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Commentaries and editorials

New Course Needed for Dams

by Tom France
The Oregonian, May 26, 2020

Graphic: Survival of juvenile salmon from the Washington/Idaho border to beyond Bonneville Dam has averaged around 50% survival.  In other words, half of them die while migrating through the federal hydropower system. Washington's Gov. Jay Inslee and the Department of Ecology have recently taken a historic step to address the negative impacts of the eight dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. They have required a plan to cool water temperatures to help struggling salmon. However, much more is needed.

Northwest residents and business owners want to chart a new course for Lower Snake River dams to save endangered salmon. So do Gov. Kate Brown and Gov. Inslee. This was abundantly clear in their response to the wholly inadequate dam management options in the Columbia River System Operations Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Gov. Brown noted that the proposed plan "will not meet the expectations and needs of the citizens of Oregon and the region, nor provide adequate protection for salmon and steelhead." She added: "This vision of the future can only be realized with leadership from and strong collaboration with the four states (Oregon, Washington, Montana and Idaho)." Gov. Inslee was equally clear. The plan falls short of Washington's expectations to restore salmon and he called for an "active, collaborative, and visionary regional conversation."

Govs. Inslee and Brown are both right. For real solutions, we need regional collaboration and we must go beyond the recommendations put forth in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Draft Environmental Impact Statement. We have options, but little time. We are heartened by Govs. Inslee and Brown's leadership and support them in forging a collaborative path forward.

Tom France regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation
New Course Needed for Dams
The Oregonian, May 26, 2020

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