Wild 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.
2. You're Invited: Join us to 'Rally for Salmon' in Portland on June 25th!
3. 'Spirit of the Waters' Totem Pole concludes its 17-day Northwest journey
1. Coming soon: Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee’s draft ‘dam services replacement report’
As part of their joint federal-state process, U.S. Senator Patty Murray and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee are meeting with Northwest tribes, stakeholders and other experts in order to develop and deliver a comprehensive plan that will protect and recover imperiled Snake River salmon and steelhead as well as make important investments in communities and critical infrastructure.
As a key step toward developing their plan, they began work last fall to identify how we can replace the services currently provided by the lower Snake River dams. We expect the public release of their draft findings any day - and we are confident the report will conclude that, in fact, we can remove these four dams in order to restore these historic salmon populations facing extinction today, honor tribal treaty rights, create economic opportunities, AND feasibly and affordably upgrade and/or replace the aging energy, irrigation, and transportation services these dams provide.
A 30-day public comment period will likely follow the report’s release – and a final action plan for protecting Snake River fish is expected from Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee by the end of July. We'll be in touch as soon as we know more about the draft report and accompanying comment period.
This upcoming comment period will be a crucial opportunity for salmon/fishing/orca advocates to contribute to this important regional conversation – and to communicate strong public support to the Biden Administration, Sen. Murray, Gov. Inslee, and other Northwest leaders for urgently developing and delivering in 2022 a comprehensive solution to restore the lower Snake River and secure strategic investments to transition the costly and aging services of the dams.
2. You're invited: Join us to 'Rally for Salmon' in Portland on June 25th!
Join SOS and more than two dozen other organizations and businesses on June 25 in Portland, OR as hundreds of people from around the Pacific Northwest gather in solidarity to celebrate wild salmon and steelhead and healthy rivers and watersheds - and demonstrate strong public support to stop salmon extinction and restore a free-flowing lower Snake River.
What: ‘Rally for Salmon’
Where: Willamette Park, Portland
When: 10 am - 3 pm - we'll be on the water in the morning and begin a program with speakers at noon.
Who: This event is free, family-friendly and open to the public! It is being hosted by more than two dozen conservation, climate, fishing, faith and civic organizations and their supporters. The 'Rally for Salmon' will feature our biggest gathering and on-the-water event in several years! Canoes, kayaks, sportfishing boats, whitewater rafts, and more will be on the river for a moment of solidarity for salmon, orca, tribal rights and a healthy Snake River. After a short community paddle on the Willamette River, we will gather in the park and listen to regional leaders speak to this unprecedented opportunity today to honor tribal treaty rights and press for what would be one of our nation's greatest river, fish and wildlife restoration projects ever! After speakers there will be opportunities to learn more, pick up t-shirts and campaign materials, sign postcards and petitions, listen to live music, enjoy food from local trucks, and stand in fellowship with salmon and orca advocates from across the Northwest.
This event is free and open to the public. All are welcome and encouraged to attend. You can rally on the water - if you'd like - but it's not required! We'll gather together for a program on land - with food, information tables, excellent speakers, and more!
Please use this Facebook event page to help us promote this event and encourage your friends and networks to attend as well.
Register today at www.tinyurl.com/RallyForSalmon
Questions? Contact Doug Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org
Participating groups include: 350 Eastside, 350 Eugene, 350 Deschutes, 350 PDX, 350 Seattle, 350 Wenatchee, 350, Yakima, American Rivers, ARTA River Trips, Backbone Campaign, Columbia Riverkeeper, Consolidated Oregon Indivisible Network (COIN), Endangered Species Coalition, Environment Oregon, Environment Washington, Great Old Broads for Wilderness (GOB), GOB Portland (OR), GOB Battle Ground (WA), Human Access Project, Idaho Conservation League, Kitsap Environmental Coalition, Mosquito Fleet, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, National Wildlife Federation, Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northwest Guides and Anglers Association, Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Portland Kayak Company, Portland Raging Grannies, Save Our wild Salmon Coalition, Sierra Club, Washington Conservation Voters, Wild Orca
3. 'Snake River to Salish Sea Spirit of the Waters Totem Pole' concludes its powerful 17-day journey through Northwest communities.
