Archived Page: Columbia-Snake River Salmon Recovery Campaign

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New Columbia-Snake River Salmon Recovery Campaign Page



Salmon on the Snake River Essential to Orca whales and more


The Columbia and Snake Rivers were once the greatest salmon rivers in the world until four dams were built on the lower Snake River. Wild salmon bring nutrients from the briny ocean back to the high mountain streams. They create an environment that help steelhead, pacific lamprey and other fish thrive. They are also a critical food source for endangered orcas. However dams block salmon from returning to their birthplace to spawn, reproduce and thrive.

Editorial: Debate regarding Snake River dams is far from over

If we are to avoid the extinction of salmon runs and orcas, talks regarding the dams should continue.

By The Herald Editorial Board

It’s not water over the dam.

Read the full editorial from the Everett Tribune here. 

Coalition of organizations release statement today regarding the FEIS-CRSO and the Biological Opinion (BiOp) 

“The real path for progress and a comprehensive solution lie with sovereign snd stakeholder process.”  Bill Arthur, Chair, Snake/Columbia River Salmon Campaign, Sierra Club

Click here for a pdf of the press release.

 Letter to the Editor by Nez Perce Tribal (Nimiipuu) Elder in the Lewiston Tribune

Summer of loss

... Summer is traditionally when we celebrate life, but now we grieve the loss of jobs, gatherings, graduations, our grandchildren’s hugs and, tragically, of loved ones. ...

For me, a Nimiipuu elder, COVID-19 triggers a painful reminder of a profound loss we as a people are experiencing. Forty years ago, Nimiipuu fishermen risked their lives in a standoff over the tribe’s right to fish for salmon when state officials closed the Rapid River hatchery fishery. Today, the fishery is closed once again.

This year’s adult chinook returns to the Rapid River hatchery are the lowest since fisheries biologists started using electronic tag data to track the fish. This year has also seen the lowest spring return of chinook salmon since 1999. ...

The Clearwater, lower Salmon, Rapid, and Little Salmon rivers are already closed to salmon fishing. Many hatcheries across the Pacific Northwest, tribal and non-tribal, are forecasting a shortage of broodstock for spawning the next generation. ...

Science supports what we the Nimiipuu have known for more than 10,000 years: ... Our cold, clean, fast-running rivers support a wide diversity of life.

Places along the river where we fished, the cool eddies and bends once shaded by trees and shrubs, have become hot and exposed with the industrialization of the river and construction of dams. Cooling the Columbia Basin’s rivers, aided by removing the four lower Snake River dams, will be essential if we are going to restore the natural health and abundance of our regions’ rivers. ...

Lucinda George Simpson
Lizzy McKeag
North Idaho Field Representative
Idaho Wildlife Federation
(979) 220-0027

Link to the Lewiston Tribune:

2020 Hot Water Reports - Save Our Wild Salmon

In addition to passage barriers the dams on the lower Snake and Columbia Rivers also create lethal conditions for salmon and steelhead from hot water.  Slow moving stagnant reservoirs heat up heat up much faster than flowing g rivers and hold the heat longer.  In 2015 this caused the death of over 250000 sockeye salmon.  Salmon and steelhead, like all salmonids, are cold water fish.  Sustained water temperature above 68 degrees is often lethal.  We are just now approaching those levels in the Lowe Snake and Columbia Rivers and we are now entering the thick of the hot weather period.

August 12, Issue #5:

All of the dams in the lower Snake and Columbia River's have now exceeded the 68 degree temperature mark where hot water starts becoming lethal to salmon, steelhead and other salmonids.  The slackwater reservoirs behind the dams increase temperature as well as impede migration.  This week's report highlights two very different species: lamprey and orca.

Lamprey are a less well known species that also migrate from freshwater to the ocean and back.  Lamprey are important to the ecosystem as water filterers (like fresh water mussels) and they also benefit the benthic system in the substrate at the bottoms of rivers and streams.  Lamprey are a "first food" for Native Amercians who value their rich, oily, nutritious meat as a complement to salmon.  These critters were not well known or understood when the dams went in and essentially ignored until more recently as the tribes have pushed the federal agencies to recognize their importance to the ecosystem, tribal culture and as a source of food.

The orca are also making the news.  Our endangered population of just 72 orca have several pregnant females including Talequah (J-35).  You may recall she was the mother who carried her dead calf on her head for 17 days several years ago making international headlines and calling attention to the plight of this population.  There is an excellent interview with Dr. David Bain.  These orca need Snake River salmon as a vital part of their food supply during key times of the year.

Report will be posted tomorrow.

August 5, Issue #4:

The last week of July to Aug. 4 has seen a marked increase in water temperature behind 7 of the 8 reservoirs on the lower Snake and Columbia Rivers.  Sustained temperatures above 68 degrees are lethal to cold water fish like salmon and steelhead.  All the reservoirs had temperatures that exceed 70 degrees except for Lower Granite dam.  The water behind lower Granite Dam benefits from cold water that is released from Dworshak dam and helps cool these waters somewhat.  However, the benefit of these cold water releases is pretty much dissipated by the time it hits the next reservoir.

