Congress authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct four large dams along the lower Snake River. The four Snake River dams on the lower Snake in southeast Washington were completed in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Much like the Elwha, we need to examine the story of the lower Snake River and act quickly. From commercial fisheries off the Pacific Coast in Washington and Oregon and tribal communities which have depended on salmon for food for generations, to the outdoor guiding communities in central Idaho, there just aren’t enough fish. Photo by Ed Cannady. Uniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing world. Around the same time the Federal Govt. Urge Congress to Support It. As you learn more about what the dams mean for different people, you might be surprised how technically feasible and economically beneficial breaching can be to achieve our common goal of saving salmon and orcas. [Washington, D.C. P.O. At a regional salmon recovery conference in the spring of 2019, Simpson noted: “We have been asking the ‘what if’ questions…” regarding the removal of the lower Snake River dams. The agreement signals a pivot in a new direction and represents a commitment between the four signatory states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana to work together to rebuild Columbia River salmon and steelhead stocks. A combination of interest groups representing energy, transportation and irrigation have created political gridlock even as salmon runs continue to decline towards extinction. Learn how to create your own. The process has engaged local, state, tribal and federal leaders and stakeholders around addressing issues associated with the possible removal of the four dams on the lower Snake River in eastern Washington in order to recover the Chinook and other salmon populations that serve as a vital food source for Southern Resident orcas. Can the Great Lakes Still Be Great Uniters? One solution that would give salmon a fighting chance, is the removal of the dams. “We are excited that regional leadership is stepping up to find a comprehensive solution to an issue that the federal government has struggled to fix for so long,” said Chris Hager, executive director, Association of Northwest Steelheaders. Reports: 15 Bathymetric Maps: 0 Rating: Updated: 5/16/2020 View Reports » Charts & Data » 03 - Lower Monument Dam to Little Goose Dam. In the Columbia River Basin, 13 different runs of salmon are listed as endangered or threatened, straining the ecosystems and communities that depend on them. They are part of the problematic aging U.S. infrastructure that requires more money for maintenance every year. Northern Rockies and Pacific Regional Center. On February 28, the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on operations, maintenance and configurations for the 14 federal projects in the Columbia River System was released. Aren’t Governor Inslee’s Washington State Task Force & the federal CRSO process already on top of the salmon and orca issues? Simpson has been steadily expanding Idaho’s wilderness designations. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), in partnership with the U.S. Washington Gov. This map was created by a user. Kate Brown of Oregon have not been deterred by political partisanship in the fight to bring salmon and steelhead runs back to abundance. lower Snake River dams Clean, flexible and reliable. 03 - Lower Monument Dam to Little Goose Dam. Grain currently transported on lower Snake River barges can be moved on upgraded railroads, highways, and Columbia River barges. ... 02 - Ice Harbor Dam to Lower Monument Dam. Even while making her position on the dams clear, Brown has recognized that both careful planning and coalition building are necessary components for forging a new path for the Northwest. In commenting on the failed federal strategy for dam operations this summer, Brown voiced the clear need to forge a new path forward outside of the federal process. Where are the four Lower Snake River Dams. Simpson is building on a well-established conservation legacy, crafted through perseverance and an understanding of the importance of working with local communities to find solutions that work for their needs. Four Ways the Biden Administration Can Prioritize Wildlife Starting on…, Earth Tomorrow Atlanta Program Helps Get Out the Vote for…, Minnetonka, Minnesota Named Monarch Champion. Quiz: Which Iconic Winter Animal Are You? The lower Snake River dams are part of a Northwest energy solution with the capability to generate over 3,000 megawatts of carbon-free power. They are economically unsustainable now. Of the four states that make up the Columbia River watershed, only Oregon has forthrightly addressed the need to recover salmon runs. Ice Harbor Dam is lowermost of the four lower Snake River dams and therefore offers the best indication of the entire waterway’s economic viability. This study was un… The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has developed and constructed fish cooling systems at Lower Granite and Little Goose dams to alleviate warming water concerns. put in 4 dams on the lower Snake River, killing the salmon the whales rely on; when they tried to recover from the captures, there was simply not enough fish. The four lower Snake River dams are important to the Northwest’s power needs, provide important support for the transmission system and help keep our system low in carbon emissions. Lower Granite Dam is located approximately 40-miles downstream of Lewiston, Idaho. Fifteen years ago, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber was the first political leader in the region to acknowledge that removing the Snake River dams was a necessary step for fish recovery. agreement between the four Northwest governors. Climate change is adding another challenge as warming water temperatures in the reservoirs behind the dams threaten salmon which depend on cold water and snowmelt. The dams became operational between 1961 and 1975. It’s simply a matter of time before the federal agencies admit it. Fifty years ago, the U.S. government built four dams along the lower Snake River in eastern