2013 was a pretty good year for Northwest rivers and wild salmon and steelhead. And there's more work ahead in 2014!
We achieved some very important milestones for rivers, wild salmon and steelhead, and communities in the Northwest in 2013. It was an exceptionally busy year, and 2014 has started off equally action-packed. On behalf of our staff and board, I want to express our deep appreciation for your support of Save Our wild Salmon. Your involvement is essential to our collective success. We can't do it without you! Thank you.
Here’s our 2013 Report on SOS accomplishments and Northwest wild salmon and steelhead, followed by our sense of what we're facing in 2014.
First, more than a million fall chinook returned to the Columbia Basin this year. While many are hatchery-origin, endangered wild fall chinook enjoyed higher numbers as well. This prolific run provided a much-needed boost to the NW fishing economy. And while the Basin's many other wild runs are still in trouble – thirteen Endangered Species Act-listed populations remain at risk – it's wonderful news for fall chinook and a testament to salmon’s astonishing resilience if we give them what they need. In addition to good ocean conditions, free-flowing habitat in the Columbia River's Hanford Reach, and just four dams to pass en route to and from the ocean, fall chinook have now benefited from court-ordered salmon spill every year since 2006.
Second, SOS led a regional alliance that stopped the Army Corps’ of Engineers’ plans to dredge the lower Snake River this winter, an action that would harm salmon and their habitat along the WA-ID border. And we’re continuing to build public recognition that the lower Snake waterway no longer makes economic sense while working with growers to deliver sounder transportation options.
And we’re aiding the Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho Rivers United, and other local citizens to stop Big Oil from transforming the lower Snake and Idaho’s historic Highway 12 and adjacent wild and scenic Lochsa River into an industrial corridor for transporting ‘megaload’ equipment to the destructive, climate-warming Alberta Tar Sands in Canada.
Third, we built more popular support to remove costly, out-dated dams. The Northwest is taking huge steps forward: Dams have disappeared from the Elwha and White Salmon rivers in Washington State and salmon are already finding their way back to ancestral habitat. SOS sponsored award-winning reporter-author Lynda Mapes’ Elwha - A River Reborn book tour as she shared stories and insights based on years of research and interviews.
Fourth, we’re organizing conservation and fishing advocates to modernize the U.S.-Canada Columbia River Treaty by including “ecosystem function” as a primary Treaty purpose. Thanks to work by 15 Columbia Basin Tribes as well as SOS groups, the federal agencies’ draft recommendation for an updated Treaty now supports that inclusion.
Fifth, SOS has helped grow support for a regional collaboration to tackle the shared challenges facing salmon, energy, and farms in the Columbia Basin. Earlier this year, NOAA-Fisheries initiated a "stakeholder assessment" as the necessary first phase of an inclusive, solutions-driven collaboration. As part of the NOAA assessment, facilitators interviewed 200+ stakeholders to better understand the suite of issues linked to salmon restoration efforts in the Basin. A final report is due this fall, and we'll do all we can to ensure the Obama Administration takes the right next step forward early in the new year.
We endured a setback too.
This year’s big disappointment: the Draft Federal Salmon Plan for Columbia and Snake rivers released in September. With its proposal to roll back the most effective near-term protection measure – spill - and its failure to adequately address shortcomings cited by the court in 2011, the federal agencies seem intent on thumbing their nose at law, science, fishing communities, and, of course, salmon. As we have with the four previous plans, conservation and fishing advocates will work very hard in the months ahead to secure a lawful, science-based plan that expands spill and includes other needed measures. And we’ll need your help!
Sharing dam removal success stories. Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty. Stopping damaging dredging. Making the river safer for salmon with increased spill. Fighting for a lawful salmon plan and a stakeholder collaboration. With your support, we’ve made important progress challenging business-as-usual, improving policies, and moving both politics and popular opinion in the direction of wild, abundant salmon and healthy rivers.
With your support, we’ll continue our successes in 2014. SOS' board has approved a game plan for next year. We’ll keep fighting to ensure that wild salmon and steelhead get the help they need now while we work toward an authentic stakeholder collaboration where all credible recovery options – including Snake River dam removal – are on the table.
We are excited about the coming year. The fundamentals of law, science, and economics remain strongly in our favor. Energy, transportation, fiscal trends and popular opinion portend further positive change and new opportunities for our coalition of conservation, clean energy, fishing advocates, and businesses.
But we can't do it without you!
Please give as generously as you can. We have both tremendous opportunities as well as challenges ahead.
From all of us at Save Our wild Salmon - thank you!
Save Our wild Salmon Coalition
PS - We’re gearing up to co-sponsor an exceptional, inspiring dam removal film tour in Spring 2014. DamNation is the latest project from the highly acclaimed makers of Red Gold about Bristol Bay’s Pebble Mine. This new film explores the growing movement nationally to restore rivers and remove defunct, outdated, and costly dams - with a special focus on the Northwest and the lower Snake. Your generous year-end contributions will help ensure we have the resources we need to put this excellent film in front of as many people as possible and maximize its impact with the public and decision-makers. Thank you again for all your generous support! Click here to make a donation.