July 29, Issue 3: 

WATER TEMPERATURES NOW EXCEED *68 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT* IN SEVEN OF THE EIGHT RESERVOIRS ON THE LOWER SNAKE AND LOWER COLUMBIA RIVERS. Water temperatures exceed 68 degrees Fahrenheit in three of the four lower Snake River reservoirs. Only Lower Granite Dam’s reservoir remains below 68 degrees, but by less than one-half of a degree. All four reservoirs behind the dams on the lower Columbia River have passed this critical threshold. John Day’s reservoir on the LCR recorded this week’s high temperature - at 70.7 degrees. 

68 degrees is the threshold temperature at which salmon and steelhead begin to suffer harm. See details below. Based on past years, we expect these reservoir temperatures will continue to rise and remain consistently above 68 degrees for the next 3-5 weeks - harming the returning adult salmon and outmigrating juvenile salmon using these rivers (reservoirs) during this time period.

Also in this issue: current adult return numbers for spring/summer chinook, sockeye and steelhead in the Snake River Basin.

BACKGROUND: SOS, in partnership with 12 of our member organizations, will issue weekly Hot Water Reports with real-time information on water temperatures in the eight reservoirs created by federal dams on the lower Snake and Columbia rivers and related topics. Dangerously warm waters for already-endangered salmon and steelhead populations have become routine during the summer months in the Columbia Basin - harming and/or killing out-migrating juveniles and returning adults. Federal agency-led salmon plans for the Columbia and Snake Rivers have consistently failed to address the high water temperatures caused by the federal hydro-system - which are now being made worse by a changing climate. 

Salmon and steelhead are cold water species and hot water creates survival and reproductive problems for them. Once river/reservoir temperatures rise above 68 degrees, the Northwest’s native fish begin to suffer from increased energy expenditures, reduced reproductive success, delayed migration, increased stress, disease and, in some cases, death. The issue of salmon-harming hot water in these federal reservoirs will be an essential metric for assessing the Final EIS and 2020 Biological Opinion - both of which are expected for release by federal agencies toward the end of this week - on July 31st.

If you're interested, here's a link to past Hot Water Reports - 2019, 2018 and 2016. 

Next week: we’ll provide the Northwest salmon community’s view of the federal agencies' Columbia-Snake Final EIS and 2020 Biological Opinion (BiOp, or federal salmon plan). 

Thank you for your attention to these important issues. Please reach out with any questions.

Thanks for all you do,

Joseph Bogaard
Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition


Issue 1, July 15

Issue 2, July 22

Bellingham diversion dam being removed to help these imperiled Pacific Northwest icons

By Kie Relyea      July 14, 2020 

16 miles of fish habitat will be restored when this dam is removed

Work continues June 26, 2020, to remove a diversion dam built by the city of Bellingham in 1961 and restore fish passage in the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River in Whatcom County, Wash. By Warren Sterling

Read the full article here.

Blasting begins on Middle Fork Nooksack dam to restore salmon habitat

Work has been underway at the site since the start of the year. The project will eventually restore 16 miles of fish habitat after the dam is removed.

"The city can have its water supply, and we can restore this river,” [Amy Kober with American Rivers.] “So let’s apply that creative thinking to other river challenges across our region. We can do it, we absolutely can do it, it just takes a little bit of work."

 King 5 Seattle

Coverage by Q13

Snake River dams in hot water

June 29, 2020 at 4:05 pm Updated June 29, 2020 at 4:05 pm

By Brett VandenHeuvel and Jeremiah “Jay” Julius

Special to The Times

Thousands of salmon are now undertaking the final leg of their incredible migration, struggling to return to the streams of their birth. From the Salish Sea to the mountains of Idaho, these fish connect, sustain and define the Pacific Northwest. Unless we can restore the Columbia and Snake rivers’ salmon runs, we stand to lose the southern resident orcas and the fisheries that the tribes and people of the Pacific Northwest rely upon.

Read the full Op Ed here.

Port Angeles approves signing onto letter to restore Snake River salmon

On Tuesday June 2 the Port Angeles city council voted to add the City of Port Angeles onto a letter to Rep. Kilmer urging his leadership to help advance stakeholders conversations and a comprehensive solution for restoring Snake River salmon including removing the four lower Snake River dams.  The 6th congressional district has signifcant economic, tribal and cultural, and enivonmental interests in seeing a comeprehensive solution that works for everyone - salmon, orca, Tribes, commerical fishers, farmers and farm communities - and the Southern Resident Killer Whales.  It's clear that the federal agency NEPA process won't provide this kind of comprehesnive solution.  The region needs leadership to support and advance discussions occurring among some stakelholder and to help forge a solution that will restore abundant salmon and assure affordable/reliable clean energy along with investment in farm communities and transportation happens.  

Click here to the article covering that vote by the Port Angeles City Council.

Click here for a response to the vote by Rep. Kilmer.  Rep. Kilmer's constructive response is encouraging.  We must collectively forge a path forward.

A young, climate-motivated organizer from Idaho is loudly calling for salmon and river restoration.

Governor Little of Idaho established a Salmon Work Group about a year ago to look at ways to increase salmon and steelhead returns to the Snake River and its tributaries.  These river provide the largest block of excellent habitat that remains in the Columbia Basin and once supported millions of fish.  The four dams on the lower Snake River have been the biggest obstacle to restoring these once abundant runs.  The Idaho Salmon Work Group has been slow to take a hard look at this fundamental issue while focusing on less controversial actions. Shiva Rajbhandari a sophomore from Boise Highschool spoke to the last meeting the work group making a strong and compelling plea for leadership.

