In this issue:

1. Washington State Senate and House members send letter opposing HR 3144
2. Court orders increase in spill at Snake and Columbia river dams to help salmon in 2018
3. 'Loaves and Fishes' – SOS kicks off a discussion series in the Inland Northwest
4. ‘A Tale of Two Rivers’ draws large crowds and rich discussions in Seattle and Spokane
5. Congratulations! Nez Perce Tribe’s Watershed Division Awarded ‘Native Fish Conservationist of the Year’
6. Atlantic salmon net pens’ days appear numbered in Washington State
7. Relevant media from around the region
8. Salmon mean business! A special thanks to Duke’s Seafood and Chowder; Benziger Family Wines, and Fremont Brewing Company

1. Washington State Senate and House members send letter opposing HR 3144

MOC.letter.copyOn February 20, Senator Murray and Representatives Adam Smith (WA-9) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-7) sent a letter to the leadership in the U.S. Congress expressing their strong opposition to HR 3144, an anti-salmon bill that was introduced in the House by Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers back in June 2017. This latest letter joins similar statements of opposition that have been issued by Governor Jay Inslee (WA) and Governor Kate Brown (OR). Despite the mounting opposition in the Pacific Northwest, salmon and fishing advocates remain concerned that this bill will be pushed through Congress as a rider on a piece of “must-pass” legislation.

HR 3144 is a very bad deal. If it becomes law, it will overturn the excellent court decision from 2016 that rejected the federal agencies’ fifth consecutive Columbia-Snake salmon plan. 3144 would reinstate the inadequate and illegal 2014 Plan. It would weaken the Endangered Species Act and undermine our nation's obligations to Treaty Tribes. It would harm already-endangered salmon, critically endangered orca that need more salmon to survive, and struggling fishing communities. HR 3144 would also derail the much-needed environmental review ordered by the court and underway since October 2016. The review must make a full and fair examination of all salmon restoration alternatives, including the removal of four costly dams and the restoration of the lower Snake River. HR 3144, however, would prohibit even the study of dam removal or increased spill over the dams to help improve survival of juvenile salmon as they migrate through the deadly series of federal dams and reservoirs.

Read the Senate/House letter here.

Thank Senator Murray and Reps. Smith and Jayapal here. (Washington residents)

Send a note to your Congressional electeds to urge them to oppose HR 3144 here.

See other timely actions here.

Here is an Associated Press story about the Congressional Letter that appeared in newspapers including the Washington Post, Spokesman Review, and Lewiston Morning Tribune.

2. Court orders increase in spill at Snake and Columbia river dams to help salmon in 2018

gavelOn January 9, Judge Michael Simon of the U.S. District Court in Portland approved of a plan to increase spill during the spring months of 2018 over the lower Snake and lower Columbia River dams in order to provide further help for out-migrating juvenile salmon that are endangered by the federal hydro-system. The plan was jointly submitted by plaintiffs (salmon/fishing/orca/river advocates and the Nez Perce Tribe and State of Oregon) and defendants (federal dam agencies and NOAA) in late 2017 as requested by the court.

As a quick backgrounder, you’ll recall that the Court rejected the federal agencies' latest (2014) Columbia-Snake salmon plan in May 2016. At that time, it ordered the agencies to initiate the NEPA environmental review to examine all recovery options including lower Snake River dam removal. Soon after the ruling, plaintiffs asked the Court to order additional protection for at-risk salmon and steelhead, given the clearly inadequate, illegal plan. The Court ordered an increase in spill – to the maximum allowed under existing state water quality standards, starting in 2018, and asked the parties to develop that detailed plan together, if possible.

There’s a catch here though. While the agencies joined with salmon advocates to submit the plan to increase spill for 2018, they also decided to challenge the Court’s order to increase spill in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. So, as you read this, work is underway on this appeal. Due to the fast-approaching migration season (it starts in early April), the 9th Circuit has expedited their review of this case. Arguments will be presented before a three-judge panel on March 20 in San Francisco, and we expect a decision on Judge Simon's order very soon afterward.

The decision from the 9th Circuit will be a big deal for salmon, orca, fishing communities and others that rely on salmon and steelhead. These endangered populations need more help today, not less, and increased spill levels are the best option in the near-term to provide this help until we plan and implement a more comprehensive plan for the Columbia-Snake Basin that includes lower Snake dam removal, increased spill on the dams that remain, and other necessary measures. Stay tuned for legal updates later this month!

See press coverage on the Court’s Jan. 9 order here.

See our press release on the order here.

3. ‘Loaves and Fishes’ – SOS kicks off a discussion series in the Inland Northwest

Loaves and Fishes Poster 3 2 copyMarch 4 will see the inaugural “Loaves and Fishes” gathering at Salem Lutheran Church in Spokane. This will be the beginning of a series that will feature tribal members, faith leaders, farmers and commercial fishermen sharing their values and their visions for the future of the Snake River and the wild salmon that inhabit it. The faith community has been a significant voice on salmon recovery, from the work of tribal leaders to preserve their ceremonies and way of life, to the spiritual musings of widely renowned author David James Duncan, and the voices of Catholic Bishops in their 2001 Pastoral Letter on the Columbia River Watershed. We will continue this tradition by engaging Eastern Washington communities in a morally guided dialogue that takes seriously the cares and concerns of all stakeholders and the Tribes. Wheat and wild salmon can share a space on our plate, in our economy and on the landscape in a manner that makes our communities stronger and more resilient.

