Thank you for your interest, advocacy and support for Save Our wild Salmon's work to rebuild healthy and abundant salmon and steelhead populations through protecting, restoring and reconnecting healthy and resilient rivers and streams in the Columbia-Snake Basin and Pacific Northwest.
This past year at SOS has been non-stop! With Tribes in the lead and in close collaboration with our NGO partners, we’ve made historic progress on behalf of the Northwest's native fish and the irreplaceable benefits they bring to our communities, other fish and wildlife populations, and ecosystems.
With great gratitude for committed partners like you, SOS' policy advocacy, community organizing, and collaborative leadership is helping to steadily move salmon policy and politics. We'll carry this momentum we've built into the new year. 2024 will be critical. We'll need to both defend recent wins and leverage opportunities that we've recently created together.
Read on to learn about some of this year's important ‘salmon country’ milestones, Save Our wild Salmon's top accomplishments in 2023, and our top priorities for the new year. We hope you will support our work with a generous year-end donation and help propel us forward in 2024.
We so appreciate your partnership, and wish you and yours a peaceful and restorative holiday season.
I. Celebrating some 'salmon country' milestones in 2023:
Across the West Coast, Tribes and conservation and fishing advocates this year have secured historic victories to protect and restore native fish populations and their rivers:
- The proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed was formally rejected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in February – protecting a wild and pristine watershed, and one of the most productive salmon fisheries on the planet.
- The Klamath River on the California-Oregon border is now in the process of being restored! Copco 2 Dam was removed in September; three more dams will be removed in 2024. Removing these four dams will restore and reconnect 450 miles of fish habitat in one of the West Coast's most important salmon rivers.
- A decade after the removal of its two 100-year-old dams, the Elwha River on Washington State’s Olympic peninsula welcomed home more than 7,000 adult coho salmon this year – and allowed the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe to hold its first fishery in many years.
We’ve covered important ground in the Columbia-Snake River Basin – and we’re still working hard for more before year-end!
- President Biden issued a first-ever Memorandum establishing as a national priority “restoring healthy and abundant salmon, steelhead and other native fish in the Columbia Basin.” Importantly, this Presidential Memo includes a directive that all relevant federal agencies—including, of course, the Bonneville Power Administration—contribute to a whole-of-government approach to recover salmon.
- The Biden Administration also announced an agreement with upper Columbia River Tribes in September that committed $200M to restore fish passage and reintroduce salmon above Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph dams in north-central Washington State.
- A path forward to restore the lower Snake River and its salmon? After more than two years of wide-ranging settlement discussions, we anticipate hearing soon from Northwest Tribes, states, the federal government, and conservation/fishing plaintiffs about additional, specific, time-bound ‘commitments and actions’ to recover imperiled fish in the Columbia-Snake Basin. From our perspective at SOS, these plans must include an urgent path forward to restore the lower Snake River and replace the dams’ services! **Stay tuned for news and announcements! We'll keep you posted!**
II. Some of SOS' top accomplishments in 2023:
This year, our amazing team (not pictured above - Graeme Lee-Rowlands, Greg Haller, and Maanit Goel) has engaged more organizations and networks than ever before. We’ve deepened our relationships and work with Northwest Tribes and Indigenous-led organizations. We’re steadily building the public support, political leadership and policy wins we urgently need to protect and recover salmon abundance in the Columbia Basin, restore a free-flowing lower Snake River, help address the climate crisis, and invest in healthier, more just and more resilient communities.
A. We're educating and mobilizing people - engaging and holding accountable our policymakers:
SOS plays a critical role as a regional coalition and leader to coordinate strategic, inclusive, and impactful engagement of community leaders, organizations, and the public. We educate, support – and hold accountable – our state and federal policymakers.
- Working with Gov. Inslee, we built historic support in the Washington State legislature this year to secure $7M+ necessary to develop the plans we need in order to urgently replace the modest services provided today by the LSR dams.
- SOS led and supported coalition partners to deliver hundreds of thousands of comments and emails, meet with policymakers in the Northwest and in Washington D.C., participate in listening sessions, and much more. We’ve delivered a coordinated and growing drumbeat of voices advocating for salmon abundance, a restored river, urgent replacement of dams’ services – and upholding our nation’s 150-year-old treaty promises to Northwest Tribes.
- SOS organized numerous NGO sign-on letters that engaged scores of conservation, fishing, clean energy, orca, faith and Indigenous-led organizations, targeting key officials and agencies.
- We led grassroots and ‘grasstops’ mobilizations that delivered hundreds of thousands of pro-salmon, pro-dam-removal written and oral comments to the Washington State legislature, Northwest governors, Congress, and the Biden Administration. In one example, at a series of administration-hosted Listening Sessions last spring, 80 percent of the 125+ attendees overall called for dam removal. In another public comment window, we helped deliver 80K+ citizen letters from the Northwest and nation – overwhelming the few thousand comments sent by defenders of a deeply flawed and costly status quo.
- We organized 2 delegations of energy experts to travel to D.C. in winter/spring to meet with Congressional members and administration officials. They advocated for salmon recovery, LSR dam removal, and the urgent expansion of clean energy resources with a mix of wind and solar, energy efficiency, demand response, storage and more.