 Read Shiva Rajbhandari's testimony here.

Washington state aims to regulate water temperature at federal dams, wading into controversy

By Lynda V. Mapes        May 26, 2020 at 6:00 am

Seattle Times environment reporter

The Columbia is the great river of the West, winding from the north to meet its largest tributary, the Snake in Eastern Washington, then dividing the states of Oregon and Washington on its push to the sea. Big and powerful, its wild energy has been tamed to engineered stair steps controlled by locks and dams.

Click here to read the full article.

 LMT: EPA report: Dams play large role in raising water temperatures

Study issued Tuesday looks at causes of warming water on Snake and Columbia rivers
  • By Eric Barker, of the Tribune
  • May 20, 2020

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a report Tuesday detailing summertime water temperature problems on the lower Snake and Columbia rivers and assigning significant responsibility to federal dams.

 Click here to read the full article

And from The Everett Herald:

EPA says federal dams raise water temperature in Snake River

The warmer water can cause fish to stop their migrations and swim around aimlessly, as though lost.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 12:17pm NORTHWEST

Read the full article here.


Electric utilities, conservation groups unite to seek solutions for Columbia River Basin dams

April 16, 2020 at 3:26 pm Updated April 16, 2020 at 4:54 pm

By Bill Arthur and Debra Smith

Special to The Times

As those of us who are able sequester indoors in the midst of COVID-19, we should take care not to forget important challenges and opportunities that still await us outside.

Read the full Op-Ed here.

Bring our salmon back, make our energy clean and affordable, and strengthen communities | Opinion

Grant Putnam, Guest Opinion Published 5:42 p.m. PT March 13, 2020 | Updated 6:10 p.m. PT March 13, 2020

“. . I understand the challenges rural communities are facing, from the coast to the east side of our state. That’s why I’m heartened by Governor Brown’s recent statements supporting inclusive, collaborative solutions to bring our salmon back and revitalize our rural communities. . . ”

Click here to read the article in the Statesmen-Journal

Guest Opinion: Decisions on dams, salmon must be made together

  • Tim Gavin Special to the Yakima Herald-Republic Mar 15, 2020

We face the unprecedented and real specter of the extinction of several of our iconic Northwest native species: salmon, steelhead and orcas. The problem is multifaceted. It includes issues as varied as harvest regulations, abnormal predation, gill nets, climate change and dams. Human activity is the common denominator.

Click here to read this article on the Yakima Herald-Republic website.

For first time in 20 years, feds take deep look at hydroelectric dam removal on Lower Snake River

Feb. 27, 2020 at 6:00 am Updated Feb. 27, 2020 at 8:50 pm 

The futures of hydropower, salmon and orcas in the Pacific Northwest are at stake in the first assessment in 20 years of the environmental effects of dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

 Read the full article

Oregon governor calls for breaching 4 Snake River dams; Washington’s GOP House members outraged

Feb. 15, 2020 at 2:29 pm Updated Feb. 15, 2020 at 3:55 pm

By The Associated Press

The Associated Press

SALEM, Oregon — The governor of Oregon has come out in favor of removing four hydroelectric dams on the Snake River in Washington state, saying that is the best way to increase endangered salmon runs.

Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, sent a letter to Washington’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee this week, offering her support for removing the dams. Washington, under an initiative spearheaded by Inslee, has been gathering information on what Northwest residents think about breaching the four dams. That report is expected in early March.

Read more here.

Idaho Stateman - Opinion

Removing lower Snake River dams is best chance for salmon, steelhead recovery


NOVEMBER 18, 2019 12:13 PM

Read more here


The article below addresses the recent letter from fisheries and natural resource scientists 

concerning temperature levels that are lethal for salmon and steelhead.   

Lewiston Morning Tribune: Scientists assert only breaching can cool Northwest waterways

The letter points to the modeling done by EPA and supported by other research that removing the four lower Snake River dams is the only way to get temperature levels down to non-lethal levels during key periods when adults are migrating up river to spawn.  Climate chance of course is making this an even bigger problem over time.

 The full letter is attached.

Snake River Restoration

Over a 100 people turned out for the NWPCC (Northwest Power and Conservation Council) hearing in Seattle Tuesday, October 15, 2019 on their draft amendment to the Fish and Wildlife Plan.  Testimonies filled the entire hour and a half time slot for public comment.

Key messages at the hearing were that the Council's plan was too weak and inadequate to restore Snake River salmon and help orca.  Needed was a stronger, bolder plan that removed the four lower Snake River dams and made necessary investments to replace the lost hydro-power with clean energy and transportation.  Testimonies urged the Council to take a step back and encourage the Governors to help lead the kind of solutions and conversation that is needed to put a bolder plan in place.  All eight Council members were present at this regular monthly meeting of the Council.

One of the key goals in this effort is to make sure that public officials - the Govenors in particular - are aware of the sustained strong public interest in restoring salmon (and in WA and OR helping orca) and also demonstrate that people want a holistic solution that addresses the energy replacement and impacts to affected communities with removal of the lower Snake River dams. 

To read testimony by Bill Arthur, click here.

To read testimony presented in Idaho by State Director of the Idaho Chapter of Sierra Club Zach Waterman, click here.

