lay their eggs. The name also refers to the historic Redfish Lake, named for the color it turned as a result of the crimson-colored sockeye salmon that once returned in late summer/early fall in much higher numbers than today.

To learn more about Ride for Redd and/or support their journey, visit www.rideforred.org. And be sure to check out Kat’s recent feature on the Dirtbag Diaries.

Media: The Daily Astorian: ‘Ride for Redd’: A horse shoutout to salmon

You can also follow Kat and Katekyn on Facebook.

6. Orca in the News: The Stranger - Is Anyone Going to Save the Endangered Killer Whales in Puget Sound Before It's Too Late?

By Christopher Frizzelle, March 22, 2017

southern resident killer whales j2 and j45 chasing salmon crIn September of 2016, the oldest living orca known to science, J2, was photographed near San Juan Island from a drone. Matriarch of the southern residents, a population of killer whales that lives in Puget Sound and is unique on the planet, J2 got her name because she was the second orca to be positively identified by scientists at the Center for Whale Research on San Juan Island during the first census of southern resident killer whales, conducted in 1976. The Center for Whale Research also assigns nicknames, and because J2 was so old when scientists first identified her, the nickname she got was "Granny."
"We do not know her precise age because she was born long before our study began," Ken Balcomb, the marine mammal biologist who founded the Center for Whale Research, explained. "In 1987, we estimated that she was at least 45 years old and was more likely to have been 76 years old." By 2016, she was estimated to be somewhere from 74 to 105 years old.

When she was seen near San Juan Island in September, she did not look good. Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Southwest Fisheries Science Center and Vancouver Aquarium noted J2's "thin body shape" and "relatively poor" condition. One thing that distinguishes southern residents from other kinds of killer whales is that southern residents eat only salmon. In fact, 80 percent of the southern resident diet is specifically Chinook salmon—and just like the southern residents themselves, Chinook salmon is on the endangered species list. There used to be plentiful Chinook salmon in local waters, especially where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean and where the Fraser River meets the Salish Sea, but now wild Chinook is scarce.

Read the full article here.

In this issue:sos.logo1

1.    Year-end fundraising round-up
2.    NEPA Review Update – Comment Extension: Feds say “Yes”. Additional Public Meetings: Feds say “No.”
3.    Tragedy strikes endangered Northwest orcas … again.
4.    Snake River Chinook make into ESC's “Top Ten” List
5.    Save the Date! The 3rd Annual ‘Free the Snake’ Flotilla and Rally – Sept. 9!
6.    Salmon Mean Business!

1.   A Year-end Fundraising Update:
First, we want to thank all of you that were able to generously contribute to support our work in the new year. We had a very active, successful 2016. With your generosity in December, we’re now better prepared to carry that momentum into 2017. Congress and the incoming administration are sure to present big challenges. And we’re ready to work with our partners and allies regionally and nationally to protect wild salmon, wild rivers, and wild places – and the many communities that rely on them.

As you may recall, we announced a $7500 1:1 match on Dec. 26 - thanks to a donor/supporter from Portland, Oregon. We’re happy to report that we more than met the match. Thank you to all who helped us seize this opportunity - and double your money.

SRail1We also want to announce our 2016 Year-end raffle winners! Our raffle prizes this year: Three copies of Solutionary Rail – written by Bill Moyer and Patrick Mazza, recently published by the Backbone Campaign, and with a forward by renowned climate activist Bill McKibben. These copies are signed by co-author and BBC executive director Bill Moyer. Solutionary Rail explores how electrifying and expanding our nation’s rail transport system presents a series of interconnected solutions and opportunities for shipping goods, moving people, attacking climate change, and - in the Northwest – can be part of the solution to protect wild salmon and restore healthy rivers!

This year’s raffle winners:
Joan P. of Edmonds, Washington
Michael S. of Pullman, Washington
Thomas M. of Boise, Idaho

Congratulations! Thank you again. And look for your book in the mail later this month.

