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.

The Drake: Columbia Conundrum

columbiaThe river’s steelhead are struggling.

By Steve Hawley
June 13, 2017

Tucker Jones is certainly comfortable speaking in front of a surly audience. This much is clear from the outset. The burly, self-deprecating Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist is standing in front of a group of 50 guides and anglers on a blustery spring evening at his agency's office overlooking the Columbia River in The Dalles, Oregon. Jones and his colleague, Rod French, who manages ODFW's Deschutes River fisheries program, are here as the bearers of bad news. Before they begin their presentation, a Tidewater Lines barge glides ominously past the picture windows opposite the lectern where Jones is just clearing his throat, as if to remind anglers that the river was re-made a half-century ago. It isn't just for fish anymore. "Well, as most of you know," Jones begins cordially, going for a yarn-around the campfire tone, "steelhead and salmon runs in the Columbia are in pretty bad shape this year. So we're here to tell you about some management actions we have to take."

Read the full article here.

Lewiston Morning Tribune: Spring chinook fishing closed in Clearwater Basin

No summer season is planned in drainage except for Lochsa River

selwayfallsBy ERIC BARKER of the Tribune, June 13, 2017
Idaho fisheries managers pulled the plug on spring fishing in the Clearwater Basin on Monday after giving the beleaguered season a brief second life.

The four-day-a-week season on sections of the Clearwater and its South and Middle forks that ran Thursdays through Sundays will not reopen this week, nor will it open there later this month for summer chinook. The Lochsa River is the lone exception in the basin. It is scheduled to open to summer chinook harvest June 22.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologist Brett Bowersox at Lewiston said the run returning to the Clearwater Basin continues to show lower-than-average survival between Bonneville and Lower Granite dams - so poor that the state's share of the harvestable surplus already has been exhausted. The closure also will help ensure hatcheries get an adequate number of spawners, known as broodstock, to produce the next generation of springers.


Moscow-Pullman Daily News: Our View: Can lawyers just try to swim with the salmon? 

moscow.pullmanBy Lee Rozen, for the editorial board

May 26, 2017

Debate has been flowing back and forth for decades whether the four dams along the Lower Snake River produce more value in facilitating navigation and producing electricity than they cost in maintenance expenses and dead fish, especially wild salmon.

Fleets of experts on both sides argue their case articulately and passionately.

We - and the courts - have tended to look with greater skepticism at the arguments of dam proponents as barge traffic dwindles on the Snake, other sources of electricity come online and dam maintenance costs rise sharply. And the fish continue to die. skepticism finds some fishy arguments in another case that involves salmon, but no dams.


Lewiston Morning Tribune: Fisheries managers move to protect B-run
Washington, Oregon mull rolling closures, while Idaho adopts wait-and-see policy

By ERIC BARKER of the Tribune
May 27, 2017

steelhead nps2 391 205 80auto c1 c c 0 0 1Washington and Oregon are poised to implement rolling closures of the steelhead fishery from the mouth of the Columbia River to the mouth of the Snake this summer and fall in an attempt to protect the dismal B-run, projected to be the lowest on record.

On the Snake River from its mouth to Clarkston, anglers would be required to release all steelhead more than 30 inches in length. The two states also are looking to restrict most fishing on the Snake and Columbia rivers to daylight hours only, and to implement the same rolling closures on the lower sections of Columbia River tributaries, where Idaho-bound B-run steelhead often make short detours while in search of cool water.

Protective regulations for the Snake River upstream of the Idaho-Washington state line at Clarkston and the Clearwater River have not yet been set. Idaho fisheries officials are considering adopting regulations similar to those implemented in 2013, when anglers were only allowed to harvest steelhead less than 28 inches in length.


Idaho Statesman Series: Saving Idaho's salmon: Nature again turns against returning fish that already face long odds

I.S.RockyB2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the Idaho Statesman's endorsement of removing the four lower Snake River dams to save salmon and save money. The arguments made then are only stronger today - and have been joined by a new set of pressures on the dams: their declining services, the plight of salmon-reliant orcas, the intensifying impacts of climate change, and more.

The series comes at a critical time - as 2017 adult returns appear to be collapsing and fishing opportunities in Washington and Idaho are shut down.

Saving Idaho's salmon: Nature again turns against returning fish that already face long odds

Take a look at this first-in-the-series to:

-- Learn more about the history of the issue and where the series is headed,

-- Post a comment online at the bottom of the article

-- Share out on social media

And we'll be sure to keep you apprised as the series develops.

