Our almost-monthly online newsletter reports on the latest developments concerning efforts to protect and restore healthy, abundant wild salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia-Snake River system - the largest salmon landscape in the continental United States. Enjoy...
1. BIG NEWS: Oregon’s Governor Supports New Approach to Restore Salmon.
2. Feds’ So-Called “Progress” Report – Salmon and Steelhead Remain At Risk.
3. The Run-For-Wild-Salmon-in-Coat-and-Tie Marathon Results.
4. Patagonia’s Cleanest Line: Wild Salmon – Good News and Bad. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Big Mo’: Governor Kitzhaber Calls for New Approach to Restore Salmon
Last month, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber announced his support for a new approach to Columbia-Snake River salmon restoration - one that brings people together to resolve this issue and find common ground in a debate that has lasted more than 20 years. In an op-ed published in the Oregonian in late September, the Governor cites litigation success but also a need to do more now for Northwest salmon and jobs.
In his op-ed, Governor Kitzhaber stated that “by gathering the parties around a table, and working in good faith to reach common ground on a fisheries plan that is supported by sound science, we can come to the 2014 deadline with an historic agreement that ends the 20-year chapter of salmon wars in the Columbia basin, an agreement that protects fish while maintaining our supply of clean and affordable energy.”
Soon after the Governor’s announcement, Oregon’s senior Senator Ron Wyden issued a statement in support of regional stakeholder talks as the right next step to craft a comprehensive plan: "Time and time again we've seen that good things happen when folks agree to meet face-to-face and tackle the tough issues facing Oregon. I'm glad to see that Governor Kitzhaber has taken the initiative and announced his support for a roundtable that will bring together tribes, fishermen, farmers, power customers, conservationists and officials from state and local governments to discuss Northwest salmon issues.”
Governor Kitzhaber and Senator Wyden are in good company: salmon stakeholder talks are supported by more than 1,000 American businesses, 52 members of Congress, the Nez Perce Tribe, tens of thousands of Americans, and multiple national newspapers.
2. Federal Agencies' “Progress” Report Maintains Status Quo - Salmon Numbers Struggle.
The agencies that run the federal dams on the Snake and Columbia Rivers just submitted their 2011 Annual Progress report to the U.S. district court in Portland, Oregon, as part of the ongoing litigation over their salmon plan. This self-assessment presents the agencies’ view of how well they are implementing their plan (one that was ruled illegal in court in 2011 and ordered replaced by January 1, 2014).
When one looks past the pretty pictures and context-free statistics, some troubling truths emerge:
Wild salmon and steelhead populations remain in serious trouble. 80% of adult salmon returning to the Columbia and Snake Rivers are hatchery fish. These hatchery fish - while important for helping to sustain salmon-dependent communities and some key wild runs - mask a deeper problem: most wild salmon and steelhead populations remain on the brink.
Feds’ ‘fuzzy math’ clouds the full picture. The agencies are very proud of their 93-96% per-dam survival rates –- which look deceptively good on paper. But these at-the-concrete performance standards obscure the fact that endangered salmon and steelhead are also harmed by the warm, predator-filled slackwater reservoirs behind these dams, and that many will die in the estuary and ocean post-river-migration due to the cumulative impacts from so many dams and reservoirs or stresses from artificial (barge/truck) transportation.
Poor return-on-investment. The agencies are spending millions of dollars on habitat projects as "offsite mitigation" for the lethal effects of the hydropower system. But there is a yawning gap between what the agencies are implementing (or promising to implement) and the actual survival benefits salmon and steelhead populations need. Restoring habitat is certainly important, but both the Plan and Progress Report fail to demonstrate how these habitat projects can or will make up for the massive harm caused by the hydrosystem.
