sockeye.river copy 2

Save Our wild Salmon 2016 - The Year in Review
What we’ve accomplished – and what’s ahead.


donateTHANK YOU! On behalf of our board and staff, thank you for your active support for SOS’ work to protect and restore the iconic and irreplaceable wild salmon and steelhead of the Columbia by securing a lawful federal plan, freeing the lower Snake River by removing four costly dams, and modernizing the 53 year-old United State-Canada Columbia River Treaty.

SOS’ successes have only been achieved with your steadfast support and engagement. Governments will not 'Free the Snake', modernize the Treaty, rebuild Chinook populations for hungry orca or replace the dams’ energy with job-creating, climate-friendly alternatives. People will - arguing and advocating, listening and learning, finding common ground, and ultimately crafting solutions for a better, brighter future for both salmon and people, ecology and economy.

Thank you for your contributions to our successes. Your generous support before the end of the year are critical to helping us prepare us to tackle the both opportunities and challenges we’ll confront in 2017.

-- INVEST in our work in 2017 here. (Gifts to SOS tax-deductible)

-- SEE OUR YEAR-END DONOR GIFTS and raffle prizes (hats, shirts, and books) here.

-- VIEW A GALLERY OF PHOTOS from this year’s ‘Free the Snake’ Flotilla and Northwest Salmon Rallies this fall organized as part of the NEPA Scoping Period.

-- READ ON BELOW for a review our accomplishments in 2016 and preview of programs and activities for 2017.

And please reach out to Joseph Bogaard in Seattle or Sam Mace in Spokane – if you have questions about year-end giving and/or our programs and priorities in 2017.

THE YEAR IN REVIEW: 2016 has been action-packed. We kicked off the year with a series of events celebrating and learning from our nation’s biggest river and salmon restoration success so far – on the Elwha River on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. We sponsored the Hot Water Report– documenting and distributing every week last summer routine water temperature standard violations in the lower Columbia and Snake Rivers that harm migrating salmon and steelhead. As members of the Orca-Salmon Alliance, we hosted our most well-attended Orca Month yet – with declarations from Governors Inslee (WA) and Brown (OR), ten events in the month of June including a kick-off celebration, science talks and writer presentations.

freethesnake.cutoutOUR TOP ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2016:
(1)   A resounding victory in May when the U.S. District Court in Portland rejected the federal dam agencies’ latest plan for addressing the jeopardizing impacts of the federal dams on the Columbia/Snake River ESA-wild salmon and steelhead.

(2)   Our work with many partners has mobilized thousands of citizens this fall to restore wild salmon and ‘Free the Snake’. In September, hundreds attended our second annual rally and flotilla on the banks of the lower Snake River near Lewiston and Clarkston. And this fall, we’ve mobilized several thousand citizens for the (ongoing) Scoping/Public Comment Phase of the agencies’ court-ordered NEPA Review.

(3)   Finally, our leadership within the American Treaty Caucus, in close communication with Columbia Basin Tribes, First Nations and our counterparts in Canada, has moved our two nations toward commencing negotiations to modernize the Columbia River Treaty and to include ‘Ecosystem Function (health of the river) as a key priority in the U.S. negotiation platform.

READ ON if you're hungry more detail…

I.  In May, the U.S. District Court in Portland delivered an historic court victory to conservation and fishing advocates, Nez Perce Tribe and State of Oregon. This was the fifth consecutive federal plan to be rejected by the court – now by three different judges – across two decades. The ruling echoed many of our long-standing complaints - about poor economics, ineffective programs, need for big changes, and lower Snake River dam removal. Judge Simon decision emphasized that “the system cries out for a major overhaul” and that agency “efforts have already cost billions of dollars yet they are failing.”

The Court ordered the agencies back to ‘square one’ – to craft a new, lawful, science-based federal plan and to update its environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act. This EIS must fully, fairly evaluate the costs and benefits of Snake River dam removal – an action the agencies “have done their utmost to avoid considering for decades.”

This ruling is a game-changer for our work, wild salmon and the lower Snake. The Court has put dam removal at the center of the discussion. It is forcing those agencies, Northwest states, elected officials and others with this irrational “all-dams-at-any-cost” philosophy to re-consider this costly, failed and consistently illegal strategy.

View the full court ruling, excerpts, a summary and other materials here.

II. Thousands Mobilize this fall to ‘Free the Snake’ and for NEPA Public Scoping Hearings. Free the Snake Seattle 12.1.16
First, in September, SOS worked with the Nimiipuu - protecting the environment, Earthjustice, Idaho Rivers United, Friends of the Clearwater and others to organize the 2nd Annual ‘Free the Snake’ Flotilla on the lower river near Clarkston (WA) and Lewiston (ID). This year’s gathering attracted hundred of tribal and non-tribal participants. We generated more media and executed a far-reaching social media strategy that generated 1.5 million views and thousands of contacts to Washington’s elected leaders. Find several flotilla videos here.

