For Immediate Release:
Statement from the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition re: joint statement from Senator Murray and Governor Inslee re: Columbia-Snake River Basin salmon recovery
May 14, 2021
Salmon and fishing advocates in the Pacific Northwest were disappointed by the recent statement from Senator Murray and Governor Inslee rejecting the transformative proposal unveiled in February by Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID) and joined in April by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). With his framework, Rep. Simpson seeks to address a set of linked problems facing people and salmon in the Columbia Basin and across our region. He has invited Northwest people and policymakers to provide input and work with him to develop a comprehensive regional solution. At the heart of his $33B proposal is the restoration of the Snake River and its critically endangered salmon and steelhead populations through dam removal coupled with major investments in fishing and farming communities and clean energy and transportation infrastructure.
Many years of scientific information - and the fish themselves - are delivering an unambiguous message: without urgent leadership and meaningful action, the extinction of Snake River salmon and steelhead is inevitable. The Nez Perce Tribe's recent Extinction Assessment for Snake River Basin fish predicts the disappearance of dozens of distinct salmon and steelhead sub-populations in the years ahead unless there is immediate intervention.
It is also important emphasize the high cost of maintaining a failed status quo - species extinction, abrogation of our nation's responsibilities to tribes, job loss, and escalating costs, conflict and uncertainty for all involved.
In their joint statement today, Senator Murray and Governor Inslee recognize that a "comprehensive, long-term solution...is needed now more than ever" and they call for a "regional process that is based on science, consensus and ensuring all voices are heard.” While this is a critically important step, time is not on our side. Much more will be needed in the weeks and months ahead.
The development of a "comprehensive long-term solution" that avoids salmon extinction and achieves regionally-developed recovery goals in the Snake River Basin depends upon committed leadership by public officials in the Northwest and urgent action by Congress in Washington D.C., including:
1. Leadership: with active engagement by Senator Murray and Governor Inslee and other regional policymakers.
2. Action: In partnership with Congress, Northwest people must develop and act on a comprehensive plan in months, not years.
3. Funding: Congress must appropriate funds in 2021 to support regional collaboration and, more importantly, the implementation of robust action plan developed as part of that collaboration that includes restoring the lower Snake River by removing its four federal dams.
The Save Our wild Salmon Coalition stands ready to work with Senator Murray, Governor Inslee and other regional policymakers to support their leadership and participate in their process to help it achieve its goals.
We also applaud Congressman Simpson for his visionary proposal and for triggering a much-needed conversation in the Northwest around the future of wild salmon and the health and prosperity of our communities and economy. We're also grateful for the steady leadership of Governor Kate Brown and the State of Oregon and engagement of Congressman Earl Blumenauer. We look forward to continuing to support their leadership and work with them to develop and implement the comprehensive solutions our salmon and orcas, and our Tribal and non-tribal communities so urgently need.