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.


More Articles...

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

  44. Oct 29, 2016 - Seattle Times: Another Puget Sound orca dies; hope dim for her calf (2)
  45. Oct 24, 2016 - Spokesman Review: Pressure mounts on Lower Snake dams as fish runs sag
  46. Oct 23, 2016 - EarthFix: Taking Down Snake River Dams: It's Back On The Table
  47. Oct 23, 2016 - Spokesman Review Guest Opinion: We can restore salmon and have carbon-free energy
  48. Oct 18, 2016 - Seattle Times: Environmental effects of Columbia, Snake river dams scrutinized
  49. Oct 06, 2016 - The Seattle Weekly: Washington’s Big Dam Climate Nightmare
  50. Sep 30, 2016 - Call to Action: Court-Ordered Columbia-Snake Salmon NEPA Review: Phase 1 – Public Hearings this Fall!
  51. Sep 30, 2016 - For Immediate Release: Feds Announce Hearings for Public to Weigh in on Lower Snake River Dam Removal
  52. Sep 28, 2016 - Seattle Times: Hydropower isn’t carbon neutral after all, WSU researchers say
  53. Sep 15, 2016 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Pro-salmon advocates plan to launch flotilla on Snake River on Saturday
  54. Aug 31, 2016 - For Immediate Release: 33 organizations ask federal agencies to commence NEPA public comment period after Jan. 1, 2017
  55. Aug 25, 2016 - Spokesman Review: About 35 percent of Snake River sockeye presumed dead
  56. Aug 17, 2016 - OPB Radio: Lawsuit Aims To Lower Columbia And Snake River Temperatures For Salmon
  57. Aug 17, 2016 - Spokesman Review: Hot water poses ongoing threat to Columbia River salmon, groups say
  58. Aug 17, 2016 - Spokesman Review: Hot water poses ongoing threat to Columbia River salmon, groups say (2)
  59. Aug 04, 2016 - Boise Weekly: Dams, Megawatts and Poached Salmon
  60. Aug 02, 2016 - Oregonian Guest Opinion: We can have a clean energy future and wild salmon
  61. Jul 04, 2016 - New York Times Editorial: The Salmon's Swim for Survival
  62. Jul 01, 2016 - CBB: Steps Taken To Cool Warming Lower Snake, Reduce Thermal Blocks As Large Basin Sockeye Return Heads Upstream
  63. Jun 27, 2016 - Oregonian Guest Opinion: Renewed optimism for salmon recovery
  64. Jun 25, 2016 - WAPO: Obama’s advisers just dismantled a key myth about the future of clean energy
  65. Jun 25, 2016 - CBB: BiOp Challengers Urge Court To Reject Feds’ Five-Year Timeline
  66. Jun 25, 2016 - CBB: Hot Summer. Will Sockeye Get Slammed Again?
  67. Jun 22, 2016 - Idaho Statesman Guest Opinion: Time for Congress to act on dams, Idaho sockeye
  68. Jun 21, 2016 - May 4, 2016 U.S. District Court Ruling: Background and Links
  69. Jun 12, 2016 - Guest Columnist Linwood Laughy: Snake Oil on the Lower Snake
  70. Jun 02, 2016 - Idaho Mountain Express Editorial: Stop dance of death
  71. Jun 02, 2016 - Idaho Mountain Express: Middle Fork could regain role as salmon nursery
  72. May 22, 2016 - New York Times Opinion: Unplugging the Colorado River
  73. May 22, 2016 - Crosscut: Judge: Failed salmon restoration has cost billions
  74. May 15, 2016 - Seattle Times Op-Ed: Federal court decision is a critical opportunity for salmon, energy and communities
  75. May 14, 2016 - Spokesman op-ed: Dam removal has new energy
  76. May 11, 2016 - East Oregonian Our view: Feds are running out of half measures
  77. May 11, 2016 - Lewiston Tribune editorial: What you hear today, you'll hear tomorrow
  78. May 04, 2016 - For Immediate Release: U.S. District Court sides with wild salmon and communities
  79. Apr 25, 2016 - Idaho Statesman: Warm Pacific continues to chop salmon numbers, affecting Idaho, Northwest
  80. Apr 14, 2016 - Seattle Times: Last year’s heat wave doomed nearly all Okanogan sockeye salmon
  81. Apr 01, 2016 - CBB: Army Corps Responds to Fish Advocates - Report underway on 2015 Columbia/Snake warm water, fish die-off
  82. Jan 05, 2016 - LMT: Idaho landscape could be safe haven for native fish
  83. Jan 04, 2016 - CBB: 2015 Smolt-To-Adult Return Data For Columbia/Snake Salmon, Steelhead
