2011: A Year in Review
from the desk of Pat Ford, executive director for Save Our Wild Salmon
We head into 2012 with strong winds behind our work to restore Columbia and Snake River salmon and steelhead. The winds are legal, biological, political, and economic. Your work and support has been critical to these successes; we could not have done it without you. We hope you'll help us keep working for the Columbia and Snake Rivers and their salmon and steelhead by making a year-end, tax-deductible contribution today.
In August, the U.S. District Court ruled the Obama status quo salmon plan illegal and ordered a much-improved plan that includes a better assessment of recovery options, including the removal of the four lower Snake River dams. The court also ordered that “spilling” of water over the Columbia and Snake dams in the spring and summer will continue through 2013. This will mean eight straight years of spill that began in 2006 with a previous court victory by Save Our Wild Salmon member groups, the state of Oregon, and the Nez Perce Tribe. We have fought for and won “spill” every year since. “Our” spill is producing more salmon.
Spill coupled with high spring river flows achieved a further milestone in 2011: more than 60% of ocean-bound Columbia-Snake salmon migrated in the river, not in barges or trucks. It’s the lowest level for barging and trucking in 20 years. This did direct good for salmon – more will return two and three years from now. And it struck hard at the 30-year strategy of federal dam agencies: keep barging and trucking fish, and hold back the legal and public momentum to restore a healthier river. The momentum, however, is with us.
In September, removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams began on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, the largest dam removal/river restoration to date. In October, Condit Dam on Washington’s White Salmon River was precision-demolished, the third-largest ever done. In November, legislation that includes removal of four Klamath River dams was introduced in Congress. Public support for river restoration keeps growing, as more and more people recognize that it is good for jobs and communities as well as for salmon.
In August, 1140 businesses from across the country asked President Obama to take a new approach and begin stakeholder talks to find shared solutions on the Columbia-Snake for fish, energy and transportation. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber then called for such talks, as did the New York Times and Seattle Times. Then in November, 52 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a bipartisan letter to President Obama urging his administration to begin talks. These voices join Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, the Nez Perce Tribe, and thousands of Americans. Stakeholder collaboration has worked for other tough issues; it can work for this one too.
The needle is moving our way - in the rivers, the facts and the forums. Let’s keep it going! Again, please help us keep working for the Columbia and Snake Rivers and their salmon and steelhead, with a year-end, tax-deductible contribution.
And thank you so much for every letter, call, e-mail, blog post, and conversation that has contributed to all our successes in 2011.
Pat Ford, executive director
Save Our wild Salmon Coalition