The Indigenous-led 'Snake River to Salish Sea Spirit of the Waters Totem Pole Journey' recently came to a highly successful conclusion with its final stop in Tacoma, WA at St. Leo's Parish. From May 3 to May 20, leaders from Se'Si'Le, the House of Tears Carvers and tribal community members toured the Northwest states of Oregon, Idaho and Washington with their stunning, 3,000 pound, hand-carved orca.
The Journey partnered with local event hosts as it made stops in major metropolitan areas (Eugene, Astoria, Portland, Seattle and Tacoma), Indian reservations (Lummi, Chinook, Nez Perce, Umatilla, Shoshone-Bannock), and at Celilo Village on the banks of the Columbia River to raise awareness at this critical time for the Snake River, endangered salmon and orcas, and Northwest Tribal communities.
The Journey featured powerful Tribal speakers and programs that reached thousands of people directly and in-person - and hundreds of thousands of others in the Northwest and nationally through media coverage and social media posts. Tens of thousands of email messages, tagged social media posts and postcards were delivered during the Journey to regional public officials and the Biden Administration. “Powerful”, "amazing” and “moving” were some of the most common descriptions we heard from people who were able to attend in person.
Se’Si’Le (saw-see-lah) is an intertribal 501c3 nonprofit. It's mission is to reintroduce Indigenous spiritual law into the mainstream conversation about climate change and the environment. This totem pole journey is the latest of a dozen similar journeys conducted over the past 20 years. 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 as part of a twenty-day journey to the nation's capitol.
This most recent journey builds upon, strengthens, and reaffirms the growing Indigenous-led environmental movement across the Pacific Northwest that began with successful campaigns to oppose proposed fossil fuel projects. The fossil fuel campaigns included four totem pole journeys conducted by Se’Si’Le and its partners. The 2022 Totem Pole Journey has inspired, informed, and engaged Northwest people and leaders by elevating intergenerational voices, ceremony, art and science, spirituality, ancestral knowledge, and cross-cultural collaboration. It was organized to support of the Indigenous-led movement to remove the Snake River dams and restore to health its salmon runs and the Southern Resident Killer Whales (Skali’Chelh in the Lummi language) that depend on them. Save Our wild Salmon was honored to have been able to attend a number of the Totem Pole Journey events and provide support for event logistics, attendance and turnout, promotion in media and social media, coordination with other NGOs and allied partners, and more. Visit the Journey website: You can learn more at the Snake River to Salish Sea Spirit of the Waters Totem Pole Journey website - and review media coverage and see photos from the various stops across the Journey. Video-recordings: In case you missed the Journey, you can follow one or more of these links to experience the journey stops that occurred in Portland, Seattle, and Tacoma. Totem Pole Journey press coverage:
- Seattle Times: Indigenous carvers’ totem pole to journey across Pacific Northwest to bolster dam-removal movement
- Bellingham Herald: ‘Spirit of the Waters’ totem pole journey begins. Here’s where you can see it
- East Oregonian: Totem pole journey calling for removal of Snake River dams stops at Tamastslikt Cultural Institute
4. Encouraging news for the Southern Resident orcas: First new calf to K Pod in 11 years
The Southern Resident orcas' K Pod has a new calf for the first time in 11 years! On April 28th, a video confirmed the first sighting of the new calf swimming along the Oregon coast with its mother - K20 - a 36-year-old female also known as Spock.
Save Our wild Salmon member group, Wild Orca, first confirmed this newest K Pod member. It has been 18 years since K20 successfully gave birth - to K38 who's also known as Comet. Wild Orca’s Science and Research Director, Dr. Deborah Giles shared that fecal samples collected in recent years from K20 indicate that while she had been pregnant several times over the last decade, she has been unable to bring a calf into full term.
