New Hope for Snake/Columbia's Wild Salmon and Steelhead: It's Time to 'Free the Snake' and Restore Endangered Salmon!


In May 2016, the U.S. District Court in Oregon rejected the government's plan for operating federal dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers because the plan  – the 2014 Biological Opinion (or “BiOp”)  – failed to protect endangered wild salmon and steelhead.  The Court concluded the federal agencies responsible for the plan (NOAA Fisheries, the Corps of  Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and Bonneville Power Administration) violated both the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The Court  said “[f]or more than 20 years, . . . the federal agencies have ignored [prior court opinions] and have continued to focus essentially on the same approach to saving the listed species — . . .  [t]hese efforts have already cost billions of dollars, yet they are failing.”

Three different federal judges over two decades have now rejected five consecutive plans to lawfully manage the Columbia/Snake River dams. ESA-listed salmon continue to face a high risk of extinction. In the federal judiciary’s words, “the system literally cries out for a major overhaul.

This ruling swept aside the government’s long-standing strategy to avoid meaningful changes to the existence and operations of federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. Judge Simon’s strongly-worded opinion found multiple substantive violations of the ESA and procedural violations of the NEPA. The Court 2016 order requires the agencies’ next plan (due 2018) to substantially strengthen the all-important jeopardy standard, address climate impacts on fish, reduce its heavy reliance on habitat restoration and finally confront the significant salmon mortality caused by federal dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

To address the NEPA violation, federal agencies must began work in Fall 2016 with Scoping/Public Input - the first step toward producing an EIS that fully, fairly and transparently analyzes the latest scientific and economic information on Columbia/Snake salmon and dams and carefully consider all recovery alternatives – including the costs, benefits and tradeoffs of lower Snake River dam removal. Keeping the agencies honest and on track in this process presents a major challenge for advocates, and will require vigilance and oversight by us, media and our elected leaders in the Northwest and in Washington D.C.

In July 2016, the Court required (1) the National Marine Fisheries Service to produce a new lawful Columbia Basin Salmon Biological Opinion by Dec. 2018; and (2) the “Action Agencies” (BPA, Army Corps, Bureau of Reclamation) to produce a lawful NEPA-compliant DEIS by March 2020 and FEIS by March 2021.

Columbia Basin Bulletin: Spill Advocates, Federal Agencies Agree To Status Conference Schedule, Protocol In Salmon BiOP Case

Friday, May 19, 2017

spill.big.2017Advocates of more spill at Columbia/Snake river dams for juvenile fish passage and federal dam operating agencies have agreed to a schedule for periodic status conferences and a protocol in a federal court case.

The request for injunctive relief was enjoined with an earlier case argued in the U.S. District Court of Oregon that resulted in a remand of the Columbia River hydropower system’s 2014 biological opinion for salmon and steelhead. The remand was issued by Judge Michael H. Simon in May 2016.

The request, which was brought to Simon in January 2017 by the National Wildlife Foundation and the State of Oregon, with the support of the Nez Perce Tribe, asked the court to begin ordering spill to maximum total dissolved gas levels beginning April 3 this year and to continue for each year of the BiOp remand.


For Immediate Release: 31 Groups Send Letter to Four Washington and Oregon Members of Congress re: Columbia Basin salmon recovery

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.


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

By Eric Barker
May 17, 2017

forest-river1A new forecast that slashed the expected return of spring chinook to the Columbia River and its tributaries led Washington to close salmon fishing on the Snake River on Tuesday and cast uncertainty on the future of other seasons in the basin.

State, tribal and federal fisheries managers from around the Columbia River basin now expect only about 75,000 spring chinook to make it to Bonneville Dam, about half of the preseason forecast. If the prediction holds true, it could alter or upend future and present fishing seasons.

Fisheries managers had already closed fishing on the Columbia upstream of the dam, and the closure of the modest fishery on the Snake River is the second casualty of the poorly preforming run. Idaho Fish and Game officials are taking a wait-and-see approach before making any decisions about ongoing fishing seasons on the Clearwater, Salmon, Little Salmon and Snake rivers.