New book ‘We Are Puget Sound’ reminds us what’s at risk if we ignore the struggles of the Salish Sea

Oct. 13, 2019 at 7:00 am

By Helen Cherullo and Mindy Roberts

Editor’s note: Excerpted with permission from “We Are Puget Sound: Discovering & Recovering the Salish Sea” (Braided River, October 2019), by David L. Workman, Leonard Forsman, Mindy Roberts and Brian J. Cantwell. Photography by Brian Walsh and contributors. Foreword by Martha Kongsgaard.

Read the exerpt printed in Pacific NW Magazine

J and K pods in Puget Sound

Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times

How to help Puget Sound’s orcas and salmon: What Seattle-area leaders say can make a difference

Oct. 8, 2019 at 6:00 am Updated Oct. 8, 2019 at 12:30 pm


By Lynda V. Mapes

Seattle Times environment reporter

Leaders around our region had lots to say when asked what should be done to restore threatened salmon runs and Puget Sound’s endangered orcas.

Read the full article, click here.

Yakama, Lummi tribal leaders call for removal of three lower Columbia River dams

While calls for removal of the four dams on the Lower Snake River have been heard for decades, the demand to knock out some of the region's larger main-stem dams is a first. How that would proceed, and what it would mean for power generation or salmon recovery has never been analyzed.

By Lynda V. Mapes

Seattle Times environment reporter

CELILO VILLAGE, Wasco County, Ore. — The Yakama and Lummi nations called Monday for taking down the Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River to restore salmon runs once the mightiest in the world.

Read the full article here.

We have not lost our orca or salmon - yet.

But time is not on our side.  Removing the Elwha Dam was progress.  Now we need to move another set of lethal dams on the Snake River to restore a level of abundance that works for orca.  And, will benefit the sport, commercial and tribal fishing communities and economies as well.  We have solutions that work but we need to put them in place.  Let’s keep the pressure on our Governor's and congressional delegation to make this happen.


In California, orcas and salmon have become so scarce people have forgotten what once was. Will the Northwest be next?

Sep. 29, 2019 at 6:00 am Updated Sep. 29, 2019 at 1:53 pm

By Lynda V. Mapes

Seattle Times environment reporter

Click here to read 

Snake River Restoration Project

 Hello Snake River Restoration partners, allies, and friends,

Sightline Institute series "The Case for Removing the Snake River Dams".

This is a 4-part series that highlights the economic benefits of removing the four dams on the lower Snake River. 

Part 1 

For the full description of Sightline's Snake River Restoration Project, click here.

Time Running Out


Time running out for crusading biologist's war on dams

Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E News reporter Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2019

In-depth feature about Steve Pettit and his lifelong fight to save salmon

Steve Pettit is a renowned biologist retired from IDFW.  He does an excellent job describing what the salmon need, why current plans aren’t working  and won’t work, and why removing the 4 LSRD’s is essential.  It provides good context for the use of SAR’s (smolt to adult returns) as recovery goals.  The NWPCC has decent SAR goals of 4% - but - their inadequate and timid plan will never achieve the goal.

Click for article pdf

The Fate of a Family

By Michael Brune September 4, 2019

Here's a word I wish I didn't know: endling. It means the last surviving individual of a species. A single word that contains a cataclysm.

When the Trump administration attacks the Endangered Species Act, it can seem like  just the latest in a cascade of abysmal policies. We know it's wrong and that it's our job to fight it. But it's also possible to feel what's happening in a deeper, more empathetic way. It's the difference between opposing a bad policy and resisting a gross injustice.

That's why I was both honored and grateful to be asked to join elders from the Lummi Nation on Orcas Island, the largest of Washington State's San Juan Islands. The solemn occasion was a Sna ‘teng -- a naming ceremony for the southern resident orcas, some of the most endangered marine mammals in the US. The southern residents are the salmon-eating orcas of the Salish Sea, a network of coastal waterways located around southwest British Columbia and northwest Washington State. The Lummi have always called the whales qwe ‘lhol mechen, which means “our relations under the waves.” Now the 73 surviving orcas, who live in three distinct pods also have a Lummi family name: Sk’aliCh'elh.

To read the rest of Michael Brune’s blog post, click here.

Feds seek expanded habitat protection as salmon, orcas battle climate change, habitat degradation

Sep. 18, 2019 at 11:08 am Updated Sep. 19, 2019 at 10:53 am

Click here for full article

Hot Water Report 2019

The Sierra Club is participating again this year in the weekly Hot Water Report that is being produced by Save Our Wild Salmon (thank you Angela).  We've participated in this project the past couple of years.  It tracks the water temperatures at the reservoirs on the lower Snake and Columbia Rivers.  Hot water, above 68 degrees for sustained periods of time, is lethal for salmon, steelhead and other freshwater salmonids.  Reservoirs by slowing water increases warming and in the face of climate change makes a bad situation worse.

2019 Hot Water Reports:

Hot Water Report 2019 - August 30th, 2019 Issue 9

Hot Water Report 2019 - August 23rd, Issue 8

Hot Water Report 2019 - August 16th, Issue 7

Hot Water Report 2019 - August 9th, Issue 6

Hot Water Report 2019 - August 2nd, Issue 5

Hot Water Report 2019 - July 26th, Issue 4

Hot Water Report 2019 - July 19th, Issue 3

Hot Water Report 2019 - July 12th, Issue 2

Hot Water Report 2019 - July 5th, Issue 1

Economic Report regarding lower Snake River dams and their removal

A new economic report is now available at ECONorthwest’s website that looks at the costs and benefits and transitions of the lower Snake River dams and their removal:

“In the last decade, a boom in solar and wind power has reset West Coast energy markets, undercutting not only coal-fired power but also aging hydro-electric projects.

