In February, 2021 Congressman Simpson (R-ID) kicked off a groundbreaking - and long overdue - discussion in the Pacific Northwest when he proposed an expansive legislative framework to restore endangered salmon populations in the Northwest and invest significantly in its communities and infrastructure. His visionary initiative combines lower Snake River dam removal with region-wide investments in clean energy, transportation infrastructure, waterfront, fishing and farming communities, and more.
Since announcing his proposal, Rep. Simpson's conversation has been joined by other important regional policymakers - Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee and Senator Patty Murray - who recognize these pressing and linked issues and have committed to working with others to craft a comprehensive solution to recover salmon and orcas and invest in communities. Notably, Reps. Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers continue to defend a costly status quo that no longer works or makes sense.
Many others - including Northwest Native American Tribes and stakeholders including utilities, shippers, growers and others - are also participating in this critical conversation.
Save Our wild Salmon has set up this 'Urgency and Opportunity' Resource Page to help people understand this discussion that Rep. Simpson opened and many others have joined. We will update it regularly, so check back to learn about who's weighing in and how.
You can also read SOS' blog reflecting on the May 14 joint statement from Gov. Inslee and Senator Murray here.
With these recent developments, our elected leaders need to hear from you now more than ever. Go to our Take Action Page to find out how you can make your voice heard!
I. 'Urgency and Opportunity': Rep. Simpson's proposal:
II. 'Urgency and Opportunity': Select Media Coverage:
Northwest tribes unite behind breaching concept (Lewiston Tribune, May 27)
Northwest tribes unite over GOP congressman’s pitch to breach down Lower Snake River dams (Seattle Times, May 27)
Tribe’s fish study is ‘a call to alarm’ (Lewiston Tribune, April 30)
Oregon Congressman joins Idaho’s Mike Simpson in promoting dam removal (Idaho Statesman, April 30)
Columbia Basin tribes back Simpson plan (Lewiston Morning Tribune, April 16)
Idaho Republican, Oregon Democrat could be the key figures in dam-breaching debate (Idaho Statesman, March 29)
Letter from tribal leaders: Breach the lower Snake River dams (Lewiston Tribune, March 26)
A Republican wants to breach dams. Where are Democrats? (E&E News, March 26)
Editorial - In Our View: Snake River dams plan warrants consideration (The Columbian, March 21)
Scientists say removing Snake River dams ‘is necessary’ to restore salmon population (Lewiston Morning Tribune, Feb 23)
Snake River dams proposal draws accolades, criticism (Peninsula Daily News, Feb 21)
‘Devastating impacts’: Idaho Gov. Little opposes Simpson’s plan to breach Snake River dams (Idaho Statesman, Feb 18)
Idaho Rep. Simpson Explains His $34B Plan To Restore The Salmon (Boise State Public Radio, 22 minutes, Feb. 18)
Congressman hopes politics align on divisive Northwest dams (Star Tribune, Feb 15)
Idaho U.S. rep calls for breaching Lower Snake River dams (La Grande Observer, Feb. 8)
Republican wants to breach dams, reshape Pacific Northwest (Energy & Environment News, Feb. 8)
Rep. Simpson proposal calls for breaching four lower Snake River dams (Lewiston Morning Tribune, Feb. 6)
This GOP congressman wants to remove 4 dams to save Idaho’s salmon. It’ll cost billions. (Tri-City Herald, Feb. 6)
III. 'Urgency and Opportunity': Select Editorials and Guest Opinions:
Spokesman-Review: Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee must keep their promise to save wild salmon (Collin O’Mara and Alyssa Macy, June 6)
Oregon Business: The Salmon and the Snake (Nick Cunningham, May 25)
The Hill: Rivers, hydropower and climate resilience (Tom Kiernan, May 25)
Act now to save salmon, regardless of dams’ fate (The Everett Herald, May 23)
Commentary: Simpson dam proposal smart, strategic (Capital Press, April 26)
Portland Business Journal: Viewpoint: A way to end litigation around salmon and dams (March 19)
Opinion: My Motivation by Mike Simpson (March 14)
Lewiston Tribune Guest Opinion: Troy and Schoesler rushed to judgment on Simpson’s fish plan (Don Chapman Feb. 27)
Magic Valley Op-ed: Hartgen wants to gamble for Idaho’s future – I want certainty (Rep. Mike Simpson, Feb. 26)
Spokesman Review Guest Opinion: The Last Salmon (W. Ron Allen and McCoy Oatman, Feb. 21)
Andy Kerr Blog: The Simpson Salmon Strategy (Feb. 19)
Statesman Journal Guest Opinion: A plan for salmon, jobs and a strong economy (Feb 19)
Union-Bulletin Guest Opinion: Rep. Simpson's bold vision to restore salmon runs (Nathaniel Mahlberg, Feb. 14)
Spokesman Review Guest Opinion: From an unforeseen corner comes a push to return dam-breaching to the discussion (Shawn Vestal, Feb. 14)
Lewiston Morning Tribune Opinion - Cheers and Jeers: ‘Daring greatly’ (Feb. 12)
Lewiston Morning Tribune Guest Opinion: Simpson’s run of the river (Marc C. Johnson, Feb. 12)
Oregonian Guest Opinion: Despite unknowns, dam-breaching proposal is opening honest conversations (Kurt Miller, Feb. 10)
Idaho Statesman Editorial: At long last, a workable plan to remove Lower Snake River dams and save Idaho’s salmon (Feb. 7)
'Urgency and Opportunity': Select statements by sovereigns, elected officials, stakeholders, and others:
Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Resolution #2021 – 00 Calling on the President of the United States and the 177th Congress to seize the once-in-a-lifetime congressional opportunity to invest in salmon and river restoration in the Pacific Northwest, charting a stronger, better future for the Northwest, and bringing long-ignore tribal justice to our peoples and homelands (May 2021)
Letter to Northwest Congressional Delegation re: the critical importance and urgent need to pass comprehensive Congressional legislation similar to Congressman Simpson’s proposal. Signed by former Columbia Basin Partnership participants. (March 25, 2021)
Scientists’ letter on the need for lower Snake River dam removal to protect salmon and steelhead from extinction and restore abundant, fishable populations to Northwest Governors, member of Congress, and Policymakers (Feb 22)
Joint statement from U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell (WA), and Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (OR). (Feb 8; see below)
“Working together as a delegation and with the governors, stakeholders and conservationists, we can create a Northwest solution that ends the salmon wars and puts the Northwest and our energy systems on a certain, secure and viable path for decades and restores Idaho’s salmon.” - U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho)
“I am certain if we do not take this course of action, we are condemning Idaho salmon to extinction.” - U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho)
“If we give the farmers, bargers, ports, the BPA and communities the necessary resources, each sector can develop a certainty and security putting the Northwest and Idaho salmon on a path to sustained viability,” - U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID)
“I have great respect for Representative Simpson, his staff and all those who helped him develop his proposal.” - U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)
"The conceptual framework released by Rep. Simpson offers a lot of substance for our regional stakeholders to consider as the four governors process gets underway, and I hope this framework will help initiate a productive dialogue on how to achieve our shared goals. As these conversations continue, it is imperative that any future federal actions are based on both sound science and on consensus recommendations for impacted stakeholders." - U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA)
"The Columbia-Snake River Basin is home to an incredibly complex web of communities, cultures, ecosystems, and infrastructure – and increasingly, salmon and steelhead populations are in crisis. The status quo is not working; more progress is needed to recover these important species. I applaud Mr. Simpson for his efforts to craft a comprehensive solution that addresses multiple – often competing – needs, to bring communities together, and move us all forward. I'm intrigued by his proposal, which I think deserves thoughtful consideration from all sides. I look forward to working with communities across the region to help craft solutions that help recover these iconic fish on the brink of extinction." - U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
“All communities in the Columbia River Basin and beyond should be heard in efforts to recover the Northwest’s iconic salmon runs while ensuring economic vitality of the region. Any process needs to balance the needs of communities in the Columbia River Basin, be transparent, be driven by stakeholders and follow the science.” - Joint Statement from U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Ron Wyden (D-OR)
“Iʼd like to thank Rep. Simpson for working with a broad coalition of interested parties across the Northwest to craft this proposal, which will help us to build on the economic opportunities of the Columbia Basin and invest in a clean energy future,” - Oregon Governor Kate Brown
“Washington welcomes Rep. Simpson’s willingness to think boldly about how to recover Columbia and Snake River salmon in a way that works for the entire region and invests – at a potentially transformative level – in clean energy, transportation and agriculture.” - Washington State Governor Jay Inslee
“We will support Congressman Simpson’s initiative and we respect the courage and vision he is showing the region. This is an opportunity for multiple regional interests to align with a better future for the Northwest: river restoration and salmon recovery; local and regional economic investment and infrastructure improvement; and long-term legal resolution and certainty.” - Chairman Shannon Wheeler, Nez Perce Tribe
“There is potential for a lot of healing with this legislation.” – Chairman Shannon Wheeler, Nez Perce Tribe
"Restoring the lower Snake River will allow salmon, steelhead, and lamprey to flourish in the rivers and streams of the Snake Basin. This has long been a priority because these are the CTUIR's ancestral traditional use areas, such as the Grande Ronde, Imnaha, Lostine, Minam, Tucannon and Wallowa Rivers and their tributaries." - Chairwoman Kat Brigham, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
"I urge our Senators and Congressional Representatives to join Congressman Simspon in advocating for legislation to breach the lower Snake River dams, and taking bold action to restore our salmon." - Chairman Delano Saluskin, Yakama Nation