Columbia Basin Bulletin: Spring Chinook Return Had A Little Bounce Then Back To Low Numbers; Insufficient Data For Run Update

Friday, May 12, 2017

salmonFishery managers have postponed the annual fishery for hatchery steelhead and jack chinook salmon from Tongue Point upriver to the Interstate 5 Bridge set to begin May 16.

Lower than expected passage of spring chinook salmon over Bonneville Dam coupled with the spring chinook catch to date in the recreational fishery downstream of Bonneville Dam are the primary causes of the delay.

As of Wednesday only about 26,000 of the approximately 160,000 forecasted spring Chinook salmon had been counted at Bonneville Dam.

Just 1,121 spring chinook jacks have passed over Bonneville Dam. Last year on May 10, more than four times that many had passed the dam and the 10-year average is 9,125.

Although steelhead anglers would have been required to release any adult salmon they caught in the postponed fishery, a certain percentage would die after release. “Unfortunately we just don’t have any lower river sport allocation left to operate this fishery prior to a run update,” said Tucker Jones, ODFW’s Ocean Salmon and Columbia River Program manager.


Columbia Basin Bulletin: Heading Into Summer Water Supply Forecasts Across Columbia Basin Above Normal; One Of Wettest Years

stanleybasin.snowFriday, May 12, 2017

No matter the location in the Columbia and Snake river basins, as the region heads into summer, forecasts for water supply are all above normal, driven by higher than normal precipitation and snowfall during the 2016-17 water year.

Overall precipitation across the basin since October 2016 has put the water year as the eighth wettest in a 57-year record.

And the January to July water supply forecast at The Dalles Dam on the mainstem Columbia River was the fifth wettest on record at 139 percent of normal, although that has dropped slightly in the April to August forecast to 127 percent of normal with a forecast of 111.123 million acre feet.

“The take-home message is that this year we’re ranking in the highest number of wet years, ever,” Doug Baus of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told the interagency Technical Management Team at its first meeting in three weeks Wednesday, May 10.

Even if below record levels, all of the Columbia River basin’s storage dams are forecasted to have above normal water supplies this year, according to the May water supply forecasts posted to the Corps’ website May 3 (


Tri-Cities Herald: 3 horseback riders stop in Kennewick on journey to save salmon

ride.redd.tri.cities1By Cameron Probert,

In April, three Idaho women set out from Astoria, Ore., with seven horses — on a mission to save threatened salmon.

Katelyn Spradley, Kat Cannell and MJ Wright trotted into Kennewick this weekend, a month into their 1,000-mile journey.

“We’re following the salmon home,” Cannell said. “We started from where the Columbia meets the ocean and we’re going all the way to Stanley, Idaho, which is the farthest inland that any of these fish go.”

The women, ages 23 to 27 from Central Idaho, started out at the ocean on April 18, spending most of their days on horseback following the course of the river.

We started from where the Columbia meets the ocean and we’re going all the way to Stanley, Idaho, which is the farthest inland that any of these fish go.


More Articles...

