Wild Salmon & Steelhead News is published monthly 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 these fish depend upon in the Columbia-Snake Basin and how you can get involved to help restore healthy, abundant, and harvestable populations and sustain more just and prosperous communities. To learn more and/or get involved, contact Martha Campos.
1. ACT NOW: The Biden Administration needs to hear from you on 5/25 about restoring the Snake River and its salmon!
2. Gov. Inslee and Washington legislators take next steps to honor treaty rights and restore Snake River salmon
3. Northwest youth travel to Washington D.C. to advocate for the Snake River and its salmon
4. Washington’s Clallam County PUD endorses Snake River dam removal
5. Modernize the Columbia River Treaty! Advocates turnout for Listening Session in April
6. Patagonia Honors People, Salmon, and Orca!
7. Honoring Alfredo Arreguín, Northwest Artist
8. June is 'Orca Action Month' in Washington State!
9. Snake River and salmon media roundup
Join Save Our wild Salmon Coalition—and other salmon, orca, clean energy, and justice advocates—to demonstrate strong public support for restoring a free-flowing lower Snake River and its endangered salmon and steelhead at the Biden Administration’s virtual listening session on Thursday, May 25, from 10:00am to 1:00pm PT.
Sign up today to attend this virtual session. Register HERE and include
"Stop Salmon Extinction" as your affiliation to show where you stand!
This listening session will be hosted by officials from multiple departments in the Biden Administration and include statements and testimony from a diverse set of interested parties and stakeholders around the long-running National Wildlife Federation v. National Marine Fisheries Service litigation. As the end of the current litigation stay approaches on August 31, this listening session provides a critical opportunity for you and other people not directly involved in the federal lawsuit and confidential settlement talks to influence the U.S. Government’s actions to urgently recover endangered salmon populations, and protect our lands, waters, cultures, and economies that depend upon on salmon, and our unique way of life in the Pacific Northwest.
Join the listening session to help demonstrate strong public support to stop salmon extinction by urgently replacing the services of the four lower Snake River dams and restoring a free-flowing Snake River. Now is the time: the Biden Administration must honor its commitment to develop "a durable long-term strategy to restore salmon and other native fish populations to healthy and abundant levels," and must take concrete steps in that direction this summer!
Stay tuned for more information on opportunities to advocate on behalf of salmon, orcas, and a restored lower Snake River! This is a crucial time for imperiled fish in the Snake and Columbia Rivers, and we need the federal government to urgently develop a comprehensive solution to restore Snake River salmon and invest in Northwest communities and infrastructure on a timeline that works for endangered salmon.
Visit this SOS Blog page for additional background and context on the Biden Administration and the upcoming listening session. Read a summary of lower Snake River advocates demonstrating public support to stop salmon extinction during the March and April listening sessions here.
If you have questions about this Listening Session – speaking, signing up, attending, and spreading the word to your network – please contact Marc Sullivan, Western Washington Coordinator - firstname.lastname@example.org.
On May 16, Gov. Inslee signed the final 2023-25 Washington State Transportation and Operating Budgets. They include over $7 million dollars in funding to plan to transition/replace the energy, transportation, and irrigation services currently provided by the four aging dams on the lower Snake River that are primarily responsible today for driving wild salmon and steelhead toward extinction.
We have an urgent and historic opportunity right now to overcome decades of conflict, litigation, and a failed status quo – and instead work together to honor our treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations, invest in communities and infrastructure, develop new clean energy resources, and ensure salmon abundance for future generations.
The four lower Snake River dams are federally owned and operated, and the final decision to remove the dams must be made by the federal government.
The need to develop specific plans to restore the lower Snake River in collaboration with Pacific Northwest policymakers, the Biden Administration, Tribal Nations, and stakeholders is urgent and evident - as the 2023 Snake River summer steelhead run – in just one example - is forecast to return at their lowest level in history.
We must act now!
Last summer Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee determined in their final Lower Snake River Benefits Replacement Recommendations, the services the four dams provide can be replaced, and Washington State should move forward quickly on “concrete next steps.”
