2017 has been a big year. With your support and with help from our many partners, we’ve accomplished a tremendous amount and laid the groundwork for new gains in 2018. Our collective efforts are helping better meet the needs of struggling wild salmon and steelhead populations now as we build the public and political foundation to free the lower Snake River, to modernize the U.S. – Canada Columbia River Treaty, and more.
The effects of overzealous dam building last century are now combining with the intensifying impacts of climate change. Wild salmon and steelhead of the Columbia-Snake River Basin – and the people and fish and wild life that depend upon them - need resilient rivers, cool waters, and reconnected habitats.
Removing the four lower Snake River dams. Modernizing Columbia River Treaty. Giving voice to the river, its fish and wildlife, its Tribal and non-tribal communities. SOS is working for big, visionary changes - protecting our lands and waters, rebuilding an irreplaceable ecosystem, investing in diverse communities.
Read on to review some of SOS’ major accomplishments this year, but know that more is needed – especially so in the Trump era. Salmon, orca, and fishing communities face huge challenges today.
Thank you for being part of the SOS community. We appreciate your generous support and hope that you can help us to leverage and defend our victories - and make new progress in 2018 - with a fully tax-deductible gift before the end of this year.
And you can take a look at our donor gifts and raffle items here.
With your help, we will continue to mobilize our members and move the politicians to protect, restore, and reconnect the healthy, resilient habitats that wild salmon and steelhead need.
Here are just some of our major accomplishments this year:
- Organizing for dam removal: SOS and allies dominated the court-ordered NEPA Review Public Scoping Process. Together, we mobilized more than 2,000 people for public meetings and rallies, generated almost 400,000 comments supporting dam removal, and helped allies to submit nearly two dozen detailed policy comments. Reflecting big changes in the Northwest, some significant regional actors expressed clear support for a thorough dam removal analysis - including the City of Lewiston, States of Washington and Oregon, Columbia Basin Tribes, EPA, Seattle City Light, and several others.
- Helping salmon now: SOS member groups – in alliance with the State of Oregon and Nez Perce Tribe - secured additional court-ordered spill starting in 2018 that will increase juvenile fish survival through the federal labyrinth of dams and reservoirs and increase adult salmon returns. The court’s order also increased scrutiny on questionable spending on the lower Snake River dams as we decide their fate.
- Making the orca- salmon connection: SOS - working with our good friends in the Orca Salmon Alliance (OSA) - has solidified public and political understanding of the critical connection between Columbia Basin Chinook salmon and Southern Resident killer whales. There is no question today: rebuilding Columbia Basin salmon populations is essential to protecting critically endangered orca.
- Securing action for orca: SOS’ strategic organizing work with OSA spurred Governor Jay Inslee to establish an Emergency Orca Task Force (link) (SOS will ensure that Columbia-Snake salmon figure prominently) and moved the Puget Sound Partnership to pass a resolution highlighting the urgency facing Southern Resident orca and the critical need rebuild salmon populations in the Columbia-Snake Basin and elsewhere in order to feed our region’s hungry, struggling orca community.
- Stopping harmful legislation: SOS led a successful effort last winter to kill a misleading, anti-salmon resolution in the Washington State Legislature. And right now we’re in a battle to stop HR 3144, introduced in Congress by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. We’ve generated good media coverage and editorials - and organized significant opposition in Congress. That said – this bill is still very much alive and our work to stop it must continue.
- Organizing contacts to elected officials: SOS has coordinated hundreds of thousands of letters and emails to targeted members of congress and Northwest Governors in 2017 re: salmon, climate, orca, increased spill, NEPA Review, Columbia River Treaty, and more. We’ve organized and participated in dozens of meetings with elected officials and/or their staff. You can take action here!
- Educating, Organizing, Mobilizing: In 2017, we hosted and co-hosted several dozen events in the region: presentations, outings, rallies. We’re both talking and listening; we’re educating and engaging people to act on behalf of these inter-connected issues of resilient rivers and watersheds, salmon and orca, community and economy, clean energy and climate. The 3rd Annual Flotilla to Free the Snake! organized with Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment, Friends of the Clearwater, Idaho Rivers United and many other organizations and businesses drew 350 people despite smoky skies and forest fires. See a 7 min. video from our friends at Wingspan Media here (link coming soon).
- Pursuing shared solutions: SOS continues to reach out to stakeholders including farmers and utilities to listen and learn, and to look for common ground. Restoring and reconnecting the resilient rivers salmon and steelhead need must address the needs of local communities. We hope tp foster conversations on the economic benefits that removing dams and restoring the lower Snake River will bring to the region. We’ll continue to have these conversations and look for ways to expand these dialogues in the months ahead.
- Developing new information: We’re working with our partners to identify and develop accurate, up-to-date analyses and reports to educate the public and politicians and to inform policy. We joined forces, for example, with Columbia Basin Tribes to hire economists at Earth Economics to assess the value of Columbia Basin's 'natural capital' – clean water, fish and wildlife, flood abatement, etc. And there is more in the works: SOS and its members are working with expert firms on similar types of reports that can help inform the region’s thinking about recovery options and paths forward. Look for these in the first half of 2018.
- Generating media coverage: in just the last year, leveraging the NEPA Review, impending Treaty negotiations, salmon and orca population trends, organizing rallies and events, energy and economics, our program work has helped generate well over one hundred stories, editorials and op-eds – print, radio, and online. You can find them here on our new and improved website!
With your support, we’ll continue to making progress in 2018 to:
- Protect, restore and reconnect the healthy rivers and resilient habitats that wild fish need now – and over time.
- Mobilize people and keep moving the politics.
- Stop the attacks on our salmon and our rivers – like HR 3144 – and defend and expand our gains that are helping salmon and orca and fishing communities.
- Envision what a restored lower Snake River corridor could look like and the economic, recreation and cultural benefits it would provide to towns and communities.
- Build new alliances and work with Northwest people on shared solutions.
- Bird-dog the court-ordered NEPA environmental review – to ensure the dam removal analysis – its costs and its benefits – are fully and fairly considered.
- And much more!
Thank you for being part of the SOS community. With your support, and working with others, we can achieve the big, systemic changes the Pacific Northwest ecology and economy need to survive and thrive in the 21st century - with resilient rivers, abundant wild salmon and steelhead, and vibrant communities.