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NW Residents Concerned Feds Not Doing Enough to Save Salmon

Northwesterners are concerned salmon fishing could be a dying industry if historically low return rates continue. (Nan Palermo/Flickr)
Northwesterners are concerned salmon fishing could be a dying industry if historically low return rates continue. (Nan Palermo/Flickr)
March 2, 2020

SEATTLE -- Federal agencies have released a report on management plans in the Columbia River basin to save endangered salmon species, rejecting proposals to remove four lower Snake River dams in southeast Washington.

The draft environmental impact statement instead recommends smaller actions, such as increased spill over regional dams. It's little solace to folks in the Northwest who rely on the fish for their livelihoods.

Tasha Parker, a commercial fisher in Washington state following in her father's footsteps, says something major needs to be done because she's part of a dying industry.

"It's just really hard when there's not enough salmon out there for us to catch and able to pay the bills," she states.

The report cites concerns over the region's power grid for rejecting removal of the dams. The release of the report begins a public comment period that ends on April 13.

The movement to breach the Snake River dams has grown as salmon runs have reached historic lows, in turn starving Puget Sound orcas.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and other leaders in the Northwest have voiced support for the idea.

Tom France, regional director with the National Wildlife Federation, says that's the biggest change in recent years. He says NWF is disappointed in the draft EIS but not surprised because river managers have resisted changing their approach for two decades.

France says the spill will provide a bit of relief for salmon.

"It's better than nothing," he allows. "They have moved in that direction, but given that 20 years of failure in fish restoration efforts, we think more is needed."

France says it's important that all affected parties collaborate on Snake River restoration.

Disclosure: National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, Salmon Recovery, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA