WSSNWild 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 - unless we act! Find out how SOS is helping lead efforts to restore health, connectivity, and resilience to the rivers and streams these fish depend upon in the Columbia-Snake Basin and how you can get involved to help restore healthy, abundant, and harvestable populations and sustain more just and prosperous communities. To learn more and/or get involved, contact Martha Campos.


1. Columbia-Snake River salmon litigants announce short-term extension for continued talks and "conferral."
2. Toxic algal bloom brings new risks to the lower Snake River.
3. Upcoming SOS Events - Join us!  
4. 'Rise Up Northwest in Unity Convening' gathering to protect and preserve Northwest waters, orca, and salmon.
5. "We Are All Prayer Warriors": A Conversation with Lummi Artist A. Cyaltsa Finkbonner.
6. Honoring Native American Heritage Month.
7. Giving Tuesday— Nov. 28 —will kick off SOS' year-end fundraising campaign.
8. 'We Are Salmon People' by Eileyah Ahmad, First Grader, a poem from 'I Sing The Salmon Home: Poems from Washington State.'
9. Snake River and salmon media roundup.

1. Columbia-Snake River salmon litigants announce short-term extension for continued talks and "conferral."

SOS Flotilla ©Mike Beiser/AP

On Oct. 31, the parties (Nez Perce Tribe, State of Oregon, conservation and fishing NGOs led by Earthjustice, and the Biden Administration) to the long-running lawsuit over salmon and dams in the Columbia-Snake River Basin announced a new short extension of the ongoing litigation pause as part of their efforts to develop a lawful, long-term plan to protect and recover imperiled salmon and steelhead populations. As you may recall, the court challenge to the federal government’s most recent Columbia Basin salmon plan (Biological Opinion) – produced in 2020 by the Trump Administration – was put on pause a little more than two years ago to allow time for settlement discussions and, we hope, the urgent development of a comprehensive regional plan that will protect Columbia-Snake River Basin fish from extinction and invest in Northwest communities and critical infrastructure.

The additional 45 days will allow the parties in the litigation listed above along with the State of Washington, Yakama Nation, and Umatilla and Warm Springs Tribes to present a proposed package of actions and commitments to other regional sovereigns and parties involved in the litigation and work toward final review and approval. For more information on the litigation stay, you can read the Earthjustice press release here and an article in the Seattle Times here.

SOS supports the Biden Administration’s ongoing commitment to work with regional sovereigns and the other plaintiffs and involved parties to create a comprehensive plan of actions and commitments to restore healthy and abundant salmon and steelhead in the Columbia-Snake River Basin—and in doing so, uphold our nation’s promises to Northwest Tribes, and modernize our energy, transportation, and irrigation infrastructure. At the same time, it is also critically important that everyone stay tightly focused on the urgent need for real and meaningful action. Many salmon and steelhead populations in the Snake and Columbia rivers today face extinction in the years ahead – unless we act quickly!

ACT NOW: Contact your elected officials today. Ask them to pledge their support to restore healthy and abundant salmon populations, to uphold our nation's promises to Northwest Tribes and to ensure that federal agencies act quickly to recover salmon throughout the Columbia-Snake River Basin.

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2. Toxic algal bloom brings new risks to the lower Snake River. 

Toxic Algal Bloom photos provided by LightHawk’s pilot Dr. Judy Parrish

Harmful blue-green algal toxins found in the lower Snake River prompted the Whitman County Health Department (WCHD) in early October to issue a health alert warning people and their pets to stay away from the river. WCHD stated in a KUOW article that it has not seen a harmful algal bloom like this on the Snake before. 

Water samples taken from Wawawai Landing near Lower Granite Dam and Central Ferry in Whitman County near Little Goose Dam tested well above the state health guidelines for microcystin on October 2, 2023. According to the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Freshwater Algae Bloom Monitoring Program, microcystins are a group of toxins that affect the liver. Since microcystins are the most commonly-found cyanobacterial toxins in water, they are the toxins most responsible for human and animal poisonings. In addition, when algae and bacteria in an algal bloom die, the decomposition process consumes the surrounding oxygen, causing other aquatic species (fish, amphibians, etc) in an affected water body to suffocate and die or be forced to relocate to survive. Under certain conditions (e.g. high nutrient levels and high water temperatures) dangerous algal blooms can occur in stagnant bodies of water such as lakes and reservoirs, and frequently occur near dams or natural blockades that disrupt the water current.