Finally – if you have ordered a shirt/hat/poster with your SOS donation last month, but have not yet received it, do not despair. We’ll be working on fulfillment through the month of January. And if you ordered a t-shirt, but have not sent me your size – please do so ASAP: joseph@wildsalmon.org

2.   Update on the court-ordered NEPA Review for Columbia/Snake salmon and dams
1comment cards.webFirst, thanks to all of you who have submitted your comments, attended a rally for wild salmon and a free-flowing Snake, written a letter-to-the-editor, contacted your elected officials, educated your friends and family, or otherwise have helped to build awareness and support for restoring wild salmon and healthy rivers.

Second, more than 30 organizations and business associations sent a letter to the so-called Action Agencies (InAction Agencies perhaps?) last fall seeking a vastly improved public meeting format, an extended comment deadline, and additional meetings to better allow participation and representation of fishing communities along the West Coast from California to Alaska whose jobs and livelihoods depend on these foot-dragging agencies finally getting it right!

Well, we just got word that the agencies have decided to extend the comment deadline...by just three weeks. We had asked for 60 additional days to better ensure that people have sufficient time to understand the issues and provide their input.

Improved public meeting format to allow a meaningful community dialogue? Nope.

Additional meetings on the coast to better allow fishermen to participate? Not one. Fifteen of sixteen meetings hosted by the feds have occurred far from the coast. Just one – in Astoria (OR) will occur on the coast, in a single fishing community. (It has been rescheduled for 1/9 – join us if you have to be in the area on the 9th – contact joseph@wildsalmon.org for details).

The dam agencies in the Northwest just don't seem to get it!

View a GALLERY OF PHOTOS from our rallies and public meetings this fall.

Read the FISHERMEN’S NEWS: ‘Fatal Flaws’ Fluster Fishermen in Federal Salmon Recovery Plan Coastal communities get short shrift in new public hearings process (Dec. 2016)

How can you help now?
-- SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS before 2/9 in support of wild salmon and healthy rivers. So far, more than 250,000 salmon and river and orca and taxpayer advocates have delivered their comments to the Action Agencies supporting meaningful, cost-effective salmon restoration that includes the removal of the four costly dams on the lower Snake River. Make you’re your voice is heard! Let's double this number!

Take action HERE!

-- SPREAD THE ACTION LINK widely – to your friends, family, colleagues, and networks via email and social media.

-- CONTACT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS – ask them to support wild salmon, healthy orcas, freely-flowing rivers – and to insist (and verify) that the agencies are honest and transparent, and fully and fairly consider all recovery options including lower Snake River dam removal.

3.   Tragedy strikes Northwest orcas again – two more deaths
orca.dead.on.beach2016 was a devastating year for the Southern Resident Killer Whales of the Pacific Northwest. Six orcas from the J-pod and L-pod died in 2016; two very recently. J-34, an adolescent male, was recently found on the coast of British Columbia. His necropsy suggest the 18-year old male orca died of blunt force trauma caused by a boat. We’re awaiting the release of further details in the weeks ahead.

On Tuesday, January 3, the Center for Whale Research announced its determination that Granny, the oldest known orca on the planet and matriarch for the SRKWs, had died. She’s not been seen for several months. Granny was thought to be more than 105 years old.

Just 78 Southern Residents remain today. See the links below for additional coverage:

CROSSCUT: Brutal year sets back orca recovery (Jan. 2)

BBC: World's oldest known killer whale Granny dies (Jan. 3)

KING5-TV: Vigils held for Southern Resident Orcas (Dec. 27)

4.   Snake River Chinook make the Endangered Species Coalition's “Top Ten” List


In December the Endangered Species Coalition (ESC) released its annual "Top Ten List" of imperiled species in need of greater protections to halt their decline and restore populations.

Removing the Walls to Recovery: Top 10 Species Priorities for a New Administration included the Snake River's endangered spring/summer chinook salmon, which migrate hundreds of miles from the ocean to the many river tributaries in the Snake basin.  This report highlights the need for lower Snake dam removal to restore salmon populations, a vital food source for Puget Sound orcas, and increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change.