Through these events we are inviting people less familiar with the details of Columbia-Snake salmon recovery to join together at the table, share a meal, ask questions, and form new alliances across different perspectives. The Spokane event on March 4 will feature David Brown Eagle of the Spokane Tribe, Rev. Liv Larson Andrews of Salem Lutheran Church, wheat farmer Bryan Jones, salmon fisherman Ron Richards, and Elliott Moffett of Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment. All are invited to join us for this as well as the subsequent events in Moscow (April 10), Walla Walla (April 12), and La Grande (April 14).

Contact for further details.

4. ‘A Tale of Two Rivers’ draws large crowds and rich discussions in Seattle and Spokane

TaleOfTwoRivers FINAL

Two of the Pacific Northwest’s acclaimed veteran journalists offered their perspectives on salmon, river restoration and dam removal to packed audiences at Seattle’s Burke Museum and Spokane’s historic Cracker Building in January at 'A Tale of Two Rivers'. Lynda Mapes with the Seattle Times reflected on the tremendous ecological restoration underway on the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula after two obsolete dams were removed in 2012, and Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker offered his perspective on the changing conversation and economics, and sense of urgency for wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia-Snake Basin. His comments focused especially on the state of play on the lower Snake River and the growing pressure to remove its four dams to restore salmon to thousands of miles of river in his home state. Former KING5 meteorologist Jeff Renner and Spokesman-Review Outdoor Editor Eli Francovich moderated the discussions and audience questions.

Barker and Mapes' on-the-ground knowledge and decades-long reporting on these rivers informed a thoughtful dialogue on lessons learned from the Elwha success story that can guide the work to build community support and political momentum for a similar success story on the Snake. Critical to the success on the Elwha and key to restoring the Snake River: building common ground with diverse stakeholders, providing solutions to help communities thrive and transition, and ultimately - persistence, persistence, persistence. Both evenings ended with a strong sense of hope for what is possible when citizens work together build the community solutions and political will to make positive change.

To learn more about the Elwha, pick up a copy of A River Reborn by Mapes and Seattle Times photographer Steve Ring.

And dive into Barker’s extensive 2017 multi-media series on the Snake River and its dams and salmon.

HUGE THANKS to our generous event sponsors including Duke’s Seafood & Chowder, Betziger Wines, Fremont Brewing Company Mountaineers Books in Seattle and Central Food, Kop Construction, Aunties Books and Eco Depot Solar in Spokane; and organization sponsors: Sierra Club, Spokane Falls Trout Unlimited, American Rivers, American Whitewater, National Wildlife Federation, NW Energy Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Wild Steelhead Coalition and Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment.

Stay tuned for video posts (full length and excerpts) from the Seattle event coming soon.

5. Congratulations! Nez Perce Tribe’s Watershed Division Awarded ‘Native Fish Conservationist of the Year’

Nez Perce Tribe 200x200The Watershed Division for the Nez Perce Tribe’s Fishery Department has been awarded the Richard L. Wallace Native Fish Conservationist of the Year Award. The award was presented on behalf of the Native Fish Committee of the Idaho Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.
"Each year the committee recognizes outstanding achievements in the theatre of native fish conservation in Idaho by a single individual, group, or organization," officials say.
The Committee's website says that the award was created by the Native Fish Committee in 2004 and is presented annually to an individual, group, or organization for outstanding achievement in native fish conservation in Idaho. The recipients are selected by the Native Fish Committee Chair from nominations made by Idaho Chapter members and the award is presented by the Native Fish Committee Chair at the annual meeting.

More information on the Watershed Division here.

More information on the Idaho Chapter of the American Fisheries Society here.

6. Atlantic salmon net pens’ days appear numbered in Washington State!

net.pensIn what will be a big win for wild salmon and orca, the Salish Sea, Tribal communities, fishermen and conservationists, the Washington State Legislature is poised to vote on legislation that will permanently phase out Atlantic salmon fish farm operations in the Puget Sound. Following on the massive jail break by several hundred thousand Atlantic salmon in 2017, there has been a growing bi-partisan chorus to eliminate net pens in Washington State. Net pens create all kinds of problems in waters where they exist and create a whole new set of problems for already-endangered wild salmon. It doesn’t make any sense to promote these harmful fish farms while at the same time we’re spending millions of dollars to protect native populations from extinction.

Washington is the only state on the west coast that currently allows these types of fish farms. They have been long prohibited in California, Oregon and Alaska. British Columbia (Canada) still allows fish farming, though they are highly controversial and strongly opposed by conservationists, First Nations, orca advocates, and many fishermen.

Here are a couple of recent press stories on the controversy and debate in Washington State:

Seattle Times: Puget Sound region’s Atlantic salmon fish farms could be headed for final harvest (Feb. 26)

Seattle Times: Cooke Aquaculture inspection finds problems at 2 other Atlantic salmon pens (Feb. 18)

7. Relevant media from around the region:

Columbia Basin Bulletin: Harvest Managers Predict 23 Percent Decline In 2018 Fall Chinook Run, One-Half Of 10-Year Average (March 2)Harvest Managers Predict 23 Percent Decline In 2018 Fall Chinook Run, One-Half Of 10-Year Average (March 2)

Associated Press: U.S. considers protected status for wild spring Chinook in the Klamath Basin (Feb. 24)

Science News: Largest Chinook salmon disappearing from West Coast (Feb. 27)

Science News: Wind and solar power could meet four-fifths of US electricity demand, study finds (Feb. 27)

8. Salmon mean business!

In this issue, SOS would like to thank these businesses for their support for protecting and restoring the healthy habitat that wild salmon and steelhead – and the ecological, economic and cultural benefits that they deliver – depend upon. We hope that you'll support them with your dollars. For a fuller list of our business allies and partners, visit our website.


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