Sightline Institute's work is made possible by the generosity of people like you! unless the dams were removed, “wild Snake River spring chinook salmon … will be Dams are not the only factors working against fish. Human and non-human predators, climate change, and other dams challenge salmon recovery too. But the Corps has not kept up with the times. By Jacques Leslie • October 10, 2019. They also submerged 63 rapids big enough to have earned themselves names and increased the mortality of salmon smolts heading downstream and adults returning upstream to spawn. isn’t just good for our economy, farmers and energy – it is good for the , the US Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) will issue an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in 2020 and the Bonneville Power Administration (Bonneville) will make a decision on whether to remove Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite dams as part of a systemwide review of the operations of the Columbia River hydro system. “Despite billions of dollars spent on these efforts, the listed species continue to be in a perilous state,” Simon wrote. replace part, but not all, of the energy from the dams. The Army Corps of Engineers estimates the cost to remove the We cannot know for certain that salmon will recover, given other stressors. dams are responsible for about The Chelan County PUD officially opposes removal of lower Snake River Dams. A July 2019 report by a Portland-based economics firm indicates that removing dams on the Snake River in Eastern Washington would have huge financial benefits as well. Human and non-human predators, climate change, and other dams challenge salmon recovery too. Make a donation to Sightline now. Next time: Snake River dams no longer produce the least expensive electricity. The agency’s. Consider: in spite of the many obstacles in their path—from natural hazards like sea lions to man-made barriers like dams—salmon still spawn in the fresh waters of Idaho in the vast tributary system of the Snake River. In spite of Vulcan’s reputation for. In July, the economic consulting firm ECONorthwest (ECONW), funded by the philanthropic arm of the late Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc. on the benefits and costs of restoring the river. https://www.critfc.org/full-dam-counts/?fish=chin_adult&dam=LGR, Kellen, the rationale for removing the dams on the Lower Snake River is not only to improve the return rates of adult salmon but also to increase the amount of spawning habitat for adult salmon and to reduce the mortality of juveniles headed downstream. Last year, the NW Energy Coalition, which supports removing the dams, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers takes another jab at a study of the Snake River dams supported by Gov. are “very close to achieving, or have already achieved, the juvenile dam passage activists claim Snake River salmon are near extinction. But ECONW went further, seeking to put dollar values on the intangible value of the Snake River’s once mighty salmon runs. They were openly pro-dam removal, booing some of their own congressional reps when their images came up on screen. Fishers and tribal members in Eastern Washington and Idaho would thrill to see increased salmon runs on the Snake River while Seattleites concerned with climate change fear giving up a gigawatt of carbon-free electricity. The same critic claimed the study would “steer.. money away from projects that would meaningfully improve salmon habitat and populations.” ECONW was not tasked with ranking the cost-effectiveness of every potential protection and recovery measure in all the salmon ecosystems in the Pacific basin. Restoring the lower Snake River by removing the four dams that block its flow would precipitate changes in the region’s physical infrastructure, electric grid operations, carbon emissions, grain transport, irrigation, recreation, fish habitat, and riverine and marine ecosystems. The Bloede Dam was removed in 2018 as part of a larger plan— which included removal of the Union and Simkins dams in 2010— to restore more than 65 miles of spawning habitat for blueback herring, alewife, American shad, hickory shad, and more than 183 miles for American eel in the Patapsco River watershed. now claim destroying the dams would help the struggling southern resident Gov. Numerous scientific studies published in 2019 and 2020 point to changing ocean conditions caused by … Gov. Scientists warn of salmon extinction if Snake River dams stay. So to understand the loss of hydro-power, Seattle should be supplied with only solar and wind power with no federal subsidies. For whatever reason, the LSRD seem to be the problem. Large public enterprises including Bonneville and the Corps would change how they do business. The agency’s handbook for conducting studies like the one underway for the Columbia River system counts the “use-values” of salmon as a source of recreation or food but ignores the “non-use-values” or intrinsic value of salmon as a viable species. Researchers who are not willing to reveal their sources, their data, and their methodology don’t deserve to have any credibility attached to their reports. Jay Inslee. Some, however, continue to ignore the latest science, Below we present facts from fisheries scientists of the ECONorthwest study found fault with the wording of one question in the survey sponsored by the Save Our Wild Salmon advocacy group and the application of willingness to pay research to households in California, arguing that people in San Diego don’t care about wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest. In 1999, activists bought an ad in The New York Times claiming that unless the dams were removed, “wild Snake River spring chinook salmon … will be extinct by 2017.” When 2017 arrived, the Snake River Chinook population was six times larger than in 1999. watersheds the state Department of Fish and Wildlife says are most important to UPDATED: Fri., Dec. 20, 2019. Recent declines in the health of the southern resident orcas have brought new voices to longstanding calls to breach the dams and restore the river to a more natural condition. few percentage points. In this May 15, 2019 photo, the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River is seen from the air near Colfax, Washington Gov. found it would cost an additional $400 million a year in electricity costs to Published October 24, 2019. All Rights Reserved. These changes would likely increase the populations of endangered fish and reduce the risk of extinction. Despite the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife prioritized the most One critic of the ECONorthwest study found fault with the wording of one question in the survey sponsored by the Save Our Wild Salmon advocacy group and the application of willingness to pay research to households in California, arguing that people in San Diego don’t care about wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest. To find more articles on Sustainable Living. In 2017, the returns of adult Chinook and Sockeye salmon were well below their 10-year average and a fraction of their historic levels. The debate over the Snake River dams is ongoing, but with each new dam removal researchers are learning important lessons to help guide the next project. By leaving out the largest category of benefits of breaching, the Corps’s study will almost certainly conclude that the dams should remain. dams would be more than $1 billion — equal to more than 11 years of state salmon Dam removal foes aren't buying the "non-use" benefits cited. to longstanding calls to breach the dams and restore the river to a more natural condition. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Originally published on … Founded in 1993, Sightline Institute is committed to making the Northwest a global model of sustainability, with strong communities, a green economy, and a healthy environment. In August of 2019, fewer than two dozen of the red-bodied sockeye. Under court order, the US Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) will issue an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in 2020 and the Bonneville Power Administration (Bonneville) will make a decision on whether to remove Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite dams as part of a systemwide review of the operations of the Columbia River hydro system. And yet for all this spending, salmon runs continue to decline. Please keep it civil and constructive. However, it must be noted that by the time any adult Chinook reaches the first of the four (Ice Harbor), their numbers have already diminished from about 316,000 at Bonneville Dam to 36,000 at Ice Harbor. Part IV: What Would Removing the Dams do to Jobs? Economists, goes the old cannard, “know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” ECONW tried in its study for Vulcan to quantify prices and values, and quantifying the values turns out to make all the difference. in the state combined. we are in a down cycle, salmon populations along the Snake River are larger We can’t go out of the kind of the scope of our charge.”. ECONW evaluated three prior studies on people’s willingness to pay to improve the odds for salmon survival and found that survey research indicates people were willing to pay, on average, between $34 and $46 per household per year to “reduce extinction risk,” “recover,” or “protect” wild salmon. In this 2019 photo, the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River is seen from the air near Colfax. Myth 9: Lower Snake River dam removal will cause an increase in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. There are many tributaries between Bonneville and the Snake, and many beyond that have Chinook returns, most of those fish are going elsewhere. refrain. The largest of the salmon—the Chinook—live in the saltwater of the Pacific for up to seven years before retracing their route back to the streams where their lives started, to spawn and die, their flesh left to fertilize the streams in which their offspring will renew the cycle. Inslee and Sen. Murray that failure to act now to breach the lower Snake River dams will result in extinction of salmon, orcas. Peterson: Which goes to show it's not an east-west thing, it's not a … US Reps. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Spokane) and Dan Newhouse (R-Yakima) stoked east-west divisions, labeling the report “another example of Seattle-based interests seeking to disrupt our way of life in Central and Eastern Washington.” The Tri-City Herald’s verdict on the highly researched, lengthy technical report was that it “belongs in the trash.”. And yet for all this spending, salmon runs continue to decline. Overview of Impacts Anticipated in the Event of Removal of Snake River Dams By Wanda Keefer, Manager, Port of Clarkston October 7, 2019; updated 10-28-19 CUMULATIVE EFFECT FOR THIS REGION: While the cumulative effect analysis of an EIS typically puts together all impacts and looks forward into the future for the entire project, we There are many impacts from the dams that don’t show up in “the numbers”, loss of spawning habitat, predators in the reservoirs, loss of flow to facilitate down stream travel for smolts to name a few. Removing four dams on the lower Snake River in eastern Washington provides a once in a generation opportunity to recover endangered wild salmon and steelhead runs in the Columbia-Snake watershed (including Idaho’s Salmon and Clearwater rivers, northeast Oregon’s Imnaha and Grande Ronde, and southeast Washington’s Tuccannon), while creating new economic opportunities and investing in a … In spite of Vulcan’s reputation for funding unbiased scientific inquiry, the reaction to the study by the dams’ proponents was furious. Reality: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found that the removal of the four lower Snake River dams would actually decrease total air emissions … Courts, states, and US federal agencies like the Bureau of Reclamation have used these techniques to assess changes in non-use values including for the environmental assessments of removing of the Klamath River dams in 2012. For the endangered salmon in the Snake River, these programs cost $72 million in 2016. It is worth repeating that NOAA Fisheries and other scientists who know the Snake River dams are clear that removal will have little to no benefit for salmon populations. © 2019 Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business – All Rights Reserved. Essentially, The Clearwater was closed to steelhead fishing in the fall of 2019 due to poor returns, and returning adult salmon and steelhead numbers in the whole Columbia River Basin were some of the lowest on record. destroying the dams. Five species of Snake River salmon are now threatened or endangered. If the numbers don’t improve or they continue to decline at the trials completion then give them the option to refill or close off the earthen section and resume normal operations. A federal judge ordered Bonneville to make a plan to address declining salmon populations in the Columbia River system and to include removal of the Snake River dams as one measure for consideration. Since the Act’s passage in 1980, Bonneville has spent $16.4 billion on its fish and wildlife program, including $450 million in 2017 for measures including barging juvenile fish around dams, spilling water over the dams to help salmon make the trip downriver, and capital improvements to steer fish away from the dams’ turbines. [The response] has been overwhelmingly positive for our message, which is: Removing the Lower Aside from the oddity of unselfconsciously quoting “Breaching Snake River dams could save salmon and orcas, but destroy livelihoods” reads a March 24, 2019 cover story of the Sunday Seattle Times Pacific NW magazine. Those who hold this goal are true champions of not speaking. For many Northwesterners, salmon are the needle and thread that bind their place together: ocean and coast, rain forest valleys and grassy plains, swift streams and snowy mountains. Should Washington state risk 11 years of salmon recovery funding on something scientists believe will do little to increase salmon populations? The final article looks at how breaching the dams would affect jobs around the Snake River basin and the potential for increased employment from the river restoration project and new visitors attracted to a free-flowing river. Dam removal is no longer just an environmental movement, but an economic engine that is revitalizing communities, jobs, and recreation across the country. North America’s largest Pacific watershed, the Columbia River Basin, is in the midst of an environmental and energy crisis so severe that the most obvious, yet hotly contested, antidote — removal of four dams on the Columbia’s longest tributary, the Snake River — is gaining traction. 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