September 7, 2018
Statement from Joseph Bogaard, executive director of the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition re: 'Free the Snake!' Flotilla and RiverFest events this weekend
On Saturday, Sept 8, two distinct events are being organized in eastern Washington communities: the 4th Annual ‘Free the Snake!’ Flotilla will gather in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley at Chief Timothy State Park and the RiverFest Celebration at Columbia Park in Kennewick, WA.
More information on both event, including sponsors can be found at these links:
Working closely with Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment and other partners, Save Our wild Salmon helped co-organize the first Free the Snake! Flotilla in 2015. It is now an annual event; its attendance and numbers of sponsors have grown each year. Its attendees are deeply concerned about wild salmon and steelhead populations spiraling toward extinction and the loss of the irreplaceable benefits they deliver to our region’s communities and ecosystems. Tribal and non-tribal attendees will gather together on traditional Nez Perce lands to express our collective support for removing four high-cost, low value federal dams in order to restore the lower Snake River and its imperiled native fish populations.
According to its website, RiverFest 2018 will showcase “the benefits of the rivers and the hydrosystem. Businesses, community organizations and people of all walks of life throughout the region have joined together to host RiverFest 2018...to help raise awareness about the overall hydrosystem, specifically the Snake River dams that are vital to our economy.”
Though the Flotilla and RiverFest will attract distinct communities with different concerns, these two events and the people attending them are inextricably bound to each other. Rather than talking past each other in media this weekend, the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition would like to extend an invitation to meet with the leadership of the Pasco Chamber of Commerce and others in the Tri-Cities region interested opening a dialogue about the linked challenges our communities face and begin to explore ways to address them together.
The Save Our wild Salmon Coalition and its partners and allies are committed to protecting and restoring abundant, self-sustaining, harvestable populations of salmon and steelhead to the Columbia and Snake River Basin for the benefit of people and ecosystems. In 1998, we began a campaign to remove the lower Snake River dams as best and likely only way to protect its endangered native fish from extinction. We also now know how interconnected our ecosystems are as the salmon from Snake and Columbia Rivers provide essential prey for critically endangered Puget Sound orcas.
Since the early 1990s, American taxpayers and Northwest energy consumers have spent as much as $16 billion on salmon recovery efforts in the Columbia-Snake River Basin. Five consecutive plans during this period have been found inadequate and illegal by three different judges, most recently in 2016. Despite this time and expense, not one of the Columbia Basin’s thirteen imperiled salmon and steelhead populations have recovered. In fact, virtually all populations show steady declines in recent years.
Salmon losses in the Columbia and Snake Rivers have come at great cost – to many tribal communities and cultures, and to scores of non-tribal fishing communities and economies along the coast and inland to Idaho. The crisis facing Southern Resident orca today is symptomatic of the intensifying salmon problems we face not only in the Columbia Basin, but across the Northwest region.
Based on this record, the status quo approach to salmon recovery in the Columbia Basin isn’t working for anyone. It has brought high costs and persistent uncertainty to the communities and ecosystems of the Columbia Basin and the Pacific Northwest. Unless we come together and embrace a new approach, these high costs and uncertainties will only grow.
We understand that change can be difficult. Change is ongoing, however, as we wrestle with new needs and opportunities and it can bring benefits if we build solutions that work for all. We look forward to the opportunity to meet with the Pasco Chamber of Commerce and others in the Tri-Cities to better understand your interests and concerns – and to begin a discussion to explore shared solutions that comply with federal laws and treaties, protect and restore endangered salmon and the benefits they deliver, and invest in our communities and expand economic opportunities in the Basin and our region.