American Rivers calls on Northwest leaders, Biden administration to accelerate action to prevent salmon extinction

October 22, 2021


Contact: Amy Souers Kober, 503-708-1145

Following Senator Patty Murray’s (D-WA) announcement today of a “federal-state process on salmon recovery in the Columbia River Basin and the Pacific Northwest” with Governor Jay Inslee (D-WA), American Rivers called on all Northwest leaders and the Biden Administration to accelerate action including removal of the four dams on the lower Snake River in eastern Washington.

Wendy McDermott, Puget Sound-Columbia Basin Director of American Rivers, made the following statement:

“Extinction is staring us in the face. It’s now or never for meaningful action to recover the Columbia and Snake basin’s iconic wild salmon and steelhead runs and invest in the region’s future. We welcome Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee’s statements and we urge them and all Northwest leaders to go further. We must heed the calls of Northwest Tribes for immediate investment and action toward a comprehensive solution that includes restoring a free-flowing lower Snake River. Anything short of that fails Tribes, salmon-dependent communities and economies, and this river that is the lifeblood of our region.”

“We named the Snake River America’s Most Endangered River® of 2021 because decisions made this year will determine the river’s fate. Senator Murray and Governor Inslee’s leadership is critical to advancing the solutions needed to restore abundant salmon and honor treaties and commitments to Tribes, while ensuring equitable, low-carbon energy, vibrant agriculture and a strong regional economy. Now is the time for Northwest leaders and the Biden Administration to seize the short window of opportunity during the temporary pause in litigation and embrace the need for a free flowing lower Snake River, address longstanding injustice, and set the region on a path toward a stronger future.”

Today’s news follows yesterday’s announcement from a coalition of fishing and conservation groups including American Rivers, with three federal agencies, the State of Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe asking a judge to pause until next summer litigation challenging the latest federal plan for hydropower operations on the Snake and Columbia Rivers. The parties have committed to work together to develop and implement a comprehensive, long-term solution to benefit endangered salmon and steelhead and that could resolve the long-running litigation over Columbia and Snake River dam operations. The proposed stay will last until July 31, 2022.