Press Releases

Important updates from Save Our wild Salmon. To request interviews or additional information, please contact us.

November 2, 2017inslee.ltr1

Bill Arthur, Sierra Club,, 206-954-9826
Liz Hamilton, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, 503-704-1772
Joseph Bogaard, Save Our wild Salmon Coalition,, 206-300-1003

Twenty-five conservation organizations and fishing and whale-watch business associations call on Governor Inslee to act quickly to help critically endangered Columbia Basin salmon and Southern Resident killer whales.

Twenty-five conservation organizations and business associations sent a letter to Washington State Governor Jay Inslee today asking him to act quickly to raise Washington State’s water quality standards for the lower Columbia and Snake rivers in order to allow for expanded spill to improve survival of ocean-bound juvenile salmon. A modification in the state’s rules in the next several months would allow for increased spill levels during the upcoming juvenile fish migration to the Pacific Ocean this spring.

The letter emphasizes the urgency of the situation facing the orca, other fish and wildlife and fishing communities that rely on healthy salmon and steelhead populations: “Salmon returns to the Columbia Basin in recent years reflect a new downward trajectory that fisheries experts predict is likely to continue for the foreseeable future without new and meaningful action to stop and reverse it.”

The letter continues: “Washington State’s wild salmon and steelhead play a defining role for our identity, culture, economy and ecology. Healthy, abundant populations are critical to the health and welfare of tribal and non-tribal fishing communities, as well as more than one hundred fish and wildlife species.”

Liz Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association: “Spill keeps migrating juvenile salmon safer by sending water over federal dams in the Columbia and Snake rivers rather than through the powerhouses. Spill is one of the most effective immediate actions we can take to increase the survival of juvenile salmon and steelhead migrating to the Pacific Ocean. Most importantly, the more spill, the more adult salmon that return to the Columbia Basin and its tributaries in the years that follow.”

Bill Arthur, director of the Sierra Club’s Northwest Salmon Campaign: “We hope that the Governor acts quickly to take advantage of this opportunity. The wild salmon and steelhead of the Columbia Basin – and the orca and other fish and wildlife that rely on them – are in serious trouble today. Increasing spill as soon as possible is a critical near-term step toward healthier rivers and healthier salmon.

Many of the already imperiled populations of wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia-Snake River Basin have suffered steep declines in the last several years – causing grave concern among fish managers and spurring scientists and advocates to call on policymakers to implement new immediate measures that can help stop and reverse this downward trend.

The critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales have lost seven whales in the last year. With just 76 individual whales and no successful reproduction since 2015, this population is at its lowest level in thirty years. Lack of prey – chinook salmon – has been identified as a primary cause of decline for this orca population. Insufficient food resources has increased the number of deaths and decreased reproductive success.

Increasing spill over the lower Snake and lower Columbia River dams in spring and summer is widely seen by regional fish managers and scientists as our most effective action to help struggling wild salmon and steelhead populations in the near-term until the Northwest has a legally valid, science-based plan for the Columbia Basin in place. The federal government’s last plan was rejected in 2016 by the U.S. District Court in Portland. The judge overseeing the case ordered the federal agencies to produce a new plan in 2018 and complete by 2021 a comprehensive environmental review that carefully considers all recovery alternatives including the removal of the four lower Snake River dams.

The last five federal plans for Columbia Basin wild salmon and steelhead have been invalidated by federal courts. Despite more than $10 billion in spending by dam agencies over the last twenty years, not one of the basin’s thirteen populations protected under the Endangered Species Act has been restored.

The letter can be viewed and downloaded here.


scientists.ltr copy

August 16, 2017


David Cannamela, M.S.,, 208-890-1319

Rod Sando, M.S.,, 503-507-5386

Boise, ID – Today, 46 natural resource scientists delivered a letter to members of Congress and Governors in Northwest states highlighting the well established and empirically demonstrated evidence supporting the benefits of “spill” – water releases over the tops of federal dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers during the juvenile out-migration to the Pacific Ocean during the spring and summer months. Spill has proven to be one of the most effective immediate dam management options to help improve the survival of young salmon and increase adult returns in the years that follow.

