How can we help get Congressman Simpson’s proposal passed?
Simpsons proposal has many moving parts in order to see the Lower Snake River dams breached. It is going to require conservationists to be educated advocates. Reach out to your elected officials, letting them know that you value the recovery of Snake River salmon and steelhead by allowing stakeholders to create solutions.
Dams aren’t the main reason for low numbers of returning fish – what about commercial fishing, sea lions, ocean conditions and climate change? Can’t they just build more fish ladders?
The problem starts long before adult salmon and steelhead attempt to return to their spawning waters. It is estimated that 50% of all smolt, hatchery and wild, do not survive the outward journey to the ocean. A trip that took days pre-dams now takes weeks through warm water in the reservoirs, predation by non-native fish, and spilling over the dams.
If nothing is done, how long do salmon have before going extinct?
Studies based on environmental factors, including ocean conditions and migration timing, state that wild Snake River spring-summer Chinook salmon could be extinct in 20-60 years without desperately needed intervention. In order to achieve replacement, meaning enough salmon returning just to reach a baseline of survival, there needs to be at least 2% smolt to adult ratio (SAR: for every 100 smolts, 2 adults return to spawn). In the last 25 years, salmon have exceeded 2% only twice, pointing towards extinction.
Why would we make huge changes and costs for a proposal that states, “this might save the salmon”?
Scientific evidence points to near certainty, 80-100%, that the removal of the Snake River dams would provide survival and recovery for the 13 ESA listed species in the Columbia-Snake Basin.
Do hatchery fish have an impact on the wild fish in the Snake River and tributaries?
In a 2015 report to Congress by the Hatchery Scientific Review Group, it was stated that, “It is now clear that the widespread use of traditional hatchery programs has actually contributed to the overall decline of wild populations.” Hatchery fish, while providing for angling opportunity and harvest, have contributed to the decline of wild stocks.
If hydropower is obsolete, what are the alternatives? Wind and solar as alternative power sources will not work.
The opportunity to replace an aging and unreliable power generation from the Snake River dams with affordable alternative energy sources can be met with wind and solar, combined with small nuclear projects and power storage. Congressman Simpsons proposal outlines the funding and steps needed for clean power replacement that will be required before the breaching of dams.
The Ag industry drives regional and world economies, the impacts of the proposal would be devastating to the industry. How will the farmers irrigate? How will they get commodities to market?
Relatively little irrigation is directly supplied by the dams, with Ice Harbor Dam being the only one that provides irrigation for farms. Transportation needs would likely be replaced by rail and truck. Upgrades to the rail system and highways would allow for affordable transportation, along with reconfiguring the Tri-Cities port for barging on the Columbia River.
Where will the funding come from to restore salmon and steelhead, as well as assist farms and other industries?
The Columbia Basin Fund, estimated at $33.5 billion, could be included in a future economic stimulus or infrastructure package. While this proposal is expensive, it’s a long-term investment that will save taxpayer dollars.
Since trying to recover salmon and steelhead populations, U.S. taxpayers have spent more than $17 billion on fish recovery efforts and there are no signs of improvement. Now is the time to put our money to good use and actually restore fish populations.