TAKE ACTION! Restore the Snake River (WA)

posted January 27, 2017
by Megan Hooker

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We have a once in a generation opportunity to restore one of the greatest river systems of the world–the Columbia and the Snake­–by removing four outdated and expensive dams on the lower Snake River. Unlocking the lower Snake River is not only the single most effective thing that we can do to restore wild salmon runs, but it will also restore opportunities for whitewater enthusiasts on the mainstem Snake and enhance them in key upper tributaries like the Lochsa, Selway and Salmon rivers in Idaho.

This opportunity comes as federal agencies charged with protecting endangered wild salmon and steelhead from the lethal impacts of federal dams in the Columbia and Snake rivers are considering the future of the operations of the Columbia and Snake River dams. These agencies are receiving public comment through February 7th, 2017.
The comment period is part of the first phase of a court-ordered review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of salmon restoration alternatives in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. One obvious alternative is to remove the four lower Snake River Dams. Last spring, the U.S. District Court in Portland, OR issued a strongly-worded opinion that found the agencies’ latest plan inadequate and illegal - in violation of both the Endangered Species Act and NEPA. It’s the 5th plan to be invalidated by 3 judges across twenty years. The next plan – and this NEPA Review – is the public’s opportunity to get involved and ensure that the federal agencies get it right this time.
As a whitewater enthusiast, your voice is an important part of the process. Here’s why…
1) A freely flowing lower Snake River would restore opportunities for a 140 mile multi-day river trip. In 2002 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated demand for paddlesports would be for over 300,000 annual user days following dam removal.
2) In an effort to address declining salmon runs, river management agencies have restricted opportunities to recreate on upper tributaries like the Middle Fork Salmon in Idaho. While these actions have been implemented, the biggest factors affecting fish populations—i.e. the Snake River Dams—remain unaddressed.
3) Restoring the fishery resource in the upper Snake River on tributaries like the Lochsa, Selway, and Salmon Rivers is consistent with our mission to restore rivers. As whitewater enthusiasts, we want the rivers we enjoy to be healthy, and productive salmon runs are part of that experience in the Pacific Northwest.


You can help ensure that the agencies fully and fairly consider removing the lower Snake River Dams and that recreation is included in the analysis by commenting before February 7th, 2017. We’ve made it easy for you to provide comments here, or you can comment to the agency directly.

For more information, visit our Snake River Project page. And stay tuned to American Whitewater for information as the process unfolds.