With pressure and support from SOS, allied NGOs, and many thousands of Washington State residents, Gov. Inslee and Washington State legislators followed through on commitments made, and key funding was included in the state's final 2023-25 budget, to begin the necessary planning to transition the services of the lower Snake River dams.
“These plans will enable us to strengthen and diversify our regional economy, and modernize our energy, transportation, and irrigation infrastructure as we work to stop the extinction of Snake River salmon."
– Representative Fitzgibbon, House Majority Leader, 34th legislative district
“The funding provided by the Washington State Legislature is an important step forward to bring people together, to help answer the remaining technical and financial questions, and begin planning to restore the lower Snake River in a manner that invests in Northwest people, cultures, communities and energy and transportation infrastructure.” – Senator Rolfes, Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, 23rd legislative district
Although the decision to remove the dams will be made by the federal government, these planning measures will ensure Washington State is prepared to replace the transportation, energy and irrigation infrastructure and modernize these aging systems.
The lower Snake River dams can be removed in a manner that benefits us all. Thanks to Gov. Inslee and the leaders in the Washington legislature, we are now charting a course toward a more reliable and affordable energy system, and modernized and robust transportation system as we protect and restore salmon abundance for future generations.
Join us in thanking Gov. Inslee and Washington State legislators, for breaking free from the failed, costly, harmful status quo and taking important steps towards honoring treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations and restoring endangered salmon in the lower Snake River! Send Gov. Inslee and Washingtion State Legislators a thank you message here!
- Public News Service: Historic Step Forward for Snake River Dam Replacement in WA Budget (May 18, 2023)
- Lewiston-Review: Gov. Inslee signs dam breaching...Governor OKs two bills that study possibility of breaching four dams (May 17, 2023)
My name is Maanit Goel, and I am a high school student and advocate for lower Snake River dam removal as an essential action to protect its fish from extinction. With the support of Save Our wild Salmon Coalition, I organize and chair the Washington Youth Ocean & River Conservation Alliance (WYORCA), an independent coalition of high school students for lower Snake River dam removal in Washington State. WYORCA has engaged more than 1,700 students over the past 1.5 years when we began.
Last month, thanks to support from the Idaho Conservation League (ICL) and partners such as Patagonia, 17 members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) Youth Leadership Council, Lilly and Scout from ICL’s Youth Salmon Protectors program and I had the opportunity to spend nearly a week in our nation’s capitol to advocate for salmon recovery and Snake River dam removal from a youth perspective.
It was an amazing and exhausting trip. I missed five days of school, but in its place, I learned valuable lessons about Congressional bureaucracy, the day-to-day impacts of the dams - and loss of salmon - on the lives of Tribal people, and the necessity of youth advocacy in this movement.
We had a lot of meetings. We met with Rep. Kim Schrier (WA-8) - my federal representative in Sammamish (WA), Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA-6), the Department of the Interior, the offices of Senator Wyden (OR) and Senator Murray (WA), NOAA officials, and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, to name just a few.
Senator Wyden’s office was informed, engaged, and actively working to ensure salmon recovery across the Columbia Basin. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs appreciated our advocacy and were supportive and encouraging. Senator Murray’s office reiterated the Senator’s commitment to Snake River salmon recovery. Meeting with Rep. Simpson (ID) himself was incredibly encouraging. Rep. Simpson’s enthusiasm and commitment to restoring the lower Snake River and its salmon was deeply moving and his openness to hearing the stories of Northwest youth was inspiring.
The most impactful part of this visit was getting to know the CTUIR Youth Leadership Council, and Scout, Lilly, Abbie Abramovich, and Mitch Cutter from the Idaho Conservation League. Working on this issue as a student can often feel isolating as we’re scattered hundreds of miles away from each other. But being in that same space, on the same team, working together to advocate to top-ranking Congressional officials, has taught me about the variety of perspectives and the importance of honoring the most impacted, Indigenous communities, especially Tribal youth, whose very cultures and identities are at stake.
I extend a huge thank you to Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) Youth Leadership Council, Idaho Council Leadership, and the Youth Salmon Protectors and to all our sponsors and partners for making this trip to D.C. possible!
