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For Immediate Release: Thursday, June 9, 2022

Contacts: 

Mitch Cutter, Salmon & Steelhead Associate, (541) 280-8474  

Abby Urbanek, Communications Manager, (208) 345-6933 x 214

Draft report confirms services from lower Snake River dams can be replaced

ICL calls on Northwest leaders to take immediate action for salmon, orcas, and Tribal justice.

BOISE, ID – Today, Washington Senator Patty Murray and Governor Jay Inslee released their draft report on replacing the services of the lower Snake River dams. The findings were compiled from an assessment of available data and interviews with stakeholders across the region. Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee have committed to laying out recommendations based on the final report by July 31. 

“This report confirms what we already know: wild salmon, steelhead, orcas, and Tribal justice need action now. Snake River salmon are on the edge of extinction, and there’s no time to delay,” said ICL’s Salmon & Steelhead Associate Mitch Cutter. “The services provided by these dams can be replaced or improved upon, just as Congressman Mike Simpson concluded nearly 18 months ago. Now it’s time to act.”

The Idaho Conservation League (ICL) encourages Northwest leaders to recognize not only that the dams’ services can be replaced, but that they must be replaced quickly to advance breaching of the four lower Snake River dams. Congress should work immediately with the Biden-Harris Administration to introduce legislation that allocates funding for replacement infrastructure, mandates interim measures to preserve salmon and steelhead, and establishes a path for deauthorization of the dams. 

While the report lays out a wide range of costs for replacing the dams’ services, the core messages are clear. Wild salmon are in dire straits; their abundance has not increased significantly since the mid-1990s, when most were listed under the Endangered Species Act. Dam removal would significantly improve fish populations. The dams’ services can be replaced through investment in energy, transportation, and irrigation infrastructure. 

”The Pacific Northwest delegation has an opportunity and an obligation to remove these dams, restore our salmon, recover our orcas, and honor our nation’s promises to Tribes. Senator Murray, Governor Inslee, and other elected officials must act before it’s too late,” continued Cutter. 

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