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

Ask the Army Corps of Engineers to remove the four lower Snake River dams to save wild salmon & endangered orcas.
Sign the PetitionWrite a LetterMake a Call

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, but it’s yet to be finalized.

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.

Lt. Col. Richard T. Childers

Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Northwestern District

The Snake River was once home to some of the largest salmon runs in the lower 48, now they’re struggling for survival. The four dams on the lower Snake are no longer essential to Washington State’s energy needs, but up-stream access is critical to wild Chinook salmon, and the Southern Resident killer whales that depend upon them. As Commander of the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, I urge you to accept the scientific merits of removing these dams to recover wild Chinook salmon and save the Southern Resident killer whales from extinction. Thank you.

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Write & CallThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Please remove the lower Snake River dams.

Key Talking Points

Customize your letter with these additional options.

  • Dams are a major factor in the decline of wild Pacific salmon, cutting off access to important spawning habitat, limiting successful reproduction.
  • Dam removal would restore over 140 miles of the lower Snake River and open up access to thousands of miles of salmon spawning habitat in the Columbia River Basin.
  • Salmon have successfully re-colonized stretches of rivers unused for decades following other dam removals.
  • The cost of maintaining this aging infrastructure, producing hatchery salmon, and trucking fish across dams gets more expensive every year. Nature will provide these service without charge if you allow it.

Did you Know?

All direct contact to local, state, and federal elected or appointed officials has to be counted and reported and really can make a difference.

Your personal letter, email, or phone call has a much HIGHER value than any “click and send” website letter or petition. You can use our samples to get you started…

Lieutenant Colonel Richard T. Childers
Commander and District Engineer
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Northwestern Division
201 N 3rd Ave Walla Walla
WA 99362

Sample Letter

Dear Lieutenant Colonel Childers,

I’m concerned that the four dams on the lower Snake River prevent access to habitat up-stream, that’s critical to wild Chinook salmon survival. I urge you to accept the scientific merits of dam removal to recovering wild Chinook in this river system, and thereby preventing the extinction of the Southern Resident killer whales.

The Southern Resident killer whales were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 2005, but their population is now smaller than when listed, unable to raise healthy calves due to lack of wild Chinook salmon. Yet, hundreds of miles of historic Chinook salmon spawning habitat lie out of reach beyond the lower Snake River dams. Failing to make these habitats accessible runs contrary to the Endangered Species Act, under which some populations of Chinook and the Southern Resident killer whales are listed.

It’s 20 years since NOAA Fisheries stated that, “Breaching the four lower Snake River dams would provide more certainty of long-term survival and recovery [of salmon] than would other measures.” But despite this, and the high costs both to taxpayers and the environment, you continue to manage and operate these expensive and aging dams, generating 20th-century power in the cleaner, greener energy world of today.

Time is now running out to recover endangered salmon and whales, and your action now is critical to their survival.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

 

__________________

Address

Lieutenant Colonel Childers
Commander and District Engineer
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Northwestern Division
201 N 3rd Ave, Walla Walla,
WA 99362

Lieutenant Colonel Richard T. Childers
Commander and District Engineer
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Northwestern Division
Walla Walla, WA 99362

(509) 527-7020

Sample Script

Hello, I’m calling today with a message for Lieutenant Colonel Childers.

My name is ______ and I’m a resident of ____ state.

The four dams on the lower Snake River prevent access to habitat up-stream that is critical to wild Chinook salmon survival, and therefore to the Southern Resident killer whales that depend on them.

I urge you to accept the scientific merits of removing these dams in order to recover wild Chinook salmon in this historic river system, and save the Southern Resident killer whales from extinction.

Thank you.

Contact

(509) 527-7020

Lieutenant Colonel Childers
Commander and District Engineer
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Northwestern Division
Walla Walla, WA 99362