  84. Dec 09, 2015 - Idaho Statesman op-ed: Record salmon runs actually a decline
  85. Oct 28, 2015 - Scientists to Administrator Will Stelle: NOAA must act on climate change and salmon
  86. Oct 28, 2015 - Columbia Basin Bulletin: Preliminary 2015 Spring Juvenile Survival Estimates Through Snake/Columbia River Dams Dismal
  87. Aug 28, 2015 - Al Jazeera: Salmon in Idaho Becoming Endangered
  88. Aug 03, 2015 - Seattle Times Guest Opinion: Dead Salmon, climate change and Northwest dams
  89. Aug 03, 2015 - Idaho Statesman Guest Opinion: Sockeye death toll a predictable disaster
  90. Jul 17, 2015 - Idaho Statesman: Biologists bring sockeye into Idaho on trucks to get them out of hot water
  91. Jun 23, 2015 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Today's Federal Court Hearing on Salmon
  92. Jun 22, 2015 - Seattle Times: Columbia River Basin plan to restore fish runs faces legal challenge
  93. Jun 09, 2015 - For Immediate Release: NOAA’s new plan for Snake River Sockeye falls short
  94. Dec 10, 2014 - High Country News: The great salmon compromise
  95. Aug 05, 2014 - Seattle Times letters to the editor: Salmon recovery: Don’t cut back on dam spills
  96. Jul 28, 2014 - Idaho Statesman's Rocky Barker: Renewing Idaho's wild salmon and wild rivers
  97. Jul 21, 2014 - Idaho Statesman: Sockeye draft recovery plan shows just how far away success is
  98. Jun 26, 2014 - Daily Astorian Editorial: Drug addiction and salmon policy
  99. Jun 20, 2014 - Los Angeles Times: Groups sue U.S. agencies, saying plan to protect salmon falls short
  100. Jun 20, 2014 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Federal salmon plan contested again
  101. Jun 17, 2014 - For immediate release: Federal agencies squander chance for progress on Northwest salmon
  102. Jun 04, 2014 - The Fight for a Lawful Salmon Plan
  103. Jun 04, 2014 - Columbia Basin Bulletin: Groups Challenge In Ninth Circuit BPA’s Record Of Decision
  104. Mar 28, 2014 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Corps to kill fish-noshing birds
  105. Mar 25, 2014 - Science panel’s review provides pathway to expanded spill test
  106. Mar 05, 2014 - House bill aims to restore science and common sense to federal salmon efforts: Salmon advocates applaud introduction of study legislation
  107. Feb 09, 2014 - Daily Astorian: Editorial: Latest salmon deal is disappointing (again)
  108. Feb 05, 2014 - Spill test is positive response to climate change
  109. Jan 27, 2014 - Idaho Statesman Guest Opinion: Idaho and its chinook deserve an expansion of water spills
  110. Jan 24, 2014 - Lewiston Tribune Editorial: Feds’ predictable fish plan keeps careers going
  111. Jan 23, 2014 - Idaho Stateman: Salmon, dams will head back to court
  112. Jan 20, 2014 - Lewiston Tribune: Latest NOAA opinion on salmon goes back to well
  113. Jan 17, 2014 - Press Release: Feds squander chance for progress on salmon
  114. Jan 15, 2014 - Scientists to Obama Administration: "New" Federal Salmon Plan a Bust
  115. Dec 15, 2013 - Spokesman-Review Guest Opinion: Columbia River plan fails to protect salmon
  116. Dec 02, 2013 - Oregonian Guest Opinion: Federal Government doing too little to help Columbia salmon
  117. Sep 25, 2013 - Tacoma News Tribune Op-Ed: There's good news and bad news for Northwest's salmon
  118. Sep 18, 2013 - LMT Editorial: Feds' fifth fish recovery plan invites a sixth
  119. Sep 17, 2013 - Idaho Statesman: Feds reject potential way to help salmon
  120. Sep 15, 2013 - Daily Astorian Editorial: Same old story (2)
  121. Sep 12, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Feds deal blow to Nez Perce Tribe, salmon advocates (2)
  122. Jul 16, 2013 - Twenty-one groups and business associations ask Bonneville Power Administration to reverse course on planned rollbacks of salmon spill
  123. Jun 22, 2013 - A Brief History of “spill”
  124. 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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