Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Senator Patty Murray released their highly-awaited “Lower Snake River Dams: Benefit Replacement Draft Report” earlier this past June. The report summarizes all the benefits and costs of the four Lower Snake River Dams (LSRD) and facilitates public input on the possibility of removing the LSRD. The public comment period ends Monday, July 11th at 5pm PST. Additionally, while this report provides cost estimates for removing the LSRD and replacing their services, the report, nor its authors, makes no final recommendations.
Ever since the Congressman Simpson’s Salmon Concept, a Republican from Idaho, went stagnant, many advocates of breaching the dams had pointed to this report as being the next big step toward achieving a free-flowing Lower Snake River.
The draft report acknowledges that the LSRD provide significant benefits for the region–particularly as it relates to barging agricultural products and relatively cheap power supply. However, all these services are potentially replaceable, and the region can transition and save Snake River salmon and steelhead, which are both on a path towards extinction. Without removing the LSRD–which will significantly improve habitat, water conditions, and up and down river migrations–the fate of wild salmon and steelhead is all but certain.
Senator Murray and Governor Inslee issued a joint press release regarding the report:
“We continue to approach the question of breaching with open minds and without a predetermined decision. From the start, we have placed public and stakeholder engagement from communities across the Pacific Northwest as the foundation of any regional process. This continues to include consultation and advisement by federally recognized Tribes whose unique perspectives and sovereignty each of us deeply appreciates. We value the diverse perspective of the many stakeholders who have already provided input toward the independent draft report, and we look forward to hearing much more as this document is available for public review.
“Every community in the Pacific Northwest knows the value and importance of our iconic salmon runs—and every community recognizes the importance of salmon to our economy and cultural heritage. We each remain firmly committed to saving our salmon. We also know that the dams provide significant benefits to our region’s economy and communities. In the coming weeks, we will carefully review and consider public input, tribal consultation, and other engagement from stakeholders before making any recommendations.”
Tomorrow, Monday July 11 is the last day to comment on this draft report. So, head over to lsrdoptions.org, review the draft and send a comment advocating for salmon, steelhead, and a free flowing Lower Snake River. But also be sure to let Congress know that you support breaching the LSRD and recovering the region’s wild salmon and steelhead, because Congressional support is paramount to achieving these goals. Trout Unlimited has developed an Action Campaign to contact your Congressional representatives–Take Action Today!