Dry Summer Warnings Signal Trouble for NW Salmon
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
SEATTLE - There are signs this summer could be a bad one for the native salmon of the Northwest.
Already, drought has gripped the region, causing low river flows that could be hard for fish to navigate or spawn in. That's bad news for species already teetering on extinction, especially in the Columbia River Basin.
Betsy Emery, advocacy and campaign manager for the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, said a study this year from the Nez Perce Tribe predicted 77% of Snake River Chinook salmon will be nearly extinct in four years if current trends hold.
"Our salmon runs cannot afford one catastrophic event that can really devastate the potential for salmon recovery," she said, "and so far, we're seeing a lot of red flags that indicate we could see a catastrophic event like that this summer."
More than 90% of Washington is experiencing drought considered "severe" or worse, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Emery said wildfire is another concern, which can cause poor water stream quality. While wildfires have the potential to improve quality in the long run, Emery said the endangered fish might not have that much time. She noted that humans can't improve habitat for salmon overnight - and have little control over drought or changing ocean patterns because of climate change.
"The only thing that we have immediate action and control over is the function and existence of the lower Snake River dams," she said. "There's significant science that connects those dams to hot water and devastating mortality for the salmon that are swimming through."
She said the dams are especially harmful for the juvenile salmon that pass through them.
U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, proposed a plan for the region that included breaching the Snake River dams, but elected leaders in Oregon and Washington have sidelined it. However, Emery said they've kept dam breaching on the table. She added that what's important right now is that leaders identify a clear pathway to salmon recovery.
"The clock is ticking. We do not have time for some sort of lengthy process," she said. "We need an aggressive timeline that provides funding for the bold actions that we need to take."
get more stories like this via email
Voting-rights advocates are suing the state of Arizona over new regulations they say make it harder for some people to register and would block thousa…
New Hampshire ranks second in the country on measures of child well-being, according to the new 2022 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey …
Massachusetts ranks first in the nation for children's well-being, according to the 2022 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation…
Minnesota once again gets a high ranking among states for child well-being, but an annual report says the state's disparities remain a challenge…
Some measurements of children's well-being show warning signs in Iowa in the area of education. The numbers contrast with Iowa's overall ranking in a …
Health and Wellness
Nearly a dozen Iowa youths with disabilities are taking newly developed leadership skills out into the world. A summer academy wrapped up this month…
A coalition of community organizations teamed up in Oregon to force a chronic polluter out of business, and bring environmental justice to a nearby …
Health and Wellness
During National Health Center Week, health-care advocates are highlighting the work Community Health Centers are doing to improve access to care …