FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 13, 2023
Public delivers clear mandate to Biden Administration: Restore the lower Snake River and its endangered wild salmon and steelhead populations
SEATTLE (July 13, 2023) – More than 82,000 people across the Northwest and nation recently delivered a clear message and mandate to the Biden Administration, calling for the restoration of a free-flowing lower Snake River, which is critical to recover threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead populations. Strong public support for planning and investments to remove the lower Snake River dams and replace their services was delivered to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in response to a request from the administration for public comment regarding the restoration of Columbia River salmon and other native fish.
Marc Sullivan, Western Washington Coordinator for the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition, said, “While CEQ has yet to officially report the total number of comments received by the July 3 date requested, based on public comments posted and reports from Save Our wild Salmon members and allied conservation, fishing and community organizations, we are certain that support for restoration of a free-flowing lower Snake constituted the overwhelming majority.”
The comments were consistent with a September 2022 finding by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that breaching the lower Snake dams was “essential” and a “centerpiece action” for any comprehensive salmon recovery plan for the Columbia-Snake Basin.
The written comments also echoed public input received in a series of “listening sessions” conducted this spring – on March 31, April 3, and May 25 – addressing the salmon crisis in the Columbia River Basin. In the three sessions, organized by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), 78 percent of speakers expressing a clear opinion called for breaching the four outdated, harmful, costly dams and restoration of the lower Snake River and its imperiled fish populations.
The listening sessions and written comment period occurred as talks continued between the U.S. government and plaintiffs challenging the Trump Administration’s 2020 salmon recovery plan. These input processes offered stakeholders and other members of the public who are not directly involved in the long-running litigation an opportunity to provide feedback to the Federal agencies on Columbia River Basin salmonid restoration. The current pause in litigation seeks to develop a comprehensive regional solution for salmon and communities as an alternative to continued legal action. The current pause in the litigation will expire on August 31.
“The public has spoken and with great clarity. When it comes to these iconic Northwest species, extinction is not an option. Meaningful recovery of abundant, harvestable salmon and steelhead runs is both a necessity and an opportunity for the communities, cultures and economy of our region,” said Joseph Bogaard, executive director of the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition.
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