“If salmon are running, God knows that all is well in His world…the health of the environment is good if the salmon are around. It is that simple.” – former Oregon Governor Tom McCall
2014 - THE YEAR IN REVIEW
The late governor was right of course. In addition to being awe-inspiring, river-ocean-river explorers, salmon and steelhead are barometers of the health of our lands and waters. Policies protecting salmon also protect rivers and watersheds. And salmon abundance creates thousands of jobs in tribal and non-tribal fishing communities across the Northwest.
The recent abundance of fall chinook and sockeye pouring into the Columbia River from the Pacific Ocean is no accident. It’s result of both “human forces” like court-mandated salmon spill as well as natural forces like favorable ocean conditions.
Working together, SOS, the State of Oregon and Nez Perce Tribe fought for and won one of our region's most effective salmon recovery policies (short of dam removal) - court-ordered spill at eight federal dams on the lower Columbia and Snake rivers every year since 2006. It has helped all dam-passing salmon and steelhead populations in the basin - stabilizing many of the endangered stocks and boosting the Columbia’s fall chinook and sockeye runs in recent years.
The combination of successful litigation, mobilized people, and political impact patiently and persistently applied by SOS, Oregon, and Tribal allies since 1995 is the main reason that:
- Court-ordered spill every spring and summer since 2006 is delivering young salmon more quickly and safely to the ocean. Aided by favorable ocean conditions:
- Spill has helped to dramatically increase Columbia River sockeye and fall Chinook returns in recent years.
- Spill has helped re-establish naturally spawning Snake River sockeye salmon.
- Spill – coupled with impressive Nez Perce Tribal projects – is helping to give Snake River coho, declared extinct 35 years ago, a new fighting chance.
- Up to half of Snake River salmon are now migrating in the river, not in barges or trucks.
- There are thousands more fishing jobs today than in the 1990s - a decade of severe job losses and fishing closures.
- Working with Columbia Basin Tribes, SOS helped secure a Regional Recommendation supporting “Ecosystem Function” as a new third purpose in a modernized Columbia River Treaty.
Bonneville Power Administration and other federal agencies would have done virtually none of this work without the constant pressure of litigation, people and politics – organized, coordinated and advanced by SOS and our allies. Your active support of our steady work to repair Northwest rivers, salmon and communities form the foundation of our success to date.
While Governor McCall surely would celebrate the fall chinook and sockeye that roiled the Columbia’s waters recently, he would also recognize that not ‘all is well’. Despite our significant successes, much work remains.
Columbia/Snake River salmon have not recovered and our job is not done.
Save Our wild Salmon is the Northwest’s only coalition of conservationists, fishing people, clean energy advocates, and businesses fighting to restore health to the Columbia and Snake rivers and their endangered wild salmon and steelhead. With your support, we’ll continue our fierce advocacy for abundant wild salmon and healthy rivers, and our effective coordination of a diverse, dispersed coalition and its allies on critical litigation, policy and outreach initiatives.
On behalf of our staff and board, I want to express our deep appreciation to you for being part of the SOS family. Your active involvement and generous support is essential to our continued success. Thank you.
Here’s a list of some key 2014 achievements and a view of what’s ahead in 2015.
Thanks to eight years of court-mandated spill, newly-restored access to habitats, and a productive ocean, this year’s return of 1,000,000+ fall chinook and 500,000+ sockeye to the Columbia River delivered a tremendous slug of all-important ‘marine-derived nutrients” to the region’s wildlife and ecosystems and a big boost to the Northwest fishing economy, These abundant returns demonstrate salmon’s astonishing resilience - when we give them what they need.
Looking forward into 2015, SOS objectives remain unchanged: to win wild salmon-sustaining operations of federal dams and reservoirs on the Columbia River, and to remove the four costly, deadly, out-dated dams on the lower Snake.
SOS will continue to fight for expanded ‘spill’ and a lawful federal salmon plan: Salmon and fishing advocates and the State of Oregon fought long and hard with BPA and the other agencies in 2014 – urging them to heed the advice of many regional federal, state, and tribal scientists to give salmon and steelhead more of a good thing: spill! The agencies, however, would not budge.
When faced with this year’s recycled and spill-reducing Federal Salmon Plan, SOS groups, Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe were left with little choice but to return to court - to hold foot-dragging agencies accountable and insist again that they follow the law and craft an effective legal plan that truly protects and restores Columbia/Snake Basin salmon and steelhead to abundance. We expect a court ruling in mid-2015.
SOS will continue building momentum to restore a free-flowing lower Snake River: This year, SOS organized more than two dozen DamNation screenings before thousands of people in the Northwest and Washington D.C. – in partnership with Patagonia, and many businesses and organizations. If you have not yet seen it, you should! DamNation is compelling – an inspiring film about America’s growing movement to remove obsolete dams, repair damaged rivers and restore fish and wildlife. DamNation has won over a dozen awards and the filmmakers were recently nominated as 2015 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year. This outstanding film continues to foster a critical conversation over the future of the lower Snake and other dammed rivers across the country.
We’ll continue to host DamNation screenings in 2015 - kicking off with a Patagonia-sponsored screening in Washington D.C. We’ll spend a week this winter in our nation’s capital promoting the film and meeting with members of Congress and Administration officials to explore opportunities for restoring the Snake River and its endangered salmon and steelhead. We’re still hatching plans for additional Northwest screenings, so stay tuned. And - regardless of where you live – contact us if you have ideas for screenings or would like to host a screening in your community. We welcome your ideas and energies!
SOS will continue working to prevent harmful dredging and wasteful spending on the lower Snake: For the last two years, SOS has helped lead an alliance of groups and talented local leaders to block the Army Corps of Engineers’ expensive, destructive plans to dredge the lower Snake River. In November, SOS member groups and the Nez Perce Tribe filed a lawsuit to invalidate the Corps’ "sediment management" plan and block dredging on the lower Snake River this winter.
We’re pointing a spotlight at this economically unsustainable, unjustifiable “waterway to nowhere”. With independent analyses and public scrutiny, we’ll continue to challenge the Army Corps’ unsupported assertion that the Northwest can’t live without this aging, costly and little-used transportation corridor. In truth, we can no longer afford to maintain it. SOS will also continue its outreach to local farmers and other stakeholders and support continued expansion of local rail networks – an efficient transportation alternative to a costly waterway-in-decline.
Finally, SOS will continue to co-lead a diverse coalition to modernize the Columbia River Treaty: Allied with Columbia Basin Tribes, First Nations and faith communities, SOS will lead conservation and fishing advocates in 2015 to bring the U.S.-Canada Columbia River Treaty into the 21st Century. Only a modernized Treaty can right historic wrongs and help to restore the river’s health and rebuild fish and wildlife populations. A modernized Treaty should also help our two nations promote the development of new sources of clean non-hydro, salmon-friendly renewable energy.
2015 will be a very important year. We face big opportunities as well as challenges. With your support, we’ll solidify the progress we’ve made to date and expand it across the basin – especially for the endangered stocks in the Snake River and its tributaries.
From all of us at Save Our wild Salmon - thank you!Joseph Bogaard, Executive Director Save Our wild Salmon Coalition 206-300-1003
PS: We have a lot of irons in the fire. Take a look at our website to learn more about our programs and accomplishments. Please reach out to me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org / 206-300-1003) if you’d like to discuss our work or have any questions about year-end giving. Thank you again. Take care - JB
The newly restored Elwha River cutting its way through the former reservoir. Photo courtesy of John Gussman.