Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Senator Patty Murray released their long-awaited “Lower Snake River Dams: Benefits Replacement Draft Report” early last June. The report summarizes all the benefits and costs of the four Lower Snake River Dams (LSRD) and facilitates public input on the possibility of LSRD removal. The public comment period ends Monday, July 11 at 5:00 PM PST. Additionally, while this report provides cost estimates for removing LSRD and replacing their services, the report, nor its authors, make any definitive recommendations.
Since Congressman Simpson’s Salmon Concept, an Idaho Republican, stalled, many dam-breach advocates had pointed to the report as the next big step toward a free-flowing Lower Snake River.
The draft report acknowledges that LSRD provides significant benefits to the region – particularly as it relates to the transportation of agricultural products and the supply of relatively cheap energy. However, all of these services are potentially substitutable, and the region can switch and save Snake River salmon and steelhead, both of which are on a path to extinction. Without removing the LSRD – which will significantly improve habitat, water conditions and upriver migrations – the fate of wild salmon and steelhead is secure.
Senator Murray and Governor Inslee issued a joint press release regarding the report:
“We continue to approach the issue of infringement with an open mind and without a predetermined decision. From the beginning, we have placed public and stakeholder engagement from communities across the Pacific Northwest as the foundation of every regional process. This continues to include consultation and advice from recognized federal tribes, whose unique perspectives and sovereignty each of us deeply values. We appreciate the diverse perspective of the many stakeholders who have already provided input on the draft independent report and look forward to hearing from many more as this document is available for public review.
“Every community in the Pacific Northwest knows the value and importance of our iconic salmon runs – and every community recognizes the importance of salmon to our economy and cultural heritage. Each of us remains firmly committed to saving our salmon. We also know that dams provide important benefits to our region’s economy and communities. In the coming weeks, we will carefully review and consider public input, tribal consultation and other stakeholder engagement before making any recommendations.”
Tomorrow, Monday July 11, is the last day to comment on this draft report. So head over to lsrdoptions.org, review the draft, and submit a comment that protects salmon, steelhead, and a free-flowing Lower Snake River. But also be sure to let Congress know that you support the repeal of the LSRD and the recovery of the region’s wild salmon and steelhead, because Congressional support is essential to achieving these goals. Trout Unlimited has launched an Action Campaign to contact your Congressional representatives – Take Action Today!
Save the Snake River
Multibillion-dollar plan to remove four lower Snake River dams unveiled