Restore wild salmon—remove the lower Snake River dams
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We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia and Snake rivers, once the greatest salmon rivers in the world. We can do this by removing four outdated and expensive dams on the lower Snake River.
But we need your help.
For nearly 20 years, in spite of multiple court rulings that have found their actions illegal, the federal agencies that own these salmon-killing dams have refused to fully evaluate removing them. That changed last May when a federal court judge directly ordered the agencies to develop a plan for dam operations that will restore our wild salmon—and directed them to specifically consider dam removal.
Now the agencies are seeking the public’s input on what they should do. For years scientists have said that removing the four deadly dams on the lower Snake is the single biggest step we can take to restore wild salmon to the river basin.
Wild salmon, steelhead and pacific lamprey are dying by the thousands due to these four outdated dams: Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite. Astonishingly, both taxpayers and rate-payers—you and me—lose millions of dollars operating and maintaining these dams every year even though they produce only about 3 percent of the region’s power and kill hundreds of thousands of baby salmon. Meanwhile, the electricity the dams produce can be economically replaced by carbon-free energy alternatives. The dams’ other primary purpose, providing barge transportation, has declined nearly 70 percent in 20 years and what little demand remains can be replaced by rail or other effective options.
Further, the dams exacerbate the effects of climate change on the few remaining salmon, trapping the fish in slack-water reservoirs that overheat and contribute to disease, mortality and increased predation. Removing these four dams would open up a pathway for salmon to thousands of miles of pristine cold-water streams in the wilderness of central Idaho—a concrete action to combat the worst effects of climate change on our wild salmon.
These salmon are an icon of the Pacific Northwest way of life. They are a keystone species that help keep the natural world healthy by bringing nutrients from the briny ocean back to the high mountain streams. They are a critical food source for many other species, including endangered orcas.
The time is now to remove the four outdated, low-value, deadbeat dams on the lower Snake River. If we free the Snake River, we can save the salmon and bring about the biggest river restoration in history.
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