  1. May 09, 2017 - Seattle Times: Epic snow and rain help salmon now, but conflicts with hydropower lie ahead on Columbia River
  2. Apr 25, 2017 - Oregonian: Idaho horseback riders on salmon trek pass through Portland
  3. Apr 20, 2017 - NWPR/EarthFix: Conservation Groups Ask To Stop Barging Sockeye Around Dams
  4. Mar 28, 2017 - OPB: Court Orders More Spill Over Columbia River Dams In 2018
  5. Mar 27, 2017 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Court Grants Increased 'Spill' to Aid Endangered Columbia/Snake River Salmon
  6. Mar 24, 2017 - KUOW: Northwest Tribes Say Salmon Recovery Is Requirement Based On Treaty Rights
  7. Mar 24, 2017 - CBB: Listed Steelhead Move Into New Habitat Created By Removal Of Obsolete Dam On Idaho's Potlatch River
  8. Mar 24, 2017 - Lewiston Tribune: Tribal, nontribal activists gather for environmental conference
  9. Mar 12, 2017 - Canoe & Kayak Guest Opinion: It’s Time To Remove The Lower Snake River Dams
  10. Mar 07, 2017 - Media Advisory
: Court Hearing in Portland on Columbia/Snake Salmon - 3.9.2017
  11. Feb 12, 2017 - Columbia/Snake Salmon NEPA Analysis Public Scoping Comment Period: A Summary
  12. Feb 12, 2017 - 400,000 citizens submit comments calling for removal of the lower Snake River dams
  13. Feb 05, 2017 - Patagonia Blog: The Cleanest Line - Free the Snake and Restore Salmon to Honor Treaty Right
  14. Feb 01, 2017 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: More than 250,000 Urge Feds to Do More to Save Salmon
  15. Jan 27, 2017 - KING5-TV: Snake River dams examined after decades of lawsuits
  16. Jan 19, 2017 - The Daily News: Removing dams could affect Cowlitz industry, electric rates
  17. Jan 19, 2017 - Many Dollars and Little Sense: Barging on the Lower Snake River
  18. Jan 11, 2017 - The Daily Astorian: Debate spills over the dams
  19. Jan 11, 2017 - Associated Press: Environmental groups want work halted on Snake River dams
  20. Jan 09, 2017 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Advocates Ask Court to Safeguard Salmon Ahead of Federal Planning Process
  21. Jan 02, 2017 - Oregonian: Shielded Native American sites thrust into debate over dams
  22. Dec 21, 2016 - For Immediate Release: New Report Highlights 10 Wildlife Conservation Priorities for the Trump Administration
  23. Dec 12, 2016 - Chinook Observer Editorial: Say no to standing by as salmon go extinct
  24. Dec 09, 2016 - Lewiston Morning Tribune Editorial: Fishy end run
  25. Dec 08, 2016 - Daily Astoria Editorial: ‘God Squad’ is the wrong idea for endangered species
  26. Dec 08, 2016 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Irrigators want dams off endangered list
  27. Dec 07, 2016 - Idaho Statesman: Lower Snake River farmers seek federal ruling to allow Idaho salmon to go extinct
  28. Dec 07, 2016 - Idaho Statesman Guest Opinion: Stop studying the studies; breach dams and save the salmon
  29. Dec 07, 2016 - NW Fishletter #364: NWEC Panel Explores Replacing Power From Lower Snake River Dams (2)
  30. Dec 07, 2016 - Daily Astorian Guest Column: An opportunity to push for salmon recovery
  31. Dec 04, 2016 - Tri-City Herald Guest Opinion: Costly dams are harmful to salmon, tribes, and taxpayers
  32. Dec 03, 2016 - KING 5 TV: Future of Snake River dams under microscope
  33. Dec 03, 2016 - KNKX - 88.5 FM: Feds Discussing Snake River Dam Removal At Public Meeting In Seattle
  34. Dec 03, 2016 - The Columbian: Hearings next week on Columbia River salmon recovery
  35. Dec 03, 2016 - Idaho Statesman Editorial: Future of Idaho’s wild salmon can’t be sacrificed for any other interest
  36. Nov 15, 2016 - Spokesman Review: Big crowd turns out in Spokane to talk about Lower Snake River dams
  37. Nov 07, 2016 - Oregonian: Judge's order revives movement to remove Snake River dams
  38. Nov 05, 2016 - CBB: Science Review Of Salmon Survival Study: Snake River Fish Not Meeting Smolt-To-Adult Return Goals 

