WWSSNild Salmon & Steelhead News is published monthly by the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition. Read on to learn about the Columbia-Snake River Basin’s endangered wild salmon and steelhead, the many benefits they deliver to people and ecosystems, and the extinction crisis they face today. Find out how SOS is helping lead efforts to restore health, connectivity, and resilience to the rivers and streams salmon depend upon in the Columbia-Snake Basin and how you can get involved to help restore healthy, abundant, and fishable populations and sustain more just and prosperous communities. To learn more and/or get involved, contact Carrie Herrman.

1. Update: Murray/Inslee Snake River Initiative – Draft report coming soon!
2. The Biden Administration speaks out on Columbia Basin salmon recovery
3. Earth Day is this week - opportunities for reflection and action!
4. You're invited: Stand with Northwest Tribes for the 'Snake River to Salish Sea Spirit of the Waters Totem Pole Journey' (May 3-20, 2022)
5. Columbia River chinook season - low salmon numbers and season closure on April 6
6. YOU'RE INVITED: Upcoming #StopSalmonExtinction events!
7. And this just in from Indian Country… Salmon release in Hangman Creek
8. ​​‘Artists Against Extinction’: stickers, posters, t-shirts – and new billboards!

1. Update: Murray/Inslee Snake River Initiative – Draft report coming soon!

WSSN 1On May 1, just 91 days remain before July 31st. That’s the deadline established by Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee for their 'Snake River Salmon Initiative'. It’s also the deadline for the separate but simultaneous settlement talks the Biden Administration is conducting with the Nez Perce Tribe, State of Oregon and conservation/fishing plaintiffs led by Earthjustice for the purpose of settling the long-running litigation in order to protect and restore endangered salmon and steelhead populations in the Snake and Columbia rivers. The decisions, direction and next steps announced by policymakers by or before July 31 are likely to determine the fate and future of Snake River salmon and steelhead - and the many irreplaceable benefits they bring to the Northwest and nation.

We urge you to do whatever you are able to contact these and other public officials and demonstrate your support for their leadership and the need for bold urgent action to recover imperiled salmon, including the removal of the four dams on the lower Snake River as quickly as possible.
You can send email messages to important policymakers at SOS’ action alert webpage. And we invite you and your friends and family to participate in upcoming regional events and activities that may be occurring near you. Learn more at our 2022 Events page.
As a reminder, last year U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee acknowledged the extinction crisis facing Snake River fish and committed themselves to develop, by 7/31/2022, a comprehensive plan to protect and restore these imperiled populations. Two key elements are in play now: a public online survey and a ‘dam benefits replacement’ report.

  1. The Murray/Inslee Survey: You can visit our ‘Murray/Inslee Initiative’ Survey Resource Page for background and guidance on the survey. The survey can be filled out by anyone - regardless of where you live. It represents an important opportunity for you and others to share your thoughts about Snake River dam removal and salmon recovery. Please complete this survey – and encourage your friends and family members to do the same. By completing the survey, you’ll help demonstrate strong public interest in and support for leadership by Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee to develop a comprehensive plan this year that protects/restores endangered wild salmon and steelhead - and includes lower Snake River dam removal.
  1. The Upcoming Report – Last fall, as one part of their Snake River salmon Initiative, Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee began work on a report in order to identify how to replace the services currently provided by the four lower Snake River dams. With the assistance of a consultant, they have been working with the region’s tribes, many stakeholders, and other experts to produce a report that identifies how to replace the dams’ energy, irrigation, and transportation services. We anticipate that a draft version of this report will soon be available - in early May. And we expect a public comment/feedback period to follow – from mid-May to mid-June.

The public comment period will be another important opportunity to weigh in on this important regional conversation – and to communicate strong support for developing and delivering in 2022 a comprehensive regional solution for Snake River salmon and Northwest communities that includes a restored Snake River.

Stay tuned – we’ll be back in touch as soon as the report is available.

2. The Biden Administration speaks out on Columbia Basin salmon recovery

WSSN 2On March 28, the Biden Administration’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published an excellent blogpost reflecting on its recent conversations with Northwest Tribes.