New orca calf in southern-resident J pod

May 31, 2019 at 12:31 pm Updated June 1, 2019 at 3:57 pm


Seattle Times environment reporter

Read the full article.  Click here.

Hostile Waters: How our noise is hurting orcas search for salmon

The Roar Below

Story by Lynda V. Mapes | Photographs by Steve Ringman | Videos by Ramon Dompor | Graphics by Emily M. Eng

Seattle Times staff

Published May 19, 2019

In this ancient drama of predator and prey, orcas that frequent Puget Sound prowl the waves and dive glacially carved fjords and bays, undisputed masters at hunting the salmon they co-evolved with.

Like fishermen everywhere, the J, K and L pods of southern resident orcas have deeply set patterns of how, when and where they hunt, depending on seasonal salmon migrations, tides and underwater land forms they use to capture a wily target.

But in some of their ancestral hunting grounds, the southern residents are losing out in a clash of two great maritime cultures: orca, and human.

To read this full article, click here.

Orcas survive on chinook salmon, but dammed Idaho rivers spawn them

By Joel Connelly <> , SeattlePI

Thursday, May 2, 2019  

How we define our identity in this blessed corner of America's "Left Coast" is influenced by two enduring issues which must be solved -- recovery of salmon runs, and survival of the orcas which eat the salmon.

To read the full article, click here.

Regarding Breaching the lower four dams

Washington Budget Funds Group To Study Snake River Dam Removal

by Courtney Flatt Follow Northwest Public Broadcasting April 29, 2019 11 a.m. | Updated: April 29, 2019 12:02 p.m. 

Tucked into Washington’s $52.4 billion operating budget passed Sunday night by the Legislature is controversial funding for a “stakeholder group” tasked with looking into what would happen should the four Lower Snake River dams be removed or altered.

To read the full article, lick here.

State budgets $750,000 for outreach over impacts of breaching Lower Snake River dams

April 30, 2019 at 6:00 am

By Hal Bernton

Seattle Times staff reporter

The state budget approved this week includes $750,000 to launch a two-year outreach effort over impacts of a possible breaching of four Lower Snake River dams to aid in salmon recovery.

To read the full article, click here.

Press Release

April 29, 2019

Snake River Forum will convene stakeholders to collaboratively develop a contingency plan

Click here to read the full Press Release   To download a pdf version, click here.

News from Idaho:

‘I want salmon back in Idaho.’ Simpson seeks bold action after $16 billion spent on recovery


APRIL 23, 2019 05:14 PM, UPDATED APRIL 24, 2019 10:29 AM

Last year, Idaho U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson and some of his staff went to Marsh Creek, the headwaters of the Middle Fork Salmon River, to watch a returning salmon create its redd, or nest, lay its eggs and die.

“. . . “All of Idaho’s salmon runs are either threatened or endangered,” he said. “Look at the number of returning salmon and the trend line is not going up. It is going down.”

To read the full article, click here.

 Bringing breaching to the table

Congressman Mike Simpson says he’s determined to see fish runs recovered in his lifetime

By ERIC BARKER of the Tribune Apr 24, 2019 Updated Apr 24, 2019

BOISE — Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson flirted with backing the removal of the four lower Snake River dams during a conference here on salmon recovery Tuesday.

 To read this article, click here.

Breaching Orca

Gov. Jay Inslee’s orca-recovery agenda advancing, but billion-dollar funding yet to be seen

April 19, 2019 at 6:00 am Updated April 19, 2019 at 5:39 pm

By: Lynda V. Mapes

Seattle Times environment reporter

Gov. Jay Inslee’s orca agenda is advancing in the Washington state Legislature, but with the budget yet to be decided how much of the governor’s billion-dollar-bold ambition will be accomplished is yet to be seen.

To read the complete article click here.

To read additional articles by Lynda Mapes regarding Puget Sound orca, click here.

Inslee's Orca Task Force wants to plan now for the potential breaching of four Snake River dams, but there's pushback from some groups

By Samantha Wohlfeil


Saving Puget Sound's southern resident orca pods and the salmon they depend on for food is not a contentious idea. People across the political spectrum agree they want to see those endangered species survive and thrive.

 To read the complete article from Spokane's Inlander, click here.

The Seattle Times: Opinion

 April 16, 2019 

 Restore the Snake River? Stakeholder talks are the right next step

 By Sam Mace <>  

 Special to The Times

To read Sam Mace's full editorial, click here.  To read of download a pdf version, click here.

Feds could restrict Pacific Ocean fishing over endangered orcas, NOAA letter says

Originally published March 7, 2019 at 6:00 am Updated March 7, 2019 at 6:06 pm

Southern resident killer whales eat primarily chinook salmon. Only 29,800 wild chinook are predicted to come back to Puget Sound, and the projected return of hatchery chinook to Puget Sound also is down from 2018 levels. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Changes to 2019 fisheries are not expected. But future restrictions could include season closures.

