Statement from the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition regarding the October 14 announcement from the Yakama and Lummi Nations about the future of the Columbia River, federal dams, and fish and wildlife in the Pacific Northwest.
October 14, 2019
Indigenous peoples in North America have suffered unimaginable loss and dispossession since the arrival of foreign settlers. Though the construction of federal dams and their reservoirs on the Columbia and Snake rivers have produced significant benefits for people in the Northwest, the development of the Columbia Basin has also inflicted profound harm to Native communities, including the loss of lands and waters, fish and wildlife, and economies and cultures.
As original inhabitants, Sovereign Nations, and co-managers of fish and wildlife resources in the Northwest, the Yakama and Lummi Nations offer unique perspectives, values and expertise regarding the management of the Columbia River Basin. We are committed to hearing and better understanding their vision for the future of the Basin, its communities, and its fish and wildlife resources.
The intensifying effects of climate change today are disrupting ecosystems, economies and cultures worldwide, including here in the Pacific Northwest. This fact increases the urgency for conversation and collaboration. Save Our wild Salmon recognizes the major contributions the lower Columbia River dams make to our regional energy system, and we are committed to working with all governments—Tribal, state, and federal— and people to help ensure healthier, more resilient and sustainable economies, ecologies and cultures into the future.
The Save Our wild Salmon Coalition has not evaluated or discussed removing dams on the lower Columbia River. We are, however, deeply involved in the dialogue upstream concerning the lower Snake River. SOS endorsed restoring the lower Snake River by removing its four federal dams in 1998 after a thorough review and discussion of relevant law, science, and economics among our member organizations. Since then, regional efforts to protect and recover wild Snake River salmon and steelhead have proven costly and inadequate. Restoration of the lower Snake River is urgently needed to avoid extinction of several salmon and steelhead populations and maintain and enhance the many benefits these fish deliver to people and ecosystems in the Northwest and nation.
Honest dialogue and true collaboration lie at the heart of solving the salmon and climate crisis. Effective and lasting solutions must be inclusive, strengthen communities, and ensure resilience and health for people, fish and the waters that we all rely upon.