The Board of Commissioners of Clallam County PUD #1, on April 10, became the first public utility district in the region to come out in favor of restoring a free-flowing lower Snake River. The utility serves citizen-owners on Washington State’s North Olympic Peninsula. The commissioners unanimously approved a resolution that minced no words. The resolution makes these key points:
- The scientific case for breach the lower Snake River dams is "conclusive"
- "...the Board supports breaching the lower Snake River dams"
- "...the Board supports a comprehensive solution that restores a free-flowing lower Snake River, replaces the services the lower Snake dams now provide, and works to bring communities across the region forward together"
The PUD joins the City of Port Angeles, with its own municipal electric utility, in supporting breaching the lower snake dams and replacing their services. Last summer, the Port Angeles city council unanimously approved a letter to Sen. Patty Murray and Gov. Jay Inslee. That letter told Murray and Inslee that:
- "There is broad agreement among salmon scientists that restoring a free-flowing lower Snake River is one essential component of a larger regional recovery strategy"
- "Replacement of the services these four dams now provide is feasible and affordable"
- "The status quo is unsustainable. It has proven costly, illegal, and inadequate, and it has perpetuated an atmosphere of uncertainty for all involved"
Marc Sullivan, Western Washington Coordinator for Save Our wild Salmon Coalition, applauded the stand taken by Clallam PUD and the City of Port Angeles, stating, “The combination of realism and vision shown by these utilities is heartening and helpful. Other public utilities across the region should take notice and follow their example.”
On April 19, the U.S. Government held a Listening Session on the Columbia River Treaty (not to be confused with the Snake River Listening Sessions also occurring this spring!) - the first U.S.-hosted public event about the Treaty in over three years. This comes as the U.S. and Canada appear to be closing in on an agreement-in-principle for the future of the treaty following five years of active negotiations. (An agreement-in-principle is a high-level, non-final framework that will presumably guide subsequent negotiations. It is a critical interim step toward a final, modernized Treaty.)
At this Listening Session, SOS and many allied organizations and individuals seized the opportunity to speak up for a truly modernized treaty that will prioritize ecosystems, respond to climate change, improve international collaboration, honor the rights and expertise of Tribal Nations, and involve the public meaningfully over time.
You can follow the link below to a column that recently appeared in Columbia Insight from SOS Executive Director Joseph Bogaard reflecting on the listening session and what needs to happen next.
Following on the Listening Session, the two countries met in Kelowna, British Columbia for two days during the week of May 15 for the 17th round of formal negotiations. An 18th round is scheduled for August if needed. The U.S. has recently committed to hosting a second Columbia River Treaty Listening Session in the near future. We’ll keep you posted on these details when we know them.
Stay tuned for more information! We’re at a pivotal moment today in the negotiation process. It’s crucial that we work together to show federal decision makers what the Northwest wants and needs in a truly modernized Columbia River Treaty.
You can learn more about the work of SOS and our partner organizations on the treaty at www.columbiarivertreaty.org
Columbia Insight Guest Opinion: Without a modernized Columbia River Treaty we’ll fail to meet 21st-century challenges (By Joseph Bogaard, May 11, 2023)
Josh Udesen, Return, acrylic on birch panel, 30” x 60”
In honor of Orca Action Month in June and the complex ecosystems on which our salmon-eating Southern Resident orcas depend, Patagonia Seattle has partnered with Northwest Artists Against Extinction (NWAAE) and Save Our wild Salmon Coalition to bring a number of artworks from the recent Honor: People and Salmon exhibit at the Kittredge Gallery, University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, WA) to the walls of the Patagonia, Seattle, retail store.
“It is uncommon that works like these would be on display outside of a gallery or museum,” said Britt Freda, Creative Director for Northwest Artists Against Extinction. “I love the democratization of art in unexpected public spaces, where unassuming people happen upon the work without having to decide whether they’re compelled to spend the time to walk through a museum exhibit or to work out whether they feel comfortable perusing works in a stark gallery. At the Seattle Patagonia store you might look up from the soft, spring colors of water repellent, breathable layers and land your eyes on a thick school of artist Josh Udesen’s spawning sockeyes.”