The letter can be viewed here:

Dave Cannamela, retired fisheries biologist (Boise, Idaho): “Spill is without a doubt the most effective interim measure we can implement to help maintain critically endangered salmon, steelhead, and lamprey populations in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.  While spill is only an interim measure it is a very important one because it buys us time to work collectively to develop a durable, effective, long-term solution.  Everyone will benefit when salmon and the ecosystem, economy, and cultures they support are restored.”

Despite long-standing scientific support and a 20-year ongoing collaborative study involving state, federal, and tribal scientists from across the region, spill has met strong resistance from some agencies and industries in the Pacific Northwest. Because spilled water is not sent through turbines, it can modestly reduce the overall production of hydro-electricity in the Columbia-Snake River system.

Following up on his May 2016 ruling that invalidated the 2014 Columbia Basin Salmon Biological Opinion (Federal Salmon Plan), U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon required federal defendants in April this year to collaborate with plaintiffs to develop a plan that increases spill to levels currently allowed by state law in order to improve survival of imperiled salmon as they migrate through the federal dams and reservoirs. Up to 70% of the Snake River salmon and steelhead are killed by the eight dams and reservoirs on the lower Snake and lower Columbia rivers.

Rod Sando, retired biologist and former director of the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority (Woodburn, Oregon): “While the court’s order to increase spill will help improve the survival of salmon as they migrate past the dams, much more is needed. The science, for example, indicates that spill levels above the current total dissolved gas (TDG) cap may have further benefits to smolt survival. This is considerably more than the court ordered starting in the spring of 2018. Spill up to 125% TDG reduces migration time, reduces the number of fish exposed to deadly turbines, reduces predation and delivers more fish more quickly and safely to the ocean.  It improves adult salmon returns in later years.”

This 2016 ruling and 2017 order for injunctive relief to increase spill has been challenged by five Northwest lawmakers who recently introduced legislation that would block this court order, lock in illegal, inadequate status quo operations for the hydro-system at least through 2022, and prohibit study of any measures to help salmon that would reduce energy production in the hydro-system, including additional spill and lower Snake River dam removal.
Many scientists view spill as our region’s most effective option for improving the survival of endangered wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia Snake River Basin and giving them a fighting chance until a legally valid plan has been developed.

The urgency has increased this year given the devastatingly low returns of wild steelhead to Columbia and Snake Rivers. Steelhead returns to date are 10-15 percent the ten-year average. Yesterday, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game announced a prohibition on the harvest of any steelhead during its fishing season this year, delivering a big blow to scores of fishing businesses and communities in central Idaho.

Given the intensifying impacts of climate change, spill is an essential interim measure for the endangered fish of the Snake River Basin. There is a growing recognition by scientists that imperiled salmon and steelhead are unlikely to survive the combined effects of the lower Snake’s four lethal dams and growing climate impacts. Federal agencies, Northwest states and the people of our region must act quickly and work together on a new, science-based approach to salmon restoration or risk losing these iconic fish forever.

Today, there are thirteen wild salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia-Snake River Basin listed under the Endangered Species Act. Five consecutive federal plans have been rejected by three different judges across two decades. More than 10 billion American taxpayer and Northwest energy consumer dollars have been spent by federal agencies on Columbia Basin salmon restoration in the last twenty years, though not a single population has recovered.

A version of the letter can be viewed here:


Business.TY.ltr.Gov.Brown.8.2017Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Chris Daughters, owner, Caddis Fly Angling Shop, Eugene, (541) 342-7005
Bob Rees, Bob Rees’ Fishing Guide Service, Oregon City, (503) 812-9036
Aaron Altshuler, Patagonia, Portland, (518) 727-6412

Portland, OR – Today, 70 Oregon-based recreational fishing and outdoor-based companies delivered a letter to Oregon Governor Kate Brown thanking her for her commitment - and the State of Oregon’s ongoing leadership – to protect and restore endangered wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake River Basin.  

The letter can be downloaded here.