Lynda V. Mapes and Hal Bernton
Seattle Times staff reporters

Click here to read the full article.

Sierra Club Fact Sheet on Snake  River Salmon Recovery

 M'Fish flush' could be part of orca and salmon recovery

By Joel Connelly, SeattlePI Updated 5:55 am PST, Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The state Department of Ecology is unveiling a proposal that would increase water spilled over Columbia and Snake river dams, to assist downstream migration of young salmon and ultimately help endangered killer whales.

Click here to read all of Joel Connelly's article.  To download a pdf of the Connelly article, click here.

Yakima Herald Op-Ed

Saturday soapbox: To help the orcas, and improve salmon runs, remove the dams

David Mack Dec 21, 2018 

In the Dec. 5 issue of the Herald-Republic, the editorial board praised the recommendations of the Governor’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery and Task Force. But the task force provided weak recommendations, including the long-term reduction of pollution and allowing additional water to flow over some dams.


Meet the leaders who ended orca captures in Washington state

Originally published December 13, 2018 at 6:00 am Updated December 18, 2018 at 3:04 pm

Gov. Dan Evans, State Attorney General Slade Gorton, and Ralph Munro, a staff aide to Evans who would later go on to be the secretary of state, were integral figures in ending the capture era. The three joined us for a live discussion.

Dan Evans, Slade Gorton and Ralph Munro gathered in The Seattle Times studio to discuss shutting down orca captures forever in a panel discussion with Seattle Times environment reporter Lynda Mapes. We answered your own questions about the capture era, and their work to stop it.


 Urgent, controversial orca whale recovery steps go to Inslee

Joel Connelly, SeattlePI | November 16, 2018

Urgent recommendations for orca whale recovery, conveyed Friday by a task force he created, will test the depth of Gov. Jay Inslee's commitment to be America's greenest governor.

The Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery Task Force wants a three- to five-year moratorium on whale watching, "lethal and nonlethal" reductions in sea lion and seal populations, and more spill out of eight federal Columbia and Snake River dams

To read the full article, click here.


Changes to dams on Columbia, Snake rivers to benefit salmon, hydropower and orcas

Originally published December 18, 2018 at 6:00 am Updated December 18, 2018 at 10:01 am

A landmark agreement supported by states, tribes and federal agencies is expected to change how water is spilled at Columbia and Lower Snake River dams to boost the survival of young salmon while limiting the financial hit to hydropower.

By Lynda V. Mapes and Hal Bernton

Seattle Times staff reporters

Click here to read the full article.

Press Release

For Immediate Release:

Orca Recovery Task Force calls for urgent action to increase Columbia-Snake river chinook salmon populations, among its recommendations for Governor Inslee to protect critically endangered orcas from extinction.

November 16, 2018

Bill Arthur, Sierra Club, 206-954-9826
Sam Mace, Save Our wild Salmon Coalition, 509-863-5696
Joseph Bogaard, Save Our wild Salmon Coalition, 206-300-1003
Governor Inslee’s Task Force delivers two recommendations affecting the federal hydro-system to increase chinook salmon for Southern Resident orcas: increased ‘spill’ and a planning forum to prepare for the potential removal of the lower Snake River dams.

To read the complete press release, click here.

Orcas in Peril The Seattle Times

Orcas thrive in a land to the north.  

Why are Puget Sound's dying? 

Story by Lynda V. Mapes | Photographs by Steve Ringman

Videos by Ramon Dompor | Graphics by Emily M. Eng

 Seattle Times staff

Published November 11, 2018

A new series by Seatttle Times Environmental Reporter Lynda Mapes began today in the Sunday edition.  Read it here.

Article posted in Lewiston Tribune Sunday, July 8

This article is comprehensive and very detailed, including energy issues and how dam removal could benefit BPA during this period where they have rising costs and other power costs are declining.

BPA at a crossroads

Battling growing competition and looking at costly upgrades, Northwest power agency is trying to right its ship. Could dam breaching be a solution?

The Bonneville Power Administration is one of a few self-funded federal agencies that operates like a private concern, but difficult market conditions are eroding the business model it's depended on for decades and threatening to upend its future.
Lewiston Morning Tribune July 8, 2018

To read the full article Click here

Op Ed

Defenders of Snake River dams are ignoring facts

Margie Van Cleve    Apr 13, 2018

Problem solving is the essence of what leaders are supposed to do. Sen. Jim Honeyford’s April 8 guest editorial, however, misses that mark. Restoring Snake River salmon and steelhead will require innovation, communication and open-mindedness. Instead, we just get more of the “same old, same old.” Sen. Honeyford is also missing something more important in his guest opinion: data and facts.

To read the full Op Ed, click here

New Study

Please read the introduction of a press release that went out April 4, 2018 from the Northwest Energy Coalition on the recently completed evaluation on replacing the power from the LSRD's.  The analysis and report was prepared by Energy Strategies based out of Salt Lake City, Utah which has considerable experience in energy and reliability analysis work.  Links are provided for the fact sheet and full report below.

The report shows that we can replace the power from the four lower Snake River dams at very affordable cost (about $1 per month on an average residential bill) and maintain or even exceed current system reliability standards.  And, demonstrates there is no need for any new gas plants as part of the replacement process.  This can be accomplished with little to no increase in GHG emissions.

