Wild 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 and help restore healthy, abundant, and fishable populations and sustain prosperous communities.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. What a Biden Administration might mean for salmon and orca
2. SOS' 2020 Year-End Review - Please support our work in 2021!
3. 'Steelhead' - A poem by Robert Wrigley
4. Great news for Bristol Bay and its salmon - Pebble Mine permit denied!
5. 2020 Salmon Returns - Snake-Columbia populations remain at risk - urgent action is needed!
6. Media Round-up: All the news you might have missed!
1. WHAT A BIDEN ADMINISTRATION MIGHT MEAN FOR SALMON AND ORCA
Excerpted from Joseph’s Nov. 30 blogpost
Note: Save Our wild Salmon Coalition is a 501c3 organization. We are non-partisan. Restoring wild salmon and their rivers cannot be a partisan matter. Our work is informed by the belief that durable solutions to restore salmon and the benefits they bring to communities requires bipartisan leadership and people with diverse backgrounds working together to develop shared solutions.
Next month, Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the nation’s 46th President and Senator Kamala Harris will be sworn in as the 49th Vice President. At this time, we don’t know what the new administration will mean for endangered wild salmon and steelhead and Southern Resident orcas in the Pacific Northwest. But, based on statements and materials and early developments from the then-candidate and now-President-Elect, there are reasons for cautious optimism and a sense of real opportunity.
I hasten to add, however, that the necessary progress that SOS and many advocates seek – that salmon and orcas urgently need – will only come about as the result of excellent and relentless outreach and organizing by salmon, orca, fishing and clean energy advocates – engaging stakeholders and policymakers alike. Now more than ever, we need to be talking to our friends and family, calling and writing elected officials, encouraging community leaders, supporting Save Our wild Salmon and allied organizations with your time and dollars.
In a democracy, good things rarely happen without people organizing and mobilizing. A Biden Administration represents a new window of opportunity to protect and restore endangered wild Snake River salmon and steelhead and the benefits they bring to the Northwest and the nation. We need to work together with people across the Northwest to seize this opportunity and hold the incoming administration accountable to their promises and commitments.
My cautious optimism today for meaningful progress under a Biden Administration is based on four values or priorities anchored in Mr. Biden’s record of public service and his 2020 campaign platform. These include commitments to (1) embrace science, (2) honor Native American Tribes, (3) confront climate change, and (4) bring diverse people together around shared solutions.
Below are links to two recent articles exploring what the new administration may mean for natural resources, fish and wildlife, and the environment in the Pacific Northwest – including the lower Snake River and its salmon.
Seattle Times: What Biden’s agenda on the environment could mean for the Pacific Northwest (Nov 22)
Idaho Statesman: As Biden promises renewed climate change focus, will his policies help or hurt Idaho? (Nov 22)
2. SAVE OUR WILD SALMON’S '2020 YEAR-END REVIEW' - PLEASE SUPPORT OUR WORK IN THE NEW YEAR!
Save Our wild Salmon recently posted our annual Year-end Review: Where we’ve come in 2020 - and where we’re headed. With your support and your advocacy, SOS has made 2020 a pivotal year for the Snake River and its endangered wild salmon and steelhead populations. Take a look at the Review for a list of our top accomplishments and related political developments from 2020 and to get a glimpse of where we’re headed in the new year.
We also hope that you’ll be able to make a gift to SOS before Dec. 31st to help ensure that we have the resources we need to carry the momentum we’ve created in 2020 into the new year. Thank you for your support and your advocacy for restoring abundant populations of salmon and steelhead across the Pacific Northwest.
3. 'STEELHEAD' - A POEM BY ROBERT WRIGLEY
2020 has been a difficult and heartbreaking year for many. We hope that you and yours are doing well. Together, we have created a great opportunity for progress restoring salmon and their habitats in the Snake River Basin. We hope that you join forces with us in the new year to seize this opportunity. In light of that sentiment, we wanted to take a short break from our usual news to share a poem with you. This poem poignantly highlights what it feels like to connect with something as precious and elusive as a wild steelhead - something that inspires our work daily at Save Our wild Salmon. For our region, for its people, for those who are inspired by the tenacity of these fish.
By Robert Wrigley
in memory of Richard Hugo, 1998
Salt-dazed in fresh water, he eats
nothing but the miles upstream, lame
ladders over dams and the silty back-
waters behind them, slack, brackish, and dull.
Some believe in the hatchery, some
in the river, but each believes in the code
for home. He makes his way shimmering,
all iridescence and muscle, a fog-bound apple
in the uphill world. His convex eye
beholds us, our emissaries of feather and steel,
and he strikes—no reason but the hell
of distance, the cantankerous, tiresome way.
If we are lucky, we love enough
to let him go. Unhooked, lightly held
near the surface of a pool, he’ll sway
and pulse, drift and flex.
And in our numb fingers we’ll feel him
come alive, the coil and re-coil
of heart and hard flesh, the slick shot snaked
toward oblivion, that pure dream of home.