Then on Oct. 1, the dam agencies commenced their court-ordered EIS process with a Public Scoping/Comment Period. SOS has focused its resources this fall to lead our partners and mobilize our troops for a series of rallies at nine of the agencies’ sixteen public scoping meetings. Despite a clear effort by BPA, Army Corps, and Bureau of Reclamation to dodge a public discussion on endangered salmon and dam removal by scheduling ‘open house’ meetings (not hearings) through the chaotic presidential election cycle and year-end holidays, our community rallied - mobilizing citizens, generating press and impacting politics.

We led efforts with over thirty groups and businesses that mobilized 2,000+ advocates to attend ‘Free the Snake’ rallies and agency open houses. Our rallies have drawn large crowds, generated extensive media coverage, and featured several dozen conservation and tribal leaders, and fishing, orca, clean energy and science experts. Working closely with Earthjustice, we’ve generated 40+ print, radio and TV news stories this fall – including four favorable editorials and half a dozen guest opinions. Our coordinated social media campaign has generated millions of views regionally and nationally. The coalition has generated over 200,000 comments so far to ‘Free the Snake’ River and recover wild salmon, and we’ll continue working with partners to build this number into early 2017.

And we’ve worked closely with many Northwest tribal people this year. The Nez Perce group – Nimiipuu-protecting the environment produced an excellent video this fall on the importance of restoring the Snake and they organized high turnout of tribal members, especially in Lewiston. We were honored to have Nez Perce, Duwamish, Warm Springs, and Yakama tribal members speak at a number of our rallies

III. Politics and Priorities in 2017. SOS is gearing up to defend our nation’s conservation laws and legacy. After the fall elections, we expect steady attacks in the new year on laws that protect our natural resources, climate and health. Regionally and nationally, our communities must be unified, focused and creative to resist these efforts by Congress and the new Administration. Wild salmon and the healthy rivers they depend upon are certain to be a target and SOS will be active engaging its diverse network.

We’ll also carry the momentum of 2016 into the new year as we seek additional near-term protections for wild salmon and make further progress toward restoring the lower Snake. We’ll continue our work contacting elected officials and reaching out to stakeholders in the region – to listen and learn, to educate, and to advocate for shared solutions for salmon and people. We’ll continue to focus on science, hot rivers and climate, unsustainable economics and justice – and to insist that NOAA deliver a legally-valid salmon plan in 2018. We’ll work with Tribal allies to support their leadership to restore the Snake and protect treaty rights.

CRTJIV. Columbia River Treaty: Progress in 2016. SOS continues its work with six other Northwest groups working to ensure that the 53-year-old Columbia River Treaty is re-negotiated with Ecosystem Function (EF) as a new core purpose.  Working with Columbia Basin Tribes and Canadian counterparts, we made major progress in 2016.

•   Treaty negotiations are on track to begin in 2017. We don’t know if the Trump Administration will disrupt that schedule; we do know that U.S. support to add EF to the Treaty, which we helped secure, is now at risk.  Our progress comes with strengthening alliances: Indian Tribes and First Nations; conservation/faith/civic groups and Basin communities in both countries.  

•   Adding EF to the Treaty is in the U.S. negotiating position - following a two-year interagency process in Washington D.C. Our Caucus sought exactly this in dozens of meetings, calls, letters, presentations and contacts with the State Department, federal agencies, and members of Congress and in stakeholder forums over the last several years.

•   A Collaborative Modeling Work Group has been created to support negotiations, with U.S. and Canadian conservationists as members. Since 2013, the Tribes and our Caucus have urged the government to establish a collaborative modeling forum.  In early 2016, 50 U.S. and Canadian groups appealed to both nations – and we eventually succeeded: the State Dept. created a modeling group in July. We requested and won a seat in it (represented by Pacific River’s Greg Haller), along with our Canadian colleagues.

•   With assistance from other Basin Tribes and SOS and other Caucus members, the Upper Columbia United Tribes (UCUT) will release an independent valuation of the Columbia River’s natural capital early next year. The analysis document the high value ecosystem health and services the Columbia River and its watershed provide – and help inform negotiations once they get underway.

In 2016, our alliance showed its power. We’re coordinating more closely with Columbia Basin Tribes, First Nations, and NGOs in both nations. We’ve built contact with local B.C. officials who support a modernized Treaty.  And we are in regular dialogue with our region’s elected officials.  This contact and coordination has helped to produce the results above. We continue to grow it in 2017.

Thank you again for your support. Visit our homepage for further information, and contact me directly if you have questions.

Have an excellent holiday,

Bogaard signature / 206-300-1003



Share This