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Action Alert: Help Restore the Snake River

Posted: 10/31/2007
by Thomas O'Keefe

Earlier today NOAA Fisheries issued Draft Columbia and Snake River Biological Opinions. NOAA Fisheries rewrote the federal salmon plan under court order from federal Judge James Redden, who declared the 2004 version illegal – a ruling later upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The revised plan falls short of an incredible opportunity to restore the Snake River and tributaries that include classic whitewater runs like the Lochsa, Middle Fork of the Salmon, Clearwater, and Selway. While these great rivers remain as iconic destinations for paddlers, our generation is watching the steady decline of the native salmon that give these rivers their identify. In the time of Lewis and Clark up to 16 million wild salmon returned to the Columbia and Snake River basins. Today, all runs of these fish on the Snake River are either extinct or listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Dams across the Pacific Northwest have fueled the regional economy for many decades but they have also come at a tremendous cost both for our fishery resources and the opportunities to enjoy free-flowing rivers. Recognizing that some dams will continue to serve an important function and provide benefits to society, we feel it is time to take a critical look at those dams that provide marginal societal benefit at extreme environmental cost. The four dams on the lower Snake River fall into this category and we have joined with Save Our Wild Salmon to critically evaluate the future of these dams.

Trading these four dams for a restored river will offer significant benefits for quality of life while providing abundant recreation opportunities. This one time investment in river restoration also makes sense for taxpayers given the millions of dollars we continue to spend on plans for river restoration that do not work.

Important Considerations:

  • Restoring rivers is about more than the paddling opportunities. By working together as paddlers, fishermen, and river conservationists, we have an incredible opportunity to achieve significant gains for rivers.
  • We have 1000's of dams in the US that provide benefits for irrigation, hydropower, navigation, flood control, and even paddling. However there are some dams where the environmental impacts are extremely detrimental relative to societal benefits. These dams are in that category and represent an incredible opportunity for river restoration.
  • This is a national issue. These rivers are enjoyed by paddlers and fishermen from across the U.S. We will be looking to Congress for assistance and this depends on national support from across the country.
Working in partnership with several national and regional organizations we have developed a simple online comment form. You can register your comments now. You will also see a post card in next month's AW journal and we encourage our members to mail this in.

Comment Today ==>

Read NOAA's Draft Columbia and Snake River Biological Opinions

Thomas O'Keefe
3537 NE 87th St.
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 425-417-9012

Associated Projects

Snake River Restoration (ID, OR, WA)
American Whitewater is working with a coalition of partners to restore the Snake and Salmon Rivers in Idaho for fish and paddlers.