Robert Wrigley is a nationally renowned poet who lives, writes, and fishes in Idaho.
4. GREAT NEWS FOR BRISTOL BAY AND ITS SALMON - PEBBLE MINE PERMIT DENIED!
Salmon, river, and fishing advocates received excellent news in November when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a crucial federal permit for the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. If developed, the Pebble Mine would wreak havoc on over 300 square miles of wetlands and salmon spawning grounds in the heart of a pristine part of Alaska - and home to the world's most productive sockeye salmon fishery, which continues to see record-breaking runs of 60+ million sockeye. A BIG shout-out to our friends over at SalmonState, Natural Resources Defense Council, Trout Unlimited, United Tribes of Bristol Bay and many others who worked tirelessly to protect this amazing watershed. Thanks to their organizing, we saw a public and political groundswell across the nation that helped to keep this destructive proposal from moving forward.
While we are excited about this news, work to protect Bristol Bay is far from complete and the threat of the Pebble Mine still hangs over the Bristol Bay region. In early December, Bristol Bay tribes and residents released a Call to Protect Bristol Bay, outlining for lawmakers a two-step process for ensuring that this national treasure is permanently protected from the Pebble Mine and other large-scale mining operations. You can show your support for their request by signing their Call to Protect Bristol Bay petition.
New York Times: Alaska’s Controversial Pebble Mine Fails to Win Critical Permit, Likely Killing It (Nov 25)
Seattle Times Editorial: Salmon-rich Bristol Bay deserves permanent protection (Dec 1)
Washington Post: Army Corps denies permit for massive gold mine proposed near Bristol Bay in Alaska (Nov 25)
5. 2020 SALMON RETURNS - SNAKE-COLUMBIA POPULATIONS REMAIN AT RISK, URGENT ACTION IS NEEDED!
Adult returns of salmon and steelhead to the Snake River Basin in 2020 continue to bump along the bottom - far from recovery and perilously close to extinction. Total adult returns (hatchery and wild) include 30,129 spring/summer chinook (6,026 wild fish), 55,923 steelhead (18,792 wild), and 151 (125 natural/wild) sockeye. Despite decades of effort and billions of dollars spent, this year's return numbers remain a tiny fraction of historic numbers and far below established recovery goals. All four Snake River populations face extinction today - along with nine other populations across the Columbia Basin.
A new approach for restoring endangered Snake and Columbia River Basin salmon and steelhead populations is urgently needed. At SOS, we'll continue pushing for - and supporting when we can - leadership by Northwest elected officials and the incoming Biden Administration to bring Northwest people together to develop a comprehensive solution that restores salmon abundance, upholds our nation's obligations to Indigenous communities, and invests in Northwest communities and infrastructure.
ACT NOW! Contact elected officials in the Northwest - speak up now for solutions for salmon and communities. Visit SOS' Action webpage to contact Northwest officials - and look for a national alert coming in January calling on leadership from the new Administration!
Jackson Hole News and Guide: Unique Idaho salmon numbers rise, but extinction looms (Nov 25)
Idaho Rivers United: Factsheet - Snake River salmon and steelhead returns - as of 12/3/2020
6. A MEDIA ROUND-UP: ALL THE NEWS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED!
Featured Seattle Times article by Lynda V. Mapes: Salmon People: A tribe’s decades-long fight to take down the Lower Snake River dams and restore a way of life.
On Sunday, Nov. 29, the Seattle Times published a moving, in-depth article by Lynda Mapes titled the Salmon People: A tribe’s decades-long fight to take down the Lower Snake River dams and restore a way of life. With text and photos - the article spotlights the stewardship by the Nez Perce (Nimiipuu) people of their homelands and homewaters since time immemorial - and their long and reciprocal relationship with the Snake River and its wild salmon and steelhead.
“We’ve always been here...And to continue to be who we are as a people we have to have certain things that make us who we are. By taking [lands, waters, plants, animals- especially the salmon] away, you are taking away who we are.” – Shannon Wheeler, Chairman of the Nez Perce tribal executive committee.
The Nimíipuu people are committed to restoring the lower Snake River by removing its four federal dams - and giving up is not an option: “It never has been, not since the treaty of 1855, [where fishing and land rights were guaranteed]. The bargain struck then is the bargain the Nimíipuu insist must stick now...We are a salmon people. The way the salmon go, we go. That is the fight we have.” - Chairman Wheeler
KIRO7-TV: Months after dam removal, Pilchuck River is showing signs of recovery (Dec. 3)
British Broadcasting Corporation: Klamath - the largest dam-removal in US history (Nov 10)
Seattle Times: A dam blocking 348 miles of salmon streams hasn’t generated electricity since 1958. But who will take it down? (Nov 8)
Seattle Times: The Elwha dams are gone and chinook are surging back, but why are so few reaching the upper river? (Oct 18)