Summary

Washington State leaders are weighing the costs of replacing the public services provided by the Snake River dams against the harm they inflict on wild salmon. Now a new analysis released by NOAA Fisheries concludes, “it is essential that the lower Snake River be restored by dam breaching.”

Why it Matters

Southern Resident killer whales depend on Chinook salmon. The Snake River was once a vital source, yet dams now make 140 miles of essential spawning habitat inaccessible. Dam breaching can prevent the extinction of Snake River Chinook, and save these endangered killer whales.

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Tell leaders that NOAA Fisheries' analysis supports dam breaching to save Snake River Chinook, and the orcas that rely on them.
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Snake River Dams

NOAA Fisheries’ new report states that while “most potential restoration actions simply improve impacted habitats, breaching dams would be transformative, changing the anthropogenic reservoir habitats back into a river.” They conclude that “the science robustly supports process-based stream habitat restoration, dam removal (breaching), and ecosystem-based management, and overwhelmingly supports acting, and acting now.”

Southern Resident Killer Whales

Snake River Chinook are close to 1% of their pre-dam numbers. Without these historically important prey, the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population remains at risk of extinction. Research from analysis of their fecal samples from studies like Wild Orca’s Health Monitoring Program show that insufficient prey increases miscarriage, and amplifies the harmful effects of others stressors, i.e. vessels and contaminants.