No commitment to additional SPILL. We have yet to see the federal agencies incorporate the latest science from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and state and Tribal fisheries biologists concluding that more water spilled at the dams (rather than sent through the turbines) throughout the spring and summer could dramatically improve survival of key salmon runs. (For more on this: CSS report)
More broken promises. The agencies long ago fell behind on promised projects in 2008 and 2010, and have yet to make up for previous shortfalls. In 2010, for example, the agencies admitted that they had completed only about 25% of the actions they had promised in the Columbia River estuary in the Plan’s first few years. Although they promised to catch up in future years, this deficit goes unmentioned and unaddressed in the latest progress report. The real problem remains: the Plan is illegal and inadequate.
The Bottom Line: The 2008/2010 Plan was rejected by a federal court because it fails to do what is needed to protect and recover imperiled salmon and steelhead. The agencies may continue to check off their to-do's, but without a legal, science-based plan in place - we're treading water or worse. For the wild salmon and steelhead populations throughout the Columbia-Snake Basin that remain in serious trouble – and the communities that rely on them - this can’t be called “progress.”
We support the Oregon Governor's call in late September for a new approach to salmon restoration on the Columbia-Snake. This progress report from the federal agencies reinforces Governor Kitzhaber’s call to find a new path forward.
3. 'Run Wild For Salmon' athletes exceed their goal.
On Oct. 7, three intrepid salmon advocates set off in the Portland Marathon to support the work of Save Our Wild Salmon. During the month of September, these runners raised funds throughCrowdrise – and while they have met their goal of $2,000, there is still time to contribute and become eligible to win a $135 gift certificate from Patagonia Footwear and qualify for some other great thank you prizes.
Take some strides with these runners and help salmon - make a donation today!
Thank-you gifts and Raffle Prizes:
-- All donors will be entered to win a $135 gift certificate from Patagonia Footwear (we have 2 to raffle).
-- The first 25 donors at $60 or more will receive a $30 gift card to Mountain Khakis!
-- Donors of $100+ will receive a set of 6 awesome steel pints from Klean Kanteen with SOS’ 20th anniversary logo.
MEET THE RUNNERS:
Jennifer Trunkey hails from Snoqualmie, Washington, in the Cascade foothills. She has lived all over the Pacific Northwest and now makes her home in Portland. Jennifer says, “I have always felt a strong connection to this bioregion and the amazing natural beauty that we are so lucky to have. I studied salmon ecology in college and am happy to support the good work that SOS does advocating for the preservation of important (crucial) salmon habitat.” Jennifer is an instructor at Portland Community College. She loves to hike and run on trails and has run the Portland Marathon for the last three years.
Jennifer King got her running start in 5th grade in the Junior Olympics for cross-country and has been running on and off since then. This was Jen’s first full marathon since 2002 and her second one ever. “In those ten years I've had 2 lovely kids, and moved from California to Oregon. Back in California I witnessed the salmon spawning on the Russian River where you were lucky to see a few fish spawning on a good day. I like to get out to see some of the healthier runs on rivers near my home in Hood River and take the kids. I know that today's numbers are a far cry from historical numbers and there is so much more to be done.“
Steve Hawley is a journalist and self-proclaimed "river-rat," author of “Recovering a Lost River: Removing Dams, Rewilding Salmon, Revitalizing Communities.” He grew up in Portland Oregon, where in June of 1979 he completed his first road race in a pair of Women's sexy yellow Nike waffle trainers, the only running shoes made back then that would fit a nine-year old. He's been running ever since. The 2012 Portland Marathon was his second – and the first in 8 years. Steve ran it in a suit - seeking to set a world record for the fastest-marathon-in-a-suit, a time that he missed by just a few minutes! Steve lives and runs and writes in Hood River, Oregon.
Please consider a contribution to support these runners and the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition. Your donation will help sustain our work in the courtroom, in Congress, and on the ground in communities throughout the Pacific Northwest and nationwide.
4. Patagonia’s 'The Cleanest Line' Blog: Good News and Bad -- Wild Salmon Find a Northwest Champion, but are Under Attack in Congress.
Patagonia is a longtime, committed supporter of wild salmon and steelhead, healthy rivers, and removing costly, outdated dams.
The Cleanest Line is Patagonia’s blog for employees, friends and customers.