FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 29, 2020.
Save Our wild Salmon Coalition statement re: Federal Agencies sign Records of Decision to formally adopt 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 deeply disappointed by the Final EIS and the 2020 Biological Opinion that were formally adopted today by federal agencies (Bonneville Power Administration, Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation). These documents reflect only modest tweaks to a long-standing strategy by the federal government that has pushed salmon and steelhead populations – and the irreplaceable benefits they bring to people and ecosystems - toward extinction while increasing costs, uncertainty and risks for Northwest communities. These documents do not support the bold actions our salmon and communities require, including removal of the four lower Snake River dams and replacement of their services. Our region needs urgent action based on science that restores abundant salmon populations, invests in our communities, and sustains a reliable and affordable energy system.
This latest approach by the federal agencies fails to address many legitimate concerns raised by regional sovereigns, stakeholders, NGOs and citizens who participated throughout this four-year process including with formal comment on the Draft EIS this past spring. Neither the FEIS nor the BiOp meets the needs of endangered salmon and steelhead, fairly considers the impacts of salmon population declines on endangered Southern Resident orcas, addresses high water temperatures and other issues caused by a changing climate, and much more.
A federal agency-led process cannot 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 requires urgent, active and creative engagement of stakeholders, sovereigns, policymakers and citizens based here in the Northwest.
Regionally-centered discussions exploring collaborative, creative and comprehensive solutions are now underway, and additional participation by sovereigns, stakeholders and policymakers is urgently needed. Salmon and fishing and orca advocates support these talks and the development of legally valid, scientifically credible and fiscally responsible strategy that finally 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.
Only by working together 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 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 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.”