Editor’s Note: This blog was written by Lily Saperston, a Youth Engagement Organizer for ICL. Lily is a senior at Boise High School and an avid climate activist. She also helps lead the Youth Salmon Protectors in advocating for the removal of the four lower Snake River dams to save wild salmon and steelhead from extinction, restore orca, and honor Tribal treaties.

Since its beginning in 2021, Youth Salmon Protectors (YSP) has grown to a coalition of over 2,000 people across the Northwest. The newest chapter of YSP has been established on the Nez Perce Tribe Reservation, in response to the community requesting that the youth be involved in helping to protect salmon. 

For decades, the Nez Perce Tribe has led the fight to save endangered salmon and steelhead in the Snake River. The Tribe reserved a right to these fish in treaties made with the U.S. government long ago, and fish still swim in the Clearwater River on the Tribe’s reservation. The Tribe’s fish biologists have moved mountains to stave off extinction and bring coho salmon back to life in Idaho. 

Danielle Scott, Extension Educator for the Nez Perce Reservation at the University of Idaho Extension, has been working on organizing this YSP chapter for the past year. After meetings with several potential partners, youth, and Tribal leaders, it is coming together! 

While the chapter is still new, “the youth have responded with great interest and excitement on how they can play a part in protecting the salmon,” said Scott. “The goal of this group is to empower the youth with the knowledge and support to speak up about what we need to do as individuals and a community to save the salmon and be better stewards of the environment.” 

Scott hopes this group of 13 to 18-year-olds will help mentor younger youth to come onboard and learn more about the vital role they play in protecting salmon. “The intended outcome is that we will have another generation that is educated and empowered to help carry on the mission to save the sacred salmon for future generations.” 

In just a few weeks, on April 8, 2024, youth leaders from this new YSP chapter will join other YSP leaders from across the Northwest to advocate for the lower Snake River Dam removal in Washington, D.C. Over the course of a week in D.C., these youth leaders will share their personal stories, experiences, and researched facts and figures with elected leaders — urging them to pledge their support for actions needed to recover salmon throughout the Columbia/Snake River Basins. 

To win for salmon, we must support and uplift the voices of youth salmon advocates. Support these young leaders by following along their trip on Instagram, and by urging your representatives to pledge their support for salmon abundance and Tribal justice!


Are you interested in starting a chapter of Youth Salmon Protectors? Contact Lilly Wilson, lwilson@idahoconservation.org or Lily Saperston, lsaperston@idahoconservation.org