The blogpost is encouraging. It demonstrates the Biden Administration's appreciation of the importance of healthy salmon populations to tribal as well as non-tribal communities across the Northwest. It acknowledges the devastating declines of salmon in the Columbia Basin and across the region and its impacts on people and other fish and wildlife populations, including the Southern Resident orcas. The blogpost also recognizes that we must act quickly, boldly, and comprehensively if we hope to reverse these losses and begin to restore salmon abundance - and uphold our nation's promises made to Northwest tribes more than a century ago.

This year, the Northwest and the nation must develop and deliver a comprehensive regional plan to restore the lower Snake River dams and invest in communities and infrastructure. Time is running out. Wild Snake River salmon and steelhead - and the irreplaceable benefits they bring - are at risk of disappearing forever. All four Snake River populations are listed on the Endangered Species Act and their numbers are dwindling fast. The science is clear: removing the lower Snake River dams must be the cornerstone of any effective regional salmon recovery strategy.

Here are several excerpts from the CEQ blogpost:

The Columbia River and its tributaries are the life spring of the Pacific Northwest. The Columbia River Basin was also once among the most productive aquatic ecosystems in the world with an estimated 7.5 to 16 million adult salmon and steelhead returning to Pacific Northwest tributaries each year and providing food for over 130 wildlife species, including Orca, bears, and wolves. The salmon and steelhead sustained the cultures and economies of Tribal Nations since time immemorial, and in turn, Tribes successfully managed these fisheries for millennia…

Despite hard work, ingenuity, great expense, and commitment across all levels of Federal, state, Tribal and local governments and a wide range of stakeholders, many fish populations in the Columbia River Basin—salmon, steelhead, and others— have not recovered, some continue to decline, and many areas remain inaccessible to them…

We heard calls to support breaching the four dams on the lower Snake River to restore a more natural flow, also about the need to replace the services provided by those dams, and recognition that such a step would require congressional action. This approach has been supported by Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho and is being evaluated by Washington Senator Patty Murray in collaboration with Washington Governor Jay Inslee…

We were asked to consider the Basin holistically because of its inherent interconnectedness.

You can read the entire blog post here: Columbia River Basin Fisheries here - Working Together to Develop a Path Forward.

We also want to ask for your help by writing CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory. Thank her for the engagement and leadership to date from the Biden Administration - and remind her of the urgency for action this year to protect Columbia Basin salmon with a plan that restores the Snake River and its imperiled fish.

3. Earth Day is this week - opportunities for reflection and action!

277798074 5092538074136151 7806280258824427711 nSnake River sockeye, chinook, and steelhead suffered some of their worst returns on record in 2021. Many fish populations in the Pacific Northwest are teetering on the edge of extinction and the effects of climate change are increasing the urgency for action.

Salmon and steelhead, of course, are not the only species in peril from the devastating effects of climate change. Southern Resident orcas rely on chinook salmon as their primary prey. As salmon runs have declined in recent decades, SRKW have experienced heartbreaking reproductive losses and subsequent population decline. The Southern Resident orcas number just 73 individuals today - a population that was once in the hundreds. Without abundant chinook salmon runs, these whales will continue to face an imminent threat of extinction.

This Earth Day, we urge you to give gratitude and grace to the lands and ecosystems that sustain us, while also addressing the anthropogenic drivers of climate change. This epoch of human history will be marked by our actions in the face of climate change. Below are a number of Earth Day events occurring in the Northwest this week. Please join SOS and its allies in advocating for transformational environmental leadership to address the root causes of climate change and to invest in healthier, connected, and more resilient rivers and watersheds.

A few of the Earth Day events occurring this week in the Northwest:
Spokane, WA: Earth Day Rally and March
on Friday, April 22nd, 1:45 - 4 pm at the Pavilion at Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane. Visit the Facebook event for more details!

Spokane, WA: The Care for Creation Conference at St. John’s Cathedral on Saturday, April 23rd, noon - 3:30 pm. Go here for more information!

Vancouver, WA: Free the Snake Rally and March on Friday, April 22nd, noon - 3 pm at the Waterfront Park Grant Street Pier. Learn more and RSVP here!