  39. Oct 29, 2016 - Seattle Times: Another Puget Sound orca dies; hope dim for her calf (2)
  40. Oct 24, 2016 - Spokesman Review: Pressure mounts on Lower Snake dams as fish runs sag
  41. Oct 23, 2016 - EarthFix: Taking Down Snake River Dams: It's Back On The Table
  42. Oct 23, 2016 - Spokesman Review Guest Opinion: We can restore salmon and have carbon-free energy
  43. Oct 18, 2016 - Seattle Times: Environmental effects of Columbia, Snake river dams scrutinized
  44. Oct 06, 2016 - The Seattle Weekly: Washington’s Big Dam Climate Nightmare
  45. Sep 30, 2016 - Call to Action: Court-Ordered Columbia-Snake Salmon NEPA Review: Phase 1 – Public Hearings this Fall!
  46. Sep 30, 2016 - For Immediate Release: Feds Announce Hearings for Public to Weigh in on Lower Snake River Dam Removal
  47. Sep 28, 2016 - Seattle Times: Hydropower isn’t carbon neutral after all, WSU researchers say
  48. Sep 15, 2016 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Pro-salmon advocates plan to launch flotilla on Snake River on Saturday
  49. Aug 31, 2016 - For Immediate Release: 33 organizations ask federal agencies to commence NEPA public comment period after Jan. 1, 2017
  50. Aug 25, 2016 - Spokesman Review: About 35 percent of Snake River sockeye presumed dead
  51. Aug 17, 2016 - OPB Radio: Lawsuit Aims To Lower Columbia And Snake River Temperatures For Salmon
  52. Aug 17, 2016 - Spokesman Review: Hot water poses ongoing threat to Columbia River salmon, groups say
  53. Aug 17, 2016 - Spokesman Review: Hot water poses ongoing threat to Columbia River salmon, groups say (2)
  54. Aug 04, 2016 - Boise Weekly: Dams, Megawatts and Poached Salmon
  55. Aug 02, 2016 - Oregonian Guest Opinion: We can have a clean energy future and wild salmon
  56. Jul 04, 2016 - New York Times Editorial: The Salmon's Swim for Survival
  57. Jul 01, 2016 - CBB: Steps Taken To Cool Warming Lower Snake, Reduce Thermal Blocks As Large Basin Sockeye Return Heads Upstream
  58. Jun 27, 2016 - Oregonian Guest Opinion: Renewed optimism for salmon recovery
  59. Jun 25, 2016 - WAPO: Obama’s advisers just dismantled a key myth about the future of clean energy
  60. Jun 25, 2016 - CBB: BiOp Challengers Urge Court To Reject Feds’ Five-Year Timeline
  61. Jun 25, 2016 - CBB: Hot Summer. Will Sockeye Get Slammed Again?
  62. Jun 22, 2016 - Idaho Statesman Guest Opinion: Time for Congress to act on dams, Idaho sockeye
  63. Jun 21, 2016 - May 4, 2016 U.S. District Court Ruling: Background and Links
  64. Jun 12, 2016 - Guest Columnist Linwood Laughy: Snake Oil on the Lower Snake
  65. Jun 02, 2016 - Idaho Mountain Express Editorial: Stop dance of death
  66. Jun 02, 2016 - Idaho Mountain Express: Middle Fork could regain role as salmon nursery
  67. May 22, 2016 - New York Times Opinion: Unplugging the Colorado River
  68. May 22, 2016 - Crosscut: Judge: Failed salmon restoration has cost billions
  69. May 15, 2016 - Seattle Times Op-Ed: Federal court decision is a critical opportunity for salmon, energy and communities
  70. May 14, 2016 - Spokesman op-ed: Dam removal has new energy
  71. May 11, 2016 - East Oregonian Our view: Feds are running out of half measures
  72. May 11, 2016 - Lewiston Tribune editorial: What you hear today, you'll hear tomorrow
  73. May 04, 2016 - For Immediate Release: U.S. District Court sides with wild salmon and communities
  74. Apr 25, 2016 - Idaho Statesman: Warm Pacific continues to chop salmon numbers, affecting Idaho, Northwest
  75. Apr 14, 2016 - Seattle Times: Last year’s heat wave doomed nearly all Okanogan sockeye salmon
  76. Apr 01, 2016 - CBB: Army Corps Responds to Fish Advocates - Report underway on 2015 Columbia/Snake warm water, fish die-off
  77. Jan 05, 2016 - LMT: Idaho landscape could be safe haven for native fish
  78. Jan 04, 2016 - CBB: 2015 Smolt-To-Adult Return Data For Columbia/Snake Salmon, Steelhead
  79. Dec 09, 2015 - Idaho Statesman op-ed: Record salmon runs actually a decline
  80. Oct 28, 2015 - Scientists to Administrator Will Stelle: NOAA must act on climate change and salmon