The fishing and outdoor recreation-based businesses sent their letter “to express our appreciation for your leadership and Oregon’s ongoing commitment to protect and restore abundant, harvestable, self-sustaining populations of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake rivers and their tributaries.” The letter states that “[t]he success – or the failure - of our businesses is linked tightly to the survival and recovery of our most iconic Northwest fish. For our businesses it’s pretty simple: more fish means more fishing. Salmon abundance leads directly to increased sales, manufacturing, guiding, and resident and non-resident travel, tourism and spending.”

Chris Daughters, the owner of The Caddis Fly Angling Shop in Eugene: “Healthy populations of salmon and steelhead are the bread and butter of many angling shops like mine. I am proud of Oregon’s long history advocating for these special fish – and I greatly appreciate Governor Brown’s commitment to maintain this legacy and leadership. Businesses like mine depend on it.”

Bob Rees, owner of Bob Rees’ Fishing Guide Service in Oregon City: “Oregon is home to literally hundreds of small, independent fishing guiding businesses just like mine. Our fishing sector overall – manufacturing, sales and guiding along with fishing-related food sales and lodging - generates tens of millions of dollars in Oregon every year. But only as long as there are fish and a fishing season. Since taking office, Governor Brown has not wavered in her commitment to protect and rebuild these fisheries for today’s and tomorrow’s Oregonians.  Without that type of leadership, my business cannot exist.”

The State of Oregon, joined by the Nez Perce Tribe and conservation and fishing advocates have successfully challenged a series of inadequate, illegal plans produced by federal agencies in the Northwest as required by the Endangered Species Act. Five consecutive plans have been rejected by the three different judges in the U.S. District Court in Portland over the past two decades. The most recent ruling was issued by Judge Michael Simon. He invalidated the latest federal plan and ordered the agencies to undertake a full and fair environmental review that considers all credible restoration options including the removal of the four lower Snake River dams. This spring, he also ordered additional spill starting in 2018. Spill sends water over dams and helps ocean-bound migrating juvenile salmon arrive more quickly and safely at the ocean.

This 2016 ruling invalidating the latest federal plan and 2017 order for injunctive relief designed to help endangered salmon and steelhead have been challenged by five Northwest lawmakers who recently introduced H.R. 3144 – legislation that if passed into law would further harm endangered salmon by blocking the additional court-ordered spill, locking in illegal, inadequate status quo operations for the hydro-system at least through 2022, and prohibiting study of critical measures to help salmon, including spill and lower Snake River dam removal.

Aaron Altshuler, Patagonia’s store manager in Portland: “Outdoor recreation is a big part of Oregon’s identity and economy. Thankfully, due to the visionary leadership of so many Oregon elected officials, our state has a rich legacy of wild lands, wild rivers, and wildlife. It is a big reason people come here. Outdoor businesses like Patagonia really appreciate the Governor’s commitment to both protecting and restoring healthy rivers and the wild salmon and steelhead populations they support. A healthy environment means rich outdoor opportunities, and that is really good for our bottom line and for thousands of other Oregon-based businesses.”

Today, there are thirteen wild salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia-Snake River Basin listed under the Endangered Species Act. Five consecutive federal plans have been rejected by three different judges across two decades. More than 10 billion American taxpayer and Northwest energy consumer dollars have been spent by federal agencies on Columbia Basin salmon restoration efforts over the last twenty years, though not a single population has recovered.

The Business Letter to Governor Brown can be viewed here.

July 28, 2017

Zac Kauffman, Sawyer Paddles and Oars, (541) 535-3606
Joseph Bogaard, Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, (206)-300-1003

Sawyer.image.hGold Hill, OR. Save Our Wild Salmon and Sawyer Oars announced a partnership today that will benefit fisheries through a series of limited edition “Artisan Series Oars” with a percentage of sales supporting Save Our Wild Salmon conservation efforts to protect and restore wild salmon, steelhead and the healthy river systems they depend on.

The “Sawyer Artisan Series” feature prints of fish species from artists around the country passionate about fisheries and fishing art. The first two are ”The Steelhead” by Link Jackson and ”The Brown Trout” by Ty Hallock. These oars showcase Sawyer’s and each artist’s ability to create rugged yet highly functional art.

