A few weeks ago, tens of thousands people raised their voices and joined a grieving mother orca and her family in sending a blunt message to Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and the Orca Recovery Task Force he created:
Orcas are starving because their main food source, chinook salmon, has declined to levels nearing extinction.
The Task Force received the message. It just issued new revised recommendations - and they include two actions scientists say are essential to orca survival - (1) increased 'spill' at federal dams in the Columbia Basin and (2) development of a plan to remove the four lower Snake River dams. These two urgent actions - as part of a larger regional plan - are needed to rebuild Chinook salmon populations in the Columbia and Snake Rivers as quickly as possible.
The Task Force now needs to hear from you again. It has opened a very short five-day public comment period: Oct. 25 - Oct. 29.
Some of the Task Force's 36 recommendations may be eliminated in the days ahead. We need your help to ensure increased spill and lower Snake River dam removal are among the final recommendations the Task Force delivers to Governor Inslee just a few weeks from now.
PLEASE ACT! Tell Governor Inslee and the Task Force that any Southern Resident Orca Action Plan must include Recommendations #8 and #9 - in order to rebuild chinook salmon populations in the Snake and Columbia Rivers:
RECOMMENDATION #8 calls for immediate action until these four dams are gone to increase the amount of water 'spilled' at all eight lower Snake and Columbia River dams so baby salmon migrating to the ocean in spring can survive and return as adults in greater numbers.
RECOMMENDATION #9 calls for immediate action to begin planning for the removal of the four lower Snake River dams and restoration of this historic salmon river by convening government, tribal and other stakeholders now to develop a just transition plan for dam removal and river restoration.
Scientists tell us that increased 'spill' and lower Snake River dam removal are two of the most beneficial actions we can take to increase salmon abundance for orcas, especially during critical months of winter.
TO SUBMIT COMMENT: go to the Task Force's online comment form and take these three simple steps:
First, indicate you "strongly support" Recommendations #8 (more spill) and #9 (dam removal transition planning) by clicking the appropriate button.
Next, include #8 and #9 among your Top 5 Priority Recommendations.
Finally, COPY the message below and PASTE it into the *comment box* at the end of the online comment form. Add your own personal message as well - about why restoring endangered orcas and the chinook salmon on which they depend matters to you.
Governor Inslee and Members of the Orca Task Force:
Time is short and the science is clear. The lower Snake River dams must go to restore chinook salmon to feed Southern Resident orca and help save them from extinction. Act now to establish a forum for local, state, tribal, and other stakeholders to develop (1) a transition plan for removal of the four lower Snake River dams and restoration of this historic river and its imperiled salmon populations and (2) a timeline for implementing this action.
You also must ask the Washington Department of Ecology to immediately change state water quality standards that limit the amount of water that can be spilled at the dams during the spring juvenile salmon migration months as a critical interim measure to help salmon and orca now. The new standards must allow total dissolved gas levels up 125% of saturation. Salmon - and the orcas that depend upon them - urgently need 'spill' increased to this new level starting in 2019."
PLEASE ACT NOW --> the Task Force and Governor Inslee need to hear from you!
Joseph, Sam and the whole SOS team
Here are links to further information on the plight of Southern Resident orcas and Governor Inslee's Orca Recovery Task Force:
- Seattle Times: Orca Survival may be impossible without lower Snake River dam removal, scientists say (Oct. 15)
- Orca Scientists' Letter to Governor Inslee and the Orca Task Force re: importance of rebuilding Columbia-Snake River Basin spirng chinook populations (Oct. 2018)
- Salmon Biologists Letter to Governor Inslee and the Orca Task Force re: the importance of increased 'spill' at federal Columbia Basin dams and removal of the lower Snake River dams to protect and rebuild salmon populations (Aug. 2018)