1. 10 years of ‘salmon spill’ over Columbia and Snake river dams.

2. Columbia River Treaty: Modernize it already! Salmon, fishing and faith leaders meet with Senator Murray

3. American Rivers lists the Columbia River among our nation’s Most Endangered Rivers in 2015 (ACTION ALERT)

4. Hundreds gather to honor a champion for fish and fishing communities: Zeke Grader

5. Salmon Mean Business: A HUGE thank you to PATAGONIA!






1. 10 years of ‘salmon spill’ over Columbia and Snake river dams.
bonneville damSpill is perhaps the most effective measure we have used (so far!) to increase the survival of wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake rivers. The unfortunate irony of spill is that is has come in spite of rather because of the federal agencies charged to protect and restore the Northwest’s most iconic fish.

2015 is the 10th Anniversary of court-ordered spill. In 2005, Judge James Redden rejected another federal salmon plan as inadequate and illegal and agreed with the plaintiffs’ (salmon and fishing advocates, the State of Oregon, and a number of Columbia Basin Tribes) request for mandatory ‘salmon spill’ over federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers in the spring and summer - the time when juvenile fish are migrating to the ocean.

Spill has long been recognized by salmon biologists as one of our most effective recovery strategies short of dam removal. Spill sends water (and young salmon) over the dams rather than through spinning turbines or transported in barges. Spill delivers juvenile fish to the ocean more quickly and safely, increases their survival, and leads to greater adult returns several years later.

Before 2005, the federal agencies made a habit of producing salmon plans that included spill as a possible action. In practice however, they rarely if ever used it voluntarily. That changed in 2005 when, faced with another illegal federal salmon plan, the court ordered the agencies to spill water for out-migrating juvenile salmon in the spring. Starting in 2006, the order included spill in both spring and summer – from April to August. With the support of the plaintiffs - and often over the objections of federal agencies - spill has been mandated by the court each year since then.

Led by Bonneville Power Administration, the agencies fought spill tooth and nail during many years that followed. Utilities oppose spill because it sends water over the tops of dams rather than through turbines, so they make a little less money. Despite BPA’s exaggerated claims that spill would cause electrical rates to skyrocket, few homeowners even noticed the increase of less than $2.00 on their monthly bill.

Northwest salmon and people have benefitted from court-won spill for the last ten years. Combined with favorable ocean conditions, spill has increased juvenile salmon and steelhead survival and subsequent adult returns. Columbia River fall chinook and sockeye have fared best in recent years; 2014 returns totaled 1.1M and .5M respectively. It has also helped stabilize and/or modestly increase a number of ESA-listed stocks.

In recent years, a team of state, Tribal and federal scientists have recommended expanding levels of spill in the spring and summer in order to rebuild (rather than merely stabilize) at-risk populations, but this effort so far has been blocked by federal agencies and states of Washington and Idaho. SOS supports permanently expanded spill on the Columbia River, and on the Snake River only until its four federal dams can be removed.

For further information on the status and trends of wild salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia Basin today,  download SOS' new factsheet here.

2. Columbia River Treaty: Modernize it already! Salmon, fishing and faith leaders meet with Senator Murray
CRTmtg SenMurray.SMSave Our wild Salmon’s Joseph Bogaard was recently joined by six Northwest conservation, fishing and faith leaders for a meeting with Senator Patty Murray to discuss the importance of modernizing the U.S. – Canada Columbia River Treaty. Established in 1964, the treaty prioritized power production and flood control – at great cost to the health of the river, its fish and wildlife, and nearby Tribal and non-tribal communities.

There are many reasons for modernizing this agreement and ensuring that the river’s health and its fish and wildlife populations are properly represented in all future treaty management decisions. Achieving a modernized Treaty will help provide some measure of justice for Columbia Basin Tribes who were excluded from the treaty's original negotiations and implementation; improve the river’s resilience to mounting climate impacts; and protect the interests of regional businesses and communities that rely upon a healthy river ecosystem.

Senator Murray was very engaged in our meeting – sharing her views and priorities and asking good questions. She expressed her strong support for modernizing the treaty and for the Pacific Northwest’s consensus-based “regional recommendation” that was delivered to the State Department in December 2013.