“We nominated Snake River chinook for this report because with climate change, these four money-losing dams become deadlier each summer, when reservoir water temperatures become lethally hot, causing fish kills” said Save Our Wild Salmon Inland Northwest Director Sam Mace.  “But if we free the Snake River of these dams, wild salmon will once again access thousands of miles of pristine, high-elevation habitat that can provide an ark for salmon in a warming world.”

Snake River chinook salmon are among the longest and highest-migrating salmon on the planet – some swimming nearly 1,000 miles upstream and climbing more than 6,000 feet in elevation to reach their spawning grounds. More than 130 other species depend upon salmon, including ESA-endangered orcas.

“Since Northwest rivers began to flow, a population of orcas known as the Southern Residents have relied on Columbia basin salmon to sustain them.  Spring chinook that spawn in the Snake River basin are especially critical for survival of this unique and now endangered orca community.  Unfortunately, the lower Snake River dams have decimated this critical food source.  The impact these dams have on this precious, but dwindling, population of orcas, must be addressed.” said Howard Garrett, Board President of Orca Network.

Read the full report here.

5.    Save the Date! The 3rd Annual ‘Free the Snake’ Flotilla and Rally – Sept. 9, 2017 in southeast Washington State.

free.the.snakeMark your calendars: the 3rd annual Free the Snake Flotilla has been set for Saturday, September 9.th. More than 350 people took to the water in a wide variety of watercraft last year—kayaks, traditional tribal canoes, rafts, dories and pontoons--for a fun community paddle on the lower Snake in support of removing four outdated dams.

Exact location and details of this year’s paddle are still to be determined, as are associated events. But it’s guaranteed to be an inspiring day on the water.

Please contact Sam Mace at sam@wildsalmon.org or if you want to be added to the email list for event updates, if your organization or business would like to be sponsor, or you would like to help out.  And check out www.freethesnake.com in late winter for additional details.

Check out this video from last year’s event and Canoe & Kayak Magazine’s photo spread.

6.   Salmon Mean Business! A Chinook-sized “thank you” to these businesses for their support for SOS

pata1 copy               roast.house.logo1western.prince.logo1undersolen.logo1


                  SJS.logo1      GFC.logo1      


I. A report on Northwest Public "Hearings" on salmon and dams so far

II. Rally to ‘Free the Snake!’ - attend public hearings in November in Spokane, Lewiston, Walla Walla, and Boise!

III. The death of two endangered Southern Resident orcas trigger renewed calls for dam removal

IV. TAKE ACTION – Submit your comments today!

V. VOTE – Tuesday, Nov. 8!

I. A report on Northwest Public "Hearings" on salmon and dams so far
Despite federal agency efforts, last spring’s court ruling and this fall's NEPA Hearings have moved lower Snake River dam removal front and center as a discussion topic in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

As you’ll recall, last May U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon soundly rejected the federal agencies’ latest plan to protect endangered wild salmon and steelhead from deadly dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. He found it inadequate and illegal and in violation of the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act. He’s ordered a new science-based and legally valid plan and a NEPA Review that fully and fairly analyzes all recovery alternatives – including lower Snake River dam removal.

hearing.wenatcA first step by the agencies is being taken this fall – a series of 15 Public Meetings – has begun. Seven meetings have been held in communities on the banks of the Columbia River and tributaries high in this watershed - including Wenatchee and Coulee Dam in WA, Priest Lake and Bonner's Ferry in ID, and Kalispell and Missoula in MT.

Though an essential purpose of NEPA Scoping Meetings is to solicit meaningful input from the public to guide the agencies in their analyses of alternatives and to highlight key issues, BPA, Army Corps and the Bureau of Reclamation seem more focused on promoting their standard propaganda while discouraging meaningful public input and community dialogue. Despite an earlier request by 33 organizations and business associations  to start them after Jan. 1, 2017, they've insisted on holding the hearings during the presidential election cycle and holiday season.