  81. Oct 28, 2015 - Columbia Basin Bulletin: Preliminary 2015 Spring Juvenile Survival Estimates Through Snake/Columbia River Dams Dismal
  82. Aug 28, 2015 - Al Jazeera: Salmon in Idaho Becoming Endangered
  83. Aug 03, 2015 - Seattle Times Guest Opinion: Dead Salmon, climate change and Northwest dams
  84. Aug 03, 2015 - Idaho Statesman Guest Opinion: Sockeye death toll a predictable disaster
  85. Jul 17, 2015 - Idaho Statesman: Biologists bring sockeye into Idaho on trucks to get them out of hot water
  86. Jun 23, 2015 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Today's Federal Court Hearing on Salmon
  87. Jun 22, 2015 - Seattle Times: Columbia River Basin plan to restore fish runs faces legal challenge
  88. Jun 09, 2015 - For Immediate Release: NOAA’s new plan for Snake River Sockeye falls short
  89. Dec 10, 2014 - High Country News: The great salmon compromise
  90. Aug 05, 2014 - Seattle Times letters to the editor: Salmon recovery: Don’t cut back on dam spills
  91. Jul 28, 2014 - Idaho Statesman's Rocky Barker: Renewing Idaho's wild salmon and wild rivers
  92. Jul 21, 2014 - Idaho Statesman: Sockeye draft recovery plan shows just how far away success is
  93. Jun 26, 2014 - Daily Astorian Editorial: Drug addiction and salmon policy
  94. Jun 20, 2014 - Los Angeles Times: Groups sue U.S. agencies, saying plan to protect salmon falls short
  95. Jun 20, 2014 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Federal salmon plan contested again
  96. Jun 17, 2014 - For immediate release: Federal agencies squander chance for progress on Northwest salmon
  97. Jun 04, 2014 - The Fight for a Lawful Salmon Plan
  98. Jun 04, 2014 - Columbia Basin Bulletin: Groups Challenge In Ninth Circuit BPA’s Record Of Decision
  99. Mar 28, 2014 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Corps to kill fish-noshing birds
  100. Mar 25, 2014 - Science panel’s review provides pathway to expanded spill test
  101. Mar 05, 2014 - House bill aims to restore science and common sense to federal salmon efforts: Salmon advocates applaud introduction of study legislation
  102. Feb 09, 2014 - Daily Astorian: Editorial: Latest salmon deal is disappointing (again)
  103. Feb 05, 2014 - Spill test is positive response to climate change
  104. Jan 27, 2014 - Idaho Statesman Guest Opinion: Idaho and its chinook deserve an expansion of water spills
  105. Jan 24, 2014 - Lewiston Tribune Editorial: Feds’ predictable fish plan keeps careers going
  106. Jan 23, 2014 - Idaho Stateman: Salmon, dams will head back to court
  107. Jan 20, 2014 - Lewiston Tribune: Latest NOAA opinion on salmon goes back to well
  108. Jan 17, 2014 - Press Release: Feds squander chance for progress on salmon
  109. Jan 15, 2014 - Scientists to Obama Administration: "New" Federal Salmon Plan a Bust
  110. Dec 15, 2013 - Spokesman-Review Guest Opinion: Columbia River plan fails to protect salmon
  111. Dec 02, 2013 - Oregonian Guest Opinion: Federal Government doing too little to help Columbia salmon
  112. Sep 25, 2013 - Tacoma News Tribune Op-Ed: There's good news and bad news for Northwest's salmon
  113. Sep 18, 2013 - LMT Editorial: Feds' fifth fish recovery plan invites a sixth
  114. Sep 17, 2013 - Idaho Statesman: Feds reject potential way to help salmon
  115. Sep 15, 2013 - Daily Astorian Editorial: Same old story (2)
  116. Sep 12, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Feds deal blow to Nez Perce Tribe, salmon advocates (2)
  117. Jul 16, 2013 - Twenty-one groups and business associations ask Bonneville Power Administration to reverse course on planned rollbacks of salmon spill
  118. Jun 22, 2013 - A Brief History of “spill”
  119. May 22, 2013 - All Scientists Are Saying Is…"Give (More) Spill A Chance."
Save Our wild Salmon is a diverse, nationwide coalition working together to restore wild salmon and steelhead to the rivers, streams and marine waters of the Pacific Northwest for the benefit of our region's ecology, economy and culture.




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