For Immediate Release: Wednesday, September 27, 2023


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

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

Presidential Memorandum directs federal agencies to restore salmon populations across Columbia River Basin

ICL applauds the Biden Administration’s efforts to restore Snake River salmon and fulfill the nation’s obligations to Tribes.

BOISE, ID – Today, the Biden Administration released a Presidential Memorandum directing federal agencies to use their authorities and resources to restore healthy and abundant wild salmon, steelhead, and other native fish populations across the Columbia River Basin. This includes the directive that each agency reviews its programs affecting these fish, then identifies and initiates the necessary changes that align with this goal. This is long overdue, especially at the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), which has chronically underfunded fish and wildlife recovery programs while failing to meet regional salmon restoration goals. 

The Idaho Conservation League (ICL) is encouraged by this step in the right direction toward comprehensive solutions that address Tribal justice, salmon, and orcas. 

“We applaud President Biden and his Administration for saying the right things, now it’s time to do the right things,” said Mitch Cutter, Salmon & Steelhead Conservation Associate with ICL. “This Administration and all its agencies must deliver on the promises made today and the commitments the US made to Northwest Tribes more than a century ago to protect and restore abundant populations of wild salmon and steelhead. The future of river-dependent economies and ecosystems in Idaho and beyond depend on these urgent actions, including breaching of the lower Snake River dams.”

The President is also directing the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Office of Management and Budget to explore the opportunity to develop an intergovernmental partnership with Tribal Nations and States in the region to ensure that Federal, State, and Tribal entities work together to restore healthy and abundant salmon, steelhead, and other native fish; secure a clean and resilient energy future for the region; and invest in communities and industries that depend on the dams’ services to ensure no community is left behind. 

The memorandum comes shortly after a 60-day litigation stay extension in the ongoing Columbia-Snake River System litigation between the federal government, states, Tribes, and conservation groups (including ICL). These parties agreed to a short extension of the stay to continue forming a solution that will lead to broad-scale restoration of salmon and steelhead populations across the Northwest. The stay will end on October 31, 2023, and is not impacted by the memorandum.

The Presidential Memorandum can be viewed here, and a White House Fact Sheet here