WSSNWild Salmon & Steelhead News is published by the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition. Read on to learn about the Columbia-Snake River Basin’s endangered wild salmon and steelhead, the many benefits they deliver to people and ecosystems, and the extinction crisis they face today. Find out how SOS is helping lead efforts to restore health, connectivity, and resilience to the rivers and streams salmon depend upon in the Columbia-Snake Basin and how you can get involved to help restore healthy, abundant, and fishable populations and sustain prosperous communities. To get involved, please contact Carrie Herrman.


TABLE OF CONTENTS:

1. Unveiling SOS' new 'Snake River Vision Map'
2. Congressman Simpson spurs urgent discussion about the future of Northwest salmon, energy, and communities
3. Join our Spring 'Wild Salmon Speaker Series': March 18, March 31 and April 15.
4. Dam Removal Success Stories 2021: Second in our 5-part series - 'Restoring the Middle Fork Nooksack River'
5. Listen up! Whale Scout podcast interview with SOS' Joseph Bogaard
6. A huge thanks for river and fish champs: Patagonia


1. Unveiling SOS' new 'Snake River Vision Map'

col.map.watercolor.web.finalJust a few weeks ago SOS' Snake River Vision Project launched an interactive map incorporating historic photos, first-person accounts and maps to open up a critical conversation about the values and benefits the lower Snake River. Damming this historic stretch of river delivered important services to the Northwest (e.g. energy and a transportation corridor), but it came with a high price: huge losses of salmon, steelhead, lamprey and other fish and wildlife species and the communities and cultures that have long relied on them.

This map helps us ask, discuss and answer questions like:

  • What did the lower Snake River look like before lower Snake River dams were built in the 60s and 70s?  
  • What types of lands and cultural resources were lost under the reservoirs?  
  • What types of values, activities and opportunities could be restored along with the river?

Now more than ever we need to be asking these questions as we head into yet another year of declining salmon and steelhead populations and deep community harms as a result. Especially in light of Congressman Simpson's recent proposal (see story below), people are ready to explore the potential for comprehensive solutions - for salmon and orcas, for our communities and our energy system.

We have an opportunity this year to refine and advance this kind of visionary approach in Congress. The Vision Map can be a tool - to provide context and background and to help jumpstart stakeholder discussions on how best to restore and manage the river corridor for local communities and economies if the dams are removed.

Inland Northwest groups who have endorsed the Snake River Vision Project include: Spokane Falls Trout Unlimited, Clearwater Trout Unlimited, Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club, and The Lands Council.  Many individuals have also endorsed the project.   

To learn more about the Snake River Vision Project and the interactive map, visit our webpage and/or reach out to Sam Mace here: sam@wildsalmon.org

Media coverage:

Spokesman-Review: New website imagines the Snake River without dams (March 2)


2. Congressman Simpson spurs urgent discussion about the future of Northwest salmon, energy, and communities

simpson.videoIt’s been a little more than one month since Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID) kicked off a critically important discussion about the future of Northwest salmon, energy, and communities. On February 7, Rep. Simpson unveiled his groundbreaking proposal to comprehensively address a set of linked issues and challenges: recovering salmon in the Snake River and across the Northwest; upholding our nation’s promises to Tribal communities; investing in a cleaner, affordable and reliable energy system; and ensuring vibrant fishing and farming communities.

You can learn more about this proposal from Mr. Simpson by visiting his website - there is a short video and documents that describe his proposal.

If this ambitious initiative moves forward - and we are working very hard to ensure that it does - it has the potential of transforming deeply-rooted dynamics and tackling a set of long-standing problems in the Pacific Northwest. With its proposed investments and policies, the Simpson proposal could help our region pivot away from decades of conflict, cost, pain, and loss and toward a new era of unprecedented collaboration and problem-solving - and salmon recovery. Mr. Simpson introduced what some are calling a 'legislative concept' - it's not yet in the form of a Congressional bill. But conservation and fishing advocates are working to change that! We're all hearing a lot of talk in Washington D.C. about a big infrastructure bill moving in Congress in 2021. This is one possible way to move this type of proposal forward this year.

There is great urgency to act and take advantage of this tremendous opportunity today. The dismal state of salmon and orca populations is a leading reason. All four Snake River fish populations are at serious risk of extinction today. Snake River sockeye has the dubious distinction of being the first salmon population in the United States to be listed under the Endangered Species Act - thirty years ago. This population remains on the brink of extinction today - far, far from recovery.

Fisheries managers’ are predicting another grim year of declining populations for Snake River salmon and steelhead in 2021. Traditionally, one of the first fishing opportunities each year in Idaho is for the fabled spring chinook in the Clearwater River - a main tributary to the lower Snake River. This year, however, this early season fishing opportunity has been canceled before it opened due to terribly low predicted returns. Managers are very worried about minimally meeting the needs of hatchery broodstock - and there will be no "surplus" for anglers.

Since the Simpson proposal hit the streets, there has been a lot of dialogue across the Pacific Northwest, including in Montana and Alaska - two states that would benefit from this kind of package. Lots of people are talking with each other and with others - state and federal public officials; Native American tribes; the energy/utility sector; fishing and farming communities; orca and clean energy advocates and many more.

You can get a sense of some of these conversations by visiting SOS’ Simpson Proposal Resource Page here. You'll see a selection of articles, guest opinions, letters, and quotations from different leaders from across the region and different communities and perspectives.

For the most part, other members of Congress in the Pacific Northwest are, so far, keeping a low profile. They appear to be listening and watching at a time when we need their active, engaged leadership to pick up this proposal, shape it and move it forward in Congress!