"Addressing the impacts to the Columbia River Region in a holistic way will require the Region and its political leaders to display the same courage, Congressman Simpson has displayed in releasing this proposed framework. Many details will need to be worked through and many hearts and minds won over, however, acknowledging that they system is not working for the entire Region is a big step forward.” - Chairwoman Carol Evans, Spokane Tribe of Indians
As Shoshone and Bannock peoples of Idaho, we have co-existed within an ecological system from time immemorial. Our traditional culture is based on the fish and wildlife that provide subsistence for our people. We fully support this wide-ranging initiative that would substantially help salmon recovery in Idaho.” - Chairman Devon Boyer, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation
“For the past five decades, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes have been working to restore the Snake River and our salmon runs. With the dams in place, we have experienced impacts to our culture, spirituality, and our way of life; we need to change the system in order for salmon and our people (Newe) to survive.” - Claudeo Broncho, Fish and Wildlife Policy Representative, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation
"Rep. Simpson supports an historic investment in infrastructure to protect Snake River salmon from extinction, while converting the region’s energy, transportation, and irrigation sectors to meet 21st century demands. This proposal will be a major step in restoring the Snake River ecosystem to its natural state giving its ancestral salmon runs a chance at survival.
This proposal is visionary and long overdue.
Tribes are co-managers of the Columbia River Basin and hold unique rights through our treaties, including the right to access fish in perpetuity. This right has been ignored for nearly two centuries, leading to the decimated fish runs we see today. Healthy Columbia River fishing runs support fishermen from the coast to the plateau including our spiritual relatives the Southern Resident Killer Whales.
We look forward to working with the Northwest congressional delegation, other Tribal leaders, and elected representatives from throughout the region on a plan to save Snake River salmon from extinction while protecting the climate, respecting Treaty rights, and enhancing Columbia Basin salmon runs." – Chairman Leonard Forsman, Suquamish Tribe & President, Affiliated Tribes of NW Indians
"It’s a serious plan at a unique time and it deserves to be vetted and heard." - Kurt Miller, Northwest River Partners
“We want to be thoughtful about and not retrench into traditional positions but give it a fair shot and at the same time approach it with a critical eye -- one that makes sure the questions get answered.” - Kurt Miller, Northwest RiverPartners
"We respect Congressman Simpson, and appreciate his interest in salmon recovery in the Columbia River Basin. BPA looks forward to more conversations about this concept, and the region's environmental and economic future." - John Hairston, Bonneville Power Administration
“We’ve spent decades making minor improvements and adjustments that simply haven’t worked, and what we really need is serious funding and a major overhaul.” - Liz Hamilton, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association
“I think we need to look at it with an open mind. We need to look and examine all pieces of that before we say ‘Oh, it’s impossible’ or ‘Absolutely not.’ ” - Scott Corbitt, Valley Vision
“I remain optimistic that through open dialogue, curiosity and a focus on ends versus means, we can find a path forward that includes the interests and needs of the power sector, as well as those of numerous other groups and communities,” - Debra Smith, Seattle City Light
"We are going to have to get a lot more information about what this entails all the way from replacement of the power to transmission services to fish and wildlife costs going forward,” - K. David Hagen, Clearwater Power
“This is the first meaningful approach any elected official has made public that recognizes the only way to recover Idaho’s salmon and steelhead to meaningful abundance is to untangle the gargantuan and crippling bureaucratic knot that is now also failing ratepayers and taxpayers. The scope of this proposal will be a massive and decades long - possibly perpetual - shot in the arm for the economies of North Idaho, and Eastern Washington and Oregon.” - Brian Brooks, Idaho Wildlife Federation
“Congressman Mike Simpson’s new Columbia Basin Fund opens the door to a long-awaited and necessary set of solutions to Idaho’s salmon and steelhead crisis. The framework set forth in the plan outlines a path to forestall the extinction of Idaho’s salmon while also ensuring that important industries and communities that depend on the current Snake River System have the means and support to adapt and thrive.” - Aaron Lieberman, Idaho Outfitters & Guides Association
“There are those who talk and those who lead. We applaud Congressman Simpson for his bold leadership to mobilize support in Congress for a comprehensive and lasting plan that would make significant investments in the Northwest economy while recovering the salmon and steelhead that define the region."
- Chris Wood, Trout Unlimited
"What he's proposing is so much bigger than dams. It's about the region. It's about working together to break out of the status quo, which has kept the region in conflict." - Justin Hayes of the Idaho Conservation League