Alex Fremier, an environmental science professor at Washington State University, said in a Spokesman-Review article the bloom on the Lower Snake is "unusually large" for a river. "The Snake River at that section has a bunch of dams on it." Dammed waters and blooms are "certainly" connected, Fremier said and noted, these "blooms are going to happen, and they’re going to happen with increased frequency. That’s the bigger concern. We have to have the systems in place to protect ourselves and protect the public."

Toxic Algal Bloom photos provided by LightHawk’s pilot Dr. Judy Parrish

After reading the report of the toxic algal bloom on the lower Snake River, SOS and LightHawk—SOS coalition member—discussed the importance of better understanding the dimension of this event and its impact on communities, the river, salmon and steelhead, and other aquatic and wildlife species. LightHawk’s Volunteer Pilot Dr. Judy Parrish (Professor Emerita, University of Idaho), conducted an overflight on Saturday, October 21, and found large areas of remnant algae in different sections of the river.

From the flight, she mentioned, "I examined the entire stretch between Lower Goose Dam and Lower Granite Dam. Assuming it’s the same organisms, the bloom is still going between Lower Goose Dam and the grain depot 13 [miles] upriver. I recorded the air miles flying upriver, which correspond loosely to the river miles (it’s not a straight river). The bloom goes from about 2 miles upriver from the dam to about 6 miles upriver, with the largest concentration in the last (going upriver) 4.6 miles."

According to the latest water samples taken from the Wawawai Landing and Central Ferry on Nov. 9, microcystin levels still exceed state recreation guidelines.

Read more about the toxic algal infestations here: 

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3. Upcoming SOS Events - Join us!

We invite you to upcoming events across the region as we educate, advocate, inspire - and build momentum to restore the Snake River and its salmon and steelhead. Check out details below to find an event near you!

Covenant of the Salmon People Film Screenings:

This award-winning film explores the intertwined fate of the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce), salmon, and the landscape from which both evolved. Today the Tribe is facing the extirpation of their most prized salmon species despite decades of recovery efforts and billions of dollars in spending. The widespread construction of dams across Nimiipuu's Traditional Lands have created tremendous challenges to successful salmon recovery.

Restoring a free-flowing lower Snake River is the Tribe's very best option today to uphold their ancient agreement with salmon and to save the species from extinction. Learn more about this powerful film here and look for an upcoming screening near you. Don’t see a screening near you? Learn how to bring the film to your community here. 


NW Energy Coalition's Clean & Affordable Energy Conference
December 6, 2023, Portland, OR:

Hear from and mingle with expert panelists and keynote speakers, network with peers in the clean energy community, and attend the Clean Energy Awards reception.

Panelists will discuss how utility planning should change to deliver equitable and affordable outcomes, the role of energy efficiency and distributed energy resources for vulnerable populations, and how the Bonneville Power Administration needs to modernize and lead to drive forward the clean energy transition. Register and learn more here.


Not Mars: Tools for Saving Our Home Planet
December 8, 2023, Town Hall Seattle, WA:

Save the date for an inspiring multi-speaker event, hosted by Patagonia, that brings together Patagonia's activist heroes to share lessons learned, practical tips, and personal stories to turn your climate anxiety into climate action. You’ll also have the opportunity to connect directly with local grassroots groups that can provide a clear pathway to help protect local waters and build healthier communities.

Save Our wild Salmon is honored to be part of the event and executive director, Joseph Bogaard will be speaking on collaborative solutions to restore healthy salmon populations, create jobs, invest in clean energy, and ensure a more just and prosperous future for all people of the Northwest. Learn more about the event and purchase your tickets here.

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4. 'Rise Up Northwest in Unity Convening' gathering to protect and preserve Northwest waters, orca, and salmon.

R.U.N. in Unity Convening ©Ken Lambert, Seattle Times
"The salmon can’t get out of the river to march the halls of Congress. They can’t get out of the river to go to court. We have to be their voice and their advocates and champions." — Fawn Sharp (Quinault), president of the National Congress of American Indians, quoting the late Nisqually salmon champion Billy Frank Jr.