The timing is perfect for this alliances as part of Sawyers 50th anniversary. At our 45th, we realized that we don’t just make paddles and oars, we make memories. For anglers, some of their fondest memories are with the critical salmon and steelhead fisheries around the world.
- Pete Newport, President of Sawyer Oars

“This is a great partnership for us,” said Zac Kauffman, V.P. of Sales & Marketing for Sawyer. “It allows us to interact with the vibrant Save Our Wild Salmon community and pair up our most popular oars with an ancient cause, helping us give back to the fisheries that are so cherished by all”.

Sawyer was founded by legendary canoe racer Ralph Sawyer in 1967 and in the first few years began collaborating with Willie Boats on drift-boat oars. Ever since, the company has been at the forefront of the rowing culture. Today, Sawyer is employee owned and shares the passion for boating and for putting the best oars into the hands of dedicated river users.

Save Our Wild Salmon is honored to partner with Sawyer on this project to raise awareness and funds to support our advocacy efforts,” says Joseph Bogaard, executive director of the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition. “Healthy fisheries, healthy rivers and responsible companies like Sawyer Paddles and Oars remind us all about how environment and economy can, and must, go hand-in-hand”.

Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition (SOS) is a 25-year-old coalition of conservationists, fishermen and clean energy advocates working together to protect and restore abundant, self-sustaining and fishable populations of salmon and steelhead by improving the rivers and watersheds that they depend upon for the benefit of people, wildlife and their ecosystems.

PR.McMoRo.bill.2017 copyJune 30, 2017
Wendy Gerlitz, Policy Director, NW Energy Coalition, Portland, OR –; 503-449-0009
Bill Arthur, Sierra Club, Shoreline, WA –, 206-954-9826
Dr. Deborah Giles, Ph.D Whale Researcher, Friday Harbor, WA –, 916-531-1516
Amy Grondin, Commercial Salmon Fisherman, Port Townsend, WA – 206-295-4931
Todd True, Earthjustice, Seattle, WA,, 206-406-5124 (cell)
Sam Mace, Save Our wild Salmon Coalition, Spokane, WA,; , 509-863-5696
House bill would weaken the Endangered Species Act and increase costs and uncertainty for Northwest communities and businesses by protecting failed recovery efforts.

SPOKANE, WA (June 30, 2017) – Business and conservation leaders from across the Pacific Northwest announced their opposition to a U.S. House bill that would overturn a decision by a U.S. District Court judge 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 $16 billion without recovering a single endangered salmon population.

Yesterday, 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, fisheries experts have been working together to reach an agreement on the details of dam operations under the Court’s Order.  The new bill would stifle this cooperation and harm salmon survival and recovery efforts.

The bill is also aimed at a 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. The May 2016 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.

