Save Our wild Salmon Coalition statement on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and 2020 Biological Opinion (BiOp) for Columbia-Snake River Basin endangered salmon and federal dam operations
“Salmon and fishing advocates are disappointed by the Final EIS and the 2020 Biological Opinion released today by federal agencies. These documents reflect only modest tweaks to a long-standing approach by the federal government that has pushed salmon and steelhead populations toward extinction while increasing costs, uncertainty and risks for Northwest communities. The people and the salmon of our region urgently need a new science-based approach that restores abundant salmon populations, invests in our communities, and sustains a reliable and affordable energy system.
We look forward to reviewing these documents more closely in the days ahead and hope the agencies took seriously their responsibility to carefully consider and address the many legitimate concerns raised by sovereigns, stakeholders, NGOs and citizens who submitted comment this past spring.
Despite serious shortcomings, we expect that the FEIS will contain some valuable information that can help inform regional discussions now underway and support the development of legally valid, scientifically credible and fiscally responsible strategy that restores imperiled salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia-Snake Basin, supports vibrant fishing and farming communities and sustains a reliable and affordable energy system across the Pacific Northwest.
Salmon and fishing advocates do not see this federal agency-led process as able to deliver the comprehensive solution that endangered salmon and steelhead populations in the Snake and Columbia rivers and people of the Northwest and nation need and deserve. Developing an effective plan that truly meets the needs of people and communities, and salmon and ecosystems will require the urgent, active and creative engagement of Northwest-based stakeholders, sovereigns, policymakers and citizens.
Only by working together here in the Northwest will we be able to develop a plan for Columbia-Snake River Basin salmon and steelhead that meets the needs of our communities, economies and cultures. SOS is committed to working urgently with others to develop shared solutions that:
- Restore self-sustaining, fishable populations of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia Basin;
- Invest in vibrant fishing and farming communities across the Pacific Northwest;
- Ensure healthy tribal communities and cultures and uphold our nation’s responsibilities to Tribal Nations; and
- Support a reliable, affordable and clean regional energy system.
In 1998, the board of the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition prioritized restoring the lower Snake River by removing its four federal dams as a key element for protecting endangered Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead populations from extinction and for rebuilding them to abundant, self-sustaining and harvestable levels. This decision was informed first and foremost by the scientific information available at that time. The body of research that has emerged since then – and our experience in the real world with steeply declining fish populations and the growing list of dam removal success stories across the Northwest and nation – only reinforces and strengthens the scientific and community case for restoring a freely flowing lower Snake River. The intensifying effects of a changing climate and impacts on Northwest fishing communities and cultures and Southern Resident orcas that rely on healthy chinook salmon populations only increases the need for urgent action.
At Save Our wild Salmon, we look forward to working with others in our region to develop a comprehensive solution that meets the needs of endangered salmon and steelhead, fishing and farming communities, and a clean and affordable energy system for the benefit of current and future generations.”
View an SOS factsheet on the Final EIS and 2020 Biological Opinion here.