Save Our wild Salmon was honored to support and attend Rise Up Northwest in Unity Convening in early November. The fifth annual salmon and orca convening was organized by the Nez Perce Tribe and hosted by the Tulalip Tribe. The two-day summit brought together more than a dozen tribes from Washington State, Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada, and at least 20 allied NGOs at the Tulalip Resort in western Washington State. Tribal protocols and presentations, song and ceremony, and panel discussions filled both days.

The Convening was deeply honest, heartbreaking and inspiring as people shared stories of loss as well as progress, opportunity and hope. In addition to hearing from representatives of each tribe present, we heard from legislative salmon champions, national NGO leaders, and experts on the Snake River dams' energy, irrigation, and transportation infrastructure and transition priorities. SOS' policy and advocacy director, Tanya Riordan, presented on the status of Washington State's lower Snake River dams' service replacement planning processes. SOS' high school organizer, Maanit Goel, participated in the Youth Panel - inspiring the audience to think about lower Snake River restoration in the context of climate justice and how the work we do today will impact today's youth and future generations.

Despite the deep pain as a result of the steep declines - and in many cases the disappearance of - cherished salmon and orca, Indigenous leaders and communities in the Northwest are insistent and unwavering champions for protecting and restoring abundant salmon populations and healthy habitat. The SOS team is deeply moved and appreciative for the sharing of wisdom and strength that took place at the convening, and the opportunity to listen and learn about traditional ecological and cultural knowledge of the region. We strongly encourage you to listen to, or revisit, the thoughtful discussions that took place at R.U.N in Unity Convening.

Please visit SOS' Blog post for the recording of 'R.U.N in Unity Convening' with an event agenda and photos. 

Left photo: Youth Panel at R.U.N. in Unity featuring youth leaders from Lummi Nation, Nez Perce, as well as youth organizers from Youth Salmon Protectors and Washington Youth Ocean & River Conservation Alliance (WYORCA). Right photo: Members of the SOS team with 'R.U.N. in Unity Convening' organizer, Kayeloni Scott.

'R.U.N in Unity Convening' in the media:

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5. “We Are All Prayer Warriors”: A Conversation with Lummi Artist A. Cyaltsa Finkbonner

All Our Relations, Courtesy of Se'Si'Le and photography by Megan Mack 2023

A. Cyaltsa Finkbonner is a member of the Lummi Nation, or Lhaq’temish (people of the sea). She is a metal worker and self-described “traditionally untraditional artist.” This past year she collaborated with master carver Jewell James of the Lummi House of Tears Carvers to create a beautiful 8’ wide x 4.5’ high, All Our Relations steel sculpture, designed and welded by Cyaltsa. This stunning art piece was central to the Indigenous-led All Our Relations Journey, that stopped in six cities across the Pacific Northwest at the end of September and in early October, 2023. These inspiring events were attended by several thousand people.

Britt Freda, creative director of Northwest Artists Against Extinction, a project of SOS, was fortunate to have the opportunity to work in support of Cyaltsa’s creative collaboration and sculpture building, and to travel with her piece on the Journey. Through their work and time together, they became good friends. Britt recently sat down for a phone call with Cyaltsa to talk about what she most wants people to gain from her artwork.

Britt Freda: First, I want to start by saying I am THRILLED you are joining the creatives of Northwest Artists Against Extinction! We are truly honored to have the opportunity to work with you.

Secondly, let’s jump right in, I am curious to hear what’s important to you right now? What do you want people to think about or care about when they interact with your artwork? And if there is something else, anything else you want to get out there about the work you are creating, tell me about that. I want to know what’s going on these days when you’re in your creative mind.

Cyaltsa Finkbonner: I thought a lot about this question. I want [people] to be inspired–to be inspired and encouraged to learn more, encouraged to get out more, encouraged to educate themselves more. I want them to be inspired to give themselves more self love.

BF: Mmmmmm. That’s good.

CF: I want [people] to feel like we are relatable. You know, that they can relate to some of the things that I am thinking, saying, projecting out there. Maybe it’s a photograph or maybe it’s a place, maybe seeing a salmon will remind them about what they grew-up doing or maybe what Grandpa used to do, or something like that. Just, you know, relatable. Or maybe it is something totally new to them and it just opens them up to so much more. Maybe they’re not used to storytelling, and pictures can tell stories. [I hope my work] opens up their minds, their [creative] right brain to that.

