A long-running annual report that evaluates salmon and steelhead survival in the Columbia and Snake rivers again this year concluded that removal of the lower Snake River dams poses less of a risk to recovery than allowing the four dams to remain in place.
Searching for snake river dams breaching
The American Fisheries Society Governing Board issued a policy statement this month calling for breaching the lower Snake River dams to “safeguard” Snake River basin salmon and steelhead from going extinct.
A team of scientists concluded in a recent paper that breaching four dams in the Lower Snake River Basin in Washington provides the best and only reasonable opportunity to promote recovery of key fish species, including salmon and steelhead.
Dam operating agencies released for public review this morning a long-awaited draft environmental impact statement that describes the impacts of 14 federal Columbia and Snake river dams on salmon, steelhead and lamprey.
“…if society-at-large wishes to restore Snake River salmon, steelhead, Pacific lamprey, and white sturgeon to sustainable, fishable levels, then a significant portion of the lower Snake River must be returned to a free-flowing condition by breaching the four lower Snake River dams,” according to a resolution approved recently by 86.4 percent of the Western Division of American Fisheries Society’s members.
U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) has introduced the Defending Against Manipulative Negotiators Act (DAMN ACT) to prohibit the use of federal funds from being used in breaching or altering the Lower Snake River Dams and to prohibit the implementation of the Columbia Basin Restoration Initiative.
Federal agencies, states and tribes say a five-year or more pause in U.S. District Court litigation over Columbia River basin salmon recovery will harm none of the parties that objected to the “stay” in December. Instead, they say in a Jan. 12 filing, a stay will allow the region to focus on “important partnership efforts … to benefit the fish, wildlife, diverse habitat, and Native American communities in the Northwest.”
Commitments to restore Columbia River basin salmon and steelhead populations made by the federal government and “six sovereigns” will intersect or overlap with the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s responsibilities under the Northwest Power Act, according to a presentation at last week’s Council meeting.
The Biden Administration, Columbia River treaty tribes and the states of Oregon and Washington agreed Thursday to work to restore wild salmon populations in the Columbia and Snake river basins and to delay ongoing litigation for five years, with an option for the delay to go as long as 10 years.