When you enter the store in May and June the glass doors at the entrance are flanked, on one side, by large-scale compositions of drying salmon by photographer and author Amy Gulick. On the other side you discover back-to-back, 4’ x 4’ works of Monument Dam by Rachel Teannalach. “The masterful and seductive quality of the painted surface of these two canvases juxtaposes the hard, man-made, intrusive lines of a dam called Lower Monumental!” Freda explains. “I love the alluring, nearly palpable, misty, tumbling, painted water and I am pained by the challenges of the large, taking-up-all-the-space subject of the dam. There’s the obvious man vs. nature element to these works and Rachel successfully evokes a strong love hate emotion in them.”
Rachel Teannalach, Monumental I, 2022, oil on canvas, 48” x 48”
Four pairs of extinct Columbia Basin salmon from Eileen Klatt’s ever powerful and beautifully wrenching Litany of Salmon series cover the largest wall in the store. “As Denis [Tuzinovic] (read his story of advocacy and his journey as a child refugee) and I installed the works, Patagonia staff members lingered as they digested my retelling of Eileen’s story of becoming a "Salmon Pilgrim" in 1998–which was long before many of these young staffers were born,” Freda exclaims. “Eileen reminds us, extinction is not something far off in our future. It is here. It is happening. It already happened.”
Eileen spent over a decade on a painting pilgrimage to each of the sixty-one rivers in the Columbia Basin where distinct salmon populations have been lost. She documented, traced outlines on rolls of freezer paper, and then she painted sixty-one male/female pairs of life-sized salmon. She dedicated her paintings to all the extinct salmon in the basin.
“Every time we have had the opportunity to show these ‘Litany’ paintings they stop people in their tracks.” Freda explains. “It is such a moving story of one woman’s creative vision, commitment, research and a soulful pilgrimage–which I know changed Eileen’s life. But I am also fairly certain that Klatt’s extinct salmon paintings continue to change the lives and perspectives of the people who are fortunate enough to experience these compelling art works in person and to learn of her story.”
Eileen Klatt, Litany of Salmon…, ca. 1998, watercolor on paper
June is Orca Action Month in Washington State (more information about this month here). In celebration of these emblematic yet endangered Northwest whales, we must also consider the challenges and the heartbreak. Whether in the oft memorialized stories of loss and hope within families of Southern Resident Orcas in Lisa Allison Blohm’s painting New Life Brings Hope, or Rachel Teannalach’s 'Monumental' dam, or Eileen Klatt's 'Litany' pilgrimage, these artists illuminate significant intersections wherein sorrow and grief fuel creativity and advocacy, where loss and fear are transformed into action and possibility.
If you are in the area, we hope you’ll swing by the Seattle Patagonia store during May and June and discover these and other inspiring works by Northwest Artists Against Extinction.
Save the date - June 22, 2023! Save Our wild Salmon Coalition, NWAAE and Empty Bowl Press will be hosting an evening of storytelling, poetry and art at Patagonia, Seattle from 7:00-9:00pm. Stay tuned for more info about the event.
Lisa Allison Blohm, Sue Coccia, Rosemary Connelli, Sarah Crumb, Kate Crump, Alyssa Eckert, Amy Gulick, Karen Hackenberg, Linda Hanlon, Eileen Klatt, Steve Nagode, Pinebones, Rachel Teannalach, and Josh Udesen
Please contact the artist directly for additional information about availability and pricing for their work. 100% of the proceeds go to the artists who create to inspire a healthier future for all.
Alfredo Arreguín: Against The Current
It is with great sadness that we share the news of the recent passing of renowned artist and Northwest Artist Against Extinction, Alfredo Arreguín.
Alfredo Arreguín was generous with his passionate advocacy for the natural world. He readily offered the use of his salmon and orca paintings to NWAAE and Save Our wild Salmon to evoke support for restoring salmon and orcas, their lands and waters, and the many communities that rely on and cherish these emblematic species.
