Washington State Food Professionals Call for Solutions for Salmon and Communities
On March 9th, more than 225 Washington State-based food professionals sent a letter thanking Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray for their initiative to protect and restore endangered Snake River salmon and asking Sen. Maria Cantwell for her assistance this year to help develop a comprehensive, long-term solution for imperiled Columbia-Snake River Basin salmon.
In recognition of the extinction crisis facing many Northwest salmon populations today, more than 225 chefs, brewers, market owners and others from across Washington State sent a letter to Gov. Inslee, Sen. Murray and Sen. Cantwell. The signers emphasize that for them, “salmon is much more than a fish; it is one of our most valued business partners.” The letter thanks these three statewide policymakers for their past efforts to protect salmon and asks for their “continued leadership at this moment of great urgency and opportunity.”
The letter stresses that urgent work is needed in 2022 to prevent further extinction and to restore salmon abundance in the Snake River Basin in a manner that brings everyone – including farmers, fishermen and other food producers - forward together.
Last year, Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee acknowledged the extinction crisis facing Snake River fish and committed to developing a long-term plan by July 31, 2022 in order to protect and restore them. As a key step in the process to develop a comprehensive solution for Snake River salmon and Northwest communities, they have been working closely with the region’s tribes, stakeholders and other experts to produce a report by early spring that identifies how to replace the energy, irrigation and transportation services provided by the dams today. Sen. Cantwell's leadership to help develop a durable, regional solution that meets the need of Snake River salmon and Northwest communities will be essential for this initiative's success.
The letter calls for action: “We need new policies and programs in 2022 that will provide both fisherman and farmer greater certainty and the opportunity to thrive. We ask you to seize this window of opportunity before us to develop and deliver a comprehensive investment package that restores the lower Snake River, recovers healthy salmon populations, and keeps farmers and fishermen gainfully employed and feeding our communities.”
While Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee have not explicitly committed to including dam removal in their plan, they have put this option at the center of discussions today. Their report will be a crucial resource for understanding our region’s options for replacing the dams' services as they explore how to restore salmon abundance, help feed endangered orcas, and uphold our nation’s promise to our region's tribes in a manner that moves everyone forward together.
Settlement talks between the Biden Administration, Nez Perce Tribe, State of Oregon and SOS member groups led by Earthjustice are also under way on a similar timeline. The long-running litigation was paused last fall to allow the parties to work together to develop a long-term solution that could resolve the lawsuit and protect endangered wild fish facing extinction caused in large part by the system of federal dams and reservoirs on the Snake and Columbia rivers.
Stand with Washington State Food Professionals - Contact Governor Inslee, Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell today.
Urge them to act this year...before salmon extinction becomes our legacy.