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The Northwest's Future

Solutions Together

U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson’s recent proposal charts a path forward for the Northwest. The proposal is bold, comprehensive, and urgently needed for Idahoans and the people of this region.


Idaho's Iconic Fish

Salmon and steelhead are integral to Idaho’s identity. Born in the headwaters of the Salmon and Clearwater Rivers, these iconic fish migrate to the ocean and then return to their native waters where they spawn and die — and the cycle begins anew. But salmon and steelhead have a new normal: dams and development have relegated them to the endangered species list.

Although regulation from federal and state governments has kept Idaho’s iconic fish from going extinct so far, salmon and steelhead populations are collapsing and have declined substantially since the development of dams on the lower Snake River. Upstream, Idahoans have protected and restored some of the best habitat for salmon and steelhead anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, the fish are having trouble getting to it. Today, only two percent of historical populations remain.

Take Action for Salmon and Steelhead

Whether you have many experiences with Idaho’s wild fish, or just care about Idaho’s wildlife, your voice makes a difference. Now is the time to tell Idaho leaders that you care about this issue.

The Status Quo is Not Working

Anadromous fish species across the Pacific Northwest, including Chinook, sockeye, and coho salmon, plus steelhead trout are trending toward extinction. Yet decision-makers continue to spend billions of dollars on inadequate measures that have not recovered wild fish and maintain the status quo.

Mother Nature has been telling us for years that we are missing the real problem — scientists and the courts agree. As U.S. District Judge Michael Simon told federal agencies in a 2016 ruling, the Federal Columbia River Power System “cries out for a new approach and new thinking” — one that allows salmon, steelhead, and our region to thrive.

The Damage of the Dams

Prior to the construction of federal dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, millions of adult salmon and steelhead returned to Idaho’s rivers each year. These fisheries crashed after the construction of Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite Dams on the lower Snake River in the 1960s and 1970s. Billions of dollars have been spent to recover these fish, but recovery efforts have not succeeded. We are at a crossroads where we have a unique opportunity to take bold action to restore our salmon and steelhead or lose them forever.

Idaho’s Salmon and Steelhead Matter

Salmon and steelhead are closely intertwined with Idaho’s culture, history, and economy. These fish nourished indigenous cultures both physically and spiritually. The state’s early pioneers — miners, ranchers, trappers and loggers — settled here and sustained themselves on this abundant natural resource. Today, anglers, outfitters and guides rely on these iconic fish for their livelihoods. Salmon and steelhead also bolster Idaho’s small businesses, tourism and recreation industries. Idaho’s Indigenous tribes continue to advocate for the return of fish to traditional fishing grounds.

In addition to their historic, cultural and economic value, these fish are a critical part of Idaho’s ecosystem and many plants and animals depend on them for survival. Should the fish disappear, hundreds of other plant and animal species would follow.

Through great work by local communities across the state, Idaho has some of the best habitat on Earth. At high elevations, our rivers contain cold, pristine water, yet they remain vacant of fish.

Bold Action

Right now is the time to fight to save Idaho’s salmon and steelhead. Restoration of our iconic Idaho fish has never been more achievable. The Pacific Northwest’s energy system faces pressure from market forces and technological evolution. We have a unique opportunity now to reshape this energy system, save taxpayers and electricity ratepayers money, and save Idaho salmon and steelhead.

The single most effective step we can take to restore fish populations would be to remove the four lower Snake River dams. We have the knowledge and technology to replace the electricity they produce with clean, renewable energy. Working with farmers must be a priority too. If we work together, we can find a way — other than relying on barges on the Snake River — to get grain to market economically and efficiently. By working together we can identify and support strategic investments that ensure that the grain currently shipped downstream on barges can be moved just as economically and efficiently by rail. Together we can all get what we need. If we keep fighting each other, we all lose.

Salmon, Steelhead, and Energy

FishPower

Federal dams in the Northwest have placed Idaho’s fish on a path toward extinction, while Idaho’s citizens are paying more and more for the power those dams produce. There’s a better way forward for energy, salmon, steelhead, and our state.