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Feds reject removal of Snake River dams ... “The science shows that pulling out the four lower Snake River dams is the only way to save Columbia river salmon,” she said. In this piece, we will analyze the cost of replacing the energy and fully mitigating the carbon emissions associated with replacing energy lost from removal of the four Lower Snake River dams. And yet, when the federal agencies had the opportunity to bring the region forward together with a plan that reimagines how the river can work for everyone, they failed. And they don’t have to because the US Army Corps of Engineers is committed to following the guidance in the current Summary, 2002 Feasibility Study/Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is still a good framework for its actions on the LSRD’s themselves. Dam removal, however, must be part of a … Four aging dams in Washington state block passage along the lower Snake River, a major migration corridor linking pristine cold water streams in central Idaho to the mighty Columbia River and out to the Pacific Ocean. One of the most effective steps is to restore a free-flowing Lower Snake River so adults and baby salmon can move more quickly through this crucial stretch of river that currently consists of four lethally warm slackwater reservoirs — and four salmon-killing dams. The four dams on the lower Snake River are part of a vast and complex hydroelectric power system operated by the federal government in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. During the past two decades, regional and national stakeholders and many others — Native American tribes, state and federal scientists, and business leaders — have been urging the agencies to remove the four Lower Snake River dams, the single biggest action we can take to restore the salmon. And in its most recent draft plan, it said the same thing again, the alternative that removes these dams “showed the highest predicted smolt-to-adult returns (SARs) for Snake River salmon and steelhead among the alternatives” with modeled increases of up to 170%. All our remaining Snake River salmon hover dangerously close to extinction. The Snake River dams have fish ladders, but the salmon can get bottle-necked at the dam before they are swept into the ladder, and many get picked off by … Breaching the lower Snake River dams and restoring the river would not come cheap. Don’t let anyone tell you they’ve seen this movie before and know how it ends. The context for a decision about dam removal is dramatically different today than it was the last time the agencies looked at this issue in 2000. Most recently, in May 2016, a federal district judge ordered dam operators to put all options on the table to save threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead – including dam removal on the Snake River. In this May 15, 2019, file photo, the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River is seen from the air near Colfax, Washington. The Snake River dams in Washington would remain in place under a final study released Friday, July 31, by federal agencies. A study found that removal of the dams would result in a two- to three-fold increase in salmon on the Snake River. Endangered Snake River salmon and Southern Resident Orcas can’t wait for long-drawn out efforts. The future of clean power and the challenges facing BPA are a unique opportunity to solve two critical regional problems at once — restoring the lower Snake River to bring back salmon, and charting a new course for BPA that captures new energy market opportunities while replacing the lower Snake River dams with renewable, clean energy. In its 2000 plan, the government said, “breaching the four Lower Snake River dams would provide more certainty of long-term survival and recovery than would other measures.”. Right now, Members of Congress can help by introducing a bill authorizing the partial removal of the four lower Snake River dams, the replacement of the limited services the dams provide, and the protection of communities affected by that action. Kate Brown said removing the four lower Snake River dams … Advocates for breaching the dams have long argued that their removal is necessary to help several endangered salmon species that must navigate the dam system. Congress should support the dams removal or relocation of the Snake River Dams. And the one thing that has not. As part of this process, tribes, fishing communities, farmers, utilities, and other river users have gathered to discuss what they need in order to make dam removal feasible. But agencies instead produced a plan that largely maintains the status quo. It’s our story to write. Way to many politics on the Snake. Maggie joined Earthjustice in 2014 after eight years as an award-winning newspaper reporter and magazine journalist. If you care about salmon, orcas, and healthy rivers, it’s time to speak up. Now, they’re ready to sue. By Annette Cary / Tri-City Herald . Maggie is the National Communications Strategist for the Lands, Oceans and Wildlife program. For millennia, the Snake River and its tributaries produced well over half these chinook. For years, shippers have increasingly turned to rail to transport goods to market because it delivers them more quickly and efficiently. Our next endeavor was to advocate for the removal of the Four Lower Snake River Dams (LSRD) to free up the Snake and to give the salmon and steelhead populations a fighting chance at survival. A Federal judge asked the government to look at decommissioning and dismantling four dams on the lower Snake River near the Tri-Cities in Washington State in … Tribes that rely on the salmon not only for sustenance, but for important cultural and ceremonial reasons are experiencing the gravest injustices from the dams. "Removing the four lower Snake dams must be part of any real salmon and steelhead restoration strategy. Staff Attorney, Earthjustice. It was the largest dam removal operation in U.S. history. We have proof that restoring rivers recovers salmon. The Copco 2 dam on the Klamath River is one of four on the river slated for removal. A long-awaited federal report due Friday is expected to address the feasibility of removing four hydroelectric dams on a major Pacific Northwest river in a … Since 2000, the Northwest electric grid has changed dramatically. Technicians install rooftop solar panels in Spokane, Washington, in September, 2016. Overwhelmingly, the evidence has led us to conclude that removal of the four lower Snake River dams is the single most important step we can take to recover abundant, fishable and harvestable Snake River salmon and steelhead. “Salmon runs can provide jobs forever if managed correctly.”