BF: Storytelling–visual, or on a page, or heard around a fire–it is so true that much of the secret sauce is reminding us that even though we may come from different backgrounds, we share so many experiences of what it is to be alive, and to be human. Our humanity is rooted in recognizing our commonalities, and our relatability.

CF: Also connected! Not just to me but to the piece, to what the piece is talking about. I hope it opens up [people’s] imaginations. I mean, maybe they’ll be able to see a wave in a different light or see a salmon in a different way. I’d like them to feel like they learn something, they become more enlightened.

BF: I feel like each time I interact with your work, I learn from it and from the stories that go along with it.

CF: Believe. I hope, in looking at my art, people are reminded to believe in themselves, believe in others, believe in the kindness of other people, and whatever they need help with in believing. You know that’s one thing that I painted a lot was the word “BELIEVE,” but in my abstract way. Those [pieces] would always sell, like that! Because people need that, you know, just those little reminders.

One small painting I did read “JUST TRUST.” And I created an abstract painting with waves and kinda flowy things and the word that was incorporated in there was “FLOW.” Sometimes you need to go with the flow.

BF: (laughs) Sometimes!... Most of the time, actually, right?

CF: Yeah! Also, healing. Definitely some healing, like “Prayer Warrior.” If somebody is wearing the “Prayer Warrior” t-shirt or has got it up on the wall, that can always help people. You know we’re all prayer warriors.

Photo courtesy of A. Cyaltsa Finkbonner BF: Every time I’ve heard you say to an audience “We Are All Prayer Warriors” it takes my breath away, a little bit. I love imagining all the people, myself included–in the room, or the sanctuary, or town hall–united in our work for the earth and for All Our Relations as PRAYER WARRIORS. It feels like such an honor to hear that from you.

CF: Oh wow, hy’shqe for that. Another of my inspirations is “do your part.” Sometimes people get stuck [in life], you know. You want to do your part. I say, do what you can do, let the rest go–and then turn it into progress. People might call it fate or things happen for a reason. What it boils down to, things happen as it should be.

BF: So true.

CF: And patience. I want to remind people to have patience with themselves, patience with others, be kind to others and be kind to themselves. Mostly, be kind to themselves, you know, once you can do that then how can you not be kind to others?

BF: The world really needs that right now.

CF: When I lived in Seattle, I joined a poetry group and did some writing and one of the things [from that time] that sticks out in my mind, that I will always remember is “drop the shackles of burden and move on.” Do what you love. Make time for you. Sometimes doing nothing, like resting, is the most beneficial, right? You’ve got to rejuvenate–rejuvenate our minds, rejuvenate our spirits, so that we can come back to the table and get back to the drawing board–to do what we love.

BF: That one [doing nothing] is a hard one for me, sometimes. And I so appreciate relearning it, again and again. In the US, culturally, I feel like it is so common to push, push, push and that way of being doesn’t evoke all the things that you’re talking about–the healing, the contemplation, the self love, and even the learning–creating the space to really learn and to be open.

CF: What that brings to my mind is the image of people in NYC packed on a sidewalk rushing, rushing to get to wherever. That urgent rushing doesn’t happen in Indian Country or any Indigenous place. Even though I grew up hearing from my dad K, “if you’re not early, you’re late.” For me, there are times that it is really important, but not rushing all the time. Everything is still going to be there. Time is not real.

BF: We can understand it in our heads, but if we don’t really experience it viscerally–in our hearts and in our souls–then it is just an idea, which is very different. Your work does that, it brings it into the heart, it seeps into your soul. I truly appreciate you, and that re-membering. Your work is beautiful and inspiring. Your message is beautiful and inspiring. Thank you, my friend. Hy’shqe \o/

CF: Hy’shqe. \^/

Hy’shqe is thank you in the native Lummi language, Xwlemi’, and the tradition is to raise your hands up. Cyaltsa taught us this raise-hands-up \o/ symbol and her personal version with a cedar hat \^/. It is with her permission that we share it with you.