Washington to connect the small town of Lewiston, Idaho to the Pacific Ocean via barge. LSR Freight Transport graph . Box 37050, Washington, D.3: The Office, 2000] [Web.] The dams create an impediment to fish migration and worsen the warming of river water, which also inhibits migration. In order to restore Snake River salmon populations to sustainable numbers, scientists have determined that they must consistently return adults to the uppermost Snake River dam, Lower Granite, at a minimum rate of 2% to 6%. Climate change is adding another challenge as warming water temperatures in the reservoirs behind the dams threaten salmon which depend on cold water and snowmelt. Salmon define the rivers, communities, and culture of the Northwest, but they are increasingly at risk. Why hasn’t the Corps of Engineers acted to breach the dams? Congress and Bonneville to decide fate of lower Snake River dams. Northwest Snake River fishing reports. They also made note of the "Snake Indians" who lived along the river, who were actually the Shoshonetribe, and learned that the Nati… They are economically unsustainable now. Those reserves are needed, it says, to counteract high winter energy demand and the variability of the system’s more intermittent wind power. Opened 46 years ago in 1975, the dam is located 22 miles (35 km) south of Colfax and 35 miles (56 km) north of Pomeroy. Just one glance at the walls of his Washington, DC office reaffirms Simpson’s personal commitment to Idaho salmon: maps, photographs and ideas paint a new future for Idaho, one without the four Lower Snake Rivers dams, but yet that also ensures that all communities are supported and their livelihoods are maintained. Southern Resident Orcas officially became endangered in 2005. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), determined compensatory mitigation to improve fish passage and habitat conditions along the lower Snake River was required because of the construction of the four dams. National Wildlife Federation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization At the heart of this issue are the cumulative, negative impacts of the four dams on the lower Snake River, a major Columbia River tributary, which has severed fish passage to rich spawning habitats in Idaho. The four Lower Snake River Dams are man-made structures with a finite lifetime. Tell Congress to restore the Snake River to create a healthy, intact river system that works for people, for fish, and for wildlife. The lower Snake River dams’ powerhouses save over 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere each year. These dams will be breached in the future due to the economics. Much like the draft report released in December (CU No. When the Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed westwards into the Snake River watershed in 1805, they first gave it the name Lewis River, Lewis Fork or Lewis's Fork, as Meriwether Lewis was the first of their group to sight the river. In 2015, Idaho’s newest wilderness areas, the Hemingway Boulder Wilderness, Cecil D. Andrus White Clouds Wilderness, and the Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness were designated. PO Box 1583, Merrifield VA 22116-1583 1-800-822-9919 They are part of the problematic aging U.S. infrastructure that requires more money for maintenance every year. 1933 [13]), the final report emphasizes differing perspectives on how breaching or retaining the dams will affect salmon, orcas, the economy, energy production, agriculture, transportation and recreation. If the dams were breached or removed, it would take several coal- or gas-fired power plants to replace them. Where fifty years ago over 50,000 Chinook salmon returned to Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River, runs today number less than 500—or 1%. 0.04% -- --Below lower Snake River Dams. Reality: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found that the removal of the four lower Snake River dams would actually decrease total air emissions by seven tons per year from the transportation sector. Learn more about the Snake River dams’ role in our region’s clean energy portfolio . Myth 9: Lower Snake River dam removal will cause an increase in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Extinction is forever. He praised Brown for her determination to protect the state’s valuable fisheries, adding: “This new process needs to result in urgent actions if we are going to have any chance of recovering our world-class salmon runs.”. This Bill Saves Wildlife in Crisis. As a result, salmon populations have declined by more than 90%. Canadian explorer David Thompson first recorded the Native American name of the Snake River as Shawpatin when he arrived at its mouth by boat in 1800. Power from the dams can be replaced through a combination of energy efficiency, new renewables like wind, and perhaps changes in the operation of the region’s other dams. (2000) Army Corps of Engineers: an assessment of the draft environmental impact statement of the Lower Snake River dams: report to Congressional requesters. Lower Granite Lock and Dam is a concrete gravity run-of-the-river dam in the northwest United States.On the lower Snake River in southeastern Washington, it bridges Whitman and Garfield counties. Dam Sense was established to tell the truth about these dams and to help us all imagine a brighter future filled with vibrant local economies, abundant fishable wild salmon and steelhead, recovering Southern Resident Orcas, a financially viable Bonneville Power Administration, less taxpayer waste and responsible government stewardship of our resources. Discussions about the dams can take many perspectives. Why not just let these existing projects carry out other methods to save these species? “Idahoans, as well as all Americans who treasure wilderness and wildlife, are lucky to have Congressman Simpson at the helm, not just working for the well-being of his constituents, but fighting for the well-being of our state’s salmon and steelhead,” said Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation. Through this collaborative process, the agreement is intended to be a constructive, science-based effort, to be defined with involvement from the region’s tribes. 