As mentioned last month, misguided and anti-environmental members of Congress are again trying to halt efforts to restore wild salmon in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State – joined by Oregon Congressmen Kurt Schrader and Greg Walden – recently introduced legislation (H.R. 3144) that would stop action – including even studying possible actions – to aid endangered salmon in the Snake and Columbia Rivers. This bill must be stopped.
In the midst of some of the worst salmon and steelhead returns in recent memory, this legislation could hardly be more ill advised. For one thing, it would prevent federal agencies from increasing water “spill” to aid salmon or from studying removal of four aging, outdated, and expensive dams on the Lower Snake River. However, spill is a critical tool for helping to ensure the survival of young salmon on their way to the Pacific, as was recently detailed in a letter to decision-makers from dozens of scientists. A handful of non-scientist members of Congress simply have no place to try to obstruct the ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon earlier this year that extra spill is necessary for these fish.
H.R. 3144 also ignores tribes and Northwest commercial and sport-fishing economies, along with growing evidence that orcas are starving as their Columbia and Snake River salmon head toward extinction. H.R. 3144 is misinformed, counter-productive, and would be extremely damaging to salmon recovery efforts if passed. One has to wonder why Rep. Schrader would sign onto this bill that would both undermine the judicial process and be potentially devastating to fishermen and businesses in his district.
As detailed in Josh Mills’ clear-eyed piece in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, do we really want to rubber-stamp two decades of failed policies on Columbia and Snake Rivers?
And if you’re really inspired to help save Columbia and Snake River salmon, one other very fun thing you can do is head out to Clarkston, Washington, on September 8 and 9 to take part in the 3rd annual Free The Snake Flotilla! This event has been amazing for the last few years and the 2017 version promises to be bigger and better than ever. Get more information and register today!