Wendy Gerlitz, NW Energy Coalition: “This bill is a clear attempt to politicize salmon recovery issues. In fact, the conservation community, farmers, businesses, utilities and their customers actually agree on many facets of this issue – enhancing the value of our renewable hydropower resources, growing our Northwest economy, and restoring the salmon.  Instead of political rhetoric that divides us, we need an inclusive process informed by science, engineering, and economics to craft a path forward that works to maximize the value of our clean hydropower, protects and creates jobs in our communities and restores the salmon.”
Bill Arthur, Sierra Club: “This legislative proposal is misguided, counter-productive and based on an extremely poor understanding of the plight of our salmon and any realistic changes to how Columbia Basin hydro-system would operate to better protect salmon.  We need to follow the science and the law and keep uninformed and damaging political efforts from undermining our best chance for effective salmon recovery.”
Dr. Deborah Giles, Ph.D, Center for Whale Research: “The science is undeniable today. Lack of prey – Chinook salmon – is the single biggest threat to the future of our critically-endangered Southern Resident Orcas. The severe prey shortage today hurts whales directly, and it makes other problems orcas face worse – like toxins and vessel noise. This bill is not just an attack on science and law; it is also an attack on our orca who need more salmon – not less – to survive and recover. This is terrible legislation that Northwest people must work to stop.
Amy Grondin, Commercial Salmon Fisherman: “ ‘Alternative facts’ might be popular in Washington D.C. today, but we don’t need that here in the Northwest. Here are some real facts: Columbia Basin salmon are in big trouble today. Our fishing seasons are small and getting smaller. Across the board, returns this year are predicted drop by 25% compared to last year. Managers were forced to close fisheries this spring due to the unexpectedly low returns. Fishing communities that have already made big sacrifices to protect salmon are facing big hits in the coming years. We need constructive lasting solutions; if this bill becomes law, it’s going to drive a stake through the heart of many fishing businesses on the coast and inland.”
Sam Mace, Save Our wild Salmon Coalition: “Inland Northwest fishermen care deeply about our salmon and steelhead.  They provide family recreation, jobs and sustenance.  With this year’s perilously low fish runs, it is disappointing that our own Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers wants to run roughshod over the interests of so many of her constituents who care about salmon. Instead of dividing people as this legislation does, she should support the comprehensive environmental review ordered by the court last year.  Instead she wants to blow up the best avenue for avoiding more uncertainty and the loss of our region’s iconic fish.”
After invalidating the 2014 Columbia Basin Salmon Plan last spring, the U.S. District Court ordered NOAA to produce a new legal plan in 2018 and the Action Agencies (ACOE, BPA, USBR) to complete a comprehensive environmental analysis (NEPA Review) that looks at all credible recovery options including the removal of the lower Snake River dams. All Snake River salmon populations are currently listed under the ESA; many scientists agree that extinction will be unavoidable with these four dams in place.
If it becomes law, this legislation will uphold the invalidated 2014 Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) Biological Opinion (BiOp) until 2022. It will also overturn the March 2017 court order to increase spring spill over federal dams on the lower Columbia and Snake Rivers. Spill releases water over the tops of dams and delivers out-migrating juvenile salmon more quickly and safely to the ocean. It is our region’s most effective action in the near-term to improve survival of endangered salmon populations while we work to develop a legally-valid, scientifically-credible and fiscally-responsible plan for Columbia Basin salmon.
This bill is particularly poorly timed, as adult salmon returns to the Columbia Basin are down this year. Fisheries managers have predicted that adult returns this year to the Columbia and Snake Rivers and their tributaries will drop significantly compared to last year. Certain populations, like B-run steelhead, are in dismal shape. Just 1100 wild fish are expected to return to the Columbia Basin in 2017. These extremely low returns have alarmed managers and triggered fishing closures in Washington, Oregon and Idaho this spring.
The bill can be viewed here:

4MOC.ltr.1CONTACT: Joseph Bogaard,, 206-300-1003

May 17, 2017

31 Northwest conservation organizations and fishing business associations sent a letter today to Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) in response to their May 2 letter to BPA Administrator Elliott Mainzer. Their letter sent earlier this month raised a number of issues concerning the status of Columbia Basin salmon restoration, including:
-- the court’s invalidation in 2016 of the federal agencies’ most recent Biological Opinion
-- the court’s recent decision to grant injunctive relief (incl. additional spill starting in 2018) and
-- the costs and benefits of increased spill on the survival of ESA-listed salmon and steelhead populations.

The May 2 Letter from four NW members of Congress to Mainzer can be viewed here.

Today’s letter to those four members of Congress from thirty-one Northwest groups can be viewed here.

This conservation and business letter seeks to clarify a number of issues raised in the May 2 Letter and urge a new and different approach for our region as we move forward in 2017. The efficacy of the federal agencies strategy to date speaks for itself: five consecutive illegal federal plans across twenty years and three different judges; $15B is spending and not one of thirteen imperiled populations recovered. The people and communities of the Pacific Northwest desperately need a new approach that prioritizes bringing together affected stakeholders and interests to work together to develop an effective legally-valid, scientifically credible and fiscally-responsible plan that protects and restores our imperiled salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia Basin and helps Northwest communities and businesses.

The urgent need for meaningful action in the near-term and effective leadership in the region has been further and tragically highlighted this spring with the early and very discouraging/troubling adult salmon returns to the Columbia Basin. Here are two recent articles with further details:

Seattle Times: Updated Columbia spring chinook return less than half of expectation

Lewiston Morning Tribune: Anemic return leads managers to close salmon fishing on Snake

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