In Port Angeles, WA: Earth Day Celebration & Call to Action on Saturday, April 23rd, 11 am - 1 pm at the Port Angeles City Pier Visit the Facebook event for more details!

In Boise, ID:Annual Earth Day Boise River Clean-Up on Saturday, April 23, 2022 from 10:00 am - 12 pm at various spots along the river including Idaho River Sports, Maravia Rafts, Glenwood/Marigold St. and the Boise River Research Area - Register here!

4. You're invited: Stand with Northwest Tribal Communities for the 'Snake River to Salish Sea Spirit of the Waters Totem Pole Journey' (May 3-20, 2022)

WSSN 3This May, Se'Si'Le invites you to stand with Lummi tribal members, the House of Tears Carvers and Tribal communities across the Northwest in support of a totem pole journey and the Indigenous-led movement to remove the Snake River dams. This important Journey comes at a critical time for the Snake River, endangered salmon and orcas, and the region's Tribal communities. There will be twelve stops on the Journey this spring in Oregon, Idaho and Washington State. These events are free and all are welcome to attend, to listen and learn, and to stand in solidarity with Tribal communities.

The May 2022 totem pole journey is the latest of more than a dozen totem pole journeys conducted by the project leads over the past twenty years. Most recently in 2021, the Red Road Totem Pole Journey to DC, was dedicated to the protection of sacred sites and reached an estimated 1.2 million people over a period of the twenty-day journey to the Capitol. The upcoming 2022 journey builds upon, strengthens and reaffirms the growing indigenous-led environmental movement across the Northwest that began years ago with the successful campaigns to oppose proposed fossil fuels projects. The fossil fuels campaign included 4 totem pole journeys.

This year's totem pole journey aims to inspire, inform, and engage Northwest people and communities through intergenerational voices, ceremony, art and science, spirituality, ancestral knowledge, and cross-cultural collaboration in support of the indigenous-led movement to remove the Snake River dams and restore health to Snake River salmon runs and the Southern Resident Killer Whales (Skali’Chelh in the Lummi language) that depend on them.

To achieve its goal, the totem pole journey will engage the intellect, emotion, and imagination through an inspiring mix of generational voices, collective vision, science, ceremony, and venues. The journey includes public events in metropolitan areas (Eugene, Astoria, Portland, Seattle, and Tacoma), and tribal communities (Lummi, Chinook, Nez Perce, Umatilla, Shoshone-Bannock, and the Village of Celilo). At each stop, art and culture will spark greater understanding and reverence of our natural heritage. In two locations (Eugene and Umatilla) the award-winning Whale Protectors Exhibit will also be featured.

Learn more here about this year's Spirit of the Waters Totem Pole Journey, including event details, contacts, and links to additional information.

5. Columbia-Snake River chinook season - low salmon numbers lead to a season closure on April 6

Salmon and steelhead fishing in the Columbia Basin has been a multi-billion dollar industry, bringing friends and families outdoors to pursue one of the Northwest’s most iconic species. Besides the excitement it brings to anglers, sportfishing also represents one of the greatest transfers of wealth from urban to rural communities, even in shoulder tourism seasons. Anglers from all over the world come to small communities like Clatskanine, St. Helens, The Dalles in Oregon, and Cathlamet, North Bonneville, or Camas in Washington, to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to fish recreationally. Like salmon and steelhead populations today, this economic benefit is in steep decline.

And it’s not just Oregon or Washington hit heavy by seasons cut short or closed for the year. Outfitters in Idaho are struggling to keep their doors open. Recent Snake River steelhead returns have been so abysmal and seasons are so short that life-long fishing guides have had to shutter their businesses and/or move to make a living.

2022.rec.fishingUnfortunately for Snake River fish and the businesses and communities that benefit from healthy fisheries, 2022 so far offers few signs of hope. Many anglers fishing in the lower Columbia River are once again being asked to park their boats early - well before the main spring Chinook run arrives in order to protect critically endangered Snake River salmon. April 6 marked the last day parents were able to take their kids fishing for "springers", and guides were able sell their services to clients. This fishing closure is driven by the continued low adult salmon returns and will cost the region and many small businesses millions of dollars in lost revenue. Restoring the Snake as quickly as possible is critical for protecting and recovering its imperiled fish - and its important for rebuilding what was once a world class fishery and fishing experience. Done right, salmon recovery is good for our ecology and our economy.