Southern Resident orcas have a high rate of pregnancy failure, as we also saw early this year with two losses in J Pod. Dr. Giles stated how emotionally difficult miscarriages are for orcas. “The area of their brain associated with memory, emotion and language is larger than ours, so they likely experience emotions even more strongly than we do. With a 17-month gestation period, losing a calf in late-term, as these animals frequently experience today, is devastating to the mom and her whole pod, and puts the future of the population at greater risk of extinction.”
Recovering critically-endangered Southern Resident orcas from the brink of extinction requires urgently rebuilding abundant chinook salmon populations. Orcas require an adequate food supply on a year-round basis in order to survive and successfully reproduce. The Snake River Basin was once home to huge populations of spring, summer and fall chinook. Restoring the spring chinook population is especially important for orcas as they provide a critical food resource in the winter months when few other fish are available for the orcas. Here's a letter that orca scientists sent to Gov. Inslee's Orca Task Force in 2018 highlighting the importance for Southern Resident orcas of restoring Snake River salmon as part of a larger regional salmon (and orca) recovery strategy.
***Some additional breaking good news - the Center for Whale Research recently announced that the newest member of the J Pod is a female! The Southern Residents’ population growth is largely limited by the number of reproductively-aged females.
“While one calf won’t save the population, we hope that J59 can grow to adulthood and contribute to future generations of southern residents,” the Center said on its website.
Read more here: Seattle Times: Newest member of orcas’ southern resident J Pod is female
5. 'Northwest River Partners' and allies launch multi-million dollar propaganda campaign in hopes of protecting a failed and costly status quo
If you live in the Northwest and watch television, listen to the radio or read the news on your phone or computer, you've probably seen the recent barrage of propaganda coming from the Northwest River Partners and their allies.
River Partners is the consortium of industrial river users - barge operators, utilities and others - who have effectively been making decisions about how we manage the Columbia and Snake Rivers for many decades. While the development on these rivers over the past century has delivered important economic benefits to the people and businesses of the Northwest, it has also come at great cost to the river's health, fish and wildlife populations, and tribal and non-tribal communities alike.
After six failed federal plans, $18 billion in spending and 25+ years of trying, we still have not recovered even one of the thirteen salmon and steelhead populations at risk of extinction today in the Snake and Columbia rivers. Adult fish returns to the Snake River Basin during 2015-2021 declined precipitously, with last year's returns some of the lowest on record. Fortunately, adult salmon returns so far this year have modestly improved - reminding us of the great resilience of these fish and the benefits they bring - when healthy and sustainable - to people and ecosystems. Despite this modest uptick, scientists have been clear and consistent for years - restoring the lower Snake River by removing its four dams is central to protecting its four at-risk fish populations from extinction.
The status quo has been costly and ineffective - and a new approach is urgently needed. With the recent leadership from Sen. Murray, Gov. Inslee, the Biden Administration and other policymakers, we have reason for hope - and for developing durable solutions that can both meet the needs of critically endangered fish while also investing in vibrant communities.
Many experts, studies and reports support this vision - that a comprehensive regional solution that removes these four dams and replaces their modest services can strengthen communities, increase the reliability of our energy system and do so without significantly increasing residential energy costs or carbon production.
Unfortunately, the River Partners and their allies don't see it this way - and are spending millions of dollars on a misleading propaganda campaign. In an effort to protect the status quo, their ads combine misinformation – suggesting for example that the dams’ power can only be replaced with fossil-fueled generation – and apocalyptic predictions – farmers in Eastern Washington and North Idaho will be doomed without the dams – while studiously avoiding the reasons that restoring this historic river by removing its four federal dams is an urgent priority for Indian Tribes, salmon and orca scientists, and fishermen and conservationists across the region.
Their big-budget ($4 million-plus) campaign was launched last month as Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee prepare to release their draft report identifying how to replace the services the dams provide.
Meanwhile, SOS and allies will continue our work to support tribal leadership and to push, as we must, for urgent leadership, commitment, and solutions from our policymakers that work for wild salmon, communities and the Northwest energy grid.