the film


Commentaries and editorials

Groups Renew Attention on
Snake River Dam Breaching

by K.C. Mehaffey
NW Fishletter, February 6, 2023

Any litigation party can move to lift the stay for good cause, including lack of sufficient progress on
the federal commitments or on the development of comprehensive solutions toward salmon recovery.

A joint federal and state look is planned at whether the benefits of Ice Harbor Dam near the Tri-Cities and three other lower Snake River dams could be reasonably replaced if the dams are breached. (Bob Brawdy photo) As Washington state lawmakers returned to Olympia to begin a new legislative session, groups on both sides of the debate over breaching the four lower Snake River dams were already vying for their attention.

Youth-led groups marched in Olympia on Jan. 13 in order to call "attention to the urgent need to breach the lower four Snake River dams and replace the services they provide, to prevent the extinction of salmon and orcas."

Meanwhile, the Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association took out a full-page ad in The Olympian and other newspapers urging the governor and state lawmakers to act before a U.S. District Court is asked to issue a decision later this year.

In the ad -- written as an open letter addressed to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and his staff, Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, state legislators and county commissioners -- the irrigators predict that 2023 will be a turning point for the future of the dams and water policy in Washington.

"The year 2023 will not enlist complacency, but prod decision makers and elected officials to answer for water policy/management decisions 'stayed' from past years," the ad states.

It says a "yes, no" answer to the question of dam breaching in a 2022 report by Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) "will test the patience of an army of dam breaching advocates, consisting of state/federal agency, university, and Tribal fish scientists, along with key environmental group representatives. Court directives shall be reengaged to push forward dam breaching momentum."

Irrigators expressed concern about state water policies by criticizing the Washington Department of Ecology's inability to manage water rights. "Water right holders, and county Water Conservancy Boards, shall not accept the status quo. New municipal and Columbia River water right legislation shall be advanced," the group predicted.

Youth rally organizers blamed the Snake River dams for decimating wild salmon runs. "This has starved entire ecosystems of a keystone species, tribes of their traditions, culture, and income, and fishing communities all over the northwest that rely on these salmon," their news release states.

The group is asking the Legislature to fully fund Inslee's $10 million request to study replacing energy and transportation services provided by the dams.

The rally announcement said the event will include youth speakers and a march to the state capitol carrying life-size inflatable orcas and salmon.

K.C. Mehaffey
Groups Renew Attention on Snake River Dam Breaching
NW Fishletter, February 6, 2023

See what you can learn

learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs
discussion forum
salmon animation