- SOS mobilized this summer around a House field hearing in the Tri-Cities (WA) organized by bombastic defenders of the status quo. Our proactive media outreach helped generate favorable press coverage, neutralize false and misleading messaging, and mute the hearings' political impact.
- We published SOS’ 8th annual Hot Water Report in partnership with 16 coalition partners highlighting the deadly hot water temperatures in the lower Snake and Columbia river reservoirs that now occur routinely from late June to early Sept. We delivered these reports weekly to policymakers, press, and the public. They attracted 7K+ views in total, and helped to generate and inform multiple press stories regionally this past summer.
B. We're supporting Tribal priorities and elevating Tribal voices: SOS has deepened our relationships and work with Indigenous leaders and communities in 2023.
- We worked with Children of the Setting Sun (CSSP) to co-host two screenings of Our Sacred Obligation – a powerful film from CSSP's ‘Salmon People’ series. The first screening/Q&A in February was virtual. It drew 500+ people from across the Northwest and nation. The second screening took place in Olympia and drew scores of state legislators, their staff, and officials and staff from Gov. Inslee's administration.
- SOS attended, promoted, and hosted numerous public screenings of the award-winning Nez Perce film – Covenant of the Salmon People. We’ll continue this work in coordination with the Nez Perce Tribe in the new year.
- Our SOS and NWAAE teams were honored to support, promote and participate in Se’Si’Le’s powerful ‘All Our Relations’ Journey across the Northwest in September and early October. It reached thousands of people and used art, ceremony, and spoken word to share Indigenous experiences, perspectives and wisdom - and to advocate for urgently restoring salmon abundance and the Snake River.
- We supported and attended the moving, momentum-building Rise Up Northwest in Unity Convening at the Tulalip Resort in western Washington in November – led by the Nez Perce, attended by 15+ Tribes, and many NGO leaders and advocates.
C. We're working with artists to inspire and advocate for fish, rivers, and communities:
SOS’ Artists Against Extinction (NWAAE) project is teaming up with artists to reach hearts as well as minds, to inspire action and to deepen our relationships with both people and place.
- We collaborated with the University of Puget Sound to organize a powerful exhibit, Honor: People and Salmon. The public exhibit space was used over two months to host talks, classes, readings, and an artists’ reception.
- During Orca Action Month in June, SOS collaborated with Patagonia Seattle to curate an Honor: People, Salmon, and Orca exhibit. This included an evening of storytelling, poetry, and art lead by regional writers and poets. There wasn't a dry eye in the room!
- We've welcomed more than a dozen new artists this year into our Artists Against Extinction circle.
- SOS was invited to be a partner in a new anthology – I SING THE SALMON HOME – edited by former Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest and published by Empty Bowl Press. We've co-hosted multiple readings and events, and delivered signed copies of the anthology to several dozen policymakers and influencers regionally and nationally.
- We’re working with artists to integrate their works – both visual and spoken – into SOS outreach materials, events and advocacy.
D. We're supporting youth advocacy and investing in youth leadership development:
- SOS is engaging youth leaders and young people to plan and participate in events and elevate their voices in important policy conversations.
- We’re supporting educational and organizing projects on high school and college campuses and helping organize student advocacy across the Northwest.
- We’re sponsoring Maanit Goel’s excellent work as a high school organizer. Over the past several years, Maanit has tirelessly led efforts to educate, inspire and engage hundreds of students in many schools in western Washington and beyond. Maanit was featured earlier this year in a Seattle Times article, and he was invited to participate as one of four youth panelists at the R.U.N in Unity Convening in November (see story and link above).
III. Looking ahead - Some top SOS priorities in 2024:
With support and assistance from you and many others, SOS' collaborative leadership and coordinated community organizing, strategic communications, and policy advocacy has accomplished a tremendous amount in 2023. Our coalition is heading into the new year with momentum and opportunity to build upon our recent successes. Below are some of our top program and policy priorities for 2024.
- Advance the planning and funding we need to replace the lower Snake River dams’ services - energy, transportation and irrigation - and ensure that planning and implementation remain on time and on track.
- Increase the power and influence of our coalition, and broaden and deepen public support and political leadership to rebuild abundant salmon and steelhead populations, address the climate crisis, and advocate for healthier and more just communities.
- Deepen our relationships and work with Northwest Tribes’ on shared salmon recovery priorities and policies in the Columbia Basin and across the Pacific Northwest by supporting important Tribal projects and priorities and elevating Tribal voices.
- Bring lasting change to Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), insist that this federal agency meet its important public responsibilities and bring balance to the Columbia Basin to restore endangered wild salmon and their rivers, invest in regional communities, and achieve a cleaner, more diversified and reliable energy grid in the Pacific Northwest.
- Continue to engage Northwest youth, support and empower youth advocates, and develop youth leadership.
- Expand our work with Northwest artists to inspire our supporters and the public and reach and engage new audiences and allies.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND ADVOCACY!
We are grateful and humbled by your partnership. To see some additional highlights from the SOS team in 2023, visit our Year-In-Review photo gallery.
Reach out if you have questions about our priorities and program work in the coming year, how you can support us, or to get more involved.
Joseph and the whole SOS team
P.S. – You can make a year-end gift online or you can mail it to our office here:
Save Our wild Salmon
811 First Ave., Suite 305
Seattle, WA 98104
SOS' IRS 501(c)(3) EIN: 91-1673170