That’s why sportfishing organizations, along with a multitude of conservation organizations, continue to fight for a better and brighter future - with clean and affordable energy, prosperous farming sector and and healthy fishing communities from the coast up into Idaho. We know what robust runs of wild salmon do for rural communities. From orcas to bears, and from Riggins, Idaho to Ketchikan, Alaska, everyone benefits from healthy fish populations in the Pacific Northwest.

6. YOU'RE INVITED: Upcoming #StopSalmonExtinction events!

ExpeditionReclamation.IGpost12For those of you who are able to get more involved and help us take advantage of this current moment of urgency and opportunity, SOS and our allies are organizing events and activities across the region this spring to educate, inspire and mobilize people and policymakers. Without bold, urgent action in 2022, scientists expect Snake River salmon and steelhead populations to continue to decline toward extinction within the next few years.

We invite you to join us at any of these upcoming events to learn more, to support restoring the lower Snake River and its salmon, and to find out how to get more involved!

Events across the region are coming quickly - with Earth day events across the region, and special events in Spokane on April 26 & 28 and in Port Townsend on May 10th!

Check out our SOS events page to learn more about events near you!

Questions? Reach out to carrie@wildsalmon.org

7. And this just in from Indian Country… Salmon release in Hangman Creek

npr.brightspotcdn.jpgHere's a recent Northwest News Network article - Salmon release in Hangman Creek 'a great thing' for Coeur d'Alene Tribe - by Courtney Flatt.

At one of the only remaining undeveloped slices of land in Spokane, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe has started to heal from nearly a century without salmon in nearby waters.

With a gentle splash, tribal members poured around 530 finger-sized summer chinook salmon, a few at a time, into Hangman Creek. This release could be one of the first steps in healing the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, said Hemene James, a council member with the tribe.

In 1910, the construction of Little Falls Dam blocked fish from reaching habitat on the Spokane River. What James called giant walls continued with the construction of Grand Coulee dam in 1942. The dam cut the Upper Columbia River Tribes off from the salmon.

However, the Upper Columbia Tribes have started a decades-long plan they hope will one day re-establish salmon above Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams.

“When we do stuff like this, I know that those old ones are sitting in camp across the river, war hooping, having a big dinner, because they know all that they sacrificed was for something. That we didn’t forget.” Hemene James, council member with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.

Read the full article here.

8. ‘Artists Against Extinction’: stickers, posters, t-shirts – and new billboards!

Artists Against ExtinctionSOS’ creative collaboration between artists and advocates continues to gain steam and increase its footprint in various ways. As of today, more than two dozen artists from Washington State, Idaho, Oregon, and Alaska have signed on. We’re honored by the opportunity to collaborate with them in common cause to restore the Snake River, its endangered fish – and the many benefits they bring to our region and nation.

Over the past several months, we’ve worked with a number of artists on inspiring, and eye-catching materials. We’re bringing to our events, distributing to partners and supporters – including stickers (thank you Sue and Frank Coccia, and EarthArt International!); t-shirts (thank you Ray Troll!); and posters (thank you, Britt Freda and Alfredo Arreguin!).

We’re very excited about this initial set of billboards that just went live in Portland, Oregon in mid-April. We’re exploring additional locations for Washington State  and will keep you posted in the weeks ahead.

We’ve also developed some wonderful resources for artists – young and old – to download, decorate and deliver to public officials in the Northwest and in Washington D.C.

Visit the NWAAE website to learn more and get busy! Attention Teachers: in addition to the downloadable, decorate-able artwork, we pulled together some curriculum as well – educational materials about salmon, orcas and tribes that can accompany art-based activities in the classroom.

If you have questions, contact Britt Freda – the SOS lead on this project!

Pictured are some samples of some of the beautiful materials we’ve developed featuring artwork from some of our participating artists. Stay tuned – there’s more to come!

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