25 years has been spent trying, Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery and Task Force, Columbia River Systems Operations Process, 2002 Feasibility Study/Environmental Impact Statement. And, a misguided belief by the public and agencies that further studies, legislation, and a new Environmental Impact Statement will solve the problem when in fact all it does is prolong effective action to save salmon and orca. All four runs were listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA by 1997. The four Lower Snake River Dams are man-made structures with a finite lifetime. They are … In February 2020, Brown stated what has been clear to fish advocates for years, “No other action has the potential to improve overall survival two-to three-fold …”. A much-anticipated study says spilling more water over Columbia River Basin dams when power needs are low — and not breaching four dams on the lower Snake River … 02 - Ice Harbor Dam to Lower Monument Dam. With Bonneville Dam, equipped with a navigation lock, in place and with the Celilo Canal providing safe passage around the falls, the next challenge for navigation proponents was to improve the lower Snake. Most recently, beginning in 2018, the, Endangered Snake River salmon and Southern Resident Orcas can’t wait for long-drawn out efforts. These fishery interests feared the dams, particularly dams on the lower Snake River, would destroy the runs over time. Bonneville regards the lower Snake River dams as vital to its operations, comprising a quarter of the system’s electricity reserves. We are a 501 (c)(3) non profit organization. In the 60's & 70's, Seaworld took 60 members from the Southern Resident killer whale clan, leaving just 70 whales. The Lower Snake River Project features four locks and dams in the state of Washington: Ice Harbor Dam, Lower Monumental Dam, Little Goose Dam, and Lower Granite Dam. More recently, Simpson stepped up as a co-sponsor to the Great American Outdoors Act—passed by both the House and Senate this summer—a monumental bill funding a considerable funding gap for our national parks. These dams will be breached in the future due to the economics. The draft EIS includes consideration of removing the four lower Snake River dams. Above lower Snake River Dams. The bleak outlook for these iconic fish demands urgent action but most political leaders have been reluctant to seek solutions that might include dam removal. At the heart of this issue are the cumulative, negative impacts of the four dams on the lower Snake River, a major Columbia River tributary, which has severed fish passage to rich spawning habitats in Idaho. The empty promise of the lower Snake River Dams back in the 1970s was that they would provide cheap navigation, cheap energy and not endanger fish. This map reflects just the major dams that have been constructed in the last century in the Columbia Basin. Five High-Impact Conservation Solutions for 2021, The Elwha: A Roadmap for River Restoration Across the Northwest…, 10 Nutty Facts to Make You Appreciate Squirrels. Explore these perspectives by clicking on the image below or in the Perspectives menu. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://lccn.loc.gov/00328213. The Lower Snake River Dams Are In Jeopardy. 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. For five decades, the four dams on the lower Snake River have provided water for irrigation, emissions-free hydroelectricity, and 140 miles of flat water for barge passage from Pasco, Washington, to Lewiston, Idaho. The dams are not. In early October, she seized the opportunity to work across party divides to find real solutions to save salmon by signing the agreement between the four Northwest governors. Privacy Policy | Terms of Use, With salmon runs declining, a precious few adult Snake River sockeye will come back to Redfish Lake Creek, and head to the lake they name: Redfish Lake. It would please us to think so, however both species have declined since NOAA’s protection, conservation, and recovery efforts on their behalf began. They also submerged 63 rapids big enough to have earned themselves names and increased the mortality of … And, Lack of regional political leadership to even ask the Corps to breach. Further downstream are Little Goose Dam, Lower Monumental Dam, and Ice Harbor Dam. In her tenure as Governor, Kate Brown has built on Kitzhaber’s legacy and recognized that dam removal is the quickest, most effective measure for restoring the Northwest’s ecosystems. In this stalemated environment two champions stand out. The lower Snake River dams produce roughly 1,100 average megawatts of carbon-free electricity compared to the Klamath River dam’s 78 average megawatts. Our regional ecology is feeling the loss as well. Dam advocates and fish advocates battled through the 1940s. Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho and Gov. 0.6%. All told, there are over 200 dams in this 250,000 square mile area. So, the question is will salmon and Southern Resident Orcas still be around when the dams come down, or will it be too late? State: Washington Type: Snake River… Our beloved wildlife ambassador has been creating lifelong connections with nature for generations. Shipping statistics from Ice Harbor indicate water-born commerce peaked on the lower Snake in 1995 and has been on a long, steady decline ever since. Jay Inslee has released the final report from the state’s Lower Snake River Dams Stakeholder Process. It’s simply a matter of time before the federal agencies admit it. Breaching the lower Snake River dams has been discussed for decades, but the decline of the southern resident killer whales in the Puget Sound to only 72 orcas has renewed calls for removing the dams. Wild salmon and orca whales are threatened with extinction owing partly to the presence of four hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River in Washington. Your Action Is Needed to Save them! He clearly stated that these questions were essential to saving Idaho’s salmon and steelhead and that he was determined to see fish runs recovered in his lifetime. State: Washington Type: Snake River.