All Our Relations is the title of Cyaltsa’s sculpture. It is also the name of the 2023 Indigenous-led Journey and Snake River Campaign to restore healthy and abundant populations of salmon by removing the Snake River dams. But foremost, “it is an Indigenous prayer, an acknowledgement that we are all connected–humans, animals, fish, birds, water, air, Mother Earth– we are all one with Mother Earth” –Cyaltsa.

To learn more about the very cool, creative and wise A. Cyaltsa Finkbonner, visit her website, follow her on Instagram and Facebook. Jason Mark from the Sierra Club wrote a fantastic piece about Cyaltsa and the Journey in the fall 2023 issue of the Sierra Magazine. And peruse additional media coverage of the event and a powerful collection of photos from the Journey, courtesy of Se'Si'Le and photography by Megan Mack.

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6. Honoring Native American Heritage Month.

November is recognized as Native American Heritage Month. This month, and every day, we honor Indigenous people and communities, their histories, cultures, traditions, and ancestral knowledge passed down from generations that hold sacred obligations to protect the land, water, air, and people.

Since time immemorial, Tribes have been the original stewards and continuously lead efforts to protect, and restore sacred waters, lands, air, salmon, and orca to ensure each generation has a healthy, prosperous, and just future. As we reflect on the Tribes and Indigenous communities that we have supported and worked closely with in recent years, we would like to express our utmost gratitude for sharing their knowledge with us and leading the way to prevent salmon and steelhead extinction, and restore the natural world and people to balance. At SOS, we are committed to working daily to protect and restore salmon and other ecologically and culturally important species from extinction and do what we can to ensure our nation upholds the promises it made to Northwest Tribes more than 150 years ago.

To celebrate the invaluable and innumerable contributions of Indigenous people and communities, we encourage you to visit this link with resources developed by Children of the Setting Sun (with a few additions from the SOS team) on the several ways to honor and celebrate Native American Heritage Month and every day. 

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7. Giving Tuesday— Nov. 28 —will kick off SOS' year-end fundraising campaign

Rally for Salmon ©Jeff Dunnicliff

As we head toward year-end, we want to mention that SOS will kick off our year-end fundraising campaign on Giving Tuesday – later this month on November 28. We’re working now to develop some materials that review our accomplishments so far this year – and look ahead to 2024. Our successes at Save Our wild Salmon are truly the result of our coordinated work with coalition partners and allies and the support and the collective advocacy of individual people LIKE YOU who care deeply about the health and future of wild salmon and steelhead, their rivers and streams, and all of the irreplaceable benefits they bring to communities, cultures, and ecosystems.

We cannot realize our mission and advance our program work without your support. We are very grateful for the opportunity to work with you, to help represent your interests and priorities, and for your advocacy and your partnership. We’ll be back in touch soon with more information and ways that you can help build new momentum and progress as we head into the new year.

If you have any questions about our program work and/or supporting SOS, please reach out: Joseph Bogaard ( Thank you!

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8. 'We Are Salmon People' by Eileyah Ahmad, First Grader, a poem from 'I Sing The Salmon Home: Poems from Washington State.'

Salmon Run ©Alyssa Eckert; 2023, pen and watercolor, 9" x 12"

'We Are Salmon People' by Eileyah Ahmad, First Grader

Bears, Birds, Seals, Bass, Eagles, and People
All eat this create, salmon gives all life
Salmon gives us nutrients, vitamins, and riches
They live in water, fresh, and salt water

A Native story tells us
When you eat salmon, you must return the bones to the water
To respect the Salmon people
What you do in the land, affects the things in the water

Egg, alevin, fry, parr, smolt, adult, and death
Everything in the life of the salmon is a cycle
Baby, child, teenager, adult, old, and death
Everything in the life of human is a cycle
The world is part of a cycle, we are Salmon people

I Sing the Salmon Home: Poems from Washington State, is edited by Rena Priest and published by Empty Bowl Press. The anthology features more than 150 Washington poets ranging from first graders to Tribal Elders, all inspired by the Northwest's beloved, iconic salmon. You can purchase the anthology here.

Eileyah Ahmad is a first grader and resident of Bothell. She likes writing poems inspired from nature, family, and her life. She performed her most recent poem at Northshore Speaks. The poem was about her grandfather who passed away before she was born.

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9. Snake River and salmon media roundup. 

Here are some recent stories about the urgency and opportunity today for the Snake River and salmon recovery:

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