This analysis refutes the arguments from some quarters that removing the dams would harm system reliability, be extrremely expensive and require new gas plants.

This is a big step forward in showing we can remove the dams which is the single most important action for protecting and restoring the wild salmon and steelhead from the Columbia Basin.  Restoring the salmon benefits sport, commercial and tribal fishing and our endangered orca.   This provides important information that needs to be incorporated into the NEPA process and inform regional conversations about how to responsibly recover salmon and keep our communities and energy system whole.  Bill Arthur

Renewables and energy efficiency can reliably replace power from lower Snake River dams

Affordable, clean energy solution offers hope for restoring salmon

SEATTLE, WA -- (April 4, 2018) -- The Northwest region can remove four lower Snake River dams and replace the power and energy services they provide with a portfolio of demand side and renewable energy resources while maintaining grid and transmission reliability at levels equal to or better than the current system and with little or decreased greenhouse gas emissions.

To read the full press release, click on here.

To read the 4-page overview of the study, click here.

To  read the fact sheet, click here.


2018 Salmon Poll Regarding Wild Salmon and the Lower Snake River Dams

  Click here for the 2018 poll.

 Read the Press Release:

Washington Voters Value Wild Salmon Over Lower Snake River Dams 

Below are two related articles that ran over the weekend:


Poll shows Washington voters choose salmon over dams

Sat., March 31, 2018, 4:39 p.m.

The Lewiston-Tribune:

Washingtonians say they'd take salmon over the dams, poll finds

  • By ERIC BARKER of the Tribune Sat., March 31, 2018

Environmental impact of salmon decline: This isn’t just about fish

Originally published January 26, 2018 at 11:14 am
More than 135 other fish and wildlife populations benefit from the presence of wild salmon and steelhead.

Connelly: Orca whales need Chinook salmon, losing same

By Joel Connelly, The Seattle Times
Published 11:25 AM, Friday, November 3, 2017

 The Southern Resident Orca whale population, beloved by ferry and tour boat passengers, is in a decline that can be reversed only if its endangered food source—Chinook salmon—is put on a path to recovery.

To read the full article, click HERE.

Time to breach?

Diminishing fish returns on the Snake-Columbia river systems are sparking renewed calls for taking out the dams

By: ERIC BARKER of the Tribune  October 22, 2017

More than a decade ago, the looming effects of climate change convinced one of the most respected salmon biologists in the Pacific Northwest to change his position on dam breaching.

Don Chapman, who had taught many of the fisheries biologists in the region as a professor at the University of Idaho, ruffled fins when he took a job consulting for the hydropower industry and staunchly backed keeping the lower Snake River dams.

Read the full article by clicking HERE.

If you're unable to access the Lewiston Tribune, click HERE for the pdf version of Time to Breach?.


"The Sierra Club strongly opposes [H.R. 3144]. . . "

Dan Ritzman, Director of Lands, Water and Wildlife

To read Sierra Club official letter to House Committee on Natural Resources, click HERE..
Congressional title: H.R.3144 - To provide for operations of the Federal Columbia River Power System pursuant to a certain operation plan for a specified period of time, and for other purposes.
To read about the legislation and its text in full, go to

Idaho Statesman:

Acidic oceans and warm rivers that kill Idaho’s salmon might be norm in 50 years

By Rocky Barker 

October 07, 2017


What is the future of the Columbia River and its salmon? Look to 2015. 

That year’s extraordinary combination of overheated river water and low flows killed hundreds of thousands of returning sockeye salmon, devastating a run that had rebounded from near-extinction. 

Millions of new sockeye and steelhead smolts migrating the opposite way, to the Pacific, died throughout the river system; only 157 endangered sockeye made it back to the Sawtooth Valley this year.


Don’t blame ‘the blob.’ Even with good ocean conditions, salmon face hostile rivers.

SEPTEMBER 23, 2017 10:18 PM
Recent media reports claim the primary cause of a 40-year low in 2017 Idaho salmon and steelhead returns is “the blob,” a mass of hot water in the Pacific.
Salmon managers have a responsibility to avoid taking this notion too far. While ocean conditions are an important factor in salmon life-cycle survival, don’t forget that salmon and steelhead spend half their lives in lakes and rivers, where salmon policy and action have been negligent, insufficient and illegal for decades. Weather experts also say the ocean will not improve significantly anytime soon. Consequently, the need for stronger freshwater policy and action is immediate and compelling.
To read the full article, click HERE.

Over 150 "boats" and 400 people in Snake River Flotilla

On the weekend of Sept. 9 hundreds of activists gathered at Chief Timothy Park in Clarkston, WA for the 3rd annual Free the Snake Flotilla and the return of free flowing Snake River. The Snake River is thee major tributary to the Columbia, and four dams along the river obstruct passage of wild salmon and steelhead from to their native headwaters in Central Idaho, SE Washington, and NE Oregon. Removal of the dams would constitute what is likely to be the largest fisheries restoration project in human history.

Fish and dam removal advocates began to gather for the exciting event on Friday evening, and over a hundred boats took to the water the next day to say with one voice: it is time to Free the Snake River and remove the deadbeat dams! Participants made the trip from around the Northwest with representation from Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. Tribes from around the region spoke of the need to restore the river,  fish habitat, and the imperiled populations of salmon and steelhead that are trending towards extinction. Environmental groups, fish advocates, and local businesses echoed the importance of removing these dams.