In April this year, the senator led an effort with Senator Wyden and others to send a strongly worded letter signed by all senators and house members from the four Northwest States to the State Department to express that the region would like the Obama Administration to get Treaty negotiations with Canada started soon. In order to do this, the State Department must finalize its negotiating platform (consistent with the regional recommendation) and reach out to Canada. So far, there's no word back from the State Department regarding their plans. We'll keep you posted!

Leaders that attended the meeting with Joseph included LeeAnne Beres (Earth Ministry), Greg Haller (Pacific Rivers Council), Wendy McDermott (American Rivers), Liz Hamilton (Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association), and Trish Rolfe (Center for Environmental Law and Policy).

For more information on the Treaty, visit here.

3. American Rivers lists the Columbia River among our nation’s Most Endangered Rivers in 2015 (TAKE ACTION!) our wild Salmon Coalition member American Rivers recently designated the Columbia River as one of our nation's #2 Most Endangered Rivers in 2015.

Once home to the largest salmon runs in the world, the mighty Columbia River is blocked today by a series of large dams. We now have an opportunity to take a serious step toward reversing this damage if the federal government includes "ecosystem function" (health of the river) as a new third purpose in a renegotiated Columbia River Treaty with Canada.

For the past 50 years, this treaty has prioritized flood control and hydropower generation at the expense of salmon and other environmental values. The failure of the U.S. and Canada to properly modernize this 50 year-old treaty will result in significant adverse changes to flood risk management in 2024. Those operations will harm not only salmon but the overall health of the river as well.

As the United States prepares for negotiations with Canada, now is the time for President Obama to add an ecosystem representative to the U.S. negotiation team to ensure salmon and the ecosystem have a voice at the table. The president can make this happen simply by revising a 50-year-old executive order that accompanied the original treaty.

TAKE ACTION HERE:  Urge President Obama to help ensure the Columbia is managed more like a river again. It’s time to (1) add “ecosystem function” (health of the river) as a new purpose of the Columbia River Treaty with Canada and (2) appoint a new member to the U.S. negotiation team who will advocate for a healthy river.

4. Hundreds gather in Sausalito (CA) to honor Zeke Grader - the legendary fishery advocate

zeke.jbHundreds of people gathered recently to honor the brilliant, tireless, and incredibly effective Zeke Grader - the widely-respected leader of the west coast's largest alliance of commercial fishing people, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. In recent months, Zeke has reduced his work load as he transitions out of his long-time role as executive director and helps orient Tim Sloane, his replacement.

PCFFA has been an integral part of the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition since we formed in 1992. SOS staff have worked most closely with its Northwest Regional Director Glen Spain, who has long served on our board. And we have also had the great pleasure and fortune to work frequently with Zeke as well.

Zeke is a living legend with a well deserved reputation as relentless, tough, knowledgeable, effective, sharp-witted, and warm. For decades, he has arrived at the office early and left late. Zeke has been a visionary leader who encouraged a strong working relationship between fishing people and conservationists at a time when both constituencies were skeptical and resistant. Zeke has been persuasive and persistent, and the ensuing partnership has delivered great benefits to fishermen, conservationists, and - importantly - the fish, ecosystems, and habitats that we all love and depend upon.

Congratulations Zeke on your tremendously impactful and impressive career and accomplishments. We are deeply grateful for your friendship and leadership. Enjoy your much-deserved retirement. Good luck Tim! SOS looks forward to working with you!

Read more on the Daily Kos about this celebration of Zeke and his legacy here.

5. SALMON MEAN BUSINESS: A HUGE "thank you!" to PATAGONIA for its tremendous leadership on behalf of wild salmon and and healthy rivers.

With its production of DAMNATION - the award-winning film by FELT SOUL MEDIA - and its recent outreach campaign in Washington State newspapers urging Senators Murray and Cantwel's support for restoring a free-flowing lower Snake River, PATAGONIA has again shattered the mold and set a new standard for corporate environmental responsibility and leadership. 

The people of PATAGONIA have been wonderful partners and friends to Save Our wild Salmon. It is an honor to work with them. We look forward to continuing our partnership to remove the four costly dams on the lower Snake River, to reconnecting endangered wild salmon and steelhead to thousands of miles of high, cold, pristine, protected habitat in central Idaho, eastern Washington and eastern Oregon, and to achieving our nation's largest, most ambitious and impactful river restoration yet!

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