BOISE — The Idaho Conservation League is disappointed, but not surprised that the new federal plan on dams and salmon and steelhead misses the mark. This federal plan will likely be as inadequate as the five others that have preceded it.

On Feb. 28, the federal government released its Columbia River System Operations draft environmental impact statement for public comments. ICL believes that fish recovery policies, as detailed in the report, will not be enough to bring back abundant and harvestable wild salmon and steelhead runs to Idaho.

“The region has already spent $17 billion on these failed strategies,” said ICL’s executive director Justin Hayes. “This new plan is the old plan with little tweaks. It’s just the status quo, and we all see how badly that has failed us.” 

Many Idahoans are hurting — anglers, guides, and the businesses and local communities they support, Tribes that have rights that are being violated — because salmon and steelhead numbers are so low. In order to have a significant impact on wild salmon and steelhead, we have to come together and come up with plans that are bigger than anything we’ve done before.

Hayes added, “We need to work with all the various interest groups that fear the sort of bold action needed to actually save our fish. The current series of dams do provide important benefits to grain shippers and utilities. These folks matter and we need to work with them to understand their fears and figure out how to ensure that saving salmon and steelhead does not come at their expense.”

Let’s move away from old arguments and come together to work on real solutions. America is the most powerful and most resourceful country in the world, surely we can figure this out.


ICL is working to save Idaho’s salmon and steelhead. Idaho’s iconic fish populations are spiraling toward extinction despite the hard work of many local communities. If Idaho loses salmon and steelhead, not only will these species perish, an integral part of Idaho’s history, culture, economy and outdoors life will also disappear. Bold action is needed now to develop solutions together that will keep communities whole and not leave Idahoans behind.