The flotilla received media attention across state lines:

A special thanks to Sam Mace (Save Our Wild Salmon) who has led the organizing for this event each year and the Nimiipuii (Nez Perce Tribe) for their leadership and keeping this effort grounded in our connection to the water, earth, and fish and wildlife it supports.  And, a shout out to Casey Mattoon, Zack Waterman and Edwina Allen from Idaho's Chapter of Sierra Club, who play a pivotal role in helping to boost participation from their state. Alex Craven and Bill Arthur provided leadership from the Washington Chapter.  Rhett Lawrence informed and encouraged Oregon Sierra Club member to attend.    

Bill Arthur and Alex Craven

Steelhead struggling home in record low numbers

Originally published August 18, 2017 at 6:00 am Updated August 18, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Warm-water conditions in the Columbia and Snake Rivers are challenging cold water salmon and steelhead — and the problem is likely to get worse because of climate change.

By Lynda V. Mapes

Seattle Times environment reporter

Salmon and steelhead are in hot water — a problem scientists warn is going to get worse because of climate change.

Go to The Seattle Times to read the full article.

Find article pdf HERE.

A changing electrical grid may make Snake River dams expendable — and help save salmon


AUGUST 04, 2017 11:43 AM


Editor’s note: The Northwest has yet to figure out a sustainable plan to save imperiled Columbia salmon. This is part two of a series exploring whether salmon can ultimately survive.

Decision Be Dammed

Congressional reps want to sidestep ruling on lower Snake dams; enviro groups say salmon a priority

By Samantha Wohlfeil

from the Inlander, July 13, 2017

Read the full article HERE.

Congressional bill would prevent breaching of 4 Snake River

Updated on July 5, 2017 at 9:50 AM


A bipartisan bill has been introduced in Congress that seeks to prevent
the breaching of the four Snake River dams in eastern Washington state.

Read the full article HERE.

Massive Public Response on Plans for Snake River Dams:

Sierra Club Members Make their Position Clear

By Bill Arthur, Chair, Columbia-Snake River Salmon Recovery Campaign
Sierra Club members spoke loud and clear to the question of what should be included in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the court ordered revision to the federal agency salmon plan. The comment period, of January 17 reported in the Winter issue of the Crest got extended to February 7 allowing us to generate even more comments.
Read more about Sierra Club and the public response . . .

Free the Snake Rally in Seattle

Following the Endangered Salmon

Saving Idaho’s salmon

The first story of the series about endangered salmon from the Pacific to Idaho spawning streams in The Idaho Statesman by Rocky Barker

by clicking HERE.

The Snake and salmon: People are feeling the pain of a river lost By David A. Cannamela

Unless you grew up on or near saltwater, you’re probably not so keen to notice the changing of the tides. It’s a fairly subtle thing, but the more you’ve experienced it, the more noticeable, expected and obvious it becomes. You notice the tug on the anchor rope, the fly line or the lobster (or crab) pot buoy begin to weaken. And soon you notice no tug at all.

Read the article by clicking HERE


Seattle Times: Epic snow and rain help salmon now, but conflicts with hydropower lie ahead on Columbia River 

This year’s strong spring flows through the Columbia River come amid a high-stakes conflict over how much water should be used to help salmon migrate over the dams rather than run through hydroelectric turbines.

By Hal Bernton                  
Seattle Times staff reporter

CASCADE LOCKS, Oregon — In this year of epic snow and rain, the Columbia River is a formidable sight, thundering over spillways at Bonneville Dam to form a turbulent stretch of white water that courses toward the sea.

Read the full Seattle Time article         

Access article pdf HERE.

Conservation Groups Ask To Stop Barging Sockeye Around Dams

Courtney Flatt | NWPR/EarthFix | April 19, 2017

Helping juvenile salmon migrate out to sea has long been difficult and controversial. Barging is a common way to get the fish around dams.

Read the full article HERE.

Horseback Treks for Salmon

Idaho horseback riders on salmon trek pass through Portland

The Oregonian/OregonLive, Andrew Theen — updated April 24, 2017 at 4:12 PM

Three women rode horses through downtown Portland on Monday, part of a

900-mile journey to raise awareness about the plight of endangered Idaho

salmon. . . . 

"The Columbia produces an amazing amount of salmon, and the ones that

make it to our home swim 900 miles inland and 6,500 feet in elevation,"

Cannell said as she plodded along the roadway. Each rider had a pack

horse alongside them.

Read the full article HERE.

Check out this article from the Tri-City Herald regarding the above mentioned horse trek:

3 horseback riders stop in Kennewick on journey to save salmon


Press Releases

Press Release, July 31, 2020:  Response to the FEIS-CRSO and the Biological Opinion (BiOp)

Press Release, April 4, 2018New Study: Renewables and energy efficiency can reliably replace power from lower Snake River dams

Press Release:  March 29, 2018:  Washington Voters Value Wild Salmon Over Lower Snake River Dams 

Press Release: November 2, 2017: Call on Governor Inslee to act quickly to help critically endangered Columbia Basin salmon and Southern Resident killer whales.

 Press Release: House Bill June 30, 2017

Water release for Salmon, March 28, 2017

 Idaho groups seek end of sockeye salmon barging program