October 7, 2014
(Seattle, WA) – The National Marine Fisheries Service today released its official report, known as a biological opinion, on the Army Corps of Engineers’ Buckley Dam. The report lays out a path for bringing the outdated 70 year-old facility on Washington’s White River into compliance with the Endangered Species Act.
The report calls for repairing the dam and modernizing and enlarging its fish passage system by no later than 2020. Currently, the dilapidated dam impales salmon on exposed rebar, attracts them to impassable parts of the dam, and uses a fish passage system much too small for the number of fish that need to use it. These problems kill thousands of salmon – including threatened Puget Sound Chinook — every year. The problem is especially severe during the large pink salmon runs that occur in odd-numbered years.
American Rivers, which filed suit to spur the Corps to fix the dam, called the report a vital first step.
“The Buckley Dam is outdated and its fish passage system inadequate, undermining Puget Sound salmon recovery efforts,” said Michael Garrity, Washington Conservation Director for American Rivers. “This is a good first step toward fixing the massive fish passage problems on the White River.”
American Rivers and area tribes have been campaigning for years for repairs and improvements to the dam to prevent the annual fish kills. American Rivers named the White River one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2014 because of the damage caused by the dam.
“The biological opinion says that saving threatened Puget Sound Chinook requires a robust, state-of-the-art fish collection and sorting facility to be completed at Buckley Dam by no later than 2020,” said Garrity. “The trick is getting there on time. We will be both a watchdog and a partner to ensure the Corps stays on schedule and does right by listed- and non-listed salmon runs and local tribes, fishermen and communities.”
About American Rivers
American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 250,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.