March 7, 2021
To the Honorable: Sen. Maria Cantwell; Sen. Michael Crapo; Sen. Jeffrey Merkley; Sen. Patty Murray; Sen. James Risch; Sen. Ron Wyden; Congressman Cliff Bentz; Congressman Earl Blumenauer; Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici; Congressman Peter DeFazio; Congresswoman Suzan DelBene; Congressman Russ Fulcher; Congresswoman Jaime Herrera-Beutler; Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal; Congressman Derek Kilmer; Congressman Rick Larsen; Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers; Congressman Dan Newhouse; Congressman Kurt Schrader; Congresswoman Kim Schrier; Congressman Adam Smith; Congressman Michael Simpson; Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland
Dear senators and members of Congress from the Pacific Northwest:
The undersigned businesses and organizations represent members of the outdoor recreation industry who care about a thriving economy and the world-class outdoor opportunities in the Pacific Northwest. Collectively, we represent thousands of employees and customers who are deeply invested in the recovery of wild Pacific salmon and healthy, free-flowing rivers for both fish and humans to enjoy.
We write to ask for your leadership to restore the lower Snake River and invest in the communities who rely on the river and its salmon. Our interest in salmon recovery and river restoration stems from our knowledge of the value of outdoor recreation in the Northwest. Recreation enhances lives and forms the economic and cultural foundation of many small towns in the Columbia and Snake river basins.
We see multiple opportunities to expand recreation and tourism in this region by restoring the lower Snake River, including rafting, fishing, bird watching and hunting. Restoring the lower Snake River will also enhance the future of rural recreation economy along the Clearwater, Grande Ronde, Salmon and Snake rivers. Prior to dam construction on the lower Snake, rafters navigated boats through wild rapids, beachgoers gathered on sandy swimming bars outside of Lewiston, birds and wildlife found refuge in the forested canyons, and fishermen landed some of the largest wild salmon left in the U.S.
We know people are willing to travel long distances and wait years for permits to enjoy high-quality wild rivers and scenic canyons. Outdoor recreation is a strong means of transferring wealth from urban to rural communities, with every trip imparting $119 per person per day on average. As more people come to the Northwest to fish and float its rivers, the economy continues to grow: outdoor recreation is an $11.5 billion industry in Washington state and a $6.5 billion industry in Oregon.
The growing trend of fishing season closures in order to protect steadily declining salmon and steelhead populations threatens our industry and livelihoods, including those of our vendors and affiliates who count on seasonal fish returns.
Restoring rivers and recovering native fish populations, in contrast, promises both new economic opportunities and improved quality of life. Unfortunately, the federal agencies’ most recent Environmental Impact Statement of the Columbia River System Operations failed to provide the comprehensive solutions needed. If we hope to restore the region’s historic fish runs and expand outdoor recreation opportunities, the four lower Snake River dams must be breached.
Fortunately, governors and members of Congress across the Pacific Northwest, including Congressman Mike Simpson, have recently committed to advancing salmon recovery in the Columbia Basin by bringing people together and collaboratively developing solutions that restore the Snake River. We believe it is possible to craft solutions that work for salmon and communities while meeting the region’s energy needs.
As outdoor recreation businesses, we rely on the United States’ most special natural places. As part of that, we know the importance of emphasizing shared values and engaging in challenging conversations with different stakeholders. We feel it is critical – for our businesses, our customers and the enjoyment of future generations – that Northwest rivers, salmon and local communities continue to thrive.
We ask that you support continued dialogue about restoring the lower Snake River among federal agencies, tribal governments, state governments and stakeholders. Your engagement and leadership have been essential to advance collaborative conservation efforts in the past. We ask for you to lead again to create a future on the lower Snake River that works for everyone.
Thank you for your service, and please reach out if you have questions or there are ways that we can help. In gratitude,
Suzy Le Bel, Ascent Outdoors; Tracy Nguyen-Chung, Brown Folks Fishing; Sam Valone, Crazy Mountain Outdoor Co.; Laura M. Ward, Earth Elements Guided Hiking; Cameron Davenport, Eleven Angling; Dave McCoy, Emerald Water Anglers; Bryce Phillips, evo; Tag Kleiner, Far Bank Enterprises; Doug Thielen, Filson; Ben Kurtz, Fishpond, Inc.; Kate & Justin Crump, Frigate Adventure Travel; Blake Merwin, Gig Harbor Fly Shop, Inc.; Barry Barr, Kavu; George Revel, Lost Coast Outfitters; Devon Richardson, MiiR; Deek Heykamp & Bryan Knudsen, Next Adventure; Clavey Wendt & Curt Chang, OARS; J. Michelle Swope, Oly Women on the Fly Guide Service; Eric Weiseth, Orange Torpedo, Salmon River Challenge, the Paddle Pub; James Moore, Orion Expeditions; Simon Perkins, Orvis; Hans Cole, Patagonia; Rod Bien, Patagonia Bend; Steve Kurian, Pride of Bristol Bay; Cole Leishman, Rain City Outfitters; Erica Nelson & Sydney Clark, REAL Consulting; Corinne Doctor, RepYourWater; Jim Crystal, Revelry Group; David Steele & Jandy Cox, Rocky Mountain Outfitters; Derek Young, Sawyer Paddles and Oars; Terry Ring, Silver Creek Outfitters; Brian Koenig & Paul Naugle, Steelhead Awareness Movement; Brett Wedeking, Tailout Anglers LLC; Todd Frank, The Trail Head & Trail Head River Sports; Ashley Siple, Washington Climbers Coalition; Ed Fuhrken & Alex Bradberry, Waters West Fly Fishing Outfitters; Tim Volk, Waterworks-Lamson; Taylor Robertson, Werner Paddles; Josh Mills, Wild Steelhead Coalition; Lance Reif, Wild Water