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Save Our Wild Salmon

Bob Rees, recreational fishing guide. 503-812-9036 -
Thomas O’Keefe, American Whitewater. 425-417-9012 -
Jacob Schmidt, whitewater river guide. 928-830-8433 -

Recreation business leaders express gratitude for leadership on Snake River Basin salmon restoration, urge continued action in letter to Governors Kate Brown (OR) and Jay Inslee (WA)

Forty-three owners and managers of outdoor recreation businesses and associations in Oregon and Washington delivered a joint letter to Governors Brown and Inslee expressing their appreciation for their recent leadership on behalf of endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia-Snake River Basin. The letter expressed support for a comprehensive solution that restores the lower Snake River and fisheries and realizes the economic opportunity it will mean for local communities.  

Signers thanked Governor Inslee for his “commitment to Phase 1 of the Lower Snake River Dam Stakeholder Engagement Process”, and Governor Brown for her letter asking for a “comprehensive forward-thinking solution, as well as the comments provided by both states on the recent federal CRSO DEIS.”  

The Washington State Lower Snake River Dam Stakeholder Process emerged from Governor Inslee’s Orca Recovery Task Force, which issued a set of recommendations for protecting endangered Southern Resident orcas.  The Stakeholder Process issued a report in March based on nearly one hundred interviews with interested parties across Washington State and three public listening sessions in January.  The governor used the report to help inform Washington State’s formal comments on the federal agencies’ Draft Environmental Impact Statement reviewing salmon recovery alternatives in the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Fishing and other outdoor-based businesses and communities around the region have long called for the removal of the four lower Snake River dams in order to restore healthy, harvestable salmon populations and the benefits they bring to the Northwest.  The federal agencies have failed for decades to restore endangered wild salmon and steelhead, costing fishing businesses thousands of jobs and many millions of dollars in lost revenue and income.  In small towns across our region that depend on these jobs, the effects are felt in all aspects of community life.  

This year, fishing and outdoor recreation businesses are suffering from COVID-19 impacts and dismal salmon and steelhead returns. Fishing seasons are being reduced and closed as a result.

Restoring the lower Snake River would create opportunities for new and existing guide services to expand and extend their seasons. The signers of this letter, “see a valuable opportunity to expand recreation and tourism in this region through rafting, fishing, bird watching, hunting, and wine tasting--while preserving the future of the recreation economy along the Clearwater, Grande Ronde, and Salmon Rivers.” 

Liam Elio, operations manager at Orion River Expeditions stated “a free flowing lower Snake River would give central Washington guides the opportunity to work into the late summer and early fall when rivers in the Cascades are often too low to run.” It would also open up economic opportunities for nearby residents in outdoor recreation.

While they see an opportunity to build on the recreation economy of our region and restore the fishing dependent communities that are suffering, signers of this letter emphasized the need for, “a comprehensive  solution that recovers salmon and moves everyone forward together.” 

In addition to praising the governors for their actions to date, the letter urges them to continue to bring people together and work on a regional solution.

“It is in the interest of all Northwesterners to continue these stakeholder engagement processes until a solution can be crafted that saves salmon and orca, maintains our clean reliable power system, and provides new opportunities for improved quality of life to rural communities throughout our region.” 


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