Despite – and perhaps because of the agencies’ disappointing approach – it is more important than ever that people attend hearings near their home and submit public comment. Ensure your voice is heard! Join fellow salmon, steelhead, fishing, river, orca, clean energy and taxpayer advocates and speak up for a lawful plan, for healthy salmon and steelhead and for a free-flowing Snake River.

II. Rally to ‘Free the Snake!’ - Join us in November for public hearings in Spokane, Lewiston, Walla Walla, and Boise!   Salmon and river advocates of all stripes are gearing up to send a strong message to the agencies and our elected officials locally and our nation’s capitol. We hope you’ll join us!  It is essential that people stand up and be counted. Here are some details and contacts for further information:

free.the.snakeSpokane, WA – Nov. 14 – contact: Sam Mace

Lewiston, ID –  Nov. 16 – contact: Sam Mace

Walla Walla, WA – Nov. 17 – contact: Sam Mace

Boise, ID – Nov. 29 – contact: Greg Stahl

Additional hearings will be held in Seattle (Dec. 1), The Dalles (Dec. 6), Portland, (Dec. 7), and Astoria (Dec. 8). Mark your calendars and join us!

We’re working with many organizations, businesses, and community and Northwest tribal members to gather near the federal hearings to share information, network, rally, take photos and video testimony, and talk about real issues before heading en masse to attend the federal agencies’ event.

Reach out if you have questions, ideas, and/or to get involved.

Here are just a few recent media stories re: the hearings, salmon populations and the lower Snake:

freethesnake.cutout-- Seattle Times: Environmental effects of Columbia, Snake river dams scrutinized

-- Spokesman Review: Pressure mounts on Lower Snake dams as fish runs sag

-- EarthFix: Taking Down Snake River Dams: It's Back On The Table

-- Spokesman Review Guest Opinion: We can restore salmon and have carbon-free energy

-- Columbia Basin Bulletin: Science Review Of Salmon Survival Study: Snake River Fish Not Meeting Smolt-To-Adult Return Goals 

III. The death of two endangered Southern Resident orcas triggers renewed calls for dam removal

orca.protestKen Balcomb, the foremost researcher on the highly endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, announced in late October the death of Polaris (J-28), a breeding female and mother – and the impending death of her nursing 10-month year old son Dipper (J-54). These come as a terrible blow to the many people who know these whales and to the fate and future this gravely imperiled whale population - the Southern Resident Killer Whales. They simply cannot afford any additional losses. Just 80 whales remain today – their lowest number in decades. Despite being listed under the Endangered Species Act in 2006, their numbers have continued to drop and their very existence increasingly precarious.

The lack of sufficient numbers of chinook salmon today is the leading cause of their decline. “No fish. No blackfish.” Balcomb called on regional leaders and federal agencies to expedite the removal of the lower Snake River dams as an essential near-term strategy to rebuild critical Chinook populations and increase the food supply to address an increasingly urgent sitiuation. Balcomb’s press conference generated regional, national and international coverage. Just four of the more than a dozen stories so far are below.

-- NRDC BLOG: Without salmon, we lose our killer whales

-- Christian Science Monitor: Puget Sound orcas: Would removing dams save the whales?
After the death of a young female orca and her calf, researchers say that removing dams could mean more fish for whales to eat.

-- KATU TV: Researchers: Breach dams to save starving Puget Sound orcas

-- KNKX FM (formerly KPLU): Breach Snake River Dams To Save The Orcas, Researchers Say

IV. FINALLY - Submit your public comments for the NEPA Review today - HERE!

take action copy

Thank you for your support!

Joseph, Sam and the whole SOS Team





Enough said.

(1) UPDATE: “Free the Snake” 2016 Flotilla is a huge success!

(2) COMING VERY SOON: Public Hearings on Salmon and Dams – Fall 2016 in the Northwest

free.the.snakeOur latest issue of the Wild Salmon and Steelhead News focuses on highlights from last Saturday’s amazing 2nd Annual “Free the Snake” Flotilla on the lower Snake River near Clarkston (WA) and Lewiston (ID).