. Oregon’s Governor Supports Removal Of Snake River Dams. The draft plan favors maintaining the status quo: a do-little decision that will ultimately prove disastrous for commercial and recreati… A mother orca’s 17-day long vigil for her dead calf touched people around the world and brought to light the dire straits of her kin. Environmental groups who have pushed for years for the dams to come down immediately blasted the report. This could be the sixth time federal hydropower plans for the Columbia and Snake River dams end up in court. We know that removing these four dams is the centerpiece of any serious effort to prevent the extinction of Snake River salmon and Southern Resident orcas. Another study focused on the economics of the issue concluded that river restoration would have a positive overall impact on the regional economy. “These efforts have already cost billions of dollars, yet they are failing.”, The Northwest Power and Conservation Council, killed more than 90% of all adult sockeye salmon, “NOAA Fisheries’ analysis does not apply the best available science, overlooks important aspects of the problem, and fails properly to analyze the effects of climate change … ”, “breaching the four Lower Snake River dams would provide more certainty of long-term survival and recovery than would other measures.”, “showed the highest predicted smolt-to-adult returns (SARs) for Snake River salmon and steelhead among the alternatives”, Fishing, Conservation Groups Return to Court to Challenge Latest Failed Plan for Columbia-Snake Salmon, Conservation, industry groups reach agreement to lower methane emissions from oil and gas wellpads, Quemetco’s Lead Legacy: A Cycle of Injustice and Contamination in Southern California, Earthjustice Elogia El Liderazgo Del Presidente Biden Para Promover La Justicia Ambiental Y Abordar La Crisis Climática. An independent study showed that a mixed portfolio of clean energy from wind and solar could replace the energy the dams produce, with energy savings at little additional cost to ratepayers — as low as $1.25/month. It restores rivers and it brings fish back — faster and more successfully than even the scientists anticipated. The advocacy group says this means dam removal doesn’t have to be a choice between salmon and renewable energy. Oregon’s Democrat Gov. Last week, Kate Brown sent a letter to fellow Democrat Jay Inslee offering her support of his effort to “restore health” to the orcas. The U.S. government says four huge dams on the Snake River in Washington state will not be removed to help endangered salmon migrate to the ocean … Lower Snake River dams could be replaced by a variety of renewable energy resources, according to a new study by the NW Energy Coalition. When the River suffers, the Nimiipuu suffer as well. Removal of Snake River dams would harm economy, environment Mar 15, 2020 Mar 15, 2020 ... FCS Group, contends that, with no lower Snake River dams and … The Northwest can replace energy generated by the four lower Snake River dams at a nominal cost to ratepayers. That’s a return rate of 1⁄100 of 1%! In truth, while the four Snake River salmon and steelhead populations will benefit the most from the removal of the four lower Snake River dams, this action will also help improve water quality and flow in the lower Columbia River, thus benefiting all 13 … The Columbia River Basin was once among the greatest salmon-producing river systems in the world. The fight over salmon and dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers could be going back to the courtroom. In 1999, activists bought an ad in The New York Times claiming that unless the dams were removed, “wild Snake River spring chinook salmon … will be extinct by 2017.” When 2017 arrived, the Snake River Chinook population was six times larger than in 1999. For the most endangered species, Snake River sockeye — which already are at dangerously low levels — only a few dozen adults returned to their spawning grounds in Idaho out of more than 500,000 baby sockeye that left to migrate downstream a few years earlier. These same scientists have said that historically orcas would spend weeks each winter feeding on adult chinook salmon in the Pacific, especially off the mouth of the Columbia. People have taken to the street on behalf of orcas, paddled out onto the flat reservoirs behind the dams where the salmon struggle to migrate, and flown to Washington D.C. to meet with leaders to demand action in the Pacific Northwest. In early 2016, a judge ordered three federal agencies to revise their operating plans for hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Pacific Northwest to comply with the Endangered Species Act and help recover endangered salmon and steelhead. While the federal agencies have failed in their mandate, people are already working together toward the greatest river restoration and salmon recovery in history . Not only will 140 miles of the lower Snake once again turn into a free-€‹flowing river with habitat complexity, but 5,500 miles of high-elevation spawning habitat will become more accessible to salmon and steelhead. The law makes change. Paradoxically, that process will likely start with further stress on fish populations, as some 30 million cubic yards of sediment trapped behind the dams flushes downriver. The four Lower Snake River dams are money losers for both tax- and bill-payers. The debate over whether to remove the four federal dams that have turned the lower Snake into a series of steelhead-killing slackwater pools became prominent around the year 2000, soon after Columbia basin salmon and steelhead runs were listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act because of their precipitous decline. Significantly, it dismantled the paradigm of trying to restore endangered Snake River salmon without considering major modification or removal of some dams. As the climate warms, the salmon disaster of 2015 is likely to occur again unless we make significant changes in dam and river operations. The US Army Corps took 7 years to complete this report at a cost of $33 million. They have concluded that one of the biggest factors affecting orca nutrition is the tremendous decline in chinook salmon coming out of the Columbia/Snake River basin. The main lesson is: dam removal works. 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