So we need your help! While the Simpson proposal is far from perfect (and needs some major tweaks), it is once-in-a-generation game-changing opportunity to protect and recover endangered salmon and orcas, to invest in our communities and energy system - and to make progress on our nation’s promises to Native American Tribes. We need other members of Congress in the Northwest working urgently and actively to improve this proposal and move it forward in Congress this year!

HERE'S HOW YOU CAN HELP:

IF YOU LIVE IN THE NORTHWEST - Write your members of Congress!

IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE OF THE NORTHWEST - Sign this petition to President Biden!

And here are also phone numbers and mailing addresses for Northwest governors and members of congress! They need to hear from you!

FINALLY, SOME RELATED RESOURCES:

Opinion: My Motivation  - by Congressman Mike Simpson


3. Join our Spring 'Wild Salmon Speaker Series': March 18, March 31 and April 15.

Insta post 5Join us for our online speaker series (via zoom) on March 18, March 31, and April 15 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm PST to learn about the challenges, opportunities, and implications of restoring the lower Snake River and its endangered fish by removing four federal dams. We'll explore ways we can solve today's Snake and Columbia river salmon crisis in a manner that also ensures clean, reliable, and affordable energy and prosperous communities and cultures.

March 18: Rep. Simpson's Columbia Basin Fund proposal--perspectives from veteran Northwest journalists. With guest speakers Lynda Mapes, Rocky Barker, and Eric Barker. Link to the Facebook event

March 31: Snake River Vision Project: Imagining a free-flowing lower Snake for the Inland Northwest. With guest speakers Bryan Jones, Harvey Morrison, and Richard Scully. Link to the Facebook event

April 15: Dam removal Success Stories - Rivers restored and the lessons learned. With guest speakers Shawn Cantrell and Serena McClain. Link to the Facebook event

Please RSVP here.

Visit our Spring Speaker Series webpage for more detailed information.

Have questions? Contact carrie@wildsalmon.org


4. Dam Removal Success Stories 2021: Our second in a series - 'Restoring the Middle Fork Nooksack River'

Before AfterThis spring, Save Our Wild Salmon and American Rivers are teaming up for a 5-part series spotlighting dam removal success stories from across the Northwest and the nation. These short, informal ‘case studies’ take a close look at recent dam removal projects and explore some of these projects’ economic, community, ecological, and social justice outcomes.

All of the stories share themes of renewal, opportunity, and benefit. Dam removal projects frequently start with a struggle over values and visions. In a successful case, this is followed by conflict resolution and collaboration. It is also helpful to remind ourselves that, in nearly all cases, persistence is required - and the payoff is high. River restoration projects - 69 dams were removed across the United State just in 2020! - invariably deliver big benefits to communities, economies, and ecosystems - and have transformed many a skeptic to supporter.

Restoring the Middle Fork Nooksack River: This second story in our series focuses on the Middle Fork Nooksack River located near the Canadian border in northwestern Washington State. During the summer of 2020, the Middle Fork Nooksack underwent a dam removal project that restored 16 miles of high quality river and tributary habitat. While this project was quite recent, and the long-term effects are still unfolding, dam removal offers tremendous hope for steeply declining fish and wildlife populations including Puget Sound Chinook salmon, steelhead, and the vulnerable Southern Resident Whale population that is struggling to find and consume enough fish. Chinook salmon are an essential food source for Southern Resident Whales and just 75 individuals remain in this critically endangered population.

Importantly, local water supply needs in the City of Bellingham are being fully met - without the dam. A new water supply intake structure was placed upstream with sophisticated infrastructure to protect migrating salmon.

Read the full story about the Nooksack River by SOS' Isabella Bledsoe here.

Look for our third “success story” next month, spotlighting the Elwha River on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula.


5. Listen up! Whale Scout Podcast Interview With SOS' Joseph Bogaard

Screen Shot 2021 03 16 at 10.29.57 AMListen - and watch - SOS' Joseph Bogaard, share his perspective about the future of the Columbia Basin salmon and the fate of the lower Snake River dams. Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson has proposed an ambitious plan to recover salmon by restoring a free-flowing lower Snake River while also investing in the prosperity of the region's communities. What's in this bold proposal? What could it mean for endangered Southern Resident orcas? And what can you do to help? Joseph answers these questions and more on the latest Whale Scout Podcast recorded on March 7th.

Whale Scout leads the public in land-based whale watching experiences. They also channel people’s interest and passion for whales into on-the-ground salmon habitat restoration projects in the Salish Sea Basin - helping to protect the primary food source - chinook salmon - for struggling, hungry Southern Resident orcas. Learn more about our friends at Whale Scout at their website: https://www.whalescout.org/


6. A huge "thanks!" to all the conservation champions at Patagonia

free.the.snake.patagoniaEvery month, we try to spotlight a business that supports healthy lands and waters - and conservation advocacy. This week, we want to thank our  friends at Patagonia for their long-standing support and passion for restoring the lower Snake River and rebuilding abundant wild salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia Basin and across the West Coast. For many years, Patagonia has been a committed partner working with SOS and other NGOs to restore a freely flowing lower Snake River - hosting public events, donating gear, designing and displaying artwork, educating their customers, pushing on public officials, providing financial support and much more. We can’t thank them enough! Patagonia walks the talk. They put their money where their mouth is. You choose the metaphor. For decades, Patagonia has been promoting and supporting and advocating for conserving our lands, waters, wildlife and communities.

And, of course, they design, make and sell (and stand behind) high quality clothes and gear.

Visit Patagonia's website to learn more about their leadership in conservation advocacy and strong support for grassroots activism!

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