And gives you a heads up - and asks you to GEAR UP to participate - in the rapidly approaching Northwest Public Hearings on Columbia-Snake River salmon and dams. This is a critical opportunity to build public pressure and political support for restoring endangered wild salmon and steelhead by removing the four lower Snake River dams.

(1) UPDATE: “FREE THE SNAKE” 2016 Flotilla - a huge success!

First the Flotilla: On Saturday, SOS, Friends of the Clearwater, the Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho Rivers United, Patagonia, Sierra Club, Mosquito Fleet and the Backbone Campaign and a whole lot of other groups, people, businesses, and tribal members gathered on the banks of the lower Snake River in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley in solidarity and support for restoring endangered salmon and restoring the lower Snake River by removing four costly, deadly, federal dams.

This was our second annual Flotilla and Rally for a free-flowing river – and it was bigger and better this year. We had more people gathered: fishermen, boaters, farmers, business people, conservationists, and clean energy advocates and installers. We had more than 200 boats on the water - power boats, kayaks, dugout canoes, rafts.

freethesnake.cutoutMore than 350 people gathered at Swallows Park near Clarkston (WA) on the banks of the river. We put in at 10 am and paddled three miles downstream toward the Snake’s confluence with the Clearwater River, where we rallied for a free-flowing river.

It was a fantastic event, with wonderful people. Many of us camped in nearby Chief Timothy State Park on Friday and Saturday evenings – meeting, eating, and sharing stories. Local bands played for the cause and the party Saturday evening. A good number of reporters and writers joined us. See links to the video and news coverage below.

If you were able to join us this year – thank you for coming out. It was a fun, inspiring and energizing day. If not, be sure to mark your calendars for September 2017 – the 3rd Annual ‘Free the Snake’ Flotilla and River Rally will be even bigger and better.

WATCH 'Free the Snake' Flotilla video (Thanks Earthjustice!)

READ The Spokesman Review: ‘Free the Snake’ flotilla protests dams, threat to wild fish runs (9.19)

VIEW photos from ‘Free the Snake’ 2016 - and photos and videos from SOS and partners at the SOS FB page

READ EcoWatch: "Free the Snake River, Remove the Dams!"

(2) COMING VERY SOON: Take Action This Fall! Public Hearings on Salmon and Dams – Fall 2016 in the Northwest

dugoutBut far more immediately, we need your help and testimony at a series of upcoming hearings across the Pacific Northwest. This Fall, under order of federal court, Bonneville Power Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, and Bureau of Reclamation will host a series of approximately 15 public hearings – scoping meetings – to seek public input on what they need to consider as they begin their comprehensive look at all salmon recovery options for the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Advocates for healthy rivers, abundant salmon, orca, carbon-free energy, fishing and outdoor businesses and recreation must show up in force to demand lower Snake River as a cornerstone of a new, lawful, science-based, economically sensible, fiscally-sane and climate-responsible plan.


The federal agencies have decided to make things difficult. They are insisting on holding hearings this fall on top of the Presidential elections and major year-end holidays. And while the hearings might start as early as next month, they haven’t provided us any details: hearing locations, dates, etc.

We expect up to 15 hearings in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and California. We expect them to get scheduled from late October to mid December. As soon as they decide to share these details with us, we will let you know.

If you live outside of the Northwest, you’ll still have the opportunity to provide your comments via email. We’ll keep you posted on those details too.

paddleboardWherever you live, if you want to get more involved in the public hearings and comment period, please reach out to Joseph (joseph@wildsalmon.org / 206-300-1003) or Sam (sam@wildsalmon.org / 509-863-5696) if you have questions, have ideas, and want to get more involved. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

You can also keep an eye on www.freethesnake.com for news and developments too.

For further information about the recent Court decision that invalidated the federal agencies’ latest plan (the fifth consecutive plan from the agencies to meet this fate), follow this link to factsheets and media coverage.


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