1. Courtroom Update on Obama's Salmon Plan - Will the Obama administration follow the science now?

2. Working Snake River for Washington - New coalition seeks broad involvement, political leadership to protect salmon and orcas.

3. The Idaho Tide - "The sin lies not in the wilderness, but in the dammed."

Patagonia taps author Steven Hawley to share his thoughts on the Snake River Basin.

4. And the winner is... - The results are in for the Mountain Khakis / Save Our Wild Salmon "We Love Rivers!" Photo Contest

1. Courtroom Update on Obama's Salmon Plan

Will the Obama administration follow the science now?

On May 20th, Northwest citizens and a federal judge are expecting the Obama administration to release its revised salmon and steelhead plan for the Columbia & Snake Rivers – the result of a 90-day voluntary remand. Based on pretty clear signals from the federal agencies over the past three months, this “new” plan may look disappointingly like the old plan, about which U.S. District Court Judge James Redden, the Nez Perce Tribe, the State of Oregon, and the salmon community expressed serious concerns.

A quick review of how we got here:

Campaign 2008 -- Candidate Obama campaigns for change, including a pledge to return science and transparency to federal decision-making.

January 21, 2009 -- In his inaugural speech, President Obama promises to “restore science to its rightful place.”

March 3, 2009 – Before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, President Obama promises to look “for ways to improve [the ESA], not weaken it.”

May 2009 -- After the Obama Administration inherits the Bush Administration’s deeply flawed 2008 Columbia Basin Salmon Plan, Judge Redden sends strongly-worded letter indicating that the plan is unlikely to pass legal muster. The Obama Administration asks the court for time to review the 2008 plan, to better understand the plan prior to proceeding. The Western Division of the nation’s premier fisheries science organization, the American Fisheries Society, sends a letter to new NOAA Administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, reaffirming their support for lower Snake River dam removal as the key option to recovering Snake River salmon and steelhead.

Summer 2009 -- The Administration reviews the 2008 salmon plan largely behind closed doors; holds no substantive discussions with salmon and fishing advocates; hosts a confidential 2-day scientific review, but without any meaningful transparency, peer-review, or open discussions with independent scientists, salmon advocates, or fishermen. No actual materials (notes, presentations, etc.) from the “scientific review” have ever been made public. Read more on the science review.

September 2009 – The Administration officially adopts the Bush plan that it inherited, includes an amendment – the Adaptive Management Implementation Plan (AMIP) – in an attempt to address the shortcomings of the 2008 Plan – and submits the revised package to Judge Redden.

February 2010 – The Western Division of the American Fisheries Society pans that “new” plan and its AMIP for not using the best available science and being more concerned with protecting dams and a (failed) status quo than endangered salmon. In a separate action, Judge Redden suggests that the Administration withdraw the plan for 90 days to address substantive and procedural shortcomings. The Administration agrees to this review (also called a remand). Read their review of the AMIP.

May 20, 2010 – The Administration is scheduled to deliver its final plan to Judge Redden.

Needless to say, salmon and fishing advocates’ expectations for the Obama Plan are low. Here is what this new plan must minimally include in order to begin to address the needs of endangered salmon and steelhead, and the requirements of the law and science:

Spill, Science & Stakeholders – Will the revised plan meet the tests of science and law?The new salmon plan must meet the test of science in the following ways:

(1) Salmon need Water: End the costly and unnecessary annual arguments over river operations and commit to a default full spill program – as suggested by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Independent Scientific Advisory Board– for the 10-year life of this plan (spill sends water – and young migrating fish - over the dams, rather than though lethal spinning turbines, or in barges or trucks).

(2) Climate change: Stop downplaying the impacts of climate change on salmon in the Columbia River Basin and heed Judge Redden’s call for sound, specific climate change analysis, similar to NOAA’s 2009 Central Valley Biological Opinion in California.

(3) Lower Snake River dams: Immediately initiate a comprehensive study of lower Snake River dam removal to fully understand and prepare for this restoration option – the one with the greatest level of scientific support and biological certainty

(4) Inclusive stakeholder negotiations: Convene key stakeholders to work together to craft a lawful, science-based plan that works for people and communities, considers all credible recovery options – including the removal of the four lower Snake River dams – and ensures the protection and restoration healthy, harvestable salmon populations.

Stay tuned!

We’ll be in touch with an update and ways that you can help as soon as the Administration goes public with its revised plan.

wsrwa.vert.black2. Working Snake River for Washington

New coalition seeks broad involvement, political leadership to protect salmon and orcas.

Save Our Wild Salmon is proud to announce its participation in a new project – Working Snake River for Washington. A complement to the larger Columbia & Snake Rivers Campaign, this is a collaboration of Washington State-based conservationists and clean energy proponents, salmon and orca advocates, commercial and recreational fishermen, and businesses. It comes in response to the government’s two-decade, eight billion dollar failure to protect Columbia Basin’s endangered wild salmon and steelhead from extinction.

murray.cantwellIt is time for a brand new approach and that depends on the leadership of Washington State’s senators. We need Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to work with other Northwest leaders and the Obama Administration to initiate a negotiation process involving key stakeholders in the region – farmers, fishermen, business, energy users, conservationists, and others – to come together to craft a comprehensive plan that works for both people and salmon. A number of prominent regional politicians, including Senators Risch (ID) and Merkley (OR), have already endorsed this type of approach.

Last week, more than 60 business and community leaders from eastern Washington jump-started this conversation by sending a letter to Senators Murray and Cantwell urging their support for an inclusive stakeholder process.

It is time to bring key stakeholders together along with the best scientific and economic information. Discussions must include a full and fair consideration of the costs and benefits of lower Snake dam removal as well as the anticipated needs of our state’s clean energy and transportation infrastructures.  A growing number of people in Washington State recognize that resolving the Columbia Basin salmon crisis represents an opportunity to address a larger set of inter-connected challenges facing our state, its economy, and environment.

The Working Snake River for Washington project includes an engaging website and encourages your participation.  www.workingsnakeriver.orgCheck out several features: Take Action -- Add Your Story -- Opportunities -- Voices for a Working Snake River -- Map the Issues

idaho.tide.inner3. The Idaho Tide

Patagonia taps author Steven Hawley to share his thoughts on the Snake River Basin.

Late summer's low flow barely bumped our kayaks down one of the main veins draining the vast wilderness of north-central Idaho, delivering us to the mouth of a place I'll call Bigfoot Creek. The thin skin of water over rock made the prospect of a 10-mile side canyon hike sans socks seem like a better idea than sticking to some lame compulsion to make miles on the water. Besides, it would be worth the blisters if we got to see chinook salmon finning in a clear, deep pool we knew lay up there. Before we'd even tightened the straps on our sandals, we startled three napping wolves from their creekside beds along the Bigfoot. The looks on their faces gave the impression they were as surprised as we were.

Read more of Steven Hawley's Idaho Tide.

mk.pants4. We have a winner!

Mountain Khakis and Save Our Wild Salmon announce the winner of their 2010 photo contest!

Last month, to show their support for the Snake River and its salmon, and celebrate all the beautiful rivers to be found around the world, Save Our Wild Salmon ran a photo contest in conjunction with Mountain Khakis asking people to submit shots of their favorite rivers.

People sure do love their rivers, and with over 70 submissions, we saw photos from the Lower Yellowstone to the Flathead to the Colorado. It was hard to choose, but the winning photo was of the Colorado River, taken at Dead Horse Point.

View the winning photo here.

To check out all of the inspiring photos, head on over to the contest Flickr page:

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