Summary

Rivers and streams are essential to wild salmon, nurturing their young and providing essential spawning habitat. These nutrient-rich salmon feed entire ecosystems from forests to oceans where wild orcas fish. With thousands of miles of essential spawning habitat now inaccessible behind largely obsolete dams, the future’s bleak for wild salmon, and the endangered whales that depend on them.

Why it Matters

Wild Pacific salmon spend most of their lives in the Pacific Ocean, but freshwater rivers and streams are where their lives begin and end. By removing aging dams blocking access to their historic spawning habitat, we can restore wild salmon to our rivers and seas, and save starving orcas.

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Take Action

Urge your Northwest elected leaders and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to take action to restore salmon by removing the lower Snake Rivers dams and modernizing their services.
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In partnership with "Our Northwest Opportunity"

Rivers, Salmon & Killer Whales

Southern Resident killer whales hunt for wild Pacific salmon in the inland waters of the Salish Sea, and in coastal waters from Canada’s Vancouver Island to Monterey, California. Over the last century, the number of wild Pacific salmon born in these regions’ rivers has fallen dramatically.

The Columbia River Basin was once one of the most important salmon-producing river systems in the world, likely responsible for over half the Chinook salmon in the orcas’ range. The mouth of the Columbia River is still an important orca foraging hotspot, and in 2019 NOAA scientists proposed “critical habitat” for this region.

Dammed to Extinction

The Snake is the largest river flowing into the Columbia River Basin, and is an important salmon migration route from Idaho through Oregon and Washington. In the 1960s, the Government built four dams on the lower Snake, blocking access to thousands of miles of historic salmon spawning habitat, endangering the future of wild salmon in this river system.

In 2000, NOAA Fisheries acknowledged removing these dams would help recover endangered salmon (and whales), but still does not propose their removal. This in spite of numerous legal challenges and rulings, and with successful recoveries of other salmon ecosystems following dam breaches.