The April 29 obituary (see link below) published in the Seattle Times reflected our experience interacting and working with him recently. In our communications with Mr. Arreguin via email and phone over the past year, he was accessible, generous, down-to-earth, kind, funny, and charming. Mr. Arreguín was one of our first 'Northwest Artists Against Extinction' and we were honored and exuberant about his interest and participation. He shared digital copies of his powerful and magical landscapes and waterscapes featuring salmon and orcas and rivers and mountains and moon. Over the past year, we featured his artwork on billboards in Portland (OR), on t-shirts calling to restore the Snake River and its salmon, and we included his artwork in a collection of notecards we've shared with supporters. More than a few times, people told us they were reluctant to send these postcards, given their inspiring beauty.
The only request from Mr. Arreguín that we can recall - that we send him a box of t-shirts that we printed featuring his art, so he could share them with family members and friends. He sent us a list of sizes and numbers of shirts, as he had specific people - including his children and grandchildren - in mind.
At one point in a brief conversation over the phone last summer, Joseph asked Mr. Arreguín if he was still painting. "Ohhh," he replied with a warm chuckle, "yes, every minute that I can. And I plan to continue painting in my grave, when that time comes, as well."
The Pacific Northwest has been immensely blessed by Mr. Arreguín's decision to call our home his home as well. We encourage you to read the excellent obituary below - to learn more about Mr. Arreguín's inspiring life story and his legacy, with wonderful reflections from his family members and friends.
Seattle Times Obituary: Influential Northwest artist Alfredo Arreguín dies at 88
Highly social, intelligent Southern Resident orcas have roamed the coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest for hundreds of thousands of years – relying primarily on an abundance of large, fatty Chinook salmon for their diet. However, these orcas face extinction today due largely to the steep declines of Chinook salmon populations across the Pacific Northwest. Only 73 individual orcas survive today.
Restoring a freely-flowing lower Snake River is an essential - and urgently-needed - piece of the larger regional salmon recovery strategy in order to uphold our nation’s promises to Tribes, help endangered Southern Resident orcas, create new jobs and economic opportunity, and support prosperous, resilient communities.
This year’s Orca Action Month theme is Lasting Legacies. Through this theme, we'll celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act and honor notable Southern Resident orcas who have left a lasting legacy.
- Seattle, WA | June 4th, 1 - 4pm, El Centro de la Raza
- Free community event to celebrate Orca Action Month with music, speakers, poetry, orca storytelling, educational booths, face painting, chalk drawing, orca coloring and more!
- RSVP Here
- San Juan Island Orca Parade | June 4th, 1pm - 5pm, Friday Harbor, WA
- Whidbey Island | June 4th, 3pm - 5pm, Langley Whale Center, Langley, WA
- Celebrate Orca Action Month at Langley Whale Center! Join us for a free hybrid in-person/virtual event featuring Jay Julius of the Lummi Nation and Florian Graner of Sealife Productions.
- RSVP for the virtual link here, no RSVP needed for in-person attendance
Find additional orca events throughout the month of June on the Orca Action Month website!
Here are some recent stories about the urgency and opportunity today for the Snake River and Northwest salmon recovery:
- Public News Service: Historic Step Forward for Snake River Dam Replacement in WA Budget (May 18, 2023)
- Lewiston-Review: Gov. Inslee signs dam breaching, fire bills. Governor OKs two bills that study possibility of breaching four dams (May 17, 2023)
- Spokesman-Review: This year’s return could be one of the smallest on record, and it appears there are a number of factors at play (April 23, 2023)
- Watch Salmon Orca Project’s 'Tribal Voices Matter' speaker series, featuring Nez Perce Chairman Shannon Wheeler, Nez Perce Fisheries Biologist Jay Hesse, Harvest Director Joe Oatman, and Nancy Hirsh, executive director of NW Energy Coalition.
- High Country News: Dispatch from the scaffolds: Native fishing culture on the Columbia River (May 8, 2023) Hear from Lew George, an Indigenous fisherman and photographer, describing how to honor and protect the Columbia River and its salmon, the meaning of life told through stories and photographs, and his faithful dog Sturg.