Idaho is salmon country. For millennia these hardy fish have spawned in Idaho’s clear mountain streams and swam to the ocean. Like any good Idahoan, after a few years away the salmon return, swimming hundreds of miles upstream to give birth to the next generation. Salmon represent the best of Idaho-determination, hard work, and a deep connection to our mountains and rivers.
Over the past decades salmon have struggled as once cold, clear rivers get polluted and large dams make the long river journey difficult, if not impossible. In 1992 just one salmon completed the journey back to Idaho’s Redfish Lake. Since then, through concerted conservation efforts, salmon have rebounded and some recent runs out to the ocean have seen strong numbers of fish.
Hot River Temperatures This Summer
But this summer hot river temperatures are causing massive losses of returning salmon. Scientists calculate that 50% or more of the returning fish will die before reaching their spawning homes. Losses like these will undercut the decades of effort and expense to restore salmon runs.
These hot water temperatures are not a quirk or a random turn of events. There are clear reasons our rivers run hot today. First, we all know this winter Idaho did not get the snowpack we rely on. The lack of snow is right in line with most climate change predictions. Second, this summer has seen record breaking hot weather, again right in line with climate change models. The bottom line is that we are seeing the impacts of a changing climate right now-impacts that directly affect Idaho.
What We Can Do
We can and must act now to reverse this trend. Fortunately we have two opportunities today. Protecting the Boulder White Clouds protects healthy riparian systems that naturally store and release cold water throughout the summer. Add your name to the over 13,000 people asking for a Boulder White Clouds National Monument.
Developing a Clean Power Plan for Idaho will cut the carbon pollution from coal and gas plants that is heating up our planet. Join ICL’s energy